holiday gifts 2022

The Best Secret Santa Gifts Under $25 (That You Can Buy on Amazon)

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Secret Santa exchanges should, in theory, be a lot of fun, because who doesn’t like getting presents? But drawing the name of someone whose interests you barely know — or someone you really want to impress (e.g., the big boss) — can pose a daunting gifting challenge. To help you navigate your Secret Santa shopping this year, we’ve combed through our archives to put together a list of gifts for every type of co-worker, casual acquaintance, family member, and more — from the cousin who loves matcha to the cat-parent neighbor.

Every gift here costs less than $25, to help you stay within whatever budget is attached to your upcoming exchange, and conveniently available on Amazon (though we’ve noted when a gift is available elsewhere for those who like to shop around). All of these items have been recommended to us by discerning experts, especially stylish people, or Strategist staffers who have used them or would personally love to receive them, so they’re practically guaranteed to delight.

Food and kitchen gifts

For the uncle who will never give up coffee — but wants to do his part

Everything Everywhere All at Once co-director Daniel Kwan takes this collapsible Stojo cup to his local coffee shop every day. “This cup is just a small inconvenience to carry around, and hopefully it makes a big impact,” Kwan told us.

For the aunt who prefers tea

This cute manatee-shaped tea infuser will bring a smile to their face every time they brew a fresh cup.

For the boyfriend on DoughTok

This stainless-steel press, which comes in three different sizes, makes ravioli, dumplings, pierogi, and empanadas.

For the grandma who always brings homemade cookies

For the friend who bakes misshapen cakes

These Matryoshka measuring cups were a hit at one particularly memorable Strategist Secret Santa.

For the foodie with a taste for tinned fish

You can’t go wrong with fancy canned mussels.

For the little brother trying to make gains

$15 for 6

Pocari Sweat, a favorite of jeweler Ben Baller, is the Japanese equivalent of Gatorade (with much better packaging).

For the neighbor who’s always waiting for soup season

A bag of hot-pot base from Fly by Jing will be just the thing to get them through the winter.

For the mom who has reluctantly given up on plastic straws

These pasta straws won’t disintegrate mid-drink while still being kind to the planet. Bonus: They’re gluten free.

For the co-worker who snacks all day

Moku Plant-Based Mushroom Jerky
$18 for 3
$18 for 3

Plant-based mushroom jerky to please even the most discerning of snackers.

For the co-worker who always insists on hitting happy hour

This silicone ice-cube tray makes four perfect cubes that will look nice in a rocks glass.

For the home cook who loves their CSA

Ideal for keeping their half-eaten fennel and pepper fresh in the fridge.

For the neat freak who’s scared of sponges

Cleaning brushes are a less bacteria-prone way to keep dishes clean, and this handsome wooden brush is a soap dispenser and holder in one.

For the teen who wants to zhush up their morning bowl of Cheerios

One pound of off-brand cereal marshmallows should do the trick.

For the cousin who loves matcha lattes


A manual frother for making their latte extra creamy.

For the brother who cooks only with cast iron

This red silicone grip will make his favorite pan that much easier to grab.

Home and office gifts

For the roommate who reads in the bath

This handsome bamboo bath caddy has room enough for a candle, a glass of wine, and a good book.

For the college student who takes notes by hand

A highly ranked option from our list of the very best pens in a subtle black rather than fluorescent pink (though of course you can get that one too).

For the sister who’s allergic to scented candles

Scented candles can be too intense for perfume-sensitive people, but this sculptural beeswax candle, which comes adorned with a fern and a dehydrated orange slice, is pretty and mildly scented.

For the partner who prefers incense

Here are some nice-smelling sticks sourced from the West Coast. Ten percent of sales goes to Indigenous and First Nation groups.

For the boss who’s an office-supply aficionado

A minimalist organizer made of black leather for storing all their pens and other desktop tchotchkes.

For the niece with a ’90s obsession

For the tween niece with a ’90s obsession

For the germaphobe mother-in-law

From $8

This portable sanitizer allows for on-the-go disinfecting of her phone, keys, glasses, and more.

For the friend who just moved into a new apartment


Of all the items that get easily misplaced when you need them — especially during a big move — scissors are arguably the most crucial. These compact Twiggy shears will fit in a pocket and can be used for “an endless number of things: cutting off price tags, opening packages, finishing spontaneous craft projects, wrapping gifts, trimming loose threads, cutting tape, removing wristbands, doing quick hair trims, and so much more,” according to Strategist contributor Caroline Weaver.

For the teen who stays up late reading fanfiction

Hooga Book Light

Writer Molly McGhee recommends this old-school book light for any nocturnal bookworms who are looking to keep “the blue-light blues at bay” (especially after a day of staring at screens).

Books, hobbies, and entertainment gifts

For the sibling who’s a Timothée Chalamet stan

So they won’t be too confused when they go see “cannibalism romance” Bones and All.

For the son who enjoys a challenge

This gradient puzzle offers up no clues other than minutely different shades of gray.

For the sister-in-law wrangling a flock of toddlers

She’s got four kids under 4 — deciding what to make for dinner is probably a daily struggle. Rozanne Gold’s book of easy recipes that only require three ingredients is guaranteed to be a godsend.

For the uncle who forces family game night

‘Monikers: Classics’

A new classic that’s way more fun than playing yet another round of Yahtzee.

For the girlfriend who binges Bravo

For the newly retired grandparent

We may be biased, but we think solving the puzzles in New York Crosswords would be an exceptionally enjoyable way for them to spend their leisure time.

For the crafty co-worker who loves Bob Ross

Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo takes this miniature Sakura watercolor kit with her “on a hike, for a swim, or to the park with friends to draw.” She adds that the best part is “they come with a little water brush — it holds water in the handle — so you don’t have to remember to bring a jar full of water.”

For the witchy sister who’s into astrology memes

A deck and guidebook for beginner tarot-heads.

For the cousin who loves attention

Gifts for kids and pets

For the hyperactive second cousin

Fidget poppers are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser among the under-10 set.

For the kindergartner who already has a zoo of animal plushies

A cute and cuddly reminder for them to eat their vegetables.

For the kid who has already mastered the Rubik’s Cube

Beth Beckman, co-founder of Little Kid Big City New York, came across the Ghost Cube in a boutique toy store and said her son “went crazy for it,” calling it a “‘way cooler’ version of a Rubik’s Cube that was dressed as a mummy.”

For the tween who’s a collector

Toy experts have predicted that LOL Surprise’s new candy-themed dolls are going to be widely coveted this year. “They partnered with Hershey, so there’s all different candy dolls — including a Reese’s-themed doll, a Peeps-themed doll, and a Bazooka-themed doll to collect. And all the accessories match the candy,” explains Jackie Cucco, a senior editor at The Toy Insider.

For the preteen dying to take flight

Air Hogs Gravitor

traditional drone might be too complicated for a kid to navigate, but this lightweight, rechargeable one is capable of doing more than a dozen stunts and tricks.

For the niece or nephew who’s always hanging around the kitchen

Dash makes our favorite mini waffle maker, and the adorable heart shape is bound to be a hit with kids.

For the friend who fosters kittens

Yeowww! Catnip Toy

Nora Wood, adoption-event coordinator for Anjellicle Cats Rescue, calls this banana-shaped catnip toy one of the best on the market.

For the friend whose pandemic puppy has turned into a rambunctious dog

An advanced puzzle toy to keep them occupied.

Fashion and beauty gifts

For the fashionable friend with an eyewear obsession

Strategist contributor Alyse Whitney uses this handy six-compartment organizer to bring along her “entire wardrobe of glasses to match different outfits” when she travels. It “takes up less space than a pair of shoes and about as much as a dopp kit,” Whitney writes.

For the boyfriend who couldn’t care less about fashion

He just wants to be comfortable. This Hanes pullover is among our favorites in men’s loungewear, because “it’s really classic, and you can get a good fit that still accentuates your body,” says fitness instructor Patrick McGrath.

For the parent who’s always on the go

This minimalist-slash-gorpcore fanny pack from the Seattle-based outdoor brand Kavu has enough room for their phone, wallet, keys, and hand sanitizer.

For the father-in-law who’s always cold

These rib-knit beanies come in a ton of colors including this pleasant camel tone.

For the friend training for a marathon

Balega’s running socks are championed by running influencer Erin Azar, a.k.a. Mrs. Space Cadet. “I was astonished at how much they cost, but once I put them on and did some long runs, I noticed a huge difference,” she says.

For the grandpa who loathes new things

For the daughter with a hormone monster

A set of micro-dart acne patches designed to destroy painful cysts.

For the roommate with an elaborate skin-care routine

Strategist beauty columnist Rio Viera-Newton uses these ice globes to distract herself from picking at her skin. “Not only does it feel satisfying to actually just touch and feel around the area you would normally want to pick at, but it’s such an incredible way to reduce swelling and make the pimple smaller,” she writes. But they have other uses, too. One Amazon reviewer writes, “Helps puffy eyes in the morning and tired eyes at night. Feels great on your temples for a headache and a nice cool down after being outside in the heat.”

For the aunt who just can’t nod off

When Strategist contributor Sara Gaynes Levy rubbed this aromatherapy stick on her wrist at bedtime, it helped her fall asleep in just five minutes. “The blend is now a crucial part of my nighttime routine,” Levy writes. “Every night I hit my pulse points and hold it under my nose while I read.”

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatmentsrolling luggagepillows for side sleepersnatural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

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The Best Secret Santa Gifts (on Amazon) for Under $25