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A Gift (Under $50) for Every Type of Employee

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of the vendors

Gifting as a boss can be difficult. It’s all about hitting that sweet spot of a gift that’s not too personal (shampoo, say, or, horror of horrors, an item of clothing), but not too generic, either. We tend to think the best boss-to-employee gifts are things that cost under $50 and nod to both your employee’s work life and their own personal interests. A fine line to walk, we realize, so we’ve rounded up several gift options below that are sure to do the trick. While everything on this list is available on Amazon, we found some stuff elsewhere, too, for folks who like to shop around.

For the employee who is a proud plant parent

A sleek-looking can to water all those plants on their desk that can double as décor when not in use.

For the employee that uses all their vacation days

Whether they’re packing for a long weekend or a European tour, these Strategist-favorite packing cubes will make the process a lot smoother and faster.

For the employee who always has plans after work

According to dermatologists, this face mist “enhances the skin’s natural glow.” It would be a luxurious pick-me-up at the end of a long day.

For the employee aspiring to a zero-waste lifestyle

Going completely waste free is a challenging feat, but reusable sandwich bags — like this highly rated self-sealing one from Stasher that comes in various vibrant shades — would be a good start.

For the employee with a café habit

If they love their morning (and mid-afternoon and early-evening) trips to the café for coffee a little too much, a reusable travel mug like this coffee-snob-approved one might make them feel a little bit better about their caffeine intake.

For the employee who prefers to make their own (cold-brew) coffee

This cost-effective cold-brew coffee maker comes recommended by baristas and roasters alike. Claire Chan, owner of the Elk in Manhattan’s West Village, says that it “produces a very consistent product.”

For the employee who only drinks tea

A highly rated tea infuser that (charmingly, we promise) makes every cup look like the Loch Ness Monster’s bath.

For the employee who talks a lot about their cat

Cat parents love nothing more than thoughtful gifts for their feline friends. We recommend this Rio-approved tunnel, which promises hours of entertainment. It folds down flat, so the toy can be stored in even the smallest of apartments.

For the employee that brings their dog to work

Photo: retailer

If their pup gets a little skittish around strangers, these veterinarian-approved treats made with hemp, chamomile, and thiamine will help soothe its anxiety.

For the employee who’s a night owl

Here’s a cool-person-approved desk lamp with a neat, retro look that helps it stand out. A swiveling head makes it easy to adjust the light, no matter the hour.

For the employee that’s always cold

A cozy throw blanket can help with that office-building-air-conditioning chill. This one looks more expensive than it is, thanks to the handsome pom-pom trim.

For the employee that’s always hot

This compact-yet-powerful fan “moves a boatload of air,” according to one enthusiastic reviewer. It also has a tiny footprint, which means it won’t take up too much precious real estate on their desk.

For the employee who joins Zoom calls from greener pastures

If they’re spending significantly more time outside these days, gift them this camp chair, which came recommended as an especially comfortable option by camping experts. It includes a zip-top cooler attached to one armrest, as well as a mesh cup holder and storage pocket.

For the employee that always takes notes

Good handwriting deserves a worthy page — like the ones in this Leuchtturm1917 notebook, a Strategist favorite with dotted, not bold, lines. Writer Dominique Pariso says it “delivers on the hype,” noting that it feels high quality without being too precious.

For the employee that’s always looking for a pen

Le Pen took the No. 18 spot in our ranking of the 100 best pens. As one former Strategist editor put it, the brand makes what’s “nearly a perfect pen: The felt tip leaves smooth, slender, consistent marks on paper, and your handwriting inevitably looks more elegant because of it.” The pens themselves also look quite nice, so your employee might be a bit more careful not to lose them.

For the employee with an impressive book collection

A pair of sturdy bookends that’ll hold their James Baldwins, or their James Pattersons, if that’s more their thing.

For the employee who always has AirPods in

A backup case is the answer to keeping their regular case pristine — and is likely something they wouldn’t buy for themselves. This one comes in a bevy of colors, from pine green to lavender to black.

For the employee whose desk is cluttered with cords

Multiuse products are always convenient, which is why we recommend the Ultra USB cable for your multi-device-using employee. Strategist contributor Matt Goulet penned an ode to its usefulness, claiming that it helped him cut down his box of cords from 30 to one.

For the employee with a bad back

This shiatsu back massager from Zyllion is a Strategist favorite because it almost instantly relieves tension, including any discomfort from, say, sitting in an office chair all day long.

For the employee who can’t work until they work out

Whether they’re back at the gym or have fully embraced the virtual-workout life, these Pilates-instructor-approved resistance bands can be used for a variety of exercise routines and classes.

For the employee with an involved skin-care routine

Hear us out: If someone on your team has a very … involved skin-care routine, chances are you know about it. The gift of a desk humidifier will ensure their hard-won dewiness lasts throughout the day. This portable one offers 10 hours of uninterrupted mist.

For the employee with dim desk lighting

A hard-to-kill plant is the ideal gift for anyone whose workspace is a little dim — it’ll add a little life to an otherwise shady corner. A hardy, low-light option like this Strategist-approved pothos will flourish in almost any condition.

For the employee who’s serious about keeping hydrated

A sizable insulated water bottle is the perfect gift if they’re constantly sipping. Opting for one with a narrower mouth, like this bottle, will make it even easier to drink from.

For the employee who lives for new packages

Slice 10514 Mini Cutter

This “finger-friendly” blade is pocket-size and made out of ceramic, which means it’s nearly impossible to cut yourself while using it.

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 treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

A Gift (Under $50) for Every Type of Employee