It’s the most wonderful time of the year…to panic about finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list. If your department is doing a gift exchange, that list may include the coworker you never talk to. Or maybe one you do talk to, but don’t know well enough to get something personal. Even though you spend more time with coworkers than with friends, you probably spend a lot of that time talking about, well, work. So how do you go shopping for someone you don’t know that well?
The key is to get a gift that anyone with any hobby can use. That might sound impossible, but we promise it really isn’t! To prove it to you, we’ve come up with eight gifts that any coworker can use. Heck, you may even pick up a second one for yourself. Many of these gifts can be used in the office or at home, and can fit into any budget. Take a look and see for yourself!
1) Wall Calendar
Perfect for: Coworkers with deadlines
Let’s face it—every coworker can use a calendar. Whether they need to keep track of pay days, count down to vacation, or mark when the next big project is due, a calendar will keep them organized. And the theme options are endless. Choose from baby animals to office humor, and even expletive-ridden options, to find that perfect wall calendar. For a little extra fun, wrap the present in an larger box so your coworker can’t guess what is it. (Wrapped calendars are easy to spot!)
2) Tech Cleaning Tools
Perfect for: Coworkers who use smartphones or laptops
When was the last time you cleaned your smartphone? And how many crumbs are lost in your keyboard? Your coworkers are probably in the same boat! Package together various tech cleaning tools to keep their devices running longer. We suggest any combination of screen mist, screen wipes, or keyboard goo. Or, skip the extra work of buying three items separately, and grab a pre-made cleaning kit.
3) Desktop Cup Holder
Perfect for: Coworkers who drink liquid
Spilling liquid on your desk can stain papers, ruin projects, and even damage laptops. Help your coworkers keep their desk safe with a sturdy coaster. Whether they drink from a coffee mug, soda can, or water bottle—it’ll fit! Plus, it’s portable, so they can grab it and go to their next meeting down the hall. (Spills can happen anywhere!)
4) Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Perfect for: Coworkers who have work to do
Whether you work in an open-concept office space, small start-up, or cubicle space, peace and quiet isn’t always available. Noise-cancelling headphones eliminate distractions for those projects that need your entire focus. Prices range from $25-$100, so there’s certainly an option for every budget. Just make sure to read the reviews first if you’re buying online—not all headphone technology is created equal.
5) Office Humidifier
Perfect for: Coworkers who breathe
This might seem like an odd or impersonal gift, but it’s actually practical and shows your coworker how much you care. Especially during the cold, dry winter months, adding extra moisture to the air reduces the spread of airborne viruses and keeps your skin from drying. It’s a simple office addition that has plenty of benefits. Plus, for smaller offices, you don’t need a large humidifier—a small, desktop unit should do the trick.
6) Portable Charger
Perfect for: Coworkers who travel
Coworkers who travel typically use their cellphone more than those in the office. They’re checking emails on the go, and calling instead of emailing to save time. Plus, they’re tracking flights, ordering taxis, and texting loved ones. Help them keep their phone charged at all times with a portable charger. They won’t have to fight for outlets at the airport, and they can even charge their phone during the flight.
7) Cozy Blanket
Perfect for: Coworkers who work in the office
Is your office perpetually cold, even in the dead of winter? Give your coworker a cozy blanket they can use while on conference calls, or plugging away at work. If they have a favorite color, find a blanket to match.
Bonus Tip: Not sure of their favorite color? Scout their office for clues. If their lamp, scissors, and frames are all the same color—chances are, it’s their favorite.
Of course, the opposite can come in handy, too. If your third- or fourth-floor office is sweltering year-round, buy your coworker a mini fan they can use to keep cool while their door is shut in back-to-back meetings.
8) Visa Giftcard
Perfect for: The last coworker on your list
If no gift idea seems just right, a generic gift card will do the trick. That way, your coworker can buy exactly what they want—and you don’t have to guess! If you go this route, put a little extra effort into the presentation. Buy a nice gift card box, or wrap it and tie it to a bag of candy or cookies. Just something to show that you did take time to prepare it.
Whether you’re participating in an office party, or just exchanging gifts with a work friend, always include a signed card and carefully wrap the present. This shows that, in the midst of the hustle and bustle, you set aside some time for them. Some retail stores offer free in-store gift-wrapping services. And even more offer online wrapping. Or, you can use decorative boxes that don’t need wrapping—and just place the gift inside with some tissue paper!
Have you received a gift from a coworker you didn’t know? Was it a useful item? Share your experiences below!