Actually Great Under-$25 Ideas For Those Awkward Office Gift Exchanges

This electric mug warmer and other crowd-pleasers will be perfect for your upcoming work holiday party.
An undetectable mouse jiggler, a foam foot rest and a mini Bluetooth speaker.
An undetectable mouse jiggler, a foam foot rest and a mini Bluetooth speaker.

We’ve all been there. The holidays come around, the annual office party gift exchange is announced, and you’re now tasked with the impossible: gifting a person you don’t know that well with something that hopefully won’t end up in the trash, or worse, re-gifted.

After my own fair share of awkward “secret Santa” and “white elephant” parties, I’ve used my powers of over-analyzing to determine the various factors that make a present a successful one. It should be something that’s universally useful, legitimately nice, maybe a tinge humorous and an item that the receiver might not have thought to buy for themselves — all while respecting the affordable price parameters given in a gift exchange, because let’s be honest, no one likes the showoff who goes way over budget.

If you have such a party coming up and are curious about what I’ve come up with, keep reading to find a selection of gift ideas that are all $25 and under. Find things like vacuum-sealed food jars perfect for packing lunches, desk accessories that can make workflow a breeze and other nifty goods.

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An adjustable foam foot rest
Add a dose of ergonomic comfort to someone's desk situation with this two-piece foot rest that's height-adjustable so it can meet a variety of needs. It's made from a compression-resistant and high-density memory foam, and has the potential to help relieve lower back pain, promote better posture and support the hips.
An automatic mug warmer
This slim electric mug warmer is the perfect addition to anyone's WFH situation, office desk or living room side table thanks to its clever ability to keep hot beverages toasty warm at the perfect temperature for sipping. Suitable for most cups, the waterproof heating element has on-and-off indicator and an extra long USB cord so drinks can be heated from just about anywhere.
A surge-protected charging station
This multi-sided charging station can be a lifesaver for rooms or offices that have scarce or oddly located outlets. It features a six-foot extension cord plus eight traditional plugs and four USB ports, each one surge-protected so that all of your coworker's lamps, appliances and devices can be plugged in and charged up safely.
A bubble-style planter
Made from upcycled materials and 3D-printed by a small business in California, this contemporary bubble-style planter would be a good-looking addition to your coworker's desk at home or in the office, especially if they happen to be a plant lover. Available in a variety of sizes and colors, including ombre colorways, each of these bubble pots has drainage holes to prevent plants from being over-watered.
A pair of Merino wool-blend sweater socks
Think of these cozy calf socks from Bombas like sweaters for the feet, knitted from a soft blend of Merino wool and featuring a seam-free toe that's never annoying. These can be bought in three sizes for both men and women and in a variety of color combinations.
A watering rain cloud for plants
A gift that's both functional and unique and perfect for your coworker's office plant, this rain cloud gently drips water on plants for 5-10 minutes, so as not to overwhelm the soil while also creating an eye-catching display. It's also handmade by a small business in Georgia.
An undetectable mouse jiggler
While I won't get into the ethics of needing a mouse jiggler, these can definitely be helpful little devices for working situations by keeping your colleague looking online while they run to the bathroom or do a quick task during the workday or to keep screens on during work presentations. There's no software downloading required, it just plugs in to a computer's USB port and quietly simulates mouse movement for as long as the user needs to look "active."
A percussive massage gun that doesn't cost and arm and a leg
Everyone could use a little tension relief, and this percussive massage gun delivers deep and high-penetration pressure into stiff and sore muscles. This relaxing tool comes with six different massage heads for targeted relief and an impressive 20 levels of intensity.
A small but mighty Bluetooth speaker
Don't let its adorably tiny appearance fool you, this wireless and waterproof Bluetooth speaker promises an impressive high fidelity sound in virtually any surrounding, be it the shower, an outdoor hiking trip or a lounge by the pool. It comes in seven different colors.
A 10-ounce Yeti tumbler
It's impossible to have too many drinking vessels, and Yeti has a longstanding reputation for crafting insanely durable drinkware that keeps beverages cold or hot for long periods of time. This 10-ounce easy-to-stack Rambler mug is made with vacuum-insulated stainless steel and a brushed exterior that's resistant to condensation. It features the brand's well-known mag-sliding lid and comes in tons of color options, like this limited edition lilac and classic charcoal gray.
A vacuum-insulated food jar
With this Mira food jar, your coworker can transport their work lunches without the fear of their favorite soup leaking or a general loss of freshness. The compact and reliable design is made with a triple-walled vacuum insulation and a condensation-resistant exterior so it's perfect for travel.
A Bluetooth tracking tile
Your coworker can pop this thin waterproof Bluetooth tag into their suitcase, wallet or purse so they never lose their valuables ever again. Through the Tile smart phone app, important items can be tracked up to 250 feet away and past locations can be seen when items have gone out of Bluetooth range. Tile owners can also set up notifications if an item has been found, as well as sound alerts.
A humorous and personalized candle
Despite the trope that candles are a lazy present choice susceptible to re-gifting, this one takes a bit more effort and adds a personalized and funny touch that's perfect for any coworker with a sense of humor. Hand-poured in a reusable amber glass votive and made with a coconut-based wax and cotton wick, this candle can come in a variety of scent options like blood orange, wild fig or even no scent at all.
A personalized embroidered bookmark
If your gift-receiver happens to be a book lover, grab this sweet handmade present that's crafted by a small business in California. Choose from four different color schemes, each one featuring beautiful embroidered detailing.
A wireless charging station
This wireless charging station declutters nightstands and desktops while quickly juicing up one of your coworker's most used possessions: their phone. It's compatible with a variety of phones and phone generations, both Apple and Android, and it doesn't require the removal of phone cases to work.
A sleek essential oil diffuser and humidifier
For anyone that you suspect to be experiencing a little work-related stress, this essential oil diffuser disperses a soothing and aromatic mist while also offering the hydrating benefits of a humidifier. Receivers can also cycle through an array of lighting and brightness settings to fit their mood.
An assortment of 10 aromatherapy shower steamers
Infused with an assortment of essential oils, these steamers fizz and melt at the base of the shower to deliver some serious spa-like aromatherapy, making these a great option if you're not sure if your coworker has a bathtub or not. The different scents include peony and rose, menthol and eucalyptus and soothing lavender.

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