Coming up with gift ideas for co-workers can be surprisingly difficult, especially now that so many of our interactions are happening via Zoom or Google Hangouts. But the general principal of co-worker gifting remains the same: items that are thoughtful, but don’t cost too much, or accidentally offend. This is not an easy balance to strike. Which is why we did the legwork for you, and hunted down the 36 best gifts under $50 for every type of co-worker, from your work spouse, to your department’s intern, to the HR representative who kindly and patiently explained your company’s retirement benefits to you.
For the co-worker who has everything (except a green thumb)
Giving a plant can be a little risky, especially if the recipient doesn’t have a green thumb or lives in a setting with less-than-ideal lighting, which is why we suggest opting for a (very real-looking) artificial plant instead, like this lovely faux anthurium.
For the co-worker who always asked to borrow your charger
For the co-worker who’s become a quarantine influencer
Writer Francesca Giacco told us that her favorite phone case reminds her of the ubiquitous Ultrafragola mirror, and “makes my reflection look … better. The case always shows me a version of myself that appears better rested, moisturized, and generally more attractive.”
For the co-worker who multitasks
For the co-worker who hoarded salt packets in their desk
If your co-worker likes to add salt to everything, you cannot go wrong with this massive tub of Maldon. The salt just so happens to be one of former Vogue editor Tonne Goodman’s favorites to give, a fact we unearthed when we asked 130 people with exceptional taste to tell us about their go-to gifts.
For the co-worker who brought two boiled eggs for breakfast
For the co-worker who constantly Slacks you about good WFH footwear
Comfy, breathable, and psychedelic. What’s not to love?
For the co-worker who’s a neat freak
If their Zoom background is always spick-and-span, they’ll likely appreciate these time-saving dryer balls that, according to former Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens, are “an all-natural fabric softener that staves off static, prevents wrinkles, and — maybe most appealingly — cuts down on drying time.”
For the co-worker who’s a cat person
For the co-worker who’s more of a dog person
For the co-worker who needs to take quarantine one day at a time
For the co-worker who’s also your work spouse
For the co-worker whose positive vibes are contagious
For the co-worker who’s always cold
The best desk blanket, according to our colleagues at the Cut, is one that isn’t too heavy, is relatively inexpensive, and looks more like a shawl than a duvet. This cotton number definitely fits that bill — and for less than $20, no less. (It would also look great draped over your own wall ladder at home, for what it’s worth.)
For the co-worker who says their home is “dry”
For the co-worker who always shares their skin-care tips
For the intern who went above and beyond
Like this sleek ballpoint, which came in second in our ranking of the 100 best pens, and yields the “thinnest, smoothest line,” according to our editors, and looks good, too, with its handsome hexagonal tube design.
For the co-worker who’s known to drink an afternoon coffee
For the co-worker who’s become a quasi-professional barista
This little coffee dripper will let them make a single serving of pour-over coffee right at their desk (or, you know, kitchen table).
For the co-worker who’s always meal prepping
For the co-worker who loves to snack
Strategist contributor Alison Freer swears by these reusable food-storage bags that can be used for anything from nuts to apple slices to cookies. They even stand, meaning less opportunity for spillage.
For the co-worker who’s serious about hydration
For the co-worker who’s always spilling things
These cheery, reusable Swedish dishcloths are “a game changer,” according to writer Ashlea Halpern. “They are superabsorbent, able to soak up 20 times their own weight in liquid,” she writes, adding that they’re also “soft and pliable when wet, and dry quickly in between uses.”
For the co-worker you don’t know that well
If they don’t need bookends (which, who knows — they might!), these would make for nice paperweights.
For the co-worker who gets all of the swag
For the co-worker who organizes Zoom office happy hours
For the co-worker who detests getting wet
For the co-worker you have never actually met in person
While these sweet pastel-colored melamine trays are technically for condiments, we think they’d also make fantastic desk catch-alls for paperclips, hair ties, and any other messy desk things.
For the co-worker who wants to make their desk feel cozier
For the co-worker whose desk is in a closet
For the co-worker who answers all of your questions about health insurance
For the co-worker who’s analog
Just a classic dotted notebook from Leuchtturm that ranked 11 in our ranking of the 100 best notebooks. According to writer Dominique Pariso, it “delivers on the hype.”
For the co-worker who can’t stop tweeting
Strategist managing editor Maxine Builder swears by this plastic timer when it comes to getting things done in a timely manner. “I now divide my time,” she says, “into manageable 25-minute, Twitter-free chunks (à la the Pomodoro Technique), punctuated by the timer’s forceful, hard-to-ignore, but not abrasive beeps.”
For the co-worker quarantining with small children
Coffee is a perennially appreciated gift, and these beans from Saratoga, New York–based coffee roaster Death Wish are sure to make an impression, especially since they claims to make the world’s strongest coffee.