Secret Santa Ideas for All Types of Coworkers

By Emma Hickey

Your office is abuzz with holiday joy, and your company has decided to celebrate by hosting a Secret Santa. You’re excited to participate, but you’re new to the team and you don’t know everyone very well yet. Luckily, you found this handy guide….

Office Secret Santas are a fun way to bond as a team and bring the holiday spirit into the workplace. A gift exchange among coworkers is a bit different than a gift exchange among friends, though. Not everyone knows their coworkers in a way that’s helpful for gift buying. Part of the beauty of a Secret Santa is that it creates an opportunity for colleagues to get to know each other better by spending a bit of time in each other’s minds trying to come up with the best gift possible. As a jumping off point, here are some gift ideas for all different types of coworkers.

For the Fitness Buff

Every office has one—the person who loves to lift, or to do Crossfit, or to run marathons. If you’re this person’s Secret Santa, you’re in luck! You can definitely find a thoughtful gift related to working out that will not only be appreciated by this person, but that they’ll actually use. Do some recon (meaning, ask around the office or chat with them yourself) to determine what their preferred form of exercise is, and then pick out the perfect gift. Here are some ideas:

  • A yoga mat they can use for all kinds of stretching

  • A reusable water bottle that will actually keep their water cold

  • An armband for their phone so it’s never far from their reach

  • A foam roller for post-workout recovery

  • A hat, gloves, or a neck gator to help them stay warm in the winter

For the Coffee Connoisseur

This person drinks three Americanos a day and is always complaining about the coffee in the office. You probably can’t get them their own personal espresso machine on the Secret Santa budget, but there are plenty of coffee accessories out there they’ll surely appreciate. And remember—the best gift is something the recipient would never buy for themselves.  

  • A new mug, because even though they can’t get the best coffee in the office, at least they’ll have a nice mug to drink it from

  • A thermos so they can bring their own coffee from home

  • A pour over coffee kit so they can brew better java from their desk

  • A cold brew maker to help mix things up

For the Foodie

This person loves to go to restaurants, fancy grocery stores, and cooking classes. They’re always posting pictures of their meals online, and whenever you see their posts, your mouth starts to water. This person is a food expert, but fortunately for you, there are plenty of affordable gifts you could give to supplement their foodie lifestyle.

  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain for some context about their favorite world

  • An stylish apron that will look great in their cooking pictures

  • An indoor herb garden to save them a trip to the grocery store

  • A light ring for their phone to make all their foodie pictures look even better

For the Traveler

It seems like this colleague is always planning their next big trip. You’d love to be able to buy them a new suitcase, or a trip around the world, but the Secret Santa price limit is only $20 and also that would be a little over the top. Besides, they’re a far more seasoned traveler than you and you’re sure they already have everything they need for their upcoming vacation. Still, there are plenty of gifts out there that celebrate traveling and would delight anyone with a bit of wanderlust in them.  

  • A mini globe to decorate their desk

  • An eye mask to help them sleep on those long flights

  • A scratch-off map so they can display everywhere they’ve been

  • Vagabonding by Rolf Potts to inspire them

For the Type-A Coworker

This person has the most organized desk in the whole office. As far as you can tell, their defining characteristic is that they have their life in order. They’re always on time, they take colored coded notes, and they’re three steps ahead of everyone else. There are always ways to get more organized, though, and you can certainly find them a gift in that realm that they’ll love and use.

  • A leather planner so luxurious your practical coworker would never get it for themselves, but will definitely enjoy

  • Colored pens, the fancy kind you can use in space

  • A desk calendar that’s both useful and whimsical

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo so they may find a kindred spirit

For Your Most-Stressed Colleague

Every time you’re around this person, you can feel the stress rolling off of them in waves. They always seem ready to pull out their hair, bite their fingernails, or scream. If you’re this person’s Secret Santa, not only should it be easy to find them a gift that will help them relax, you could maybe even change their lives! You have a great opportunity here—choose wisely.

  • An aromatherapy kit or essential oils, which you can learn more about here

  • Crystals to cleanse the worry right out their system, which you can learn more about here

  • Candles they can use to create a sense of hygge in their home

  • Soothing tea—just make sure it’s decaf

  • A house plant, because greenery in the home has proven anti-anxiety benefits

For the Office Prankster

You may not want to encourage this behavior, but it’s hard to change an office prankster’s ways, so you might as well lean into it and give them a gift they’ll enjoy using to wreak havoc.

  • The Ultimate Office Prank Book by Mae B Fired, incase they’ve run out of their own ideas

  • A dribble glass they can use on unsuspecting colleagues

  • Trick lottery cards that will make them think they’re a winner—it’s time to give this prankster a taste of their own medicine

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