35 Ideas for Your Work Gift Exchange

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published November 23, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published November 23, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Gift exchanges are fun ways to celebrate the holidays in the workplace. If your workplace is having an office party and holiday gift exchange, chances are, you're looking for the perfect gift. With so many unique gift ideas out there, it can be tough to find the right gift for your coworkers. In this article, we'll explore 35 fun and unique ideas for a work gift exchange that your coworkers are sure to love.

Gift exchange ideas for the workplace

The following examples for a workplace gift exchange can give you some ideas about what to shop for:

Office gadgets

Office gadgets are some of the most popular gift ideas for work gift exchanges because of their affordability and practicality. For example, reading lights, blue light filtering glasses, phone stands, earphones, wireless chargers and other gadgets make excellent gifts for the office.

Food and snacks

Snack boxes, gift baskets with food items, candies and other snacks and treats make thoughtful presents for a workplace Secret Santa. Try to find out as much as you can about your recipient's preferences and favorite snack items to choose delicious and unique items for your gift exchange.

Beverages

Wines, beer and other unique beverages make great ideas for a gift exchange. You can even find specialized gift cards or gift certificates for wine and spirits for the coworkers who love to sample diverse beverages.

Trial memberships

Trial memberships to online magazines, subscription boxes, gym memberships and other items that would continue after the initial trial period are also great ideas to give as a gift. For instance, you could give a coworker who loves to read about technology and innovation a free trial to a technology magazine.

Related: 32 Thank-You Gifts for Your Boss

Movie tickets

Sometimes movie tickets to the latest film make the best gift, especially because of the convenience. You can purchase movie tickets right online for your local theater, or you can purchase them in advance. Many box offices have gift options available, making cinema-related gift ideas perfect for the workplace.

Handmade gifts

Consider handmade items, especially if you have a talent for a type of craft, like crocheting, knitting or sewing. Not only will your coworker appreciate your thought, effort and time, but you can also make handmade gifts more personal. For instance, if you know your coworker loves knitted hats and you can knit, you can make a handmade gift that they'll love and that doesn't go over your budget.

Office accessories

Decorative bulletin boards, pushpins, computer stands, desktop organizers, unique pens and pencils and other office accessories make excellent gift exchange ideas because they're affordable and highly useful. Additionally, several small office accessories combined into a small gift basket is another great idea if you decide to purchase these types of items.

Gloves, mittens and cold-weather gear

If you get cold winter weather, consider buying simple cold-weather gear like gloves, a scarf, ear warmers and other cold-weather accessories. Other great ideas for cold weather accessories include heated mittens, leg warmers, hand warmers and other unique and useful gear.

Mugs and cups

Coffee cups and mugs make easy and affordable presents for a work gift exchange. You can personalize many coffee mugs, and if you have a coworker who likes to bring their coffee with them, travel mugs make more great options. Additionally, unique glassware—like tumblers, rocks glasses and hurricane glasses—is also an excellent idea, especially for the coworker who likes to sample beverages and mix up different drinks.

Engraved pens

Stylish and customizable fountain pens are affordable and provide a personal gift that is also practical. Check online for unique designs, colors and pen styles that you can customize with a name, initials or another word or phrase that is unique to your recipient.

Gift cards

Gift cards are great last-minute gift exchange ideas for work. You can opt for a universal gift card, like a Visa or MasterCard, or you can find a gift card for something specific. Consider gift cards for restaurants and things like Amazon, Apple and other specific uses that your coworkers will appreciate.

Gift baskets

Themed gift baskets are great because you can usually find these types of gifts available to order online, or you can create your own gift basket by combining different small items that your coworker likes. For instance, a gift basket with popcorn, travel cups, snack items and some candies could make the perfect gift idea for a coworker who loves a night at home watching movies.

Planners and calendars

Desktop calendars, planners and agendas make great ideas for the coworker who likes to stay organized. Consider yearly bullet planners where your coworker can keep track of their to-do lists, urgent tasks, personal interests and work agenda.

Related: 51 Secret Santa Gift Ideas

Notebooks and journals

Notebooks, diaries and journals are more ideas that can suit any coworker. Bullet journals, journaling accessories (like stickers and stencils) and other related items are useful, and you can find many items that will fit your coworker's personality and style.

Charity exchange

Another interesting gift exchange idea for the workplace is to have a charity swap instead of a traditional gift exchange. In a charity exchange, coworkers choose names, similar to a Secret Santa. However, instead of buying a gift, you would donate a specified amount to the charity of your recipient's choice.

Baked goods

Similar to a charity exchange, a cookie swap or gift exchange with only baked goods would make a great way to celebrate the holidays. In this type of gift exchange, everyone would choose a name similar to a Secret Santa, but instead of buying gifts, you would bake your recipient's favorite treats.

Holiday socks

Holiday-themed socks and slippers are more great ideas for giving gifts in the office. Consider eccentric and whimsical patterns, pictures and colors for a wacky and fun way to celebrate your workplace gift exchange.

Ugly sweaters

Just like crazy socks, ugly holiday sweaters make fun ideas for a workplace gift exchange. Have some fun and find your coworker the funniest and ugliest holiday sweater. This gift idea works best as a whole holiday gift exchange theme, where everyone buys their recipients an ugly holiday sweater.

Art-inspired gifts

Think about giving the gift of artwork for your work gift exchange. For instance, paintings, small figurines, collages and other art-inspired items are excellent for gift giving. You can take your art-inspired gift a step further, too, if you purchase from a local artist.

Scented candles

Scents like candles and incense make wonderful presents to the coworkers who love accessories for aromatherapy. You can find natural soy and beeswax candles, handmade incense and other aromatherapy items across many different online stores. Additionally, candle and incense holders and other unique aromatherapy accessories make good gifts, too.

Home goods

Home decor items also make thoughtful gifts to give in an office gift exchange. Trinket boxes, small dishes, hand towels and other home decor items would be perfect for your coworkers who love these types of accessories.

Bath and beauty

For a spa-like gift idea, consider things like organic and handmade soaps and lotions, body scrubs, bath bombs, shower gel and other unique bath and beauty items. These types of ideas are great for a coworker who loves to unwind in a relaxing bath at the end of a long week.

Humorous gifts

Gag gifts make fun and humorous ideas for a work gift exchange. Things like humorous quotes on mugs, mousepads and notepads are fun gifts that can work in a White Elephant type of office gift exchange, where everyone gives a present that is funny (yet appropriate) in nature.

Coffee gifts

Choose gifts for coffee lovers like seasonal blends, new mugs, thermoses and other coffee drinking accessories. You can even find coffee-themed gift baskets that can make excellent gifts for a coffee enthusiast.

Herbal teas

Similar to coffee gifts, if you have a coworker who loves tea time, herbal teas and accessories will make excellent ideas for your gift exchange. Tea samplers, diffusers and special cups for brewing teas and making infusions are just several examples of gift ideas that you can do for a coworker who loves tea.

Related: 30 Gift Ideas for Your Boss's Birthday + Why You Should Get Them One

Books

Books also make great gifts. For instance, choose books that are related to your recipient's interests, like technology, business, self-development and other topics they'd like to read about.

Pet products

If your gift recipient has a pet, consider purchasing something they can use for their furry friend. Fun toys, care items, special treats and other pet accessories make great ideas for pet owners.

Hats and caps

Baseball caps, visors, bandanas and other types of hats are also great ideas to give to a coworker. Consider personalizing these types of gifts with something unique to your recipient's interests, such as a sports team, club insignia or other personalization.

Tabletop games

Desktop games and entertainment gadgets make good gifts in the workplace, too. Card games, jigsaw puzzles, miniature tabletop golf or ski ball and other fun accessories are just a few types of things to consider giving in a workplace gift exchange.

Fidget gadgets

Fidget spinners and sensory gadgets aren't just for kids. Stress relievers like tension balls, fidget cubes and other gadgets that you can manipulate in your hands can be highly useful in the office and are affordable and easy to find.

House plants

Consider giving a living present for your office gift exchange. House plants make excellent additions both in the office and at home, and with so many varieties, you can find just about anything that will thrive in an indoor environment.

Bags and purses

Fanny packs, bags, small totes and backpacks are more ideas that you can shop for. Computer and tech bags are also great ideas so your coworker can easily carry laptops or tablets easily and securely.

Health and fitness gifts

Health and fitness accessories and gadgets like step counters, exercise bands, water bottles, yoga mats, meal planners and recipe books make wonderful presents for coworkers who are interested in fitness activities.

Holiday-themed gifts

If you're still uncertain about what to get for a holiday gift exchange at work, consider seasonal or holiday-themed gifts. For instance, holiday-themed notebooks, pencils and pens, office gear, small clothing items and other seasonal items are great for last-minute gift exchange ideas.

Related: 30 Christmas Gifts for Employees

Tips for your office gift exchange

Here are several tips for making the most of your work gift exchange during the holidays:

  • Suggest a gift exchange theme. Consider some gift exchange themes that differ from the traditional Secret Santa. For instance, a grab bag idea where everyone adds a gift to the "bag" and when it's time to exchange gifts, each employee pulls a gift from the grab bag without looking.

  • Make it a party. Plan a party for the afternoon or morning of the day of the gift exchange. This way, coworkers can enjoy some time to socialize before, during and after exchanging gifts.

  • Set a reasonable budget. If your work gift exchange has a set budget to spend on gifts, stick with that. Otherwise, set a budget for yourself at a reasonable amount, like $20 or under.

  • Personalize your gifts. If you decide to purchase office accessories like pens, planners or similar items, consider personalizing the gift with the coworker's initials or another fun customization.

  • Gain insight into your coworkers. Secret Santa gift exchanges are quite common in the office, so if your workplace plans this type of gift exchange, try to get as much insight into your gift recipient's interests as you can without revealing your Secret Santa. This can help you choose an appropriate gift for your coworker.

Explore more articles