The holiday season is a time to embrace traditions. Your annual cookie bake, movie marathon, or family tree trimming party creates warm memories that last a lifetime. These are events to be cherished! However, there is one holiday tradition that can be polarizing, to say the least: Secret Santas. If finding the perfect present for everyone on your usual list is tough, the curveball of an anonymous gift swap can be straight-up anxiety-inducing. But it needn't be!
The guidelines for choosing a good Secret Santa gift are simple: it should be thoughtful but not overly sentimental. Make sure it's fun, not too silly (save those kinds of presents for the White Elephant exchange), and above all considerations, it must stick to the budget! From puzzles to planners, cold brew coffee makers to charcoal masks, I've found great gifts for $25 or less that are guaranteed not to be regifted a day later.
Does your giftee have a year-round chill? If so, they're sure to be delighted by this luxuriously soft double-sided throw blanket. One side features plush Sherpa fleece, while the other is a high-pile shag - twice the texture, twice the warmth! It's the perfect size for snuggling on the couch or, if you're buying for a coworker, to keep draped over their desk chair.
Authentic Mexican hot chocolate is the ultimate cold-weather treat. It's chocolatey, sweet, and just a tad spicy. Villa Real's chocolate is hand-crafted by a small family operation in Oaxaca and has been made the same way for generations using simple ingredients - just cocoa butter, sugar, and spices. Melt a disc in hot milk, stir, and enjoy! Each bag contains five discs.
This little gadget whips up velvety milk foam with the touch of a button in just 15-20 seconds for a homemade latte so good they'll never hit up Starbucks again. It can also be used for bulletproof coffee, matcha, hot cocoa, and much more. Choose from thirteen gorgeous colors!
Tech accessories make excellent Secret Santa gifts because, in my experience, folks are quick to get the new gadget for themselves but tend to put off buying protective little extras. V-Moro's leather case is made from silicone wrapped in genuine leather and features a carabiner-style clip, so it'll never go missing. Compatible with Airpod generations 1 and 2.
When I came across this fuzzy ball hand towel I knew I had to include it. It's such a unique take on the bathroom hand towel, and dries so much faster, too, since it's made from microfiber. It's a towel that doubles as decor, and you'll get a set of two to use together or in separate bathrooms.
Take Maldon's famously crunchy, pyramid-shaped sea salt crystals, smoke them over English Oak for several days, and what do you get? A perfectly giftable finishing salt. Use it on anything from steak and chicken to fish and vegetables to add a subtly smokey depth. I'd even put a little on chocolate ice cream or homemade caramels. Yum!
The beauty guru you're Secret Santa-ing for will love you for this Sleeping Lip Mask from Laneige. This cult-fave product has a juicy scent and ultra-moisturizing ingredients like shea butter and murumuru seed butter to heal chapped winter lips while staying free of phthalates, parabens, and formaldehyde.
I'm a firm believer that one can never have too many mugs, especially if they're as cute as this one is. The mosaic tile motif brings to mind a French Bistro, while the metallic accents add a little festive sparkle.
We lost a singular voice in food and travel writing when we lost Anthony Bourdain. Published posthumously, World Travel: An Irreverent Guide is a collection of travel tips and insights into some of his favorite global destinations, featuring supplemental essays from friends and colleagues. A perfect book for those seeking to be a traveler, not a tourist.
Cold brew fans are hardcore (which could be a side effect of all that caffeine). Give them a reason to get out of bed in the morning with this coffee pitcher. This gift features a carafe made of super-tough borosilicate glass marked for easy water measuring, a stainless steel infusing filter and a silicone non-slip base. The silicone rings on the lid keep things airtight and fresh while the coffee brews. It can also be used for iced tea or fruit-infused water!
Who could have predicted that lavalier mics would play such an integral role in social media in the 21st century? You can't get simpler than this model: just plug it in and start recording! It features crisp, clear, 360-degree omnidirectional sound, an anti-friction windscreen, and a six-and-a-half-foot long cable for range of motion. Perfect for TikTok duets, YouTube tutorials, or live streaming.
This is a gift that I personally received at an office Secret Santa several years ago that I still use to this day. It's incredibly easy to operate - just plug it in and wait for the indicator light to tell you it's hot enough - and it cooks up a perfect single-serving portion in no time at all! Chocolate chip, whole wheat, even ham and cheese, the non-stick surface can handle any batter you pour into it. Plus, it takes up very little space, so it's great for tiny kitchens or dorm rooms.
This is a Secret Santa gift that anyone can truly enjoy. The rules are simple: all you have to do is get your friends to guess the name on the card. In round one, you can use any words you'd like; round two is one word only, and round three is all charades. Play with as few as four or as many as 16 people. Hilarity ensues!
Palais des Thés makes French loose-leaf teas of the highest quality, packaged in gorgeous lacquered tins ready for gifting. There are eight varieties to choose from, but around the holidays, I love a warm, spicy chai with its flavors of pink peppercorn, cardamom, orange zest, cinnamon, and ginger.
The legendery Gee's Bend quilting community in Alabama has turned out masterpieces in folk art for generations. This pattern called Get Ready, conceived by Gee's Bend matriarch Mary Lee Bendolph, is an example of the bold, geometric design that is the artistic signature of that group - reinvented as a jigsaw puzzle!
Did you pull the data entry wizard in your office Secret Santa this year? Gifting them this mug featuring over a dozen of the most common (and most helpful) spreadsheet shortcuts just might elevate you to the status of their new personal hero.
If they're a little witchy and a lot indecisive, let the power of tarot guide them! This cookbook is amazingly well-researched and features 78 recipes (one for each card in the deck) using elemental correspondences to help the querent build a meal. With breakdowns of the magical properties of each ingredient, this is an ideal gift for any kitchen witch or the magi-curious.
We all know someone whose phone is somehow constantly about to run out of juice. What this charging bank lacks in size, it more than makes up for in power. It's only about as big as a tube of lipstick but can fully charge an iPhone up to 95% from zero. Plus, it supports pass-through charging function, meaning they can charge their phone while simultaneously recharging the power bank.
This selection of hot sauces ranges from the sweet tang of Mango Habanero to the deliciously smokey Bacon Cayenne. On eggs, pizza, wings, or dashed into a Bloody Mary, these sauces will add a kick of flavor sure to satisfy any spicy food enthusiast.
This is a gamified fitness routine builder any gym fan would appreciate. Each box comes with a pair of dice, one deck of gameplay and strategy cards, and one deck of 52 cards featuring different HIIT body-weight exercises plus QR codes linking to instructional videos in case they're unfamiliar with the moves. They'll never have the same workout twice!
If your giftee needs to seriously chill out, tell them so! Well... not in so many words, of course. An essential oil diffuser gently wafts the relaxing fragrance of their choosing through their space while also acting as a humidifier. This one from Asakuki has two mist modes and an automatic shut-off function when the reservoir runs out of water. Plus, it features seven dimmable colored LED lights to further enhance the mood.
Buying for a Type A giftee? Help them get the new year off to the freshest of starts with a handy planner from Moleskine. It features pages for bullet journaling and to-do lists, calendar grids, and stickers to help organize their schedule beautifully.
Because there must be balance in the universe, for every person bundled all the way up at their desk even in July, there's someone else sweating it out at theirs in January. This attractively designed USB-powered mini fan is the ideal size for sitting on top of a desk. Made of sturdy metal with a brushed copper finish, the four-inch blades cast an impressive breeze. A comfy coworker is a happy coworker.