Hunting for the perfect Secret Santa gift for the work Christmas party can be just about as enjoyable as having teeth pulled.

To ease the pain, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of cheap and cheerful gift ideas that will be sure to score you major props in the office without hurting your back pocket.

1. Shot Glass / Flask

“But I own too many novelty shot glasses” — said no one ever. Regardless of whether you are a boozer or not, a quirky shot-glass or flask is never a bad idea. Test tube shot glasses for the nerds, miniature mason jars for the hipsters, or simply a generic set to make the perfect addition to any household.

2. Hangover Rescue Pack

Prepare your compadre for the worst with this thoughtful, handmade pack! Team together Berocca, a bottle of water, a miniature ice-pack and perhaps even some painkillers or fast food vouchers to cover all bases and guarantee a speedy recovery. You will be the one who saved Christmas for years to come.

3. $10 worth of Scratchies / Lotto tickets

Strapped for time and ideas? Go no further than your local newsagency for Scratchies and Lotto tickets. This is a perfect gift for when you don’t actually know your colleague that well, but you’re pretty sure they like money. And who knows? There’s always the potential for it to be the greatest gift they will ever receive.

4. Hilarious Mug

Too regularly does the generic coffee mug disappear into the black hole that is the office kitchenette. Treat your Secret Santa to a mug that is far too identifiable to ever go missing again with crowd favourite catch-phrases such as, “I woke up like this”, “Cancel my subscription, I’m tired of your issues”, or “#1 Dad” (to forever throw the office bachelor off his game).

5. Bulk Chocolate

I cannot stress BULK enough in this scenario. Another perfect gift for a co-worker you are less acquainted with, because there is always a high probability that a love of chocolate will be something you have in common with a complete stranger. Just keep an ear out in the weeks leading up to Christmas for any existing lactose intolerance or diabetes problems and simply substitute with organic or sugar-free alternatives if you have to.

6. Whiskey Stones

There is nothing more devastating in summer than watching your well deserved, chilled beverage sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage. When ice melts, it dilutes your drink, making it an absolute no-no for whiskey purists. Whiskey Stones chill your liquor without diluting it, making them a must-have this festive season for the bourbon lover in your office. You should be able to grab these for under 10 bucks at your local Dan Murphy’s.

7. Novelty lighters and torches

Storm season black-outs are an unwelcome visitor during Australian summers, so help your Secret Santa best prepare with fun-sized, novelty lighting devices! Check out Etsy for their epic range of lighters and torches.

8. Hand cream

Protect your most precious extremity with hands down one of the most well received gifts on the market. A surefire win if your Secret Santa is a chick or, better yet, a SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy). You’ll have no trouble finding a decent hand cream at your local pharmacist for under $10, but if you want to put in for a slightly more expensive, ‘cruelty-free’ option without cheating the $10 limit, you could pick up a $10 gift card at Lush.

9. Candles

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that we live in the generation of the extremely overpriced candle. You can instantly transform your home into an oasis of Coconut and Salted Caramel — however, it will most likely cost you upwards of $60.

Fortunately, there are still affordable, quality options available around $10 at retailers such as Dusk, Kmart and Target — and they still do the job. Unless your Secret Santa has got the olfactory senses of Wolverine, they won’t be able to tell you haven’t splurged on the expensive stuff.

10. 2015 Calendars

In the lead up to 2015, a desk calendar is not only a staple, but a great way to add a little charity to your gift-giving. You could support your local fire fighters this Christmas with their highly anticipated annual calendar. Or how about my personal favourite, 6 Packs, 9 Lives, a whole calendar’s worth of hunks posing with cats in support of rescue animals? Either way, don’t be shocked when office productivity falls drastically.

For those who can’t handle the heat, there are always a huge array of less risqué specialty calendars on offer at most post offices or newsagents.

11. Desk Plant

Not only do they make a gorgeous addition to the office, a small plant can also be beneficial to your health, as they clear the air of toxins and pollutants whilst adding oxygen and humidity to any indoor environment.

Don’t forget that low-maintenance plants are imperative (it’s best to assume that your Secret Santa is lazy), and that Venus Fly Traps are awesome.

12. Key Ring

Your key ring is your identifier. It is a representation of who you are and who you want to become, therefore much consideration must be taken in this selection for your Secret Santa.

We are talking about $10, though, so a bottle opener or Rubix cube will probably be fine. Let’s not go crazy here.

13. Tea / Tea infuser

T2 is the obvious destination for what seems to be every single tea leaf that has ever been produced. If this selection is too overwhelming, however, settle for a cool tea pot or clever novelty tea infusers, such as Mr. Tea Infuser or Manatea, available at the National Geographic Shop.

14. USB

To me, USBs are like bobby pins. Every day I seem to be drowning in them until that fateful day that I actually require one and they are nowhere to be found. ‘Large’ and ‘noticeable’ are the keys here — you want to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

With that in mind, $10 worth of bobby pins is also a sound option.

15. Stress Ball

Coming in all different shapes and sizes, there is not a single working person who does not see the merit in owning a stress ball, particularly if somebody was to manufacture one in the shape of Jacqui Lambie’s head in time for Christmas. (The clock is ticking, guys.)

16. DIY Coupon Book

Save your dough with this fun and different — but also potentially dangerous — present. Make up a cute little coupon book for them to utilise throughout the year. Ideas for coupons include 5 Minute Neck Massage (which, come to think of it, could be a HR nightmare), Free Coffee, Free Desk Clean, and the very risky Free Babysitting.

Make sure to cover yourself with some pretty hefty T’s and C’s in the back, just in case.

17. Comical Pen

When making your selection, you must remember that the level of seriousness in the receiver’s personality directly correlates to how comical this pen must be (think giant, pink, glittery and fluffy for the accountant).

More thoughtful options include perhaps a feather quill for a journalist or a fake syringe for a doctor. Either way you are guaranteed to brighten up somebody’s stationery drawer for the New Year.

18. DIY Picture Frame

Not only a thoughtful option but also an opportunity to get crafty! Plain frames come cheap so set aside a crafternoon and get your DIY on. Glitter, shells and beads can be used to create unique decorations and instantly add “value” to your gift.

If you want to push the envelope, go one step further and pre-fill the frame with an incredibly uncomfortable photo of yourself and an equally creepy accompanying note. Police lyrics will work wonders: “Every breath you take. Every move you make. I’ll be watching you.”

19. A book that means something to you

Why not share the gift of reading and buy your Secret Santa a paperback copy of a favourite book of yours that you think they might enjoy? Best case scenario, they’ll love it and it’ll fill hours of conversation around the watercooler. Worst case scenario, they’ll never even open it and quietly resent you for getting them a lame gift, but at least someone in the office might notice what a quirky and interesting Haruki Murakami fan you are, right?


20. Go nuts at Daiso

Quirky Japanese retailer Daiso has moved into Brisbane with stores all around town. They’ve got hundreds of potential gifts under $3 (that’s kind of their whole deal), and nobody will ever guess how much you spent. Who wouldn’t want these salt and pepper shakers? They’re just $2.80 each, and there’s loads more random stocking stuffers where they came from.

What’s the best Secret Santa gift you’ve ever been given? How about the worst? Let us know in the comments below…

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