At this point, most of us have been invited to participate in a gift exchange where we are asked to bring a gift in the price range of $20 to a holiday party at work, with church or a social club. Honestly, I used to be very annoyed by these exchanges, as I thought they felt impersonal and they were a waste of money. Then I reframed my thinking and decided to make it about bringing the coolest, most useful or most whimsical (but still functional) gift. I still hear people struggling with what to bring to these events, so it felt like a good idea to share some of my favorites.
These items will be $15-$20 and there will be some that are done as a set of smaller items together. (Note: at the time this was written, all of these items were under $20, but we all know how prices fluctuate on Amazon.)
Food blanket – For those times when it’s chilly and you want to snuggle up under a…. Giant tortilla. Or pizza. Or waffle.
Turkish beach towel – these incredible towels get softer the more you wash them, come in a variety of colors, they are very quick-drying for swimming days, and they fold up to be quite small for travel. (Tip: give it with a coordinating wet bag for a fun gift set!)
Plant Propagation Station – admittedly, I have a black thumb, but if I was the type of person who was able to raise plants, I would 100% want to have this. In fact, I kind of wish I could raise plants, because I am in love with the clean lines on this propagation station! There’s nothing I love like functional decor.
Fireplace Wax Melt Warmer – what a cute, cozy winter decoration! It comes with timer settings and lighting modes. Include a few seasonal scented wax melts, and you are good to go!
LED Moon Light – yes, this is my 3rd item that involves light. I’m realizing now that I might be obsessed. This is so beautiful and customizable – it even comes with a remote! This could be a wonderful nightlight or would even be great for ambiance!
LED Table Lamp – this is a very cool, minimalistic looking lamp that would be great as a bedside lamp. It’s a touch lamp that offers a wide variety of brightnesses and colors. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love this!
4 in 1 charger – This is the item I am bringing to a “bring your favorite item” party this year. I have purchased an embarrassing amount of them in 2023 as gifts. This will charge your MagSafe compatible iPhone, your Apple Watch, and your AirPods at the same time, and it includes a small light.
Portable charger – I feel like EVERYONE needs these. This one is compatible with almost all phones, it has a built-in flashlight, and it’s a great bang for your buck! Quick note: the higher the mAh #, the more “juice” for charging! This one is 30,000 mAh, which should get you 2-3 full charges before it needs to be recharged.
Head lamp – This is great for getting a walk in when it’s still a little dark out. It’s waterproof as well!
Bluetooth speaker – This little speaker packs quite a punch! It comes in a variety of colors and has great sound quality.
Bluetooth beanie – It may sound kind of silly, but Bluetooth beanies are great for people who like to listen to music or podcasts while they are walking, removing snow, skiiing, etc. They are even great if you just want to listen to something and don’t like the feel of in-ear buds.
Bluetooth Headband – There’s also a great option for a Bluetooth headband to wear when you are going to sleep and want to listen to something, or for kiddos who need to block out sound to get to sleep.
Avocado Rechargeable hand warmers – Living in The Tundra, I’ve become a big fan of these rechargeable hand warmers in the last few years. I think the silly avocado design brings a little bit of whimsy along with it, and I love that you get a warmer for each hand in this set, where others only give you 1 warmer.
Portable neck fan – on the other end of the weather spectrum, remember that it gets very hot here in WI in the summer! I got this fan when we went to FL a couple of years ago and it made standing in those long lines a lot more comfortable!
Pen/pencil cup with cell phone stand – with so many folks returning to the office, we can at least make it a little more fun! This can store your favorite pen (we all know we have one, right?!), and prop up your phone at the same time, so you can watch Netflix… err…. Keep an eye on emails.
Desktop punching bag – feeling a little flustered for being summoned to another meeting that could have been an email? Take your aggression out on this desktop punching bag.
Desktop cornhole set – have a few minutes to kill before your next meeting? Challenge a colleague to a quick round of desktop cornhole to help improve employee morale.
Tabletop Mini Bowling Game – trying to up your game for league night? This set is just the ticket and a great way to spend your lunch break.
Mini space heater – working in an office that feels like the arctic? This mini space heater is perfect for small spaces. It can fit in the palm of your hand is quiet enough that your boss probably won’t notice when they stop by your office.
Moving sand art picture – initially I thought these were kind of silly, but I have to admit they are soothing to watch when I need to give my eyes a break from my monitors.
Bluetooth keyboard – Personally, I love using my Bluetooth keyboard with my iPad to do research, write blog posts (like this one!), and just about anything else I would normally do on a computer. The keyboard is easy to pack up if I am traveling, too, and I love that it’s rechargeable instead of running on batteries.
Fun in the kitsch-en
Angry Mama/Scrub Daddy combo set – these two are a match made in heaven. The Angry Mama helps loosen baked on remnants inside your microwave, and the Scrub Daddy is an extremely versatile sponge for just about any surface in your home. Yes, I know that this may sound less-than-thrilling, but I am not overselling it when I tell you that these two are AH-MAZING. (They will need to be purchased separately, but trust me… they go together perfectly!)
Milk frother – this is called a milk frother, but we use it for so much in our kitchen! Hot tip: I got a round stone coaster and epoxied it to the bottom to provide a stable base for my frother, so now it stays on the counter all the time. I paid attention today and it was used 4 (!) times! You can even choose a color that goes best with your decor.
Ice cube tray for ice cube balls – this is such a cute and functional set for someone who LOVES ICE or likes to entertain. They can fill it and put the ice cubes into the storage box for just the right moment when a person would need several spherical ice cubes. They could even fill it with (cold) coffee to amp up their iced coffee game!
Mug warmer – Are you buying for a person who never gets to drink their coffee when it’s fresh and hot? Grab this mug warmer (which has a safety feature to ensure it’s not forgotten and left on all night!) to make their day.
Microwave popcorn popper – this a fun gadget for someone who likes to keep a quick, healthy snack at their desk or at home. You simply add the popcorn and follow the microwave directions. It even has a spot to put butter to melt while it pops. Add some popcorn fixins’ with it, and it’s a great gift for just about anyone.
Mini waffle maker – we use our mini waffle maker for not only waffles, but also hashbrowns, eggs and cinnamon rolls (but not all at once!). It’s more versatile than I had initially thought, that’s for sure. Plus, who doesn’t love waffle-shaped food?!
Hyper Chiller – this gadget solves the opposite problem of the mug warmer – it’s for the people who forgot to put their soda/sparkling water/beer/whatever in the refrigerator, and want to drink a cold beverage NOW. I have this at home for my iced coffee days, and it’s very convenient! Add their drink of choice and the gift is complete and very thoughtful!
If you made it through this list, thank you so much for reading! I hope that it either helped you, gave you a laugh, or jogged an idea for something else that might be a good idea for your gift-giving escapades! Happy Holidays and Happy Gifting!
Looking for Holiday events? Check out our Holi-Yay! 2023 Family Festive Guide.