5 Ideas for Your Office Holiday Gift Exchange

Work gift exchanges can be fun, but they can also be stressful. Some offices will allow people to choose to participate in an official exchange and people will draw a name from a hat and buy a gift for one person. Generally, there is a price limit set on those gifts. Other offices do a white elephant gift exchange, with a set price. Other offices just let coworkers decide when and what to give to each other over the holidays.

It can be stressful to add the additional cost of gifts with your coworkers to your holiday budget. Incorporating Christmas savings strategies will help you with your gift exchange and help you stick to your holiday budget. Here are some holiday gift ideas for your co-workers.

Homemade Treats

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A simple plate of homemade goodies will often go over well if you need to give something to everyone in your office. Though this option can be tricky given food allergies, so you may want to check with people before making treats with nuts.

This would also work in a white elephant exchange. If you are not comfortable baking things yourself, you can buy a box of chocolates for around the same price as ingredients for a plate of cookies.

  • Look for deals starting right before Thanksgiving on groceries that you would use for baking.
  • You can often find deals on boxes of chocolate or other holiday-related candy starting after Thanksgiving or on Black Friday. 

Novelty Gifts

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Novelty gifts or pretty coffee table books are a great choice for an office gift. Depending on who the gift recipient will be, you may choose a funny novelty book or a more serious book ideal for displaying in your home. 

  • Amazon is a great option for low-cost, gorgeous books.
  • You may also try your local bookstore, especially on big sale days like Black Friday. 

Movie Fun Kit


Create a miniature themed gift for everyone in your office. Put together a bag of microwave popcorn and a gift certificate for a free movie rental into a popcorn box or bag and give the gift to people in the office.

This keeps the costs down while keeping the gift generic enough that everyone will enjoy it. You can do a different theme and include a holiday ornament, a treat and a gift certificate to Starbucks or a nearby coffee shop.

  • Try buying the items in bulk either online or at a discount store like Costco or Sam's. 
  • Try different themes like a book lover's option with a gift card to Barnes and Noble or Amazon with packets of tea or hot chocolate.
  • Another option is a chocolate or candy lover's option with a variety of candy in the bag.

Gift Cards


A gift card is a practical gift and it works well when you do not know the person you are giving the gift to very well. A Target gift card or a Barnes and Noble gift card will usually go over well.

If you know the person well enough, you can choose a store that matches his interests better such as a sporting goods store or a video game store.‚Äč

  • You may be able to cash in credit card rewards points to buy the gift cards at a lower rate. Check into this option.
  • Buying the gift cards in bulk may be able to save you money.

Gift Baskets

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Create a themed gift basket for a co-worker. The gift basket works well if you have a higher spending limit on gifts and if you know the person to whom you are giving the gift.

You can include a gift card to a nearby restaurant that will cover lunch, as well as other things that interest him. Some examples would be a coffee mug featuring a favorite sports team or a candle in their favorite scent. 

  • Creating one or two major themes for the year can make it easier to buy in bulk.
  • If you just have one person to give to, visiting a novelty store may give you ideas on gifts that would work.
  • Food-themed gifts often go over well, but be sure to be cognizant of any good allergies. 

Updated by Rachel Morgan Cautero