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Quirky Gift Ideas Under $20 for Workplace “Secret Santa” Exchanges

Quirky Gift Ideas Under $20 for Workplace “Secret Santa” Exchanges

The premise of a “Secret Santa” gift exchange is that the names of everyone at work are put into a bowl or bag, whereupon each person draws one of these names at random, and buys a gift for the co-worker whose name they’ve chosen. If you’ve ever taken part in one of these exchanges, you know how cringe-worthy they can be at times: the gifts are given anonymously (which can lead to presents that are utterly inappropriate), and in general, it’s a horribly uncomfortable exchange that many businesses are loath to give up because they think it builds team spirit. Surely, nothing can foster a strong work team than having all the employees stand around in some measure of holiday dress, opening presents that they’ll just try to swap with one another later, right?

Right.

Should you find yourself being swept into the maelstrom of awkwardness that is a Secret Santa party, you’ll undoubtedly see a variety of desk calendars, coffee gift sets, and gift cards being unwrapped around the snack table. Aim to be a little bit more unique this year, and consider one of these gift ideas instead of the usual, paltry offerings.

Addictaball

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    For the office teammate who’s continually procrastinating and not focusing on work, there’s the Addictaball from Firebox: a three-dimensional maze full of slides, spirals, platforms and holes through which the player has to guide a little metal ball, which will provide hours of gyrating fun for slackers of any age group. Granted, you have to be aware that giving this to someone means that you’re actually contributing to their behaviour and possible subsequent termination, but at least they’ll have fun with the thing while waiting for their unemployment cheques.

    Adipose Stress Toy

      Adipose Stress Toy from Think Geek: perfect for people in call centres or customer service environments, this smiley, squish-able little guy (inspired by a Doctor Who episode, no less) can be crushed in one’s fist every time some idiot slings abuse over the phone. It’s also great for board meetings and dinner parties with horrible relatives. Side note: watching its gooey innards spill through one’s fingers with every clench is a good reminder not to over-indulge during the holidays.

      Office Index Finger

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        Office Index…Fingers from Urban Outfitters are sort of creepy, but also rather hilarious: they’re sticky-notes in the shape of index fingers that you can use to keep your place in a manual, or to literally point something out to someone. Nitpicky, micro-managing bosses could abuse these to great effect.

        All Smiles lip balms

          Maintaining a chipper, smiling facade all day is hard work, especially when the people you’re dealing with are rather loathsome. The retro, pin-up-doll-themed All Smiles lip balms from ModCloth keep lips from cracking with all of that vacant grinning and nodding, and they’re also great for soothing sore, chapped skin that’s been beaten up by blizzards. This set is exceptionally well-suited to receptionists, baristas, and retail workers.

          I Love Spread Sheets

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          i love spread sheet mug

            I love Spread Sheets mug via Urban Outfitters would be a cute gift for someone in accounting, but be wary about who receives it: depending on their personality and whether they actually like their job, they’ll either love it, or “accidentally” forget to submit your pay on time if they discover it was you who gave it to them. This could also work as an ironic gift for those who can’t turn on their own laptops without help, let alone put together any formulae in Excel.

            Office Speaking Rotating Stamp

            Knock Knock Office Speak Rotating Stamp

              Office Speak Rotating Stamp via Amazon. Ideal for marketing coordinators and PR representatives, this office stamp has handy phrases such as “In the Loop” and “Outside the Box” so they can stamp papers with their catchphrase of choice anytime they like. Other phrases such as “I’m Always Right” and “?????” are perfect for expressing their opinions on submitted pieces, while “I Need Coffee” can be clandestinely stamped on an office-mate’s desk during to indicate the need for a beverage and gossip break.

              Today’s the Day Pocket Planner

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              today-is-the-day-pocket-planner-lg

                For a little spark of sunshine and inspiration, try the Today’s the Day Pocket Planner from Ruche: full of lists and spaces for notes and doodle-art, it’s a reminder that each and every day is a new opportunity for something amazing, and this encourages the recipient to plan awesome activities, both at the office, and for their own down-time. This gift is a great idea for interns and mail-room clerks who could use a bit of a pick-me-up.

                Mana Potions

                mana_energy_potion_sixpack

                  Mana Potions for the development team (another ThinkGeek gem). These cute little bottles of caffeinated goodness are ideal for sci-fi/fantasy fans, and the avid gamer  who’d happily talk your ear off about the epic loot found by their level 49 battle dwarf when you make the mistake of asking them what they got up to on the weekend. Each shot = four cups of office-strength coffee, so your coders can keep going long after their deodorant has given out.

                  Featured photo credit:  Nostalgic magical portrait of Santa Claus at the North Pole via Shutterstock

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                  Last Updated on August 15, 2018

                  7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                  7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                  Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

                  Video Summary

                  Why is it important to train up our core strength?

                  There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

                  This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

                  Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

                  In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

                  One Exercise, multiple benefits

                  There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

                  By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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                  When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

                  Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

                  In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

                  What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

                  What will happen when you start doing planks every day

                    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

                    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

                    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
                    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
                    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
                    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

                    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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                      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

                      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

                      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                          5. You’ll improve overall balance

                            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                                How to hold a plank position

                                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                                  • Prolapse
                                  • After prolapse surgery
                                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                                  • Previous childbirth
                                  • Overweight

                                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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