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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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                  Catherine Winter

                  Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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                  Last Updated on January 21, 2020

                  The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                  The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                  Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

                  your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                    Why You Need a Vision

                    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                    How to Create Your Life Vision

                    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                    What Do You Want?

                    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                    Some tips to guide you:

                    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                    • Give yourself permission to dream.
                    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                    Some questions to start your exploration:

                    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                    • What qualities would you like to develop?
                    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                    • What would you most like to accomplish?
                    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                    A few prompts to get you started:

                    • What will you have accomplished already?
                    • How will you feel about yourself?
                    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                    • What does your ideal day look like?
                    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                    • What would you be doing?
                    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                    • How are you dressed?
                    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                    Plan Backwards

                    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                    • What important actions would you have had to take?
                    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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