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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 March 13, 2019

                  How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                  How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                  Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                  You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                  Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                  1. Work on the small tasks.

                  When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                  Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                  2. Take a break from your work desk.

                  Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                  Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                  3. Upgrade yourself

                  Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                  The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                  4. Talk to a friend.

                  Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                  Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                  5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                  If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                  Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                  Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                  6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                  If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                  Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                  Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                  7. Read a book (or blog).

                  The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                  Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                  Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                  8. Have a quick nap.

                  If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                  9. Remember why you are doing this.

                  Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                  What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                  10. Find some competition.

                  Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                  Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                  11. Go exercise.

                  Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                  Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                  As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                  Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                  12. Take a good break.

                  Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                  Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                  Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                  Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                  More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                  Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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