Unique Secret Santa Gifts That Won’t Disappoint Your Giftee—Or Your Wallet
Starting at just $6.
Updated Nov 9, 2023 3:20 PM
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While we personally prefer the strategic gameplay of White Elephant—mainly because there’s no pressure to find a thoughtful present for someone you may hardly know anything about—Secret Santa is often a holiday party standard that’s impossible to avoid. To fight the Ebenezer Scrooge feelings, we found 14 affordable and only-looks-expensive ideas to have on hand in advance (nothing tops $50). Whether it’s a picky coworker or judgy relative, we’ve found that the best unique Secret Santa gifts ironically appeal to most anyone. Think: a facial in a bottle, a 12-pack of really nice fine-point gel pens, and prewrapped press-on nail art. For our full list of recommendations, read on.
Our Favorite Secret Santa Gift Ideas
- Hawkins New York Set of Lurex Sponges
- Futurewise World Slug Boost Hydrating Mist
- Paint Box Koi Press-Ons
- State the Label House Matches
- Schoolhouse Knox Pine Incense
- Ralph’s Coffee Espresso Cup and Saucer
- Anecdote Set of 12 Gel Pens
- Superegg NYC This Moment Hand Care
- Vân Vân Costal Purple Shallots
- Cheeky Cocktails Espresso Syrup
- Bonilla a la Vista Potato Chips
- Ami Ami Mulled Wine Kit
- OTOTO Barry The Bear Box Cheese Grater
- Two’s Company Staffordshire Dog Cocktail Pick Holder
Perhaps it’s a bad take, but germ freaks or the coworker always scrubbing at the sink probably prefers a squeaky-clean kitchen. Upgrade their normie sponge situation with this three-pack of shiny stripes from Hawkins New York; they’re cute enough to keep out on the counter. One of the best dish sponges on the market, we can confirm that the cheery metallics aren’t just for show—the Lurex base wears at gunk and grime with no problem.
Know someone with a 10-step skin-care routine? They’ll likely appreciate having this spray bottle in their arsenal, especially since it’ll more easily travel in a tote bag than snail mucin or night cream. They can mist anytime for a facial on the go.
Whether they have a standing mani-pedi appointment or are just always in a rush, they’ll love these press-ons. Paint Box products are well known for using nontoxic ingredients and recycled materials, resulting in a nondamaging finish they can wear more than once. We’d pick one of the brand’s limited-edition seasonal style choices—Koi looks like watercolor art. Sold in a container so cute that all you’ll have to do is put a bow on top.
Everyone’s collecting matchboxes these days. But you can’t get this one at the latest trendy restaurant. These house-shaped cuties (large enough to hold 100 4-inch matches) are actually compiled with cut-up cardboard from cereal boxes that are hand-painted by State’s very own Adrienne Antonson.
Candles are a safe Secret Santa gift. For something more unique for your fragrance-obsessed friend, these mini incense cones from Germany will delight. Seasonally scented in pine and cedar, the woodsy aroma and burn are described by one shopper as “quality, quality, quality.” And for just $7, you can’t beat it.
What could be sweeter than sipping espresso from this porcelain mug? It’ll be a hit among coffee lovers and New Yorkers who frequent the Upper East Side staple.
A colorful set of quality pens is better than anything the office is already supplying. Whether for bullet journaling, daily manifestations, or simply jotting down old-fashioned notes in a meeting, this 12-pack of retractable fine-point gel pens is sure to keep their desk colorful.
In the winter, you can pretty much count on everyone dealing with dry hands. If your assigned giftee is always asking for hand lotion, this smooth present is a no-brainer. Filled with a light yet highly moisturizing cream made with tremella mushroom and hyaluronic acid, it quenches parched skin without leaving behind a heavy, greasy feel. And honestly? We just love the packaging.
If their idea of happy hour involves half-off oysters, then they’ll be over the moon to receive this bag of dried purple shallots (to be fair, so will any food fiend). A staple in Vietnamese kitchens, this Phan Rang–grown garnish rehydrates easily and is a sweet yet spicy seasoning.
The aspiring at-home bartender or espresso martini obsessive in your life will be smitten with a coffee-flavored cocktail syrup. This bottle hails from Café Integral, a specialty roaster that works with small-batch beans in Brooklyn. Plus the more you buy, the more you save, so if you get looped into multiple games, grab a six-pack and dish them out to all on a discount (and perhaps keep a bottle for yourself).
Have a co-worker that’s always snacking on Zoom calls or makes hourly runs to the office kitchen? This big batch of chips should be more than enough to keep them satisfied for a while. Even better, it can be sourced from one of our new favorite design stores in New York. Imported from Spain, the flavor lies in the quality olive oil and sea salt, and the tin is cute enough to keep around as a planter or storage spot after they’re finished (which is why the price is a bit steep—it’s the sort of gift that keeps on giving, in our opinion).
For the assignee who loves to chef it up in the kitchen, they’ll get a laugh out of Barry the bear-shaped cheese grater. An editor-favorite hidden gem on Amazon, this cheeky tool’s chunky shape is actually incredibly comfortable to hold.
Ami Ami really thought of everything when putting this pack together. It contains a French Syrah blend, all the spices, and finishing touches (hello, dried oranges!) for a drink that looks as delicious as it tastes. It’s also the sort of gift the whole party can enjoy.
Share a passion for estate sales? Are they always going down Facebook Marketplace rabbit holes? This mini Staffordshire figurine will blend right into their home and act as a conversation starter around the bar cart. It’s so cute we want it for ourselves.