Gift Guide: 20 Ideas for Coworkers, Friends, and Family.
As the holidays quickly approach, I’m sure many of you are like me—feverishly trying to find the perfect last minute gifts for those oh-so-hard-to-buy-for loved ones. If you are laughing because you got your holiday shopping out of the way 2 months ago, all I can say is that I commend you (and you must certainly be way less indecisive than I)!
I find that the most difficult people to shop for are coworkers, especially if you want to avoid giving the standard box of candy or a couple of scratch-off lotto tickets. The biggest stumper when it comes to office giving is finding products that won’t be construed as too personal, slightly insulting, or lacking in personality. And, when you work with more than two or three people, budget becomes exceedingly important. I am definitely guilty of overspending on my colleagues, but I like to think that over the years I’ve gotten this type of gift giving down to an art!
The following guide has been curated by moi, to help you find thoughtful, unique gifts at four different price points ($5 and under, $6 to $10, $11 to $20, and $21+). Whether you are looking for a small tchotchke for each person in your department, something fun for a Grab Bag or Secret Santa, or a more expensive gift for your boss, I’ve got 20 ideas to share!
No coworkers? Don’t fret! The following items could also be great stocking stuffers or last minute ideas for friends and family :)
Disclosure: Main featured image was downloaded from Smashing Magazine’s December 2012 free desktop wallpaper page and was designed by Sarfaraz Ansari (India). I have not purchased all of the products mentioned in this gift guide (although I would like to!), but any that I do own will be clearly marked. Images and logos are used courtesy of their respective companies, including Amazon, bkr, Blackbird Letterpress, Chocoveda, Debby Arem Designs/Three Ring Circuits, Deckstool, eatingEVOLVED, ECOlunchbox, Evolution Salt Co., I Heart Guts!, iSkelter Products, Knock Knock, Masha Razner, MinaSmoke, Moxie Makery, Paromi Tea, Sudz by Studz, S.W. Basics + Chris Uphues, Teals Prairie & Co., and The Choosy Chick. Price points are based on the retail value of the products and are not inclusive of shipping costs. Links are NOT affiliated and I am in no way being compensated for including specific businesses in this gift guide.
6 Things to Consider Before Purchasing Office Gifts
Check your company policies in regards to holiday gift giving before you start buying. I’ve never worked anywhere where exchanging presents was not permitted, but there are some corporate businesses that either do not allow it, or put a price cap on what can be given.
Let’s Get Personal
Now that you know gift giving is allowed, try to steer clear of showering your colleagues with personal items or alcohol unless you know, without a doubt, that this type of gift will be well received. The last thing you want to do is give air freshening spray to the smoker sitting in the next cube, or a bottle of wine to the recovering alcoholic down the row. However, if you know that one of your coworkers makes beer on the weekends, or happens to collect disinfectants, then by all means, throw the “personal” rule out the window!
The Bath and Beauty Debate
Are bath and beauty products considered too personal? This is a question I ask myself every single year, as I always want to give out natural soaps. And every year, my mom talks me out of it. She believes soap is associated with dirt and giving soap will imply that I think my coworkers are dirty. “Hey guys, you stink! Take a bath with this great natural bar!” I, on the other hand, think it is acceptable as long as your coworkers are also your friends. For example, everyone I work with knows that I am a beauty blogger and obsessed with nontoxic products, so I doubt any of them would be surprised in the least if I gave them a bar of artisan soap. However, I would never, under any circumstances give beauty products to a manager of the opposite sex.
It’s not Christmas, it’s the Holidays
Around the holidays, everyone gets into the Christmas spirit and tends to forget that not every person in the world is Christian. It is because of this that I always recommend giving secular office gifts. My best suggestion: replace Santa with a snowman, or Christmas trees with snowflakes. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand your excitement over finding the most adorable Christmas Mickey ornaments at the Disney store—much like my excitement over finding an apron that screams “Challah back!”—but these gifts are better left for our families. Anything oozing of religion given to a person celebrating a different holiday will most likely end up in the back corner of a closet, pawned off on a friend, or re-gifted. The one exception to this rule might be cookies, since they will be eaten regardless of what shape they take.
This is something that I would never have thought of previous to being diagnosed myself, but with the increased prevalence of allergies in today’s society, I feel that it is important to be aware of any sensitivities that your coworkers may have. If you decide to give store-bought food, make sure the ingredients are clearly listed on the package. And, if you give cookies that you baked yourself, take some time to print a sticker or card with the ingredients, especially if you have used any of the top 8 allergens (wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish). Believe me, the gesture will be much appreciated!
You don’t have to get everyone the same thing—but whether you spend $5 or $50, make sure everything is at the same price point and has approximately the same perceived value. If you’d like to spend a little bit more on a manager or boss, that is acceptable, but certainly isn’t necessary.
Now, on to the gifts! Enjoy!
Small Budget: $5 and under
Long Island, NY natives Rick Gusmano and Christine Cusano founded eatingEVOLVED to bring chocolate back to its roots. They use organic fair-trade certified cacao (ethically sourced from the Dominican Republic), which is stone-ground and crafted in small batches. If you are looking to give a small token of appreciation to those you work with this year, these Mint Crème Coconut Butter Cups are an excellent choice at only $2.99 per pouch.
Mint and chocolate; a classic combination that has been popularized by some products with less than desirable ingredients. We’ve created a clean, delicious and healthy Mint Crème Coconut Butter Cup that will make those highly processed patties jealous.
The butter cups are also available in Classic Coconut and Caramel & Sea Salt, plus you can purchase full size Primal Chocolate bars in a variety of flavors on their site. All eatingEVOLVED products are gluten, dairy, and soy free, as well as vegan and Paleo. You can never go wrong with chocolate, especially when it is created with no junk, no fillers, and sweetened with organic maple syrup. I haven’t tried these yet, as I discovered the company during the summer and didn’t want to pay $27 for warm weather shipping (or risk getting melted bars with regular shipping). If anyone has found eatingEVOLVED in a local shop, or ordered some samples, let me know in the comments below!
Ingredients (Mint): Organic Coconut, Organic Cacao, Organic Cacao Butter, Organic Maple Sugar, and Organic Peppermint Extract (Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Peppermint Oil)
Purchase on: eatingEVOLVED website
Price: $2.99 per pouch (2 butter cups, with a net weight of 1.5 oz)
These natural beeswax decorations are handmade by Masha Razner, an Etsy seller and the owner of a small workroom located in the Russian country village of Spas-Talitsa. She creates products whose purpose is to make people feel close to nature. The Orange and Cinnamon Aroma Hearts made the list because they are clean, cute, functional, and very budget friendly at $3.50 each.
This handcrafted ornament was made from beeswax, herbs and spices, and scented with pure natural essential oils. The ornaments have a light and pleasant aroma. The scent will last approximately 1–3 months depending on the essential oils blend.
Currently, the hearts come in 7 different scents, including Oak Forest, Flower, Orange and Cinnamon (featured), Jasmine, Marigolds, Lavender, and Melissa and Mint. These make great gifts because they have many functions—you can use one as an air freshener for your car, a decorative hanging for your kitchen, an ornament for your Christmas tree (Christmas purpose without being Christmas themed!), or an aromatherapy piece for your desk. While these might not be ideal for gifting to a man because of their heart shape, Masha does carry a holiday chocolate collection, which contains several snowflake hangings. You can also find soaps, skin care, ceramic dishes, and notebooks in the shop.
Ingredients (Orange and Cinnamon): Beeswax, Cinnamon Sticks, Dried Orange, Essential Oils of Orange and Cinnamon
Price: $3.50 each, or $14.00 for the Christmas Chocolate Collection (5 decorations)
Operating out of a loft in Venice, CA, Knock Knock was founded in 2002 by Jen Bilik to bring humor, function, organization, and aesthetics to everyday life. I know sticky pads are not all that eco-friendly, but they are certainly one of my guilty pleasures (and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one). People love them and they make great office gifts!
Dispense pleasantries with this hand-lettered gem and turn any boring memorandum into an amusing mini-event. Minding your manners has never been so fun. Thoughtful gift for anyone who’s ever wanted to say thanks. Let your choice in cool office supplies show you were raised right!
I discovered this company when my mom picked up some of the larger pads for me at a convention. Upon visiting Knock Knock’s website, I stumbled upon something I recognized—the Hand-Lettered Thank You Sticky that my manager uses! I’ve received several of these notes of gratitude over the past few months, so I must be doing something right :) This little guy is cheap, witty, fun, and useful. This particular pad will only run you $3.99, but the site has quite a few pads in different sizes and designs in case you are looking for something at another price point, or for a specific personality. I think something that provides some positive reinforcement is always appreciated in an office setting.
Purchase on: Knock Knock website
Price: $3.99 each (pad is 3″ x 3″ with 100 sheets)
The Studz’ lip balms have appeared on my blog and social media before, so if you follow me, you already know that these tubes of wonder are reigning champs in my little black book of natural beauty products. The studz behind the sudz are Preston Tillotson and Tyler Robinson, who run their shop out of Sacramento, CA. Not only are the guys super friendly and fabulous, but these lip balms are so awesome that I will forever recommend them as an extremely affordable and gift worthy product for any occasion.
Say hello to our signature lip balms! We start with the finest, most natural ingredients and end with an unparalleled lip balm, which comes in four delicious flavors: Peppermint Plump, Bananas Foster, Tropicalip and Watermelon. As our best selling products, we are sure our lip balms will help you forget the rest of the lip products in your life. And better yet, your lips deserve it. Show your skin what’s in!
You can get one tube of lip balm for $4.00 or a set of 3 for $10.00. The regular versions do contain beeswax, but the guys offer these in a vegan formula with candelilla wax as well. I used to swear by the Bananas Foster flavor until I found out that my migraines were being triggered by banana. It just so happened that the Watermelon balm was released around the same time, so that is now my flavor of choice. The flavors are very gender neutral and this is a product that will be appreciated by both men and women. If your coworkers are anything like mine, they already love lip balms, so why not give them another!
Ingredients: Beeswax, Kukui Nut Oil, Avocado Oil, Jojoba Oil, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Essential and/or Flavor Oil, Vitamin E
Price: $4.00 each, or 3 for $10.00
Jason Podlaski is an industrial designer, skater, and the co-creator of the original Skateboard Stool, as well as an artist and lover of clean, green design. He is currently based out of Philadelphia, PA and together with his assistants Alex and Matt, he salvages broken skateboards, turning them into high-quality and functional furniture pieces and gifts. One such gift is this cute little keychain!
Cool little Skateboard shaped keychains cut from real recycled broken skateboards. Available in Four Classic Board Shapes. Select your own board shape and color! Keychains are made from recycled broken skateboards (color dyed maple plywood with painted graphic on one side and real skateboard griptape on the opposite side).
These keychains are available in four classic board shapes, including the Popsicle Stick, Old School “Pig”, Old School “Stinger”, and Cruiser/Surfer and are $5.00 each. Now, you don’t need to understand what any of that means to appreciate the perfectly ec0-friendly design of this excellent small gift or stocking stuffer. These are rad for men or women, especially those who skateboard (currently or back in the day), or those who work in a creative or artsy field. The deckstool shop on Etsy has some amazing products, albeit most of them are a hell of a lot more expensive than these keychains. Regardless, you should definitely take a look. You will find everything from the original deck stools to photo frames, coat hooks, benches, and clocks.
Price: $5.00 each (size is about 1 3/4″ x 1/2″ x 3/8″thick)
Moderate Budget: $6 to $10
Armed with two degrees (BFA and MFA) in printmaking, as well as a newly purchased 1100 lb. Chandler and Price 8” x 12” letterpress, Kathyrn Hunter began Blackbird Letterpress back in 2003. Eleven years later, Hunter now works out of a mural-clad building in Baton Rouge, LA designing and printing beautifully vintage cards, notebooks, invitations, calendars, paper ornaments, and coasters. If you are looking for something special for use in the office, this mini typewriter calendar is adorable.
…2015 mini calendar is letterpress printed in teal blue on 100% cotton paper, hand fed and treadle driven on our C&P letterpress. The typewriter is an original illustration by Rebecca Kreisler. A perfect small mini gift, great for birthdays, holidays, or just a special something. And it’s useful all year long!
The mini calendar also comes in a retro TV design and both are equipped with tiny tear-off months for $6.00 each. Once the year is up, your coworkers can certainly continue to display the card on a bulletin board or cabinet. These may not be to everyone’s taste, but I am a sucker for letterpress and I love anything retro :) Blackbird also offers non-denominational icosahedron paper ornaments for the holidays, which I think are really cool because assembly is required! Team building office craft, perhaps? These would be especially good for coworkers in architecture, engineering, or graphic design.
Purchase on: Etsy
Price: $6.00 each (for the mini calendar or each paper ornament, calendar is 4.25″x 5.5″)
Debby and Joel Arem started Three Ring Circuits going on 23 years ago, way before going “green” was popular, because they were fascinated and intrigued by the complexity and artistic qualities of printed circuit boards. This husband and wife team saves circuit boards from landfills and repurposes them into fabulous office supplies, jewelry, bookmarks, clocks and business card holders. My best friend reminded me that I gave these magnetic clipboards out at my old job about 4 years ago (back in the good ‘ole days) and she still has hers to this day! At $6.00 each, they are very affordable for those who work in larger departments.
Recycled circuit boards that we have been repurposing into little magnetic clipboards for over 20 years! These little mini clipboards are magnetic and are the perfect size to hold a post it note! They’re made from recycled circuit boards from computers and were saved from being dumped in a landfill.
My friend also enthusiastically mentioned that this jewel might possibly be one of the best coworker gifts she has ever received. Score! When you get a pack, they are of varying sizes, shapes, and colors—so feel free to give the biggest to your favorite person with no repercussion ;) The magnets on the back are great if your office provides metal filing cabinets, but should you just have felt cubes, you can keep these at your desk or hang on a thumbtack. Sticky pads are all the rage in my office (as I mentioned in the $5 and under category), but at least with these, once the pad is used up, you still have the recycled clipboard. You could also purchase these as stocking stuffers to be used for school lockers, refrigerators, or your home office. Of all of the gifts in this guide, I think these are the best suggestion for groups containing both men and women.
Price: $6.00 each (sizes vary from 3” x 3” to 4” x 6”)
Follow on social media: None that I could find.
Moxie Makery is Amanda May’s little business, run out of Atlanta, GA. I don’t personally use pencils much anymore, but if I had a dollar for every time one of my coworkers asked me for a pencil in the last month, I’d easily have made over a hundred bucks. This 5-piece set is super practical and very eco-friendly! These pencils would give a great splash of color to all of the desks in your office and seem well worth the price of $6.50.
Some people would say the art of writing is dead…well, I’m not those people. In this day of ever expanding technology, there is something very special about putting a pretty pencil to paper—something that should be preserved. These eco-friendly paper pencils are not only stylish, but extremely functional. They are made using tightly rolled layers of 100% recycled colored paper. As you sharpen each one, the color changes around the lead and creates a unique marble design.
Beyond an office gift, this set would be great for children, teachers, artists, or could be given as a wedding, shower, or birthday party favor. Each pencil is stamped with the word “create” in black soy ink, and the barrels and erasers are free from chemicals. Moxie Makery carries these sets in quite a few different colors, including blue (featured), green, red, and orange. Pretty colored pencil sets are also available. In addition to the paper pencils, there are pantone-dipped pencils, which are great for graphic designers! I just love that Amanda’s shop is green and clean. Everything is totally handmade and beautiful.
Purchase on: Etsy
Price: $6.50 per set (packaged in a reusable Kraft case made from recycled materials)
Follow on social media: Facebook (for Imaginate Designs, Amanda’s graphic design page)
These are not just ANY pocket mirrors, but mirrors adorned with custom artwork by Cherifa Wexler, aka MinaSmoke. Cherifa is a talented illustrator and painter working out of Rouen, Haute-Normandie, France, whose style is very feminine and poetic. It is not often that you see such storytelling in a single image, but I would definitely describe MinaSmoke’s artwork as magical. Because I don’t know too many guys who carry pocket mirrors, I would say this gift idea is more girl friendly. I’m not sure what a drugstore compact goes for these days, but I do own some of these and they are a steal at $7.00 each.
A pocket mirror featuring my “Souvenir d’hiver” artwork. Pratical and aesthetic, it will fit perfectly in your handbag.
There are so many designs to choose from, each more lovely than the next, so you can definitely find one to suit each of your coworkers. Some are whimsical, while others are dark and haunting. The color palette Cherifa uses is reminiscent of vintage paper, but she draws us in with pops of color and the need to know what her subjects are thinking. I truly believe that anyone receiving one of these mirrors will keep and use this gift. Perfect if you work with all women! Cherifa also sells mini notebooks, address books, postcards, stationary sets, tea caddies, and beautiful prints. I could continue to gush about this shop, but really, just check it out yourself :)
Price: $7.00 each (56 mm diameter and shipped in an organza sachet)
Paromi Tea was founded by Paul Rosen and I was very interested to read the story behind the company’s name. I half expected it to be a reference to a person, place, or word in another language, but it turns out that “Paromi” is simply a blending of P(urity) + AROM(a) + I(nspiration). The meaning? Paromi Tea uses clean, carefully selected ingredients to create luxurious, fragrant flavors that offer a sensory experience, while helping your body remain in harmonious balance. Clever! The tea bags are packaged in very nice canisters for $10.00, with a perceived value of much more (you see what I did there?).
Raspberry Swirl features hand-picked, organic white tea from China. The young leaves and buds have a whitish appearance; the flavor is subtle, yet complex, and has an inherent sweetness. Organic green tea from Northern India adds body and creates a smooth and delicate complement with soft tannins. The slightly sweet tones of raspberry and strawberry provide a burst of berry goodness to this luscious blend.
Paromi Tea comes in a fabulous selection of flavors, including Raspberry Swirl (featured), Chamomile Lavender, Chocolate Orange, Cinnamon Chai, Coconut Almond, Hibiscus Berry, Jasmine, Lemon Ginger, and Peppermint (my favorite), to name a few. These can be found in some local natural food stores (and I’ve seen them in Bed Bath & Beyond), which makes it a bit simpler to purchase. You could give a full jar to each coworker, or get a bunch of different jars and mix and match the bags. As the weather gets colder and we spend more time indoors, tea becomes a warm, soothing part of each person’s day. Although not everyone drinks tea, I find it to be a relatively safe gift—one that is high in nutrients and antioxidants.
Ingredients (Raspberry Swirl): Organic White Tea, Fair-Trade Organic Green Tea, Organic Raspberry, Organic Cornflower Blossoms, Natural Flavors
Brewing Instructions (Raspberry Swirl): Boil water and let rest 2 minutes. Steep 1 sachet in 10–12 oz for 3 minutes. Bask in the warmth. For a great second brew, steep longer.
Caffeine (Raspberry Swirl): Lightly caffeinated
Origin of Key Ingredients (Raspberry Swirl): China & Northern India
Purchase on: Paromi Tea website, but I have also seen these in my local natural foods stores, as well as some Bed Bath & Beyond stores
Price: $10.00 per jar
Friend-ly Budget: $11 to $20
This idea isn’t anything revolutionary, or unusual, but it is something that will always be timeless. No matter what is going on in the world, people will always be writing books and other people will be reading them. I’ve given books as coworker gifts and I’ve also received them. You could tailor this gift to each person you work with, or you could give a copy of one title to each person (in this case, I suggest something that is relevant to the field you work in). And, even if you work with non-readers, the three titles to follow might intrigue the environmentalist, the smark aleck, or the sports enthusiast enough to give it a shot.
For the environmentalist: Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things by Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie
Pollution is not only an abstract, distant problem seen in belching smokestacks and contaminated waterways; it’s also personal. Some of the most dangerous pollutants come from commonplace items in our homes and workplaces—shampoos and toothpastes, carpets and children’s toys.
To prove this point, the authors (who are also leading environmentalists) conduct their own research by ingesting and inhaling a host of things that are part of our everyday lives. As you might expect, they go to the extreme and then tell the story of their reactions to these different sources of pollution—but they certainly expose the extent to which we are poisoned along the way. Very good read.
From the bestselling author of The Know-It-All comes a fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible. A.J. Jacobs chronicles his hilarious and thoughtful year spent obeying, as literally as possible, the tenets of the Bible…Jacobs’s extraordinary undertaking yields unexpected epiphanies and challenges. A book that will charm readers both secular and religious, The Year of Living Biblically is part Cliff Notes to the Bible, part memoir, and part look into worlds unimaginable. Thou shalt not be able to put it down.
Now, I’ll preface this by saying that you probably don’t want to give this book to a coworker who is extremely pious, but I do think this story would be of interest to those practicing most religions (as well as to agnostics or atheists). This is the tale of Jacobs’ year long journey, in which he not only attempts to follow the Ten Commandments to a T, but he also tries to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules. He avoids wearing clothing made of mixed fibers, he starts playing a ten-string harp, and he endeavors to stone adulterers (I’ve got your attention now, don’t I?). This is probably Jacobs’ best book—funny, profound, reverent and irreverent, and personal yet universal. Read it, I command you!
For the sports enthusiast: Can I Keep My Jersey? 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond by Paul Shirley
There’s no denying that Paul Shirley is the closest thing pro basketball’s got to Odysseus. In Homeric fashion, he has logged time practically everywhere in the roundball universe, from six NBA cities to pro leagues in Spain and Greece to North America’s pro ball Siberia, the minor leagues. Hell, he’s even played in the real Siberia. And in Can I Keep My Jersey?, Shirley finally puts down roots long enough to deliver one of the great locker-room chronicles of the modern age. With sharp elbows and an even sharper wit, Shirley—whose writings have been described as “wildly entertaining” by The Wall Street Journal—drops hilarious commentary, revealing which teams have the best cheerleaders (he’s spent many a time-out watching them ply their trade), why Christ is rapidly becoming every team’s “sixth man,” and even the best ways to get bloodstains out of your game uniform, using only an ordinary bar of soap and a hotel bathroom sink.
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I don’t generally read sports chronicles, but I found Shirley’s narrative to be hilarious. He talks about what it is like to try to make it as a professional athlete, but in a way that your best friend might gossip to you about life. A must-read for any sports fan (and probably even funnier to those who have followed Shirley’s career). Heck, even if you hate sports, but love things that are clever and comedic, I’d recommend checking this one out.
Price: $11.46/$14.87/$11.14 respectively
Adina Grigore originally created skincare products for her own sensitive skin and didn’t know if anyone else would like them. But people DID like them, so she created S.W. Basics. Based in Brooklyn, NY, all products are made from scratch using no more than 5 whole, high-potency ingredients. Nothing is watered down with synthetics or filler, and the company supports sustainable agriculture by sourcing ingredients from only organic, fair-trade or small-farm sources.
Chris Uphues on the other hand, is an artist and designer, also living in Brooklyn, NY. His fantastic work is concerned with “an idiosyncratic visual vocabulary embracing toys, folk art, popular and anonymous objects, comics, video games, black light posters, Bosh, the japanese toy designer Popy, islamic architecture, Walt Disney, Osamu Tezuka, chinese opera, persian calligraphy, animation, hindu art, album art, carnival lights and display, tramp art, fireworks, and advertising.”
Combine these two forces and you get a wonderful gift for anyone!
At S.W. Basics, we’ve been huge fans of the painter and artist Chris Uphues ever since first seeing his work in [the] North Brooklyn neighborhood. Chris and his badass wife, Jen, created this certified organic cotton canvas makeup bag just for us. A limited-edition collaboration, it’s a little taste of Brooklyn available exclusively to S.W. Basics customers.
I loved this bag the moment I saw it and picked one up for myself. It is a good size, but it is a little more beige than the pictures would have you believe. I haven’t quite decided what to use it for yet, but it has so many potential functions. You could use it to carry all of the natural products you might lug around in your purse, as a travel makeup bag (as intended), a snack bag, a pencil case, or a place to keep phone accessories. The point: the options are limitless! The size is versatile and the print is fun. If you want to pick up some S.W. Basics minis to put inside, I also think the cream would be a nice gift. It is a clean lotion/moisturizer that does not use water as a base and contains shea butter, extra-virgin coconut oil, and organic extra-virgin olive oil. Hand lotions are one of the few “personal” beauty products that work for colleagues because no matter who you are or what your gender, there is always a chance your hands will get dry!
Price: $14.00 each bag (9″ x 5″ x 2″, made with organic cotton, and fits 3 full-size products or 5–6 minis)
Founded by Sandra Ann Harris, ECOlunchbox was born of the idea that change could begin at lunch time by avoiding the use of plastics. The other day I was sitting at my desk using a plastic spoon (yikes!) and I started thinking about how many plastic utensils must be used at my office on a daily basis. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if each employee was given a set of reusable utensils on their first day of work? Enter this ECOtravel Utensil Set! I wasn’t sure if this would make a good office gift, but my trusted advisor (aka my best friend from the circuit clipboard section) said she would really want one of these, so I’m going to assume that others might want one too!
This reusable ECOtravel Utensil Set includes a bamboo knife, fork and spoon housed in a durable denim fabric sleeve! Measuring 7″ tall and 1″ wide, they are perfect for school, picnics, camping or at the office. The specially designed cork fabric is a natural material that is exceptionally durable and anti-bacterial. Cork fabric is dust, dirt and stain repellant, water-resistant, and best of all, machine washable.
I’m not sure if I could get everyone in my office on board or if the use of these would last for more than a week (washing utensils…the horror!), but it is actually a really great idea. Remember that time when someone used up the last fork and didn’t tell the person in charge of ordering supplies? Yeah, this would solve that problem! Currently, I have a set of the plastic ones in my cabinet that I wash, but I would be thrilled to receive a set of these as a gift. This set may not be a typical gift idea, but it is unique, super functional, environmentally responsible, and useful! The ECO line also includes stainless steel lunch boxes, snack containers, snack sacks, lunch bags, and plastic-free lunch accessories.
Purchase on: ECOlunchbox website
Price: $15.00 per set (bamboo utensils should be cleaned in hot, soapy water and wiped dry)
To clean: Bamboo utensils should be washed in hot, soapy water and wiped dry.
Teals Prairie & Co. is a family-run business, started by the Thompson siblings from Houston, Texas. Their designs are very rustic and often incorporate the use of wood and/or leather. I really wanted to include a mug in this list (albeit not a boring one) because people in offices drink an excessive amount of tea and coffee, especially in the winter. Originally I had a different item picked out from this shop until my best friend (yup, same one from circuit clipboards and utensil set) linked me to these ceramic porcelain mugs, which come in great gender neutral colors.
Vintage charm meets Pop of color! This green ceramic mug has so much character and makes for a great decorative kitchen gift for house warming, birthday, or holiday—especially for a vintage or rustic flair! This cast ceramic mug is charmingly weathered. The lids are of fine wood grain quality designed with a stirring slot. The lids can be used as coasters, which engrave beautifully. Submit engraving instructions for a special message, family or group name, it is up to you!
This mug isn’t corny, boring, or cheap. It may be a little plain, but I like that you can purchase these for men or women without runing the risk of it not being their style. I’ve gotten a lot of mugs in my day with strange images and sayings on them, so this is a perfect plain, but not so plain neutral alternative. Color options include green (featured), red, orange, or white. I also love that each one comes with a wooden lid that can double as a coaster. You can even engrave them so each is clearly marked with a coworker’s name. Hasta la vista plastic and styrofoam cups! If you have some time, definitely search this shop, as they have a lot of great items like memo pads with built-in pen and monogrammed felt engraved journals, as well as some great bridesmaid, groomsmen, and wedding favors.
Purchase on: Etsy
Price: $19.19 each
Follow on social media: None that I could find.
I Heart Guts is the brainchild of Wendy Bryan, an “anatomically obsessed illustrator who loves internal organs and all they do.” GEEK ALERT: I actually discovered this company when I came across the I Heart Guts booth at the NYC Comic Con in 2013. As my friend and I “oohed” and “ahhhed” over these awesome plushies, all of the boys in our group rolled their eyes and walked away. I love stuffed animals, as well as anything that represents biochemistry, cells, microbes, organs, etc. These are too cute and I think they would make wonderful office gifts, especially if you work in the medical field.
This adorable, super-soft, gigantic 11″ x 10″ x 4″ lung is perfect for cuddlin’, and makes a great gift for someone who can’t stop talking, singing, or anyone who needs some extra breathing power. Lungs bring fresh oxygen into our bodies, removing carbon dioxide and other gas waste products so we can breathe easy. Next time you inhale, give thanks to these powerful windbags. Comes with an educational hangtag mini-book filled with info about this inspiring organ.
This particular set of lungs likes O2, inspiration, singing, wind instruments, and respiratory therapists, and dislikes CO2, smoking, and blowhards. I really enjoy toys that come with a bit of character, such as these with their likes, dislikes, favorites, and who they are looking for on the attached tag. Available organs include the standards—liver, eyeball, heart, kidney, stomach, intestine, and brain—as well as some that might be a tad shocking—gallbladder, ovary, prostate, mammary gland, uterus, testicle, and spleen. These are small enough to display on a desk, or large enough to use as chair cushions for lower back support! Other than plush organs, Wendy sells tees and socks, keychains and pill boxes, buttons and pins, magnets, stickers and tattoos, and fun paper goods and posters.
Price: $20.00 each plush
Big Spender: $21+
Evolution Salt Co. is a family owned company that mines, manufactures, imports and distributes Himalayan crystal salt across the globe. In the not so distant past, Evolution brought its brand to the US market because they felt that the nutritional and health benefits of the Himalayan salt were being compromised in this country. I had read about the beneficial effects of salt lamps on The Wellness Mama back in September, but didn’t really think much about them until I recently ran out of my allergy medication. I was shopping at a local integrative pharmacy and decided to purchase one of the aromatherapy models. When I discovered the small USB model on the company’s website, I had to add it to my gift guide! If you work with anybody sensitive to or concerned about air quality, this just might be the perfect desk accessory!
These USB Salt Lamps are perfect for plugging into a computer or USB adaptor at home, in your office, or even in the car while traveling. Salt lamps emit negative ions, which work like natural ionizers keeping the air clean. Negative ions attach themselves to dust, pollen, mold, fungus and odors. This is known to be very beneficial for respiratory health. Salt lamps also minimize the effect of positive ions from EMF’s and electronic devices, while the natural color of the lamp reinforces the rejuvenating and healing influence.
The young guy in the store told me that these lamps clean the air by neutralizing allergens, dust, pollen, mold, fungus, pet dander and odors, and on top of that the negative ions can also combat the harmful effects of positive ionization caused by electromagnetic radiation, which originates—yep, you guessed it—from your computer, monitor, Wi-Fi, and cell phone. The larger lamps make great housewarming, wedding, anniversary, and birthday gifts. I could also see them being used in a child’s room as an alternative to a traditional night light. And since you are supposed to keep them where you spend the most time, the USB lamps are ideal for the office. Your colleagues will thank you when they reap the benefits of the Himalayan salt, including less congestion, a reduction in fatigue, and improved concentration. I highly recommend purchasing from Evolution because you will be supporting their belief in fair-trade practices, an eco-friendly and socially responsible manufacturing practice, consumer-friendly products, and sharing a passion for holistic lifestyles.
Ingredients: Himalayan crystal salt
Purchase on: Evolution Salt Co. website
Price: $24.99 each
The Choosy Chick is an online shop that came as a result of Margot and Joe White’s personal quest to find safe and effective health and beauty care products after learning that the things they and their children were using every day contained harmful ingredients! I’ve had the pleasure of e-mailing with Margot and am excited to announce that I’ll be featuring The Choosy Chick on my blog in the New Year. Keep an eye out for that! Anyway, this sampler bag is a great idea for a coworker that loves to try new products. Of course, I don’t recommend this for a man, or for someone you don’t know all that well, but it can be a great beauty gift for the product junkie in your life.
Looking for a way to sample before you buy? We’ve got you covered! This deep purple jute bag trimmed with yellow and red is stocked with a variety of our travel size products and samples. Perfectly suited to re-use again as a small purse for keys, wallet and phone! All of our gorgeous jute bags are handmade carefully by women in Kolkata (Calcutta), India employed by Freeset, an organization that provides women the opportunity to work and regain control of their lives in a caring community. Know that when purchasing this bag you are helping to support women that otherwise would have no means of escaping poverty and oppression.
The bag generally includes the following items (based on stock availability): Solavedi Organics travel size skincare product, Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant (.5 oz, random scent), Badger Mineral Lip Tint and Shimmer, Splurge Lip Buttah or Rooted Beauty Lip Butter, Graham Gardens Soap (sample size, random scent), Tsi-La Organic Perfume tester (.65ml/.02 fl. oz, random scent), HollyBeth Organics skincare product (travel size), DN-UNIK Anti-aging Day and Night Cream (sample size, .34 fl. oz each), and an assortment of sample sachets based on stock availability. The Choosy Chick website carries a great selection of brands (some that you can’t find on other shops) and I especially love their logo, beautiful photos, and cute illustrative social media icons.
Ingredients: See the individual product links for ingredients. These will vary based on what is included in the bag when you order.
Purchase on: The Choosy Chick website
Price: $29.00 for each sampler bag (bag size is 5.5″ x 8.3″ x 2.4″)
Gotta have a food option for the boss! Chocoveda was founded by Julia Lungin, as a union between the healing system of Ayurveda and a passion for delicious chocolate. She wants to inspire happiness! These truffles are handmade from pure, simple organic ingredients and contain no preservatives or unnatural additives, making the Chakra box a great organic substitute for most high-end chocolatier gifts.
All natural, dairy-free, 70% dark vegan chocolate truffles. Seven flavors correlating to each of the seven energy centers with beautiful yantra designs on each truffle. Flavors include chai, tangerine, ginger/lemongrass, green tea, peppermint, pomegranate, and honey/vanilla.
I can’t say I’ve tried them, but they look really yummy. The only thing I’ve noticed from visiting their site over the course of the past year is that they are often backordered and don’t always have all three boxes available at the same time. Each box also comes with a 16- to 24- booklet to guide you through this Ayurveda chocolate experience. The Chakra booklet guides you through each chakra and helps you experience a balanced state of awareness with a positive affirmation, or mantra, for each truffle. Other than the Chakra Box, Lungin makes the Goddess Box (flavors include wild strawberry, gorgeous guava, and pink grapefruit with booklet on connecting to ancient goddesses) and the Garden Box (flavors include Rose, Orange Blossom, Meyer Lemon and Pear with garden meditation booklet), both of which should be back in stock come spring.
Ingredients: Dark Chocolate (Chocolate Liquor, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Pure Vanilla), Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Ashwagandha (Winter Cherry), Natural and Organic Flavors
Purchase on: Chocoveda website
Price: $30.00 per Chakra box (Goddess and Garden boxes are $35.00)
Tal Winter and Kate Cutler founded bkr after realizing that they were drinking their recommended eight glasses of water per day from cheap, disposable, plastic bottles. Not glamorous at all! Instead, they wanted to drink from something exceptional—something breathtakingly clean, clear, soft, and beautiful. The company has a dedicated following and has earned a reputation as a coveted beauty essential. I would describe a bkr glass bottle as the Gucci or Versace of drinking vessels—high-end and ideal for any fashionista!
Inspired by vintage rhinestone tiaras, golden fleur-de-lis, chocolate with lavender sea salt, fresh lilacs on your night table. You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a pretty bkr and a huge dinosaur and that’s kind of the same thing. *Bright light purple. glass + silicone, BPA-free, phthalate-free, small opening for no-spill sipping, perfect, no-leak seal, fits most cup holders, dishwasher safe, 100% adorable + addictive, limited edition.
I may not be a fashionista, but I would still enjoy drinking out of one of these bottles, especially Rex, the bright light purple one, or Deep, a warm navy-teal :) These bottles are made of glass and silicone, are BPA-free and phthalate-free, and have small openings for no-spill sipping. There is a no-leak seal on the cap and you can feel free to throw these in the dishwasher should you not have a dish washer in your household. Bkr releases seasonal collections that are based on runway trends in New York, London, Paris, and Milan, so much of their collection is limited edition. Everyone will appreciate bkr’s sleek design, even if they think they don’t need another water bottle. And, purchasing one is a good way to unobtrusively suggest that your friends and family should stop using plastic…or drink more water.
Price: $30.00 for 500 mL, or $42.00 for 1 liter
More letterpress! Owners David Stuebe and Nathan Mummert, along with their team of designers, work at the iSkelter factory based in Phoenix, AZ to keep the letterpress tradition alive, one product at a time. The guys enjoy problem solving and creating products that fill real life needs. Bamboo is their most used material, as it is aesthetically pleasing, lightweight, durable, and can be polished to mirror the feeling of glass (I didn’t know this!). You can’t go wrong with this TYPE desk calendar for a manager or boss because it is fabulously elegant.
Last year our friends on Kickstarter successfully raised $30,000 to help fund the first TYPE Calendar. After a long awaited year, the Type is now back! It’s time to fire up the vintage letterpress for your new 2015 TYPE Calendar. The TYPE Calendar is printed on thick (55pt) cotton stock. All 12 months are pressed twice, once for each color (black and gray). I then cut the card stock down to size with a die cutting machine. This provides us with the clean beveled corners and a perfect cut each time. The cotton cards sit neatly in premium, eco-friendly bamboo. Each stand is hand cut, polished, and engraved with the product logo.
The simplicity of the design, combined with its classy printing make it a piece that will appeal to everyone, regardless of their taste. It certainly does not look cheap and anyone that knows anything about printing will understand the precision involved in its creation. This is what you buy for the person that has everything! And, once you have the bamboo stand, you can purchase refill calendar cards the next year. Awesome! iSkelter also sells some really cool lap desks, furniture, phone and tablet docks, and the original beauty station (makeup organizer).
Price: $39.00 each (contains bamboo stand, measuring 4.75″ x 2.5″ x .75″ and the Type’s total vertical height is 5 inches) or $24 for refill pages
How much do you usually spend on your coworkers? Which of these gift ideas is your favorite? Would you love to see any of these in a future giveaway? Let me know in the comments below!