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Beyond scratch tickets and the gift card: Best Secret Santa Ideas of 2018

by Emily Beers December 14, 2018

Beyond scratch tickets and the gift card: Best Secret Santa Ideas of 2018

Emily Beers, Manager of Social Mayhem

Lover of free speech, cookies and cynicism

Beyond scratch tickets and the gift card: Best Secret Santa Ideas of 2018

Remember that time you received a beautiful homemade wooden salad bowl as a Secret Santa gift and then felt guilty because the gift you threw into the pot was a bunch of scratch and lose tickets. “I got screwed this year,” you heard the recipient say, all the while wiping off the scratching residue that had stubbornly stuck to his clothing.

Though the idea of a workplace Secret Santa gift isn’t necessarily to give the most special and memorable one of the season, at the same time, why not make it at a pleasant surprise that creates fun discussion or puts a smile on someone’s face?

If you’re part of a generic Secret Santa this year, where you don’t know who will be receiving your gift, selecting something meaningful can be extra challenging, as one of 20 very different people could end up with your gift. But don’t worry, we’re going to help you with our list of best Secret Santa gift ideas for less than $30. 

For the record, along with scratch tickets, we’re going to add a to-go coffee mug to the no fly zone. While it might seem practical, most people already have a dozen of these taking up important space in their cupboards.

So what’s in? Here are are top 7 Secret Santa gifts for 2018:

Essential Oil Diffuser: 

Often it’s not something people go out and buy themselves, but they’re pleasantly surprised when they realize how inviting their bathroom suddenly becomes with scents of peppermint or lavender oil moistening the air. There are a ton of elegant diffusers on the market for less than $30, but here’s one we like: Living Basics.

One High Quality Kitchen Item:

From knives, to pots and pans to a simple wooden spoon spatula, nothing beats good quality kitchen items. Don’t buy a bunch of crap, here. Stick to one useful, possibly overpriced kitchen item, like a heavy ceramic salt and pepper shaker and grinder or an elegant cheese knife, or a sharp potato peeler. Crate and Barrel has some great high-quality stuff. 

Oils and/or Balsamics: 

There’s likely to be at least one of two people you work with who would get excited at the idea of some new cooking oils, balsamic vinegars or balsamic reductions. Suprise them with a couple bottles of extra special ones, like a fig and basil-infused balsamic reduction, or bottle of generally more expensive avocado oil or almond oil. These are best found at specialty stores, or somewhere like Whole Foods. Again, less is more here. People who appreciate them will realize one bottle probably costs $30. High quality will be appreciated over volume for someone who is into this scene. 

Winter scarf: 

If you know there will be plenty of women at your gift exchange (or men who would earn brownie points by coming home with a gift for their wives), then a warm, elegant scarf is always appreciated. Even though most women have multiple scarves, new scarves are a bit like new socks: Way better than old ones!

Specialty salt and/or spices:

Same as the oil and balsamic idea, some people are super into high quality sea salts and spices. From nicely-packaged Himalayan sea salts to a high-end steak rub, someone will go home happy with some new and delicious seasonings to experiment with in the new year.


Candles are timeless. And expensive! Not always something we want to buy for ourselves, but will definitely be appreciated as a gift. 

Chompalomp Cookies:  

Call us biased, but this list wouldn’t be complete without including Chompalomp cookies. Fresh and delicious and beautifully packaged, the personalized touch will make them the most memorable gift of your Secret Santa gift exchange this year.

Get yours in time for Christmas and order now. 




Emily Beers
Emily Beers


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