Secret ShopperWhen it comes to gifting, they say it’s the thought that counts. But how are you supposed to be thoughtful when you barely know the person?
That’s the challenge you face in a Secret Santa exchange, which often happens in a work setting where you might not know much about your recipient. Furthermore, most exchanges have a limit of just $10 or $15, which keeps you from spending too much money, but can also lead you into the trap of buying an awful, cheap gift. And nobody wants to be labeled as the “bad gifter.”
Here, then, are a few must-have gifts for less than $15.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
BeerThe stand-by Secret Santa gift for most adults is a bottle of wine, and we can’t really argue with that: It’s easy to find a good bottle of wine for less than $10, and unless you work with wine connoisseurs, your recipient will likely enjoy it just as much as a more expensive bottle. But why not break the mold and get beer instead?
While you can get a six-pack of decent beer for $10 or less, you might also consider getting a 750 mL bottle – the same size as a bottle of wine – of more high-end beer. We’re personally fond of Belgian brews: Chimay, for instance, makes some great Belgian Trappist beer that can usually be had for $10 or less. There is also Delirium Nocturnum, a dark Belgian strong ale, and La Fin Du Monde, an abbey tripel produced by Canadian brewery Unibroue. TheStreet’s resident beer expert, Jason Notte. Recently picked out 10 great holiday beer buys if you really want the scoop on what’s good this season.
Photo Credit: star5112
CoffeeDoes your intended recipient prefer stimulants to depressants? While a gift card to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts would do the trick, you could also buy your recipient the means to make his or her own coffee at home. Each coffee shop sells 1-pound bags of ground coffee, with Dunkin’ Donuts selling them for around $9 and Starbucks selling them in the $13-$15 range. And if your caffeine fiend instead uses a Keurig machine, you’re covered there, too. Dunkin’ Donuts sells 14-packs of K-cups for around $11.99, and you can get Starbucks brand K-Cups at supermarkets and other large retailers; Bed Bath & Beyond sells 16-packs for $15.
Photo Credit: dunkindonuts.com
Beer Hammer Bottle OpenerWe can’t recommend you combine home improvement and alcohol consumption. But if your recipient likes to hammer and get hammered at the same time, this multi-purpose tool from ThinkGeek is perfect. It works as a fully functioning hammer, but instead of a claw for pulling out errant nails, you get a bottle opener for pulling the tops off beer bottles. We can’t imagine it will become anyone’s primary hammer or primary bottle opener, but it will be good for a laugh and we’re sure at some point your recipient will wind up using it for one of its intended uses. It can be had for $8.99, and shipping will add around $5.
Photo Credit: thinkgeek.com
BananagramsBananagrams is like Scrabble for people who don’t want to spend two hours playing Scrabble. Alternatively, it’s like Scrabble for people who really like bananas. The game comes in the form of a banana-shaped bag filled with letter tiles, and the players race to use all their tiles to build words while others do the same. Personally, I could never get the hang of it, but the replay value is high and it could make for a fun diversion at the party after all the gifts have been opened. You can purchase it for $15 on Amazon.
Photo Credit: amazon.com
Jerky-Making KitsBeef jerky (and its healthier cousin, turkey jerky) can make a great snack, whether you’re going for a hike or just need a protein-rich pick-me-up at your desk. But it can also be awfully expensive – we’ve seen 1.5-oz. bags of Jack Link’s brand jerky for $6 at our local supermarket. So why not make your own?
Amazon.com has a jerky-making kit that comes with a “jerky gun,” spices, cure packs and special attachments that let you decide whether you want to make a jerky strip or a stick (for you Slim Jim fans). Meat is not included, but apparently a pound of ground meat will yield a half-pound of jerky in as little as four hours. The product gets rave reviews from Amazon users, and sells for just $15.
Photo Credit: amazon.com
Slap ChopOK, so the Slap Chop – a little plastic machine that helps you chop vegetables and nuts through a simple slapping motion – doesn’t actually get very good reviews, with Amazon users blasting it for its poor quality and dull blades. And truth be told, it’s mainly famous for its absurd infomercial. But it will make for an amusing gift at your exchange, and perhaps your recipient will be able to chop a few cloves of garlic with the thing before he or she gets sick of it. It can be had for just $9.99 at Sears.
Photo Credit: vxla
Brownie MixYou could always make brownies or cupcakes for your recipient, but keep in mind that this is a time of year when people are already drowning in baked goods, fruitcake and other treats, so your sweets could get lost in the shuffle and go bad before the recipient has a chance to eat them. So why not give your recipient the ingredients and let them bake when they want? Get a large, nice-looking jar and fill it with the dry ingredients of your favorite cupcake or brownie recipe; attach the recipe itself to the outside of the jar with instructions on how much egg and butter to add per cup of mix; and stick a bow on top.
Photo Credit: norwichnuts
Geeky CufflinksYou drew names out of a hat, and your intended recipient is a snappily dressed gentleman with a taste for pop culture. Solution: Head over to Meritline and browse its selection of cufflinks, with designs that included the logos for Batman, Superman, Ghostbusters and the Decepticons. You can even get cufflinks that look like tiny iPhones if your giftee is an Apple fanboy. Each pair of cufflinks is only $10 or $11 and ships for free.
Photo Credit: amazon.com
Tea RexYou can always make tea using ready-made Lipton or Earl Grey tea bags, but true tea fanatics will want to mix their own blend of loose tea leaves, and what better way to steep those leaves than with a tiny green dinosaur on a chain? Just pop this dino’s head off, fill it with your favorite tea leaves, then recapitate it and steep to your heart’s content. It can be had for under $10 on Amazon, though as of this writing there are only a couple left in stock; if Amazon sells out, FredFlare.com carries them for $14. And if you don’t think a dinosaur will be a big hit, other options include a robot and a yellow submarine.
Photo Credit: fredflare.com
MemoryAs cloud computing becomes even more popular, the need to carry removable storage and memory sticks isn’t as great. But for the person who can never have enough memory, you can’t go wrong with a USB memory stick. Electronics retailer NewEgg.com has a number of USB flash drives for less than $10, including this 8-gigabyte model for just $7.99. And if your recipient just got a Nook Tablet and wants a little extra memory, a MicroSD memory card can also be had for less than $10.
Photo Credit: molotalk
Who’s the Boss?If you pulled your boss’s name in the Secret Santa – or if you just want to show your appreciation – then you should probably get him or her something a little nicer than the gifts listed here. From iPad cases to shawls, here are some great gifts to get your boss.
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