Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again

Ahh, the office holiday gift exchange. You have to buy a price capped gift that makes everybody happy. These things don't exist, especially when you are dealing with a work environment where tastes can differ so greatly that there is no overlap. So when I need to buy an anonymous exchangable gift, I tend to buy something I would like, but never buy for myself. Here is a list of items that tend to have a broad appeal, and are generally useful--another trait that helps when buying an item for a gift exchange. These items can be used for a family exchange as well--or any group gift exchange where you may or may not know the individuals closely.

These are all items that should be readily available in stores, and are capped at $20. If you find an item that falls slightly short, you can always add something like a fancy candy bar to the gift to meet the price point. Also--buy items on sale. If you can spend $20 on a $40 item--then all the better. Your gift will probably be great, but you still followed the rules of the game.

1. Muji scarf
Muji is a great store for totally useful items that you don't need. You could walk in here with any gift exchange budget and find a pile of objects that fit your price range and everybody wants. The scarf is a great option because, while I always drool over the teapots, scarves tend to appeal to more people. (and the scarf doesn't have to be Muji--Target has quite a few that fall into the same price range)

$17.98 (combined)
Who doesn't like cheese? Honestly, this is probably something that won't be used much, but it's the kind of thing you see in a store and go "I want that" (well, at least I do) and it may one day spur the recipient to have a party with cheese appetizers. And really. . . who doesn't like cheese?

3. Espresso cup and saucer
$9.95 (each)
I bought these for an office exchange one year--and they ended up being coveted by quite a few people. These stainless steel sups and saucers are just cool objects. The person who finally did end up getting them doesn't drink coffee, so he used them as ice cream cups. . . see? useful.

a less expensive cocktail shaker with a set of martini glasses (that add up to $20)
This is a simple, fun gift that may not appeal to everyone, but probably does appeal to most.

5. 4gb mini USB
Something that is practical and gender neutral-it may be my demographic, but I don't know anyone who doesn't have one, and couldn't use another.

$9.95 (each)
Another neat thing that people probably won't buy for themselves. But they are fun and can be used for imbibing drinks other than martinis.

prices vary from $5 and up.
This is kind of a cop out, but it's not really a gift certificate--Movies are a treat, and it's nice to get a treat for free once in a while.

8. snow globe
My boss bought this for the company gift exchange a few years back. It definitely elicited a few groans when it was opened but it was a great idea: he bought a $50 snow globe for a gift exchange capped at $25--and he included the receipt in the box, so the recipient could return the globe and essentially make $25. It was a creative way to to give something that truly does appeal to everybody--money.

Unfortunately (or not), I'm unemployed this year so I get to skip out on all the fun!

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