There are plenty of things that can stress you out at your job, from annual reviews to major projects. But your Secret Santa or White Elephant exchange at the holiday party shouldn’t be one of them. It can be tough finding a holiday gift for someone you know — and much tougher when you don’t know who the recipient is. White Elephant exchanges require you to find something that everyone will love. Or, maybe you don’t know your Secret Santa co-worker that well. This is where the best gifts under $50 come in.
A $50 gift is the sweet spot. It’s not too much to break the bank, but it’s not so little that the recipient won’t appreciate the effort. It sits in a middle ground but that middle ground is fraught with choices. Lucky for you, we did the searching for you. From cocktails kits for the home bartender to tech gadgets like Amazon’s Echo Dot and a handsome-looking messenger bag, we’ve compiled a list of the best gifts under $50 that are sure to win you a smile and some admiration at your upcoming holiday event.
1. All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)
Upgrade your friend’s or family member’s home with Alexa, the virtual voice-controlled assistant. The Echo Dot connects to all your home gadgets, allowing you to control everything with your voice, call Ubers or Lyfts, order food, and much more. There are now many of Alexa-enabled devices, such as smart light bulbs, TVs, doorbells and more, making an Echo device a staple in any modern home.
2. 36 Hours 125 Weekends in Europe
BEST FOR THE JETSETTER
Adding a new stamp to your passport felt like an impossible dream for most of 2020. Globetrotting is still tough these days, leaving many people hankering for a real vacation. To help people escape their living rooms, gift this book of the popular New York Times “36 Hours” column spotlighting 125 destinations in Europe. Each has a carefully curated itinerary with hundreds of color photographs for a beautiful mental getaway. The destinations and experiences are as varied as exploring flamenco in Seville to KBG spies in Estonia to the Renaissance in Florence to surfing in Biarritz.
3. Fred Cheese Log Board and Knife Set
BEST FOR THE HOST WITH A SENSE OF HUMOR
Looking for laughs at your Secret Santa party? This funny cheese board with an ax-shaped knife will certainly earn you a few. Even non-lumberjacks will appreciate its silliness yet impressive functionality. It’ll be quite the conversation starter at any party, no matter what kind of cheese and charcuterie it is serving. With safety and practicality in mind, it has a small slit on the board so that the ax can stand when it’s not in use. It comes packaged in a buffalo plaid print box, completing the rustic vibes.
4. RP Minis Bob Ross by the Numbers
BEST FOR CRAFTY COLLEAGUES
There are two things we could all use a little more of, Bob Ross and relaxing “me” time. Put those together and you have one of the best gifts under $50. This mini paint by number Bob Ross art set will have you painting happy little trees in no time. The set comes with three pre-printed canvases with numbered sections, including two landscapes and one of Bob’s face, each measuring about 3-1/8 x 2-3/4 inches. There are also seven paint pots, a mini paintbrush, a mini easel to display the finishes masterpieces, full-color fold-out sheets with instructions and a 32-page book on Bob Ross that has painting tips.
5. Brussel’s Live Chinese Elm Outdoor Bonsai Tree
BEST FOR GREEN THUMBS
Everyone has that friend or co-worker that is just a little too dedicated to their plants — and looking to expand their green family. Brussel’s Live Chinese Elm Outdoor Bonsai Tree is the best gift under $50 for them! A great addition to any desk or windowsill, it will bring pretty greenery to their space. It comes with everything needed for their new plant to thrive, including a Chinese Elm, decorative pot, soil and care instructions.
6. Shaped 3D Skull Flexible Silicone Ice Cube Mold Tray
BEST FOR BADASSES
Add attitude to any drink — even water — with a super cool skull-shaped ice cube. Each silicone ice cube tray makes four giant 3D skull ice cubes, measuring 2 x 2.36 inches. They’re slow-melting, meaning they’ll keep drinks cooler for longer and won’t dilute the flavor, which is key for fine spirits. You can even get creative in the kitchen and use the ice molds to make chocolate, Jell-O, candles, soap and other fun stuff. For the avid whiskey drinker, this is one of the best gifts for him or her.
7. Galison Gray Malin 2-Sided Jigsaw Puzzle
BEST FOR THE PUZZLE LOVER
If 2020 had an unofficial hobby, puzzles might take the prize. This puzzle deserves to be proudly displayed once it’s all put together, making this one of the best gifts under $50. The double-sided puzzle features not one but two of Gray Malin’s aerial seaside photographs, shot from a doorless helicopter, with scenery that feels like a mini-vacation. Measuring 24 x 18 inches when finished, the puzzle has 500 pieces, delivering just the right level of challenge. One side has a matte finish while the other is glossy, so you don’t have to worry about that throwing off your puzzle game.
8. Popcornopolis Gourmet Popcorn 1.26 Gallon Tin with Caramel & Cheddar
When you don’t know your Secret Santa all that well, you usually can’t go wrong with food. A giant tin of delicious gourmet popcorn is a super snack! The duo by Popcornopolis features both caramel and cheddar popcorn, giving it the perfect balance of salty and sweet — and one of the best gifts under $50. The colorful 1.26-gallon gift tin can stay in their kitchen long after the popcorn has been gobbled up, as it’s great for storing other snacks.
9. Red Bay Motherland 3-Pack Gift Collection
BEST FOR THE CAFFEINE ADDICT
Step up their coffee game in a big way with this trio of gourmet beans by Red Bay, an artisanal small-batch coffee maker based in Oakland, California. The limited-edition gift box comes with three 12-ounce packs of their best-sellers: Coltrane, Motherland and King’s Prize. Each is freshly roasted, maximizing its flavor. The beans are sourced from across the globe via direct trade, ensuring not only their quality but the quality of life for the people who farm them. When it comes to coffee addicts, it’s hard to find a better gift for her or him than high-quality beans.
10. Harlem Chocolate Factory Golden Brownstone Gift Set
BEST FOR THE SWEET TOOTH
Certainly not your average box of chocolates, these are almost too pretty to eat! Each set includes an assortment of six individually packaged chocolate bars, all in the shape of a Harlem Brownstone. As the final touch, they’re dusted in gold to deliver that feeling of New York City magic. The gift set comes with two 72% dark chocolate bars, two 38% milk chocolate bars and two 31% white chocolate bars.
11. DWK “Booty of the Vine” Skull Pirate Bottle Holder
BEST FOR YOUR FIRST MATEY
We have a hunch there’s a lot of crossover between people who love a good drink and people who love pirates. Make the swashbucklers in your life smile with this pirate bottle holder, which works with a bottle of wine, rum or any poison of their choice. Delightfully original and unique, it’s one of the best gifts under $50 and will make everyone at the White Elephant gift swap smile. The stand is made from quality poly-resin and measures 13 inches long, so it’s a great size for making a statement on a home bar.
12. Anker Soundcore 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
BEST FOR THE DESIGNATED DJ
Know someone who is always hogging the aux cord? If so, gift them this shockingly affordable Bluetooth speaker from Anker. Known mostly for making affordable (yet durable) chargers, Anker took their tech expertise to the speaker market and whipped up a real winner. Waterproof with 24 hours worth of playtime, this inexpensive gift is sure to go over well with the music-lover in your life.
13. Mattel Escape Room in a Box The Werewolf Experiment
BEST FOR ESCAPE THE ROOM FANS
Everyone could always use more fun and games and that’s especially true this holiday season. Spice up game night with Escape Room in a Box. If you can’t make it to a real escape room, this is the next best thing. All the players have to work together to solve 19 mental and physical puzzles before a mad scientist turns players into werewolves. To up the action, it has to be done in under an hour. If you want to make the immersive game even more exciting, players can connect to Amazon Alexa.
14. YETI Rambler 14 oz Mug
BEST FOR COFFEE LOVERS
Fact: Most people love their coffee. And if they don’t, that often means they’re tea drinkers, and this mug works equally well. The double-wall insulation keeps the temperature just right, whether it’s hot or cold. The YETI Rambler Must is one of the toughest camp mugs available, but you don’t have to take it into the woods to appreciate its powers. It’s just as handy on a Saturday morning on the couch or during your daily commute. But if you do venture into the great outdoors with it, you’ll appreciate that the no-sweat design prevents damp or cold fingers. Those with mega mitts will love that the full-loop, triple-grip handle is designed for wider hands, so anyone can comfortably hold it. The Duracoat color means it won’t scratch, peel or fade. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe.
15. Douni Sleep Sound Machine
BEST FOR INSOMNIACS
The Douni Sleep Sound Machine is surely one of the best gifts under $50 because a good night’s rest is truly priceless. The white noise machine has every function needed for peaceful slumber, including 24 soothing sounds in three categories: seven fan sounds, seven white noises and 10 classic nature sounds, including ocean waves, forest, thunder, brook, crickets and campfire. Its simple yet chic design helps it fit in with the decor of any room. It has a timer with 30, 60 or 90-minute sleep options, as well as a memory function to recall your last settings of the timer, sound and volume level when you next turn it on. Those who aren’t sleeping solo will appreciate the earphone jack to avoid disturbing their partner.
16. Throw Throw Burrito by Exploding Kittens – A Dodgeball Card Game
BEST FOR GAME NIGHT FANS
Throw Throw Burrito is the very first dodgeball card game! And it’s as ridiculous and fun as it sounds. Between two to six players try to collect matching sets of cards faster than their opponents, all while throwing squishy burritos and avoiding getting hit by them. You earn points when collecting cards but lose them when hit by a burrito. In case you’re wondering, the burritos are soft and made from foam, so you can still play with your grandma.
17. Leef Organics Skin Balance CBD Body Oil in Orange Blossom
BEST STRESS RELIEVER
Who doesn’t get a little tense around the holidays? Essentially stress relief in a bottle, this soothing CBD Body Oil by Leef Organics is one of the best gifts under $50 for exactly that reason. Infused with 150 milligrams of top-notch CBD, this skin superfood body oil restores, nourishes and rebalances the skin and body, working to do everything from delivering antioxidants to relieving pain. The herbal oil blend has a delightful orange blossom scent to satisfy all the senses.
18. Infuse & Pour Alcohol Kit
BEST FOR THE ASPIRING MIXOLOGIST
Be your own bartender with this at-home alcohol infusion kit that turns anyone into a mixologist. Though the cocktails will look complicated, making them is easy. All you have to do is choose your mix of dehydrated fruits and spices, add your spirit of choice, let it marinate for a week and then enjoy your infused beverage that is ready to be sipped. For example, for the Navel Gazer, add whiskey or bourbon to dehydrated orange, cinnamon and clove and you have a seriously impressive cocktail on your bar cart.
19. Make Your Own Fortune Cookies Kit
BEST FOR THE FOODIE
The best part of a fortune cookie isn’t the cookie — it’s what’s inside. And with this Make Your Own Fortune Cookies Kit, you can create both. The kit comes with all you need to make 40 (four batches of 10) homemade fortune cookies, including instructions that anyone can follow and all the prep tools. Sixty prewritten messages are included, as well as an edible ink pen to customize the cookies and messages. You can even personalize the cookies by opting for the OG classic or using the included cocoa powder for a chocolaty twist.
20. SENSO Bluetooth Headphones
FOR THE MUSIC LOVER
Wireless headphones are a solid gift idea for anyone. Most people could either upgrade to Bluetooth or use an extra pair as a backup for their AirPods or other wireless headphones. This pair by SENSO comes highly rated on Amazon with over 30,000 reviews because they’re durable, reasonably priced and offer great sound quality. They’re especially good if your giftee needs a pair of headphones for working out or running, as they’re inexpensive and sweatproof.
21. Glencairn Whiskey Glasses
FOR THE WHISKEY CONNOISSEUR
A set of elegant whiskey glasses always makes a great gift. These award-winning Glencairn glasses allow all types of whiskey drinkers from newbies to aficionados to appreciate a good bottle, and they cost just $23. At such a low price, they also make a thoughtful additional gift for him if you’re looking for a great gift of that special guy in your life.
22. Roku Express
FOR THE NETFLIX ADDICT
Roku is one of the most inexpensive streaming devices on the market right now, but it’s also one of the best. You can get all the services a serial-streamer could wish for, including Netflix, HBO, Hulu, ESPN and so on, but the device itself only costs $25. If you know anyone who still doesn’t have a streaming device (*gasp*), or someone that, maybe, just got a second TV, this is a gift they’ll use on a daily basis.
23. iFox Bluetooth Shower Speaker
FOR THE SHOWER SINGER
We all know someone that turns into Celine Dion once they get in the shower. Do them a favor by upgrading their favorite music studio with this Bluetooth shower speaker. It’s fully waterproof (not just water-resistant, like many speakers) and features a heavy-duty suction cup that sticks to the wall of the shower. Plus, it has a microphone that allows you to answer calls in the shower.
24. Adidas Adilette Slides
FOR THE STYLISH LOUNGER
One of the hottest shoes of the past couple of years isn’t technically a shoe at all. These Adidas Slides have become a fashion statement as well as a lounge-wear classic, and make a great gift for college students, athleisure-lovers or just anyone who likes to be comfortable around the house. While slides, in general, have become a trend, these three-stripe Adidas are definitely the ones to get.
25. Cuisinart Electric Fondue Maker
FOR THE CHEF
People don’t realize how much they want a fondue pot until they have one, which is why they’re a great gift. Cuisinart’s electric fondue maker upgrades any party or gathering, comes fully prepared with eight fondue forks and a fork rack, and costs less than $45. We like it as a gift because a serious chef will appreciate it (you need a fondue pot for fondue), but it can also be used by someone who’s not very adept in the kitchen.
26. Zyllion Shiatsu Pillow Massager
FOR THE STRESS-BALL
Everyone wants a massage pillow. This one from Zyllion features powerful, deep-kneading Shiatsu massage nodes and a heating function that combine to relax muscles and reduce stress. It can be used while lying down and has straps for a chair or car seat — ideal for massages at work or during a stressful commute. And even just generally, this is one of our favorite gifts for her if you need something for the lady in your life.
27. Amazon Fire 7 Tablet
FOR THE READER
Amazon’s Fire 7 tablet is somewhat under-appreciated because it offers most of the same useful features as a bigger tablet, but costs a fraction of the price. It features a sharp IPS display, Alexa functionality, decent storage, and a super durable, lightweight build. Needless to say, everybody would be excited to unwrap one of these this year.
28. Newhey Men’s Messenger Bag
FOR THE COMMUTER
If you know any stylish college students, office workers or travelers, upgrade their daily carry with this messenger bag. It showcases a timeless, vintage-inspired look with waxed canvas and leather accents, but features a modern layout for a laptop, gadgets and other everyday essentials. The price tag is just $50, but it looks (and feels) much more expensive.
29. Faux Potted Cactus
FOR THE TRENDY GARDENER
Cacti and indoor plants are all the rage right now, and you can brighten someone’s day — and space — with this faux potted cactus from Cost Plus World Market. Strikingly lifelike with five spiky stems, the stately faux cactus boasts a fresh, contemporary feel. Planted in a gray concrete pot, it’s an effortless way to update anyone’s space without requiring any work — or watering.