By Jiji Lee

20 Secret Santa Gift Ideas Under $20


Perfectly affordable gifts for everyone on your list: friends, family, coworkers, and even yourself!

It’s an understatement to say that the holidays will look a little different this year.

Although we might not have a traditional office party or a large family gathering this year, and some of us may be more mindful of our finances, we can still celebrate the spirit of the season and show our loved ones and co-workers how much we care. Secret Santa gifts can be a great option to maintain that holiday spirit without a ton of pressure.

The very nature of a Secret Santa gift exchange makes it so that it has to be under a certain budget and unfussy. And you’d be surprised just how excited people can get over the simplest items! I remember one particular office Secret Santa Gift exchange where my coworkers were swooning over Burt’s Bees products. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter if your gift is a drugstore purchase, as long as it’s a little something that could brighten someone’s day. 

If you’re looking for a Secret Santa gift that’s both budget-friendly and meaningful, we’ve got you covered. Below are Secret Santa gift ideas that are all under $20 and perfect for co-workers, friends, and family. 

Whether you’re finding a gift for someone you barely know or a loved one who’s hard to shop for, you’ll have plenty of fun and affordable options to choose from. 

Secret Santa gifts for coworkers, students, and the person who loves to-do lists

Zebra Fortia Twist Ballpoint Pen. A classy and elegant ballpoint pen would be a much-welcomed treat for anyone in your office. The pen has a nice weight to it which will make writing feel that much more special and important. This would also be a great gift for a grad student or the person in your life who could use an upgrade in their office tools. 

Kate Spade Thermal Coffee Mug. Whether your recipient is working from home or going into work, let them know they deserve a hard-earned coffee break with this stylish coffee mug. This thoughtful and pretty gift would make a coffee break actually feel like a nice, indulgent break. If your budget allows, you can even add a bag of coffee or a box of soothing tea. 

Ink+Volt Planning Pad. This is perfect for project managers, assistants, event planners, and anyone who could use a little more organization in their life. The planning pad is a project management tool that features a visual timeline to help you map out your target dates and milestones, while keeping track of action items along the way. This planning pad is ideal for anyone who needs to stay on track of a project or event. 

Kunisawa Mini Spiral Notebook. The Kunisawa mini spiral notebook is such a great gift for a Secret Santa exchange. It’s under $10, making it very budget-friendly, and with its high quality construction and elegant style, this is a gift that you’ll be proud to give. It’s a wonderful option for the person in your life who loves jotting down notes and to-do lists. Bonus: the spiral flip pad and sturdy material makes it easy to bring this notebook anywhere and write on-the-go.  

Funny memoirs. If your co-worker has a great sense of humor, give them the gift of laughter with Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” or David Sedaris’ “Holidays on Ice.” These would also make a great gift for the grad student who could use a good laugh on their study break. 

“Tout Est Possible” Print. Maybe you have a coworker who’s been working hard for a promotion or a friend applying to grad school. Give them a boost of encouragement with this Tout Est Possible print, which is French for Everything is Possible. This would make any workspace feel so inspired. 

Secret Santa gifts for friends and loved ones who could use a little self-care

Ink+Volt Reflection Pad. This is perfect for the person who needs more balance in their life but doesn't know where to start. The Ink+Volt Reflection Pad has 18 different check-ins and lets you assess different areas in your life from productivity to spirit to nutrition and give it a 1-5 rating. When life feels like it’s moving in all directions, this pad is a nice way to ground yourself in the present and reflect on what truly matters. 

Burt’s Bees Facial Scrub. As I mentioned earlier, co-workers get really excited about Burt’s Bees products! :) This facial scrub would be perfect for an office Secret Santa gift exchange or the person in your life who could use some extra TLC. 

Get Dewy With It Sheet Mask. With ingredients like algae, rose of Jericho and hyaluronic acid, your recipient will feel like they’ve been treated to a spa day! 

French Lavender Candle. There’s nothing like a comforting candle to give you some spa-day vibes. Plus, lavender is known for its calming, stress-relief properties. If self-care is not in your recipient’s vocabulary, this candle could change their mind and easily transport them to a relaxed state.

Resistance bands. This gift is ideal for the person who’s working from home and wants to incorporate more exercise into their day. And because these bands are so light-weight, they can take their workout anywhere--the park, the beach, or even just their living room. 

A page-turning book. There are few things in life more satisfying than curling up with a good book. Give your loved one the gift of escape with an engrossing novel like Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Namesake” or a page-turning mystery like Louise Penny’s “The Long Way Home.”  

Secret Santa gifts for the budding creative or lifelong artist

Wake Up Your Imagination: A Journal for Creative Play.  If your friend or loved one is feeling uninspired, this journal will definitely help them tap into their creative side. Each page features prompts and beautiful illustrations that will instantly put their mind at ease and help spark their imagination.

Ink+Volt Coloring Book. After a long day at work, sometimes you want a creative outlet but you also don’t want to do anything too taxing. That’s when an adult coloring book can come in handy. Coloring books give you a much-needed creative channel, while also being simple enough that it feels meditative and relaxing. 

Vintage Blossom Notebook. Not only is journaling a great way to release stress and help you articulate your thoughts, but it can help you unleash your creative side. A beautiful set of blossom notebooks is a thoughtful gift for the person in your life who loves to write or would like to find more time to nurture their creativity. 

Glitter Pens. A set of glitter pens is a fun and colorful accessory to adult coloring books, journals, and goal planners. They’re also so pretty that your recipient will love to display them on their desk.

Secret Santa gifts for the person who appreciates good food and drink

David Lebovitz “The Sweet Life in Paris”. This memoir is for the foodie who also loves to travel. You’ll satisfy both their wanderlust and appetite with David Lebovitz’s essays on his life in Paris. With his friendly and witty writing and mouth-watering recipes, Lebovitz will instantly transport the reader to the streets and restaurants of Paris. 

Harney and Sons Winter Tea. A beautiful box of winter tea is a special and soothing way to celebrate the season. Plus, they can use the decorative tin to store office supplies or pens. :) 

Marcus Samuelsson “Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home”. If you have a co-worker or loved one who’s obsessed with Top Chef and pays more attention to the James Beard Awards than the Oscars, this cookbook by Chef Marcus Samuelsson is the perfect gift. Featuring recipes that Samuelsson cooks at home, this cookbook is approachable enough for home cooks and will make any weeknight dinner feel much more special. 

Infused Olive Oil. Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that elevate everyday items, like this olive oil infused with truffle and porcini. Not only will your foodie friend get lots of use out of this, but it will feel like such a treat whenever they use it. 

Macaron Kitchen Towel. This colorful towel would make any dessert lover smile, while also imbuing their kitchen with a touch of France. 

If you’re still having trouble finding a Secret Santa gift, nothing beats a heart-felt, handwritten card. And after a challenging year, the holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to express our gratitude and bring a smile to someone’s face.