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The secret to a good white elephant present is to give your coworkers, friends, or relatives something they’ll actually use. While most people see gift swaps as chotchkies’ time to shine, the best gift givers know that in the time it takes to buy a forgettable stocking stuffer, you could just as easily find a worthwhile gift. And with any gift exchange, you want to bring your gift-giving A-game this holiday season. Not only do you want to choose something useful, but you also want to opt for a gift that will feel like a treat—something fun that the receiver might not buy for themselves. Here are 16 of the best white elephant gifts under $25.
Good Natured Anthropologie Soy Candle
Set in a ceramic holder, these soy wax candles come in four flavors: apricot & basil, avocado & mint, mandarin & palm, and olive leaf & lemon. They’re made by Illume, a Minnesota fragrance company that has been crafting unique candles for nearly 20 years.
To buy: $24; anthropologie.com
T Project Shop “Because the Night” Tea
T Project Shop, based in Portland, Oregon, sells bespoke tea leaf blends, all named after their favorite songs. “Because the Night” tea is a hojicha blend perfect for winter with notes of cinnamon and cardamom—it’s for the Patti Smith-loving tea drinker in your office.
To buy: $24; tprojectshop.com
Modal Rechargeable Wine Opener
This electric wine opener comes with a charging base, and it takes the work out of uncorking fine wine at holiday parties. As a white elephant gift, it will be a pleasant surprise for the wine connoisseur in your office or the friend who loves to entertain.
To Buy: $20; bestbuy.com
Portable Travel Humidifier
Just add a water bottle, and you’re good to go with this travel humidifier. This mini-humidifier is perfect in the middle of a dry winter, especially because you can take it with you on the plane, or keep it on your desk in the office.
Away x Tile Luggage Tag
Sure, this is $5 over the $25 price limit, but the Away luggage tag is genuine leather and it has a Tile Slim inside the tag “that will help keep tabs on your bag wherever it goes.” If you work in a field where people are boarding several flights each month, this will suit just about anyone in your office.
Bushwick Kitchen Sriracha
Nothing says Happy Holidays like Brooklyn-made hot sauce, right? While this will get a laugh from your coworkers, you’re sure to have a sriracha-fiend in the office who will be thrilled to take home this two-pack of artisanal hot sauce.
To buy: $16; food52.com
Lebon Sweet Extravagance Toothpaste
It’s all in the name: This Lebon flavor is sweet and extravagant tasting. While toothpaste isn’t a go-to white elephant gift, this luxe brand is handmade in the south of France and even the packaging feels special. It’s the ideal treat—and one the gift recipient will be guaranteed to use every day.
If you want to go above and beyond, pack this travel mug up with a bag of high-end coffee beans from your favorite local roaster. The Bodum travel mug is a sleek stainless steel, and perfect for keeping your morning beverage warm in the dead of winter.
Agave Lip Balm
High-end lip balm is worth the splurge—and that’s especially true in the winter when everyone’s lips are chapped or cracked. Bite Beauty’s Agave Lip Balm is super nourishing and made with “agave and rare Madagascan vanilla CO2 extract.”
To buy: $18; sephora.com
Cold Brew Infusion Maker
This glass on-the-go cold brew holder has a “removable steeping column.” All the gift recipient has to do is put the grounds in the steeping column, fill the glass with water, and let sit for at least 12 hours before taking fresh cold brew on their morning commute.
Carry-on Cocktails: Old Fashioned
This carry-on cocktail kit has bitters, a recipe card, a muddler (spoon), sugar, and a nice coaster, all in this handy travel kit—just add bourbon. It’s for the person in your life who loves Mad Men—or stories about D.B. Cooper.
To buy: $23; surlatable.com
Monochrome Weave Hand Towels
A rustic addition to any kitchen, these hand towels are for the home cook with style. The towels are cotton with an eye-catching design and twisted fringe.
To buy: $20; leifshop.com
Hunting Lodge Air Freshener
ArcherMen created this home fragrance for those who love the outdoors and want to bring holiday cheer into their home with “hearth stone, gunpowder, and damp timber” scents. You can also try their “dish whisky,” which is barrel-aged dish soap—it’s a useful white elephant gift no one would expect.
To buy: $14; archermen.com
Glass Wine Decanter
If the price limit is a little higher for your gift swap, you can even pair this gift with a nice bottle of red. This is an ideal starter decanter—for someone who likes the idea of letting their wine open up before drinking it, but isn’t ready for the heavy-duty decanters quite yet.
To buy: $15; target.com
KRUPS Coffee Grinder
For the person who’s trying to get into brewing better coffee at home, this introductory grinder is a gateway. The KRUPS stainless steel coffee grinder can also mince herbs and spices.
To buy: $28; target.com