Author Topic: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?  (Read 10220 times)

Rylito

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Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« on: December 16, 2013, 10:46:17 PM »
I know this is a bit late, but gifts are starting to trickle in from my co-workers at my new job, and I realize I'm going to have to reciprocate.  All told I'll probably need to get presents for about 15 co-workers.  I'd like to keep the cost between $50-75.  I'm not a baker.  Any other cheap suggestions?

scrubbyfish

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2013, 10:53:54 PM »
You definitely don't have to get them stuff. At first it's hard (psychologically) to not reciprocate on gifts but, as with anything, practice will get you comfy. When they give you a gift, simply give a very warm and gracious "thank you!". You are under no obligation to get them anything.

Remember that a lot of people are gifting only because *they* feel obligated to, or afraid you will gift them first, or that it's the only way to get people to like them, etc. When you accept graciously, and give nothing else, you are giving them several gifts: one less obligation for them next year, an example in not-giving which starts leading them down this happy path, and the opportunity for them to discover they are liked regardless of not giving.

I have practiced this for years with most people, and this year am bringing a degree of this into my gift-giving with the three children I give to. I am loving the new sense of freedom and joy I'm experiencing in lowering the bar ever further :)

HappierAtHome

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2013, 11:21:34 PM »
You don't need to be a baker to make simple homemade sweets. The Budget Bytes blog just posted a recipe for peppermint bark - this is the PERFECT quick, easy and cheap gift for colleagues. I'm planning to make it myself next week.

nikki

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2013, 12:05:14 AM »
I wouldn't give them anything beyond thanks, but I'm a bit of a scrooge.

Catherine

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2013, 12:18:26 AM »
I think a nice generic card with a short handwritten note for the people you work most closely with is classy. Tape a candy cane to it if you have to. If you think back do you have a mental list of who gave you what in past offices? I don't and I bet nobody else will remember either.

I guess I'm lucky that my department does a secret santa gift exchange with a price limit that you can opt out of, no questions asked. I'll probably bring a bottle of craft beer and a card for the three people I work most closely with. Cheap and still fun.

limeandpepper

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2013, 01:47:24 AM »
If you can't make something, something affordable could be some tea. You should be able to get nice ones for under $4 each.

NeverWasACornflakeGirl

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2013, 05:58:10 AM »
I know this is a bit late, but gifts are starting to trickle in from my co-workers at my new job, and I realize I'm going to have to reciprocate.  All told I'll probably need to get presents for about 15 co-workers.  I'd like to keep the cost between $50-75.  I'm not a baker.  Any other cheap suggestions?

I'm guessing from your question that you're at the beginning of your career?  I'm going to assume so since it sounds like this is the first time you've had to deal with this issue.

I'm going to go contrary to most of the advice that's already been given.  If you want to move ahead in your organization you have to invest in relationships, which is what your coworkers are doing.  Although I am cheap, I see these small Christmas gifts (as well as the other gifts I am asked to chip in on throughout the year) as an investment in my career, and in my experience these small investments have big payoffs. 

If you search the boards, you will find that office gift giving has already been thoroughly debated, so I'm just going to give you some ideas of things that people in our office give each other:

1.  Dollar scratch-off tickets (I don't play the lottery, being a Mustachian, but people really do love these.  And everybody gets a big kick out of it because I'm the only one who doesn't ever play, and I'm the one who always wins something at Christmas)
2.  Small boxes of quality chocolate or other candy
3.  Very nice body lotion (usually given between women, def. NOT dollar store varieties)
4.  Wendy's junior frosty keychain card
5.  Lego minifigurines (the giver loves legos, we're IT nerds, and it fits our personality as a department.  YMMV.  I got the Viking Woman last year for XMas and she's sitting on my desk right now!  http://minifigures.lego.com/en-US/Bios/Constable.aspx#Viking Woman)
6.  Starbucks cards for $5
7.  Group gifts -- if you're all in the same department you can get a nice "tower of treats" from Costco for $20 or $30 and share it with everyone

If you can make stuff...
Here's the stuff I've made for my coworkers.  These are so easy my young daughter has helped me with them.  All of these are low-cost, easy, gender-neutral, and impressive:
1.  Rice heating pads (sew a small rectangle.  put rice in it.  done.)  Cost to make:  25 cents each.  Cost to buy on Etsy:  $11 each.
2.  Chai Latte mix in small mason jars (got the recipe online - just a bunch of powders mixed together in a big bowl then poured into mason jars)
3.  Personalized magnets (Buy small, clear, flat-sided marbles at dollar store.  Print out each person's first initial in a bunch of different fonts (.  Use hole punch to cut out letters.  Glue letters to flat back of marbles.  Glue small magnets to flat back of marbles.  Put personalized magnets in metal gift card boxes from Micheals ($1 each).  They looked so good people thought I had bought them, but they were so easy my 7 year old helped me make them.  Probably cost $2 per person.  Some people took them home and put them on the frig, some use them at work.
4.  This year I'm making tile coasters.  Buy plain white tiles at Home Depot for .16 cents each.  Use cool paper, maps, paper napkins, pretty much anything made out of paper, and decoupage it on top of the tile.  Seal well.  For my close friends I'm going to try printing photos from their Facebook pages to really personalize them.

Best of luck and happy holidays!

Rural

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2013, 08:42:38 AM »
I've also had good luck with bath salts. I just use Epsom salts, and mix in a few drops of a scented oil. I gave them in pretty teacups I bought at thrift stores, and they were a great hit.

Also, you don't have to be a baker to make rice crispy treats, either. In fact, all you need is a microwave and a casserole dish.

Guizmo

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2013, 08:43:43 AM »
You could tell people you are an atheist and don't celebrate xmas? Works for me.

BoulderTC

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2013, 09:24:26 AM »
Another homemade food idea: make dry soup mix and cute tags with instructions how to complete it to make soup. It's pretty easy (maybe an hour of your time total) and really cheap. Here's some instructions:

http://www.razzledazzlerecipes.com/christmas/gifts/noodle-soup-mix.htm

athomeintheworld

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2013, 09:36:59 AM »
Homemade vanilla!  Slice 2 beans lengthwise, drop in glass jar with stopper, fill with vodka or bourbon.  Make cute label or ribbon on it if you want. 

Note: needs a few weeks before ready for use, but perfectly fine to give now to use after Jan.

Debbie M

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2013, 09:40:52 AM »
I think a nice generic card with a short handwritten note for the people you work most closely with is classy. Tape a candy cane to it if you have to....

My experience is that people don't like candy canes.  I'd go for a Hershey's kiss.

Eric

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2013, 11:08:16 AM »
Rice Krispie Treats are super easy and everyone loves them.  No baking involved.  Jazz them up by adding peanut butter chips or Cocoa/Fruity Pebbles if your tastes desire.

MicroRN

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2013, 12:43:41 PM »
Similar to the bath salts, salt and sugar body scrubs are very nice.  Sugar, kosher salt, sweet almond oil, and a few drops of essential oil in a mason jar.

There are tons of easy treats to make.  Chocolate barks (look online for recipes), dipped apricots (boil apricots in sugar/water/brandy mix then half-dip in chocolate).  Do hot cocoa mix in a mason jar (sugar, cocoa powder, powdered milk, mini marshmallows).  If you want to spruce it up, tie a mini bottle of Bailey's to it, or add instant coffee to make it a mocha mix.  Chocolate spoons are also really easy.  Dip plastic spoons heavily in melted chocolate or white chocolate, then people use them to stir coffee or cocoa.  You can sprinkle them with some crushed peppermint.  Chocolate dipped oreos are likewise very easy, and sell at boutique chocolate shops for ridiculous sums of money.       

galliver

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2013, 03:22:14 PM »
I second tea. Except, instead of $4/person, get a couple boxes of nice, different teas (Stash, Tazo, etc.) that are individually wrapped, preferably on sale (you can prob find for $2.50-3/pkg of 20). Maybe throw in some instant coffee (e.g. Via) and/or hot chocolate. Shuffle. Package attractively (find a deal on gift bags, make little boxes, wrap in cellophane or 'treat bags', tie with ribbon & attach to card, etc). If you particularly like (or want to suck up to) someone, put it in a mug, teacup, or teapot (check thrift stores, dollar store(s), clearance, TJ Maxx).

Sealed teabags won't really go bad (maybe a tad stale), different flavors mean people get to try new things. And you can get away with fewer teabags per person. Even at $4/pkg for 8 packages, you can give all 15 peeps a variety of 10 teas for $32 total. Another $5-10 on packaging and an hour or two in front of the TV and you're set! Dollar spot at Target had holiday ribbons, gift tags, and alphabet stickers last I was there.

savedough

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2013, 04:10:30 PM »
I did cocoa, candy canes and homemade marshmallows.

Not everyone drinks tea, but most people drink cocoa or cider.

I also love when someone brings in a huge popcorn tin to share or a big batch of homemade Chex mix.  SO GOOD!


Catbert

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2013, 05:30:04 PM »
I was just at Trader Joe's and they had a variety of candy packages for $1.99 to $3.99 (and up, of course) that seems suitable as small gifts.  Things like: chocolates, salted caramels, peppermints, pretzels dipped in candy.  That's if you don't want to go the homemade route suggestions by others.

rosarugosa

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2013, 05:37:03 PM »
MaryW:  I like the TJ suggestion because their stuff is boutique quality without the boutique price tags.  I'm a big fan of Trader Joe's!

Eric

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2013, 05:40:17 PM »
MaryW:  I like the TJ suggestion because their stuff is boutique quality without the boutique price tags.  I'm a big fan of Trader Joe's!

Opinions seem to vary widely:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/welcome-to-the-forum/am-i-the-only-one-who-does-not-understand-the-hype-of-trader-joes

mm1970

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2013, 06:57:50 PM »
If you can't make something, something affordable could be some tea. You should be able to get nice ones for under $4 each.
I was thinking the same thing.  There are some nice herbals right now with Christmas themes - gingerbread cookie is the bomb.

NeverWasACornflakeGirl

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2013, 07:07:28 PM »
Forgot another one I really want to try out but haven't had time:  Altoids tins made into different kinds of mini kits.  Tons of ideas out there, but these are the ones I'm thinking of trying:

First aid kit
Survival kit
Urban survival kit
Sewing kit
Tiny box of games
Succulent garden

All should be cost-effective for a group, gender-neutral, useful, and fun and easy to make.

 I'm thinking of making my own hybrid "Office Survival kit".  It could combine elements of the first aid, sewing, and urban survival kits with maybe some fun stuff thrown in.

HappierAtHome

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2013, 07:53:56 PM »
I know this is a bit late, but gifts are starting to trickle in from my co-workers at my new job, and I realize I'm going to have to reciprocate.  All told I'll probably need to get presents for about 15 co-workers.  I'd like to keep the cost between $50-75.  I'm not a baker.  Any other cheap suggestions?

I'm guessing from your question that you're at the beginning of your career?  I'm going to assume so since it sounds like this is the first time you've had to deal with this issue.

I'm going to go contrary to most of the advice that's already been given.  If you want to move ahead in your organization you have to invest in relationships, which is what your coworkers are doing.  Although I am cheap, I see these small Christmas gifts (as well as the other gifts I am asked to chip in on throughout the year) as an investment in my career, and in my experience these small investments have big payoffs. 

This. We have a relative newcomer to the team who has a different professional background (and nationality) from the rest of us. She does those small, thoughtful things like a card and small chocolate for someone's birthday, a Christmas card for our clients, a thank you note after I helped her prepare for an interview. I've seen the difference in how people react to her with her incredibly gracious manners and yes, it's helping her. We were all putting it down to the nationality difference ("she's sweet because she's Canadian!!") but... it's just good manners and it's a little bit of social lubrication, and it's something I'm determined to learn from and emulate.

It's kind of like treating a colleague to a coffee and talking to them about their career development - it costs you time and a little money, but the potential rewards are huge. I spent a lot of my own time mentoring a colleague recently and have now been identified as a 'future leader' because, unbeknownst to me, my manager took note and decided it was a demonstration of my leadership potential. You might think it's meaningless to do small Christmas gifts for your colleagues, but you never know what positive effects it could be having on their perception of you.

153

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2013, 09:24:36 PM »
I got Martha Stewart "compartment treat boxes" at a craft shop for about 2 bucks after sale/coupon for a pack of six. Comes with pretty packaging paper, ribbon, cellophane lid, looks quite nice. It's a pack of six. Just finished making some of my favorite cookies/treats from my childhood, and packaged 4 diff treats to each box.

Cost less than chintzy looking dollar store/walmart containers, and looked nicer to boot.

For a few bucks, the packaging takes the homemade to a much nicer level than crumpled foil/ziplock.

NeverWasACornflakeGirl

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Re: Frugal X-mas gift ideas for co-workers?
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2013, 07:50:20 AM »
For a few bucks, the packaging takes the homemade to a much nicer level than crumpled foil/ziplock.

Agreed -- with any homemade gift it's all about the finishing touches and the presentation.