Last-Minute Gifts for Co-Workers

7 surprises that will delight colleagues without breaking your budget

December 13, 2016

Around the holidays, many young professionals look for creative ways to show appreciation for colleagues. Sometimes that means buying them a gift. But that can be a tricky enterprise with co-workers. You want something that shows you care but that isn’t too personal or expensive. If you find yourself stuck, here are ideas to consider, all for under $50, from a few of the AICPA’s Leadership Academy grads. Each suggestion includes some basic information about the item, followed by an explanation from the Leadership Academy grad on why he or she submitted it.

Can you top these suggestions? Send us your best ideas @theaicpa on Instagram and @youngcpanetwork on Twitter.

For the wine enthusiast

Item: Wine chiller
Cost: $15–$25
Check out the Corkcicle, a freezable, reusable cork and icicle that gently brings your bottle of room-temperature red wine to the ideal drinking temperature, or keeps white wine chilled for an hour.

“I received a Corkcicle as a gift a couple years ago and love it. It’s a perfect gift for co-workers who enjoy some wine to unwind after the long busy-season days.”

Submitted by:
Elsa Jacobs, CPA, senior manager, tax accounting, Asurion
Nashville, Tenn.

For the sharply dressed man

Item: Shaving kit
Cost: $25–$40
Check out the Winter Winston Set from Harry’s, which includes a limited-edition razor handle (monogramming available), three German-engineered blade cartridges and a choice of shaving gel or cream.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But in an industry where January to April feels like going from 0 to 100, sometimes we tend to neglect our bodies and appearance. This elegant razor set from Harry’s will keep you prim and proper to ensure a smooth busy season.”

Submitted by:
Tim O’Neill, CPA, senior tax accountant, Mueller Prost LC
St. Louis

For anyone who likes to eat

Item: Homemade trail mix
Cost: $3–$10 per person
A homemade snack or baked treat is a thoughtful and cost-effective gift for anyone at the office. Find recipes online (try this cajun trail mix recipe from the Food Network) and cute packaging ideas (Mason jars are an easy and inexpensive option).

“I love making a big batch of Hot ’n Spicy Trail Mix or cinnamon sugar pecans and packaging them up in festive bags or tins and giving them as gifts to everyone in the office. These type of gifts are more heartfelt than a gift card to Starbucks, and you can stretch your buck further when making things in bulk.”

Submitted by:
Kathryn Rogers, CPA, finance manager, Independent Case Management Inc.
Little Rock, Ark.

For the family man/woman

Item: Gift card for a photo canvas
Cost: Varies, but starts at under $50
Many major retailers and websites such as CanvasPop can create custom gifts and canvas prints from favorite photos. A gift card toward a canvas print can be a thoughtful idea for a colleague to decorate a desk or office. 

“I have such a hard time finding artwork for the walls of my office. My colleagues have used this site to create personal canvas prints at an affordable price, and the results are beautiful! Also a unique option for reception and general office areas.”

Submitted by:
Dana Fogle, CPA, senior manager, PriceRomine PLLC
Shepherdstown, W.Va.

For the taskmaster

Item: Humorous sticky notes
Cost: $4–$17
Even with all the digital and mobile technology available, sometimes a handwritten sticky note is still the best way to stay on top of your to-do list. Knock Knock offers a variety of notepads that inject humor into stationery, such as the Deal With This memo pad that allows the user to delegate work to others with a side of sass.
“With everything going on at work, I need lists and sticky notes to function, as do many of my colleagues. These funny (and sometimes eerily accurate) notepads and sticky notes serve a vital purpose while also providing a laugh.”

Submitted by:
Jessica Iennarella, CPA, senior associate, Epps Forensic Consulting PLLC
Scottsdale, Ariz.

For the busy manager

Item: Heavy-duty water bottle
Cost: $30 and up
Most commuters already have their share of water bottles or travel mugs, but as a gift, they are infinitely customizable. Heavy-duty versions are built to withstand dropping and regular wear and tear. Yeti offers insulated stainless steel bottles in multiple sizes with options for monograms, college logos, and more.

“Our director keeps busy with the amount of meetings she has per day. We thought this would be a thoughtful gift that could keep her both hydrated and caffeinated.”

Submitted by:
Matthew Morey, CPA, senior staff regulatory analyst, Entergy
New Orleans

For the socially conscious office

Item: Donations to charity
Cost: Varies
Some organizations make a tradition of donating to charity around the holidays in lieu of gift exchanges. Employees can donate money, bring in canned items for a food drive, or adopt a family for the holidays through a program such as The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, which allows donors to shop and wrap gifts for a needy family.

“This takes a lot of the pressure off of the politics of who to get gifts for, what to get them. I think it is a lot more meaningful to all of us at our firms to help out others in need.”

Submitted by:
Amanda Barrett-Brough, CPA, audit manager, Squire & Co. PC
Orem, Utah

Samiha Khanna is a freelance writer based in Durham, N.C. To comment on this story, contact Chris Baysden, senior manager of newsletters at the AICPA.

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