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Unisex Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Under $20

Updated on November 21, 2016
Unisex gift ideas for a Secret Santa exchange.
Unisex gift ideas for a Secret Santa exchange. | Source

Secret Santa is a Christmas tradition that many offices and large families carry on year after year. It is meant to be a fun gift exchange game, but shopping for these annual events can be a bit stressful. This is either because people have to buy presents for co-workers they don’t know very well, or because they struggle to find a gender neutral gift for under $20 that will suit different age-groups.

Here are various ideas under $20 that would make good, unisex Secret Santa gifts for coworkers, friends, or family members.

Bottle That Makes Flavored Water

A water bottle with a flavor infuser makes a perfect unisex gift for health-conscious people.
A water bottle with a flavor infuser makes a perfect unisex gift for health-conscious people.

Many people tell themselves every day to drink more water, but it's hard to do. This is because plain water can be boring. Getting enough water is really important, so a bottle with a reusable water infuser is a gift idea that anyone will appreciate and use.

This is not just a regular bottle. It is one that allows you to add flavor to your water. You can put fruits, vegetables, or anything else into the infuser to flavor the water. And although it is meant for water, you can use it to flavor alcohol too.

The fruit holder also acts as a strainer, so there is no need to worry about drinking seeds, pulp, or herbs. Because the holder is shaped like a tube and stretches all the way down the bottle, it helps to infuse the water evenly, so you get flavor with every sip. Another neat thing about this bottle is that you can set the infuser in its cap while filling with fruits and veggies.

This gift will also save people money and improve their health at the same time. No need to buy expensive bottles of flavored water that is usually loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Battery Pack That Fits in a Pocket

A lipstick-size power bank that can charge your phone in your pocket is a gift that anyone can use.
A lipstick-size power bank that can charge your phone in your pocket is a gift that anyone can use.

Nowadays, almost everyone has a cell phone. We've all had the battery run out of juice in some inconvenient moment away from home. A portable battery charger that has a good charging speed, sleek design, and compact size will surely be a welcomed Secret Santa gift, and won't be thrown in the trash several days later.

One good and super inexpensive battery charger is the Anker Power Core+ Mini. It is a very compact unit that can literally charge up your phone in your pocket. It has an aluminum casing that feels really premium, so it definitely does not look like something that was bought at a gas station on the way to the Secret Santa party.

The Anker has a capacity of 3350 mAh, which means that an average iPhone user can get at least couple of charges out of it. If you have devices with smaller batteries, like Bluetooth headphones, for example, you will get multiple charges out of it.

Tool That Can Open Any Impenetrable Package

This multi-tool can open literally any impenetrable package. Very useful during the gift-giving season!
This multi-tool can open literally any impenetrable package. Very useful during the gift-giving season!

Who hasn’t gone nuts and suffered plastic cuts when trying to open gifts out of those clamshell packages? A universal tool, such as the “Open-It” from Zibra, which can open just about any package, would be a hit at a Secret Santa gift exchange. All genders will appreciate the tool, especially on Christmas Day, when all the gifts in impenetrable packages have to be opened.

The “Open-It” is a multi-functional tool that has several very useful features:

  • The first one is the cutting jaw which slices through the dreadful clamshell packages, blister packs and zip ties like butter. The jaw is angled and designed with an offset, which keeps your hands in a safe distance from the sharp plastic edges.

  • Because the cutting jaws have very sharp blades, there is a safety latch that keeps them closed when not in use by locking the handles.

  • One of the handles houses a retractable utility knife that is meant for cutting cellophane wrapping and paper. It is not designed to be used as a "box cutter." The utility knife also comes with a safety latch that needs to be pushed out and hold in order for the blade to stay out.

The other handle of the tool houses a little dual-ended screwdriver that can turn from flat head to Phillips head. The screwdriver will come in handy, especially around Christmas, for opening the battery compartments of the kids’ toys.

Sleek-Looking Hand Warmers

Reusable hand warmers are a must-have on those cold winter days.
Reusable hand warmers are a must-have on those cold winter days. | Source

With the weather is getting colder and colder around Christmas, hand warmers make very practical gift. They can add a lot of comfort on brisk days when you have to go outside and walk your dog, watch outdoor events or play with the kids in the park.

There are many types of hand warmers out there, but they are not all created equal. You definitely don’t want to get the disposable ones that you throw away after one use. Look for brands like Zippo hand warmer, which has a sleek-looking design made of metal. They can run up to 12 hours on a single charge.

Although the Zippo works with lighter fluid and has to be lit with matches, they won’t burn your pockets or gloves because the heat is generated by a catalytic reaction not an actual flame. The reaction occurs at temperatures that don’t get even close to the temperature of an open flame. In addition, the hand warmer comes with a small carrying pouch, which controls the air flow and so the temperature.

According to Zippo, the hand warmer can't be put out once lit, but needs to be left to burn out. This is not very convenient if you are not going to use it for very long periods of time. However, many people have found a way around it. Some wrap it in tinfoil to stop the air flow and cool it down. Others stop the air flow by putting it inside the carrying pouch and into a sealed zip lock bag.

Color Changing Bulb with Remote Control

Color changing bulbs create an enjoyable and inviting glow in a room. Anyone will like couple of those as a gift!
Color changing bulbs create an enjoyable and inviting glow in a room. Anyone will like couple of those as a gift!

Everyone love color-changing LED bulbs. Hit Lights Multicolor LED bulbs are inexpensive and remote-controlled to make a room glow in all colors of the rainbow. They are perfect for adding ambience, especially around the holidays. These bulbs will provide your Secret Santa with more than just “on” and “off” functionality. People can program them to smoothly cycle through the different colors or flash through every color. They can fade, dim, and create all kinds of awesome color schemes and effects.

Clever Organizer for Small Items

This organizer for small items makes a good unisex gift, because anyone will find a use for it – men, women, teens and even kids.
This organizer for small items makes a good unisex gift, because anyone will find a use for it – men, women, teens and even kids.

Practical gadget organizers like Cocoon’s Grid-It are another good, gender neutral gift. This organizer has simple, but very clever design. It is a reinforced board covered with rubberized elastic straps. The straps are interwoven in a way that allows for endless configurations to organize all sorts of small items and accessories. There is also a zipper pocket in the back to hold larger items that might be too big for the straps.

The Grid-It is a perfect gift not only for people who need a way to store all of their gadgets, USB cables, and chargers while traveling, but for just about everyone. Students can use it to organize pens, pencils, and computer cords. Guys can use it to organize small specialty tools that usually end up in a “junk” drawer. And ladies can use it for things like craft tools, personal items, or even as a purse organizer.

Pump That Keeps Wine Fresh for Days

A wine saver pump is a gift that wine lovers will really appreciate.
A wine saver pump is a gift that wine lovers will really appreciate. | Source

A wine saver vacuum pump is a small pump that extracts the air form an opened bottle of wine. This stops the oxidization process and preserves the wine for a longer period of time. Obviously, this gift is more suitable for office parties or other gift exchanges that do not include small children.

Look for the Vacu Vin Wine Saver Pump. Theirs includes a very useful vacuum indicator feature: The pump makes a clicking sound when you have pumped all the air out of the bottle. With other pumps, you have to guess when to stop pumping. This pump also comes with two reusable bottle stoppers, which are actually needed for sealing the bottle and for the pump to work.

Don’t forget that this gender neutral gift would go nicely with a bottle of wine!

Set of Quality Cheese Knives

Labeled cheese knives are the perfect accessory for a party or get together.
Labeled cheese knives are the perfect accessory for a party or get together.

Everyone can use cheese knifes in their home, but not everyone will necessarily think of buying a full set for themselves, which makes this idea very appropriate for an adult gift exchange at work or at home.

Since many people like the shiny look of stainless steel, the Jetty Home four-piece knife set will probably appeal to most of your colleagues or family members. The knives are engraved with labels for what kind of cheese they are intended to be used with, which makes them a bit more interesting than other gift sets. For example, the large spatula is labeled "Crumbly" and is meant for cheeses like Gorgonzola. The thinner spatula is labeled “Soft” and is for cheeses like Camembert or Brie. The engraved labels are great for when you have guests over and they are not too sure about which knife to use with the different type of cheeses you are serving.

The set is also packed in a beautiful box that has a vintage vibe to it. You won't be embarrassed to give this to anyone—even your boss—as a gift.

Lens Care Kit

Lens care kits make nice gifts not only for those who wear glasses. Photographers and sports enthusiasts will like them too.
Lens care kits make nice gifts not only for those who wear glasses. Photographers and sports enthusiasts will like them too.

A lens care kit is not something that many people would think to give as a gift at the Secret Santa party. But these kits are very practical. They may be used for cleaning prescription glasses, safety and sports goggles, camera lenses, computer screens, cell phones, tablets, and many other glass and plastic surfaces.

Consider getting a kit from brands like Zeiss, because they are the best on the market. Their cleaning solutions leave no residue and won’t fog up lenses as many others do.

Mini Flashlight with a Tripod

It is always useful to have a flashlight with a tripod at home.
It is always useful to have a flashlight with a tripod at home.

Flashlights are very handy to have at home or in the car. An LED flashlight with a built-in tripod makes a great gift for a man or woman. They're useful for everything from DIY projects to emergency situations.

Food Gifts

Manuka Honey is not only delicious but is also used for natural wound care and skincare.
Manuka Honey is not only delicious but is also used for natural wound care and skincare.

If you have got one of those Secret Santa parties where you need to bring a $20 gift, and you’ve got the co-worker you don’t really know, then getting food gift is a good idea you can opt for. Chocolates are generally a safe, gender-neutral gift, but they're also a little predictable. To make a gift of chocolates special, pick a box with festive and creative design, such as box in the shape of a Christmas ornament, tree, or house.

Another, more interesting, option is a jar of organic raw honey. It is a natural alternative to chocolates and candy, doesn't spoil over time, and everyone will like it.

Secret Santa Gifts You May Want to Avoid

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  • Useless Novelties – Cheap novelties are gifts that everyone finds hilarious when they see them in a picture, but no one actually likes receiving them.
  • Candles – Everyone loves candles, right? No, everyone does not. Many scented candles are too strong for some people and the fact that you like a particular scent doesn’t mean that the gift recipient will also like it. The same goes for bath salts.
  • Gift Cards – Giving a gift card to a family member that you know well is one thing, but giving a gift card to a co-worker is another. With a gift card you are limiting their options by choosing only one place where they can spend your money. And they may not even like or shop at that place. Another good point is: why bring a $20 gift card to Target, just to walk home with a $20 gift card to Best Buy? Give cash instead.
  • Lottery and Scratch-Off Tickets – The vast majority of lottery tickets win nothing, so the odds are high that a lottery ticket given as a gift will be worthless. People would prefer to get the cash, instead of a gift that is most likely of no value at all.
  • Desk Calendar – Everyone has at least several electronic gadgets that can tell them the date – computer, mobile phone, iCal, even a day planner.
  • CDs and DVDs – Everyone has different tastes in music and movies, and the chances are big that your Secret Santa doesn’t share yours. Even a CD or DVD of their favorite band or movie can be a useless gift, because people usually have everything they like, especially from their favorite artists.
  • Donating Money – Do not assume that your Secret Santa would like to donate money to the same charities that you do, especially if they are related to some political or religious cause. Even if you know they won’t mind, it is still better to let them make the decision and donate the money.
  • Personal Items – Ties, cufflinks, perfumes, clothing, and jewelry are always bad gift ideas for co-workers and people you don’t know well. These are items that people like choosing for themselves. Unless you have very specific instructions on exactly what someone likes, don't go down this road.


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