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30 Very Inexpensive Gifts That Say "I'm Thinking of You!"

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Day 27 of 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving: Do more with less.

There are lots of important jobs that make our company tick: Nina, our Email Production Coordinator, sees to it that all our newsletter emails are coded exquisitely (and keeps her cool when we occasionally miss a deadline). Mike, our iOS Developer, keeps (Not)Recipes running, and Sarah, our Data Analyst, crunches all kinds of numbers so we can be better at what we do. They—and fifty-plus other wonderful, capable employees—make Food52 happen, day in and day out.

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But two jobs have risen to be fan favorites amongst our ranks: The Ambassador and First Gentleman of Fun. (They might have had an unfair advantage.)

Our Ambassador of Fun, one Jojo Feld, is also the Director of Buying and Product Development for our Shop, and Jovan Stojanovich, the First Gent of Fun, is our Manager of Email Marketing. The two outdo themselves with all kinds of parties for our office—some of which are company-wide excursions to faraway lands day-trip adventures, like apple picking or kayaking treks, and they read a mean horoscope for the month's birthdays—but one of our favorite Department of Fun activities to date has been this year's Elfster Gift Swap.

The wreath Jojo's elf made her (shaped like a J!).
The wreath Jojo's elf made her (shaped like a J!).

The rules were: You could only spend $10 total, and you were to get your assigned elf (who didn't know it was you) a trio of gifts over the course of a week. Elfsters were revealed at our company holiday party last week.

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And even though the rules sounded to some like a tall order, our ranks rose to meet the challenge—and the gifts were so dang thoughtful, so kind and creative, we had to share them with you. Maybe they'll spark a little last minute, small scale shopping? It is, of course, the thought that counts.


  • Delicious treats: The list of treats we swapped included, but was not limited to: Tiny rugelach's from Bread's Bakery, cookies from Poppy's Catering, fancy whole-leaf tea, homemade raspberry jam, lemon preserves (with step-by-step instructions for how to use them), a fruit-and-cheese plate delivered at breakfast, straight gin (Bridget's elf knows her well), ready-to-bake pizza dough, a piping hot fancy latte, and homemade bread!
  • Good tunes: Bridget called in a friend (one very talented, big-hearted Food52er named Olivia) to serenade her elf with Christmas songs on the violin, an IRL Tiny Desk Concert (the best part was that we all got to listen!). Others got playlists curated just for them: Bridget's was designed to help her to jam out at her barn upstate, and Kristen's elf told her exactly what part of her day every song on the playlist was supposed to power her through.
  • Decorations: Sarah J.'s elf gave her shelf-ready star ornaments, while Ali's elf peppered her laptop and coat pockets with cat post-its (Ali loves cats). Hannah got a new succulent friend for her windowsill, and Amanda H. also got a tiny plant, which she described as "the sweetest little plant with green leaves, shocking red veins, and a cute pod-like planter!"

Jojo's elf made her a ridiculously pretty wreath (pictured up top), with greenery in the shape of a J, and Sarah Y.'s elf wove her a wall hanging.

Thanks for the beer, elf! I love beer! —Adam
Thanks for the beer, elf! I love beer! —Adam
  • Pick-me-ups: Catherine's elf gave her themed gift bundles for evening activities, such as one for cocktail night featuring a mini Tito's bottle, ginger beer, and a lime, and spa night: face masks and fancy soap. Jovan's elf gave him a homespun felt picture frame ornament—with a picture of him in it! "I laughed out loud when I pulled it out of an unmarked brown paper bag," he says.
  • Restorative things: Homemade hand salve for Lauren Locke, a mindfulness mediation app (and a tall glass of citrus-infused water!) for Eunice, and a hand-knitted scarf for Amanda W.
  • Secret messages: Connor's elf gave him this magical, problem-solving card (pictured below). "Just having something like this... to carry around and remind me whenever I need has made this week end 820x better than how it started," he said, "and I really want my elf to know how much it means to me. Other mysterious messages abounded: Kenzi's elf sent her a telegram (!) while Eunice's contacted her from a secret elf email address ([email protected]).
  • Things from our wish lists: Olivia got two mug-sized GIR silicone lids—one of the pieces she's been obsessing over for quite a while—while our resident knitter Sarah Y. got a skein of beautiful yarn. Kenzi got a notebook with hand-written family recipes in it (for our Managing Editor, this was basically Christmas come).

On the first day of Elfster, my Elfie gave to me,
TWO silicone lids that have filled me with glee!
My sneaky sweetie must know how I feel
About silicone lids that have a magic seal
To keep coffee hot or to close up a can,
These lids changed my life, I'm such a huge fan.
—Olivia

Kristen, the person who dreamed up our 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving in the first place, got a donation to City Harvest in her name—sent from this secret elf account.

The DIY Gift that Dry Winter Hands Will Thank You For

The DIY Gift that Dry Winter Hands Will Thank You For by Caitlin Pike

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We're so bummed that Elfster is over that we're thinking of doing it again before next holiday season.

What are some tiny gifts that say "I'm thinking of you!" best? Share in the comments.

Tags: Elfster, office party, 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving