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With the holidays coming up, it’s time to start thinking about gift exchanges. Our personal favorites to snap up? Dirty Santa gifts, which are quite similar to white elephant ones in that they’re not supposed to be expensive or personalized. In fact, the more affordable and cheekier they are, the better. Before we share our favorite picks, though, allow us to explain the concept.
What is dirty Santa?
To anyone who thought dirty Santa gifts may involve our favorite jolly white-haired figure in compromising positions, don’t get your hopes up. Dirty Santa is a type of gift exchange that is named for the somewhat sketchy rules. Like white elephant exchanges, everyone brings a concealed gift and puts it in the middle of a table. Next, all participants draw a number. Whoever picks the number one gets to select a present from the pile first. The following players can either continue to choose items from the pile or steal someone else’s (though a gift can be stolen no more than three times).
Once the round comes back to the first person, they can either choose to keep their gift thereby ending the game (granted no one stole their item this entire time), or they steal someone else's present since they haven't had the chance to yet. For the latter scenario, the game ends when someone finally decides to keep their gift. Starting to see where the name of the game comes from? You need to play dirty to get what you want!
We went ahead and listed 40 goodies that make for the perfect dirty Santa gifts. From a round ice cube tray to the sweetest salt and pepper shakers, there are a lot of great products to choose from. Did we mention they’re all under $25? That’s right: these are inexpensive, so feel free to get more than one!
Shop more of our favorite gift guides below.
Coffee and Donut Salt and Pepper Shakers
Since both coffee and donuts are on the sweeter side of the flavor spectrum, these salt and pepper shakers may be a little misleading, but we love them anyway. They're such an easy way to dress up any table.
Taper Candles, Set of 12
The Barbie movie may have come out a while ago, but the Barbiecore aesthetic will never fade away. Case in point: you can shop these candles in a punchy shade of pink right now. If you have a set of candlestick holders, give these tapers a chance to shine—literally.
Remember this game from the 1960s? Yes, it's still around—and smaller than ever. Give it to a friend with a long commute or who likes to keep themselves busy in waiting rooms.
Cat Night Light, Set of 2
Your friends don't need to be afraid of the dark to appreciate these rainbow nightlights. Not only do they cast a colorful glow on the wall behind them, but they actually provide plenty of light as you make your way to the bathroom in the dark.
Round Ice Cube Trays
Ice balls make any chilled drink look cooler. Pop in any piece of fruit for a sweeter-tasting cold sphere.
Gummy Bear Light-Up Keychain
This keychain, which also comes in purple and red, is so cute. It's squishy and lights up, so whoever wins this gummy is never going to lose their keys again.
French Vanilla Cereal Bowl Candle
No, we're not suggesting you gift your friends a bowl of Lucky Charms. This is actually an extremely realistic candle that smells like the cereal. The best part? You don't even need to light it to get a good whiff.
Blush-Colored Velvet Scrunchies
Scrunchies—especially velvet ones—are much better for your hair than the thin elastic ones. The super-soft fabric glides over your strands, which prevents breakage. Plus, look how pretty they are.
Ceramic Jewelry Tray
Whether the winner uses this as a tray for jewelry, keys, or makeup, they'll definitely find a place for it. It's also neutral enough that it can pair well with just about anyone's decor.
A set of fuzzy socks in beautiful pastel shades is never a bad idea. We happen to think that this will be the most envied item at the gift exchange.
Curio Spiral-Bound Notebook
Even in the Digital Age when everyone is on their screens, a tried-and-true notebook is still a must. Whoever wins this can use it for everything, from keeping track of to-do lists to heart-wrenching journal entries.
Headphone Stand with USB Charger
For anyone who prefers the big headphones to the earbuds, this stand, which comes with a USB charger is a WFH essential. They can hang their headphones from the little ledge, keep their chargers organized, and plug cables right into the port.
Bleach Safe Makeup Towels
If your friends want to take care of their precious pores, they need these washcloths. Here's why: Using the towel you use to dry your hands and body harbors way too much bacteria to use on your face. Because these come in a set, feel free to use one once and toss it in the wash before reaching for another.
3-in-1 Avocado Slicer
Cutting an avocado is no easy feat. One wrong move and you can take off a finger! This three-in-one avocado-specific tool makes slicing into one of the most delicious fruits on the market easy and safe.
Modern Desk Mat
Style your desk, whether in your home or corporate office, with a 1970s-inspired mat that doubles as a mouse pad without damaging the surface beneath.
Small Desk Calendar
"I get this for myself every year and love it," Associate Shopping Editor Jessica Cherner says. "It makes my desk look so much more charming and it's so much more convenient than peeping the date in my phone every day."
Wooden Eyeglass Holder
Okay, how adorable is this large-nosed little figure? It has a little slit in the top of its head for the temples and, of course, the bridge goes where it would on this thing's human counterpart.
Wave Table Mirror
Inspired by Ettore Sottsass's famed Ultrafragola mirror, which stands at six feet tall, this tabletop version is the perfect desk accessory. It may not light up like the original, but it sure is cute.
Relaxing Sinus Mask
Anyone who's napped under a weighted blanket knows how calming they can be. This sinus mask does the same thing, but for your face. If they have a headache or are experiencing any sinus pressure, this will fix the problem almost immediately.
Ceramic Aloe Ring Holder
We're all about the travel jewelry case that zips shut, but for storing your jewelry at home, this ceramic aloe vera ring holder is our go-to. If you're thinking it may look a little overbearing, rest assured that it's only four inches tall, making it one of the cutest jewelry stands ever.
Stemless Wine Glasses, Set of 4
"I love all things iridescent," Cherner admits. "I bought these in flute form a few years ago and I love breaking them out whenever I have company over. They're so classic but the unique color makes them feel a little more fun."
Packing Cubes, Set of 9
Even for the most organized travelers, packing is not fun—especially when you're trying to stuff as many outfits in your bag as possible. Packing cubes make the process so much easier. They also maximize storage in all the right ways.
50-Ounce Glass Pitcher
We love a vintage-inspired pitcher that is even more beautiful when filled with iced tea, lemonade, or even sangria. If you really want to commit to this look, go ahead and buy the matching glasses too.
iPrep Adjustable Stand
The cooks in the friend group will revel over this adjustable meal prep stand, which works with tablets and smart phones. It even comes with a nifty pen so that you don't have to get your screens dirty from fingers covered in sauce.
"I bought this online within minutes of smelling it in a hotel guest room and I have replaced it every time it starts to run low," Cherner admits. "It smells so delicious (I got the jasmine and lily scent) and fills the whole room with its heavenly aroma."
Rose Gold Compact Mirror
Everyone can use a compact mirror that they can slip in their purses for touch-ups while on the go. It's also magnifying, so for any pesky spots they want to investigate, they can get a closer look.
Holiday Votive Candle
Full disclosure, this candle is tiny, but it is by one of the most luxurious fragrance brands. Because it's only two ounces, we suggest lighting it on special occasions or when you just need some holiday spirit.
One-Touch Rice Cooker
Rice is one of those delicious dishes that is always welcomed on the table, but is never fun to make. Did we mention it takes a long time? Now, just dump the rice and water into the cooker, turn it on, and carry on with your day.
Cocktail Shaker Set
The best cocktails are the simplest ones. From martinis to gimlets, three-ingredient sips are delicious and pretty easy to make. All you need is a jigger (the measuring tool), a shaker, and a stirrer.
200 Inspirational Stickers Pack
These stickers, which feature cute and inspiring phrases, would look good decorating a laptop, water bottle, or notebook, so for the friends who need some extra encouragement, this collection is the perfect present.
Nonstick Frying Pan Skillet
A speckled nonstick frying pan? Yes, please. This pick is so good that you may even want to pick it yourself.
Double-Walled Espresso Mug
As delicious as drip coffee may be, we have a thing for espresso, which has a bit more of a kick. It tastes even better in these adorable glass mugs.
Why are traditional thumbtacks just not as fun as these butterfly-topped ones? Each one is different, mimicking real butterflies we'd find in nature. Make your bulletin board a little more fun and colorful with this set of 60—this would also be a great gift for teachers to use in the classroom.
Serving utensils are a hosting essential, so next time your friends have people over, let them reach for these elegant, brassy servers that make any meal feel more upscale.
Scented Sachets for Closet
Keep their closets smelling floral and fresh with these scented sachets. Simply drape them on an unoccupied hanger and let them go to work.
Natural Rose Quartz Heart
Rose quarts is one of the most popular healing crystals because it is the stone that represents unconditional love. With this beautiful heart-shaped gem by your side, you'll definitely feel supported in all of your love-related endeavors.
Get a set of bubble candles for $12—these are the perfect accessories to add a touch of whimsy to the next dinner party. Sadly, they start to lose their shape shortly after the wick catches fire, but watching them melt is part of the fun.
Glass Butter Dish
Everything tastes better with butter, so stop leaving it in the box. Instead, unwrap it and pop it in this non-slip dish, making it easily accessible at all times.
Satin Pillowcase for Hair and Skin
Satin doesn't just look fancy, it is much better for your hair and skin than traditional cotton, which can tug and cause quite a bit of damage. This delicate material is ideal for anyone who likes to enjoy a good beauty sleep.
Kitchen Essentials Set
"I bought this household cleaner set because of the scent," Cherner says. "I wasn't surprised to learn how well they work. They also last for months, making this $15 set a good investment."
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