Win Office Secret Santa with Birmingham Gifts

Looking for inexpensive, Birmingham-made Christmas gifts? Localist Carrie Rollwagen has a gift roundup of $20 gifts.

Office Christmas parties are the best of times and the worst of times. On the one hand, you can usually get some good stories (and some good blackmail material) from the funny things that happen in the slightly casual setting. But on the other hand, picking out a gift for a coworker you don’t know well is incredibly nervewracking. Whether you’re going to Secret Santa or White Elephant, trying to stick to a price limit and get something for a coworker can be pretty stressful.

I’m a big shop local advocate (I even wrote a book about it), and I’ve found that local gifts can be a lifesaver when it comes to the “I totally don’t know what to get this person” people on your list. Here are a few of my favorite Birmingham, Alabama gifts for your Secret Santa — they’re all from companies doing business in Birmingham, and they all have options under $20.

Piper & Leaf Tea

Anyone who follows me on social media, or who passes by my desk here at Infomedia, knows I love Piper & Leaf tea. Their flavors are incredible and will win over non-tea drinkers, and you can grab a Sampler Gift Set for $25 (or buy a jar and bag of tea for less than that). Piper & Leaf mason jars are more than just adorable — taking them to any location that serves Piper & Leaf will get you discounts on iced tea refills as well.

Great Bear Wax Candles or Beard Oil

Great Bear Wax candles settle great disputes here at the office — many of us love burning candle at work, while others of us (ahem, Brad) absolutely do not. Great Bear Wax has incredible scents made of quality materials, so they smell natural and never fake. They’ve won over even the grumpiest olfactory scrooges in our office (even Brad, kinda), and I think they’ll win over your coworkers, too. (Got a Secret Santa recipient who has a beard or mustache? Consider giving Great Bear Wax beard oil or mustache wax instead.)

Local Coffee or Beer

It’s hard to go wrong with excellent consumables, and we have so many here in Birmingham that you’ll have plenty to choose from. Get locally roasted coffee from O’Henry’s, Octane, Domestique, Seeds or Revelator, or try beer from Good People, TrimTab, Avondale or Cahaba breweries. The office coffee and beer snobs are going to love you.

Alabama Ornament

At Christmas, an ornament is a fairly foolproof way to go — your officemate can hang it on their tree at home or just put it up in their cubicle for a little Christmas cheer. Local artist Sarah Woodall makes some fantastic Birmingham-themed ornaments; look for her in pop-up shops around town or snag a gift from her Etsy store. Getting an ornament that celebrates Birmingham pride is a pretty safe bet, since the guy at the next desk probably calls the Magic City home, too.

Cross Stitch with Attitude

Looking for a gift that’s original, one-of-a-kind and quirky without being TOO quirky? A cross stitch from Birmingham’s Smallwoods Studios is just about perfect. If you think fast, you can get a personalized ornament for $20, and I’m also a big fan of some of her other pop-culture influenced designs. A few that I’d like to hang up at my desk? “Coffee is my friend,” “I’m ready for a nap” and “Ain’t nobody got time for this.”

I think shopping locally for holidays is always a good idea, and for small gifts — like hostess presents, stocking stuffers and office Secret Santa gifts — it can be the very best way to find special and unique presents that introduce people to new tastes and artists in Birmingham.

Carrie has been copyediting and writing for fifteen years. Her skills were forged in the newsroom at The Birmingham Post-Herald and she’s a huge book nerd (she moonlights as Southern Living’s book reviewer), but a love of paper and ink hasn’t stopped her from mastering the digital world as well: She’s had a blog pretty much since they existed, and she’s run social media for companies big and small. Carrie’s always ready to take on a new communication challenge, lecture us about the proper use of semicolons, or defend the fact that her Instagram account is filled with selfies.


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