The Best Gifts to Give the Co-Worker You’ve Never Met In Person

We can all use a thoughtful present after a long year of Zoom calls

As many of us have spent nearly two years working from home, coffee mugs have replaced co-workers and “office” attire now includes sweatpants. Annual holiday work parties—opportunities to share gifts and a few drinks—may be on pause, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate your colleagues, even if you’ve yet to meet them in-person or haven’t seen them in months. Show your co-workers how much you appreciate them and their hard work with a gift that says “I see you,” even though, you know, you haven’t.

Here are our recommendations for the best gifts for co-workers.

An illustration of a coffee cup on a bag of coffee

Fresh coffee

Husband and wife Aditya Srivathsan and Shilpa Rajahamsa have brought a taste of home to Canada with their South Indian coffee company, Madras Kaapi. Their chicory blend contains 10 per cent chicory and the bold, spicy smell alone will have you awake and ready to tackle the day.

Chicory-blend coffee, $16,

A photo of Raven Reads subscription box with illustrations of a raven on the outside

Book subscription gift box

Have a co-worker who loves to read? Scratch their itch with a subscription to Raven Reads, an Indigenous and female-owned company dedicated to bringing their culture into Canadian homes everywhere. Each box includes a book written by an Indigenous author, a letter from them, a history card, an Indigenous handmade craft or art piece and a literature-themed trinket. 

Indigenous books seasonal subscription, $88,

Green velvet slippers with gold detailing on the inside

Luxe velvet slippers

With so many of us working from home, it’s safe to assume we are prioritizing cosy footwear. Nothing says comfort like a pair of velvet slippers that are also stylish.  

PUEBCO velvet slippers, $45,

Photos of stickers reading "survived another meeting that should have been an email" and "emotional support coworker"

Fun stickers to decorate your laptop with

Kitchener, Ont.-based Peculiar Pennants is the place to go for the colleague who has surpassed the mere “co-worker” label and has become a friend. There, you can find an “Emotional Support Co-worker” vinyl sticker that will make the label official, or stickers that read “Survived a Meeting That Should Have Been an Email” and “Your Productivity Does Not Determine Your Value.”

Emotional support co-worker vinyl sticker, $4.50,

Photo of a white candle in a glass jar on a velvet fabric next to a sliced orange

Hand-poured soy candle

It doesn’t get more Toronto than this company. Made in the Parkdale apartment of small business owner Gerasil “Geri” Coria, her hand-poured candles were born during the COVID-19 pandemic and are destined to freshen up your co-worker’s space and mood. Especially if they’ve been cooped up at home and are experiencing a dash of…*drum roll*…cabin fever.

Cabin fever soy candle, $16,

A Nibbl cheese box with various cheeses and crackers spread out over a board

Sponsored: Nibbl gourmet cheese boxes

Few things show appreciation for employees or clients quite like a delicious and beautifully curated cheese box. Look no further than Nibbl cheese’s corporate gifting program, with options like this premium Ace Pairings box. Filled with five gorgeous, mouthwatering cheeses, including a Lady Laurier d’Arthabaska vanilla-flavoured triple cream brie, two delectable fruity spreads and artisanal crackers, it comes perfectly packaged with accoutrements in a premium keepsake box. Savour something special!

Ace Pairings, $85,

A grey mug sitting on a white electric mug warmer

Electric mug warmer

Whether your co-worker is a tea or coffee (or middle of the day hot toddy) drinker, they’d likely appreciate this affordable little gadget that keeps their beverage warm and their energy high.

Salton coffee mug and tea cup warmer, $13,

Photos of mini bottles of maple syrup with black labels

Mini maple syrup set

For an especially Canadian gift, this set includes three bottles of New Brunswick-based Wabanaki’s signature barrel-aged maple syrup in three flavours: bourbon, whiskey and toasted oak. For this Indigenous and female-owned company, maple syrup stands for many things, including healing and nourishing. What could be a more meaningful gift for your favourite co-worker?

Wabanaki maple syrup bundle, $33,

A photo of three Zing product jars with bright colour packaging

Food flavouring with a kick

With working from home comes plenty of cooking, and at this point in the pandemic, we’re all a little tired of what our pantries have to offer. Enter Zing. This Toronto company is keen on providing you with shortcut products that can add that special “zing” to your meals without hours of prepping or costly grocery shopping. This three-pack includes the essentials: Hakka-ish Chili Crisp, Mogambo Spiced Garlic Spread and Buzz Hot Honey. Use them on everything from morning eggs to lunch-time noodles.

Zing triple threat flavour jars, $38,

A purple journal with a white ring spine

Easy-to-use manifestation planner

Cheryl Sutherland’s Toronto-based affirmation company PleaseNotes offers journals that cultivate gratitude. The Manifestation Planner will help anyone shed their imposter syndrome, and help them find ways to realistically achieve their goals. 

PleaseNotes Manifestation Planner, $50,

A pink packaging bag with a CBD bath bomb inside

CBD bath bomb

At the end of the day, the body needs a rest. There’s no better—and quicker—way to get that relaxation than with a bath. Add in this CBD-infused bath bomb, and your stress and tension will be washed away while your skin reaps the moisturizing benefits. 

Marena Wellness bath bomb, $15,

A large brown water bottle with a pink lid

Oversized water bottle

It’s pretty easy to forget to hydrate while working away—especially on days when you’ve got back-to-back Zoom calls. This 2.2-litre water bottle is a must, available in pink and black, via Toronto business owner Natasha Geddes’ Good Goddess.

Black Rose water bottle, $25,

A photo of a person holding a green coffee cup that says "I like turtles"

Eco-friendly coffee mug

If you’ve got a green thumb in the workplace, this one’s for them. Conscious apparel company Novel Supply Co. is based in Vancouver and run by owner Kaya Dorey, who is devoted to bringing style to eco-friendly products. This stainless steel “I Love Turtles” 15-ounce mug is just a sample of her catalogue, and is 100 per cent BPA-free and recyclable.

“I like turtles” coffee mug, $45,

A photo of cocktail and soda mix an cocktail syrup

Espresso martini kit

By the time you’ve wrapped work, it’s likely you’re low on energy. This espresso martini kit will have you buzzing in no time, and may just convert you into a cold brew martini lover. Happy hours have never been more energizing. 

Espresso martini duo, $27,