a decorative image with a wrapped package, green pine boughs, a red gift tag, a black marker, and a candy cane

The Design Gym’s 2023 Gift Guide

for Innovators, Connectors, and Change-Makers

It’s that (most wonderful) time of year! 

This year, we’ve curated some of our favorite gifts to give—and, ahem, receive—from across our team. Here are our top suggestions for the innovators, connectors, and change-makers in your world this holiday season:


For the on-the-go innovators
a green and brown topo bag with small handles

Topo Quick Pack

“I’ve found this pack to be perfect for on-the-go facilitation needs. Pack it up with some stickies, markers, pens, snacks, a mini bluetooth speaker, and a set of our Growth Innovation Cards, and give it to everyone on your team for a fun and functional DIY facilitation kit that won’t break the bank.” —Andy

Edge Pro Core Magnetic Phone and Tablet Holder

“As work travel picks back up, I’m adding this on-the-go workstation hack to my wish list!” —Erin

Bloom 3-in-1 Writing Tool

“I received this as a gift earlier this year and it was the right balance of thoughtful, usable, and interesting. Very affordable gift that still says a lot about the person you’re gifting it to.” —Andy

Portable Charger

“Anyone else still using their clunker power bank from 2018? It’s time for an upgrade. This one is smaller in size but holds about 2 charges.” —Erin

Rode Wireless Go microphones

“I picked these up earlier this year and love them. Small and light to pack anywhere, and so great for recording interviews and conversations on the go.” —Andy


For the Meaningful Connectors

Esther Perel’s “Where Should We Begin?” Deck

“To quote Brene Brown, ‘Vulnerability + Boundaries = Healthy Vulnerability.’ I love these cards for gatherings with friends, and family where trust is high, and there’s room for real introspection. Beware: they’re designed to make you feel a bit uncomfortable, so pick and choose the right moments to break them out.” —Jason

Last Bottle

“With hand-picked wine that invites conversation, Last Bottle is great for people who want to try something new without being overwhelmed by options. (Their fantastic discounts don’t hurt either.)” —Rodolfo

Riverside.FM subscription

“My favorite new platform I started using this year. It makes it so easy to record and edit conversations and interviews.” —Andy

An array of hand drawn cards from Tiny and Snail arranged with stamps, envelopes, a ruler and a small pair of scissors

Tiny and Snail Card Sets

“In the era of Zoom and generative AI, these beautiful cards made by a creative sister duo are a great excuse to communicate the ‘old fashioned way.’ The Essential 16 is perfect for indecisive gifters, and it also comes with a helpful guide to inspire a card—writing practice.” —Kelsye


For the Hangry Change-Makers
tend tins of Patagonia fish

Ten Tins of Fish Gift Box

“A healthy snack or happy hour treat for your work-from-home coworkers—so you don’t have to worry about stinking up the break room!” —Erin

Wild Idea Buffalo

“Whether for a holiday meal or a quick weeknight dinner, Wild Idea ships across the US. And if you’ve never cooked bison before, Jill’s recipes won’t steer you wrong!” —Kelsye

MAC Chef’s Knife

“With a lot of foodies on the team, we gave this knife as a holiday gift a few years back along with the NYT Cookbook, and it was a hit. I love this knife because it’s got the edge and precision of a Japanese knife (which it is), and also the weight and durability of a German knife. Whether dicing carrots, or carving a turkey, this is my go to.” —Jason

Booze & Vinyl

“A cocktail book doesn’t have to dictate your tastes. Instead, use it as inspiration to be playful and try something new! The Booze & Vinyl books pair nicely with your favorite albums.” —Rodolfo


For the Inspiration Seekers

Bookshop.org Gift Card

“Curate a list of your favorite books; then give someone a giftcard to pick something off of your wishlist and receive it in the mail. I was gifted one of these last year and it was such a thoughtful, personalized treat!” —Andy

Bored and Brilliant

“Despite being six years old, Manoush Zomorodi’s book feels all the more timely as it explores the link between boredom and creativity.” —Kelsye

Masterclass Subscription

“This subscription has become such a fun instigator of new hobbies. David Sedaris’ class on writing is more a class on living in ways that make life interesting and worth writing about. N.K. Jemisin focuses on Sci-Fi writing, and her session on ‘world building’ should be mandatory for anyone doing innovation work.” —Jason

Sonic Editions Photography Prints

“Limited run, high—quality portraits of nearly every inspiring figure you can imagine. They work directly with photographers so the portraits aren’t ones you’d see elsewhere, so each picture has a great story. I’ve got this Bowie print above my desk at all times.” —Andy

30-something Latino man standing among large Sequoia trees with wide trunks

National Parks Pass

“I went to Sequoia National Park this fall and came back inspired by the grandiose trees. They remind me of the importance of patience and persistence in the face of life’s fires.” —Rodolfo


For the Future Creative Leaders (and Their Adults)
kid of about 5 years old holiding a kidamento camera

Kidamento Cameras

“I recently came across these and, as a design research nerd, the idea of empowering your kids to see the world with fresh eyes immediately resonated. I’ll be giving out a few of these this year.” —Andy

The Most Magnificent Thing (and the Make that Most Magnificent Thing Game)

“Ashley Spire’s book about a girl who likes to make things is great on its own or paired with the board game that invites players to make things of their own.” —Kelsye

Gigantic Paper Planes book

“No description needed—this thing is sick for almost any kid, but chances are the parents will end up playing with it the most.” —Andy

Veggie Finger Paint

“…because, lbh, they’ll try to eat it.” —Kelsye

The Design Gym
[email protected]

The Design Gym is a strategy and innovation consultancy helping leaders to grow their business by fully unlocking the power of their most important advantage: their people. We work at the intersection of business strategy, experience design, and change management to engage the people that matter most to your work: your customers, your leaders, and your employees. See something that resonates with a project or challenge you're working on? Shoot us a note at [email protected].

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