This past week, I participated in a Design Thinking Crash Course. I was paired with a partner and we were both asked to describe our latest gift-giving experience. From this concept, we then tried to recreate our partner’s gift-giving experience so that next time, it would be more enjoyable. I found this to be a fun, light-hearted why to get inside the mind of the user. We followed the five steps of Design Thinking:

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Test


Following this worksheet, my partner, Jennifer, and I began telling each other about our most recent experience. Without knowing her, I learned a lot about Jennifer through hearing about how she goes about giving presents to people in her life.

Jennifer bought her dad an early birthday present. As an avid hunter, he was always in-need of practical tools such as knives. She decided to do some research on unique knife-related gifts. She came across and article that listed many options for knife subscription boxes. This would provide him with the gift that kept on giving, a new knife every three months. She knew that this is something that he would use in everyday life and also might catch him by surprise. This is a present that he has never asked for, but she knew that he would love.


After diving into her story, I started to look at defining the problem statement. Jennifer emphasized wanting to catch her dad off-guard. It seemed that maybe he doesn’t get surprises or special gifts very often and she wanted to show her love and appreciation for him through a nice gift that he wouldn’t think to ask for.

Problem Statement: Jennifer wanted to surprise her dad with a thoughtful gift because she wants to keep him on his toes but also feel appreciated.


From my observations and defining what the problem statement was, I set out to create solutions to her problem. In order to come up with a meaningful gift that her dad would be surprised by, I tried to think of practical yet personal gifts she could give him. Among these ideas were a safe/travel box for him to store knives and other hunting equipment and another type of hunting subscription box that would gift him gear or other tools.

My personal favorite was a personalized leather knife holder. After getting feedback from Jennifer, we decided that the best solution was this custom knife holder. With some suggestions from her, I began to prototype this idea.


The discussion that we had after I shared my ideas let me tweak the custom knife idea to make it especially useful for her dad. I added a belt clip so that he could wear it around at work and while hunting and could access it easily. It has to be a sturdy, good quality leather that could withstand a lot of use.


I presented my prototype to Jennifer, eager for her feedback. I found that she puts a lot of thought into how the person will use a gift and if it will fit their lifestyle. I wanted to make this holder as versatile as possible.

Overall, I think this process was very interesting and a great way to get my wheels turning. Design thinking allows you to consider your user and how they are using your products and how your process might affect their experience.

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