Co-authored by Jackie Colburn and Clement Kao
Is there a special product manager in your life? Are you starting to panic that Christmas is practically tomorrow, and their gift bag is still sitting empty?
I know what you're thinking—"I don't even really understand what they do, how am I supposed to know what they want?"
Lucky for you, we know a thing or two about what makes product people tick. So, why not blindly trust our recommendations?
Here are ten ironclad gifts that no product person would ever ask for, but that all of them would definitely appreciate. We promise.
10 Gifts to Delight the Product Manager in Your Life
Gift #1: A Prioritized List of Prioritization Books
Because what could be more exciting for a product manager than giving them the gift of more prioritization? Yes, they already spend their days prioritizing features, bug fixes, and stakeholder demands, but why not add some extra prioritization to their priority list?
This gift is like the holy grail for PMs—a meticulously curated list of books that teach them how to prioritize better. Because, you know, prioritizing isn't just a job; it's a lifestyle. From 'Prioritization: A Memoir' to 'The Zen of Prioritization,' this list will have them second-guessing their priorities even in their dreams.
And when they're finally done reading all these books about prioritization, they'll prioritize which book to re-read first. It's the gift that keeps on giving, one priority at a time!
Serious Alternative: We've also compiled a roundup of product management books that will actually help your beloved PM get ahead in their career in the New Year.
Gift #2: A Prioritized List of Prioritized Lists of Prioritization Books
Obviously, one prioritized list of prioritization books simply isn't enough. They need a prioritized list of prioritized lists to truly master the art of prioritization.
With this gift, you're essentially gifting them the ultimate meta-prioritization experience. Now, they can prioritize which prioritized list of prioritization books to read first. It's like prioritization-ception!
Imagine their joy as they meticulously analyze the rankings, cross-referencing prioritized lists to determine the optimal sequence for their reading pleasure. It's not just about learning to prioritize better; it's about mastering the prioritization of prioritization itself.
And don't forget the satisfaction of crossing off each prioritized list as they conquer it. It's a gift that keeps them busy prioritizing for months to come, all while they ponder the deep philosophical question: 'Is there a prioritized list of prioritized lists of prioritization books to read about prioritizing prioritization?' It's a never-ending prioritization puzzle!
Serious Alternative: If you or your favorite PM is the type of person who really is into making lists, might we suggest a 2024 planner? Happy Planner has a bunch of different styles to choose from.
Gift #3: The Illustrated Children’s Book “Santa’s Workshop Shouldn’t Use Waterfall Anymore”
This is the perfect gift for PMs who happen to be new parents, or for your own little "future CPO!"
This book, which might exist (who can say?), is the perfect way to introduce kids to Agile principles through the misadventures of Santa's workshop. The product leaders of tomorrow will get to learn about iterative development, customer collaboration, and the perils of rigid project management methodologies.
As they turn the pages of this masterpiece, young readers will giggle at the elves struggling with Waterfall and cheer as they transition to Agile, delivering toys faster than ever.
Serious Alternative: Learning Agile might be a bit above your little one's pay grade, but gifting My First Coding Book is an easy way to make an impact on their future.
Gift #4: Agile Magic 8-Ball
This gift isn’t your standard Magic 8-Ball! Instead of giving boring answers like “It's in your future” or “My sources say no," this Magic 8-Ball has real magic.
That’s right: it responds to every question with the answer, "It depends on the backlog."
This delightful gift takes the guesswork out of decision-making by giving PMs the answer they're used to giving. Whether it's a customer escalation, a feature request, or even just picking where to go for lunch as a team, this Magic 8-Ball has got it covered with its trusty response, “It depends on the backlog.”
With this in hand, your favorite PM can avoid those pesky 'yes or no' situations and instead embrace the ever-flexible 'it depends' mantra. It's the perfect way to add a dash of Agile uncertainty to their daily routine—because who needs clear answers anyway?
Serious Alternative: Anyone can say "it depends on the backlog" (ask us how we know!) but not everyone can say "no" as often as they should. The Art of Saying No is a great resource for PMs who struggle with people-pleasing tendencies.
Gift #5: Feature Request Whack-a-Mole
Who doesn’t love a bit of holiday hand-eye coordination? This innovative toy is a perfect solution for PMs with a little pent-up aggression.
Feature Request Whack-a-Mole is the ultimate stress reliever and a hilarious way to cope with the constant influx of new ideas. This gift combines the thrill of a carnival game with the daily challenges of product management. It's a win-win—your favorite PM can vent their frustration and enhance their reflexes at the same time!
Serious Alternative: While we love a new take on an old-fashioned arcade game, this is probably a job for product management software to handle.
Gift #6: Scope Creep Spray
Ah, the never-ending battle against scope creep—that dreaded monster that lurks in the shadows of every product manager's OKRs. Enter the Scope Creep Spray!
This spray promises to repel scope creep with a single spritz, but, of course, it's as effective as an umbrella in a hurricane. After all, product managers know all too well that scope creep is like a persistent mosquito—it just keeps coming back, no matter how much you try to fend it off.
What’s inside the spray canister, you ask? It’s just some air that we took from the conference room where the exec team held the last quarterly board meeting with investors.
But hey—at least once they’ve got the spray in their hands, they’ll finally feel like they’re the ones in control!
Serious Alternative: Let's be real, you can't really help your PM pal keep scope creep away, but you can commiserate by sending them this hilarious video by our friends at the Digital Project Manager.
Gift #7: MVP Stress Ball
Everyone knows that product managers deal with stress, and that the best gift to give a product manager is something that helps them relieve stress.
But you know what's also stressful? Receiving a gift that’s been too finely polished! After all, they’re used to being scrappy and resourceful on the job.
Do your loved ones a favor—give them a minimum viable product, and not something fancy like a heated massage chair with 15 settings.
That’s right, we’re talking about the MVP Stress Ball! It’s literally just a rock that we found on the side of the road.
I dare you to find a PM with enough grip strength to wear out this impressively durable MVP! Imagine the delight on your favorite PM’s face when they see that you’ve lavished them with this no-frills gift.
Serious Alternative: This stress ball set offers three firmness levels and—wait for it—aromatherapy! Now you know that if your beloved PM is smelling a lot like jasmine and rosemary, you better watch out.
Gift #8: A Roadmap for Life Board Game: 2024 Edition
A truly interactive gift for the product manager in your life! Roadmap for Life: 2024 Edition is a one-of-a-kind game that your loved one is guaranteed to appreciate—because the product roadmap is key to the success of any product manager.
Help them stay on track in a way that makes sense to them by providing them with input on what you want them to focus on next year. You’ll pre-curate the roadmap for them with all of your ideas and suggestions. They’ll love having your input and will absolutely enjoy playing the game!
Watch adoringly as the PM in your life spends hours revising and rearranging your suggestions into the perfect configuration—because that’s what gives them joy.
Serious Alternative: Pick up the real Game of Life and play it together—your beloved PM could probably use a reminder that there's more to living than work.
Gift #10: Kitchen Kanban Board
Replace the “Live, Laugh, Love” chalkboard with something that’s actually worth a damn. Grab a medium chalkboard or whiteboard and add the following columns to it before gifting it to the Product Manager in your life.
- To Do
Include a pack of sticky notes as well to really wow them. It’s guaranteed to make them live, laugh, love a whole lot more because things will be in order (as they should be).
Serious Alternative: Oh wow, this actually exists. We kind of want one now.
About the Authors
Jackie Colburn is a product leader, speaker, coach, and the co-author of the Remote Design Sprint Guide. Her work has been featured in Inc. Magazine and recent client work includes projects with organizations such as Target, Allina Health, and Marquette University.
Clement Kao is Founder of Product Teacher, a product management education company that accelerates product talent through corporate training workshops, on-demand video courses, and executive coaching. Clement’s writing has been featured on Amplitude, Mixpanel, Gainsight, and other leading publications. He is also a founding member of The Product Manager's Editorial Advisory Board.
Season's Greetings from your friends at The Product Manager! Before you head out on holidays, don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more product management goodies created for you by industry leaders and experts.