Alan Dee: There’ll be a ding dong verily on high if Santa brings a steak bake
I’m a bloke, which apparently means I am a bit of a headache when it comes to Christmas pressies.
I disagree – my nearest and dearest can always refer to a standing list of books and music options, I’ll never turn my nose up at a decent bottle of malt or a classy red wine, and if they want to go off piste and surprise me they can knock themselves out, within reason.
They also know that anything created as a cute novelty and making reference to my age, my ability as a dad, beer, golf or football, or some cute catchphrase of the moment is as unwelcome as a selection of character-based socks.
And most of all they know to avoid vouchers of any kind.
My objection to the gift voucher get out is twofold – first, it puts the pressure on me to make a decision and I can do without that. Second, I usually forget to spend them before they’ve expired.
I’ll admit that the kids get cash and have done for years, but that’s not a cop out, it’s what they want – and it comes in nice crisp notes which are hidden around the house.
They have to work out some tricky treasure hunt clues to earn the loot, and they have even been known to co-operate as they race against time to get what’s theirs – didn’t I mention that if they haven’t found it by noon it goes back in my pocket? Oh, what larks.
But no vouchers for me, if you please.
From my hazy memories of years gone by, the only sort of gift voucher that I can recall from my youth was the sturdy book token, beloved of distant aunts.
Now you can get gift cards from just about every High Street shop or online retailer, including some you might never have considered as depositories of Yuletide largesse.
In the Dee household they still talk of the year that I joshingly bought her indoors an ironing board for Christmas.
We needed a new ironing board, so I just got one, wrapped it carefully in Santa-themed paper so that its shape was obvious for all to see, and stuck it under the tree.
It was a joke, there were lots of other proper gifts as well, but it’s fair to say that she was not amused and she has not forgotten.
That’s why I am not at all tempted to nip into my local branch of no nonsense bakery chain Greggs and invest in a gift card in her name.
Similarly, if I were to open a card on Christmas morning to find that I was entitled to a blowout of sausage rolls, steak bakes and sarnies I might struggle to see the funny side.
When I saw the cards waiting on the counter when I popped in for a coffee the other day I did something of a double take. Who would buy such a thing as a gift? Who would be happy to receive it?
Or do all the big brands in the food to go game offer this service? Surely it’s the last thing you need after Christmas – carte blanche to eat doughnuts until the card runs dry?