The adults in the family gave Secret Santa-style presents this year, and it worked really well. The kids had stacks of presents from everyone as usual, while each adult had one other to buy for.
The kids revelled in the surprise and abundance as usual, while we were able to take our time and appreciate what we’d been given, as well as guess who our Santa was. The surprise joy was the added depth of the experience. From having one person to concentrate on properly, to opening a thoughtful and carefully selected set of presents - and then the fun of guessing the giver. With the ultimate bonus of ending with up with something I actually wanted.
There’s no way I’m going back to having piles of pointless things that go straight into the re-gifting pile. It’s not about more stuff and quantity, it’s about the depth of the experience and the quality of engagement.
And that’s what I’m going to take into the business this year. We are small - we can’t compete with big business budgets or sheer noise level. We would end up shouting ourselves hoarse and still be squeaking in the corner, the unmemorable gift at the bottom of the pile.
Equally we can’t reach all of our potential consumers all at once. It’s going to take time, so there’s no point scattering our efforts thinly and being instantly forgotten and meaningless. I really don’t want to end up on the re-gifting pile.
I want to do for food what the family did for presents, and rediscover the joy in quality over quantity, in choosing carefully rather than consuming indiscriminately, in the depth of pleasure and long-lasting satisfaction rather than cheap thrills and disposable fun.
My last meal out of 2018 summed this up. Chucked out of the house by our teenage daughter, Nick and I went to Milk in Balham. I wanted to eat everything on the menu, and all of it was impeccably sourced and cooked with skill, care and flair - the hot rhubarb shrub was standout. There were no gimmicks, they just do what they do really well, and communicate it equally well. And the result is people keep coming back and keep telling their friends.
So, no resolution this year, but I’m raising a glass of hot rhubarb shrub to engagement and experience.