a bottle of perfume for your loved one this Christmas. What about a spot of hang gliding or naming a rose from the British Library?
What do consumers really want for Christmas? There was a time when Christmas presents were as predictable as the Christmas Day TV schedule. Early morning worship from a cathedral city, cartoon half hour for the kids, Bond film, Queen's speech, Morecambe & Wise, thank you and goodnight.
But not these days. People are getting much more adventurous with their festive favours as evidenced by the growing number of 'experience' gifts. Now, instead of being given another pair of socks to add to the drawer, you're more likely to be nursing a sore back from a dodgy landing following a free-fall parachute jump.
I remember when the most exciting thing you could buy at Boots was a corn plaster. Now even they offer a variety of adventure packages such as offroad driving and white water rafting. I almost bought my wife a 4x4 adventure drive last year but realised it would be a waste of money. Every time she pops to the shops in the Lexus it's like a white knuckle ride anyway.
However, there is a lot to be said for 'experience' gifts. For a start, they don't clutter up your bathroom like unwanted aftershave or perfume. And because there is little or no packaging they're also environmentally friendly. That is, if you don't count the fuel used in motorised adventures or the row of uprooted young saplings that you accidentally demolish during a less-than- expert hang-gliding descent.
But, it's the look of astonishment and surprise on the face of a loved one that really gives 'experience' presents the edge over all others. I'll never forget the moment we took my in-laws up the Eiffel Tower in Paris and then presented them with a his-and-hers bungee harness.
You can't buy memories like that.
And if you want something unique, but a little less dangerous, then WH Smith may have the answer. Forget cookbooks and calendars, they'll flog you a 'touching gift that represents the ultimate in dedication'. You guessed it, a unique rose named after your loved one and - here's the confusing bit - it's stored at the British Library.
Anyway, that idea got me thinking and I've come up with the perfect gift for your loved one. In return for sending me a crisp tenner, I'll name one of my many garden gnomes after your partner, boss or nephew and store them in my garden around the duck pond.
For another tenner, you can request a photograph of the gnome to be emailed on Christmas Day to your loved one's inbox. All monies received will, of course, be donated to my favourite charity, known as Threshers in Harrogate. Remember, give generously. Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.n
Philip Hesketh is a professional speaker on The Psychology of Persuasion and the author of Life's A Game So Fix The Odds