Just like anything else, giving presents is an exercise in creativity.

Anna and Simone are two very talented art directors at our agency.

Recently they got married.

Anna is a tomboy and beats all the guys at darts, table football, spoof, drinking, you name it.

Simone is from London, but fiercely proud of his Italian roots.

We got them several serious presents, but for me the best ones were the creative ones.

Mark is the designer who runs our studio.

He made them a commemorative plate.

The sort of thing you see in the back of The Sunday Times supplement.

It looked exactly like the famous Prince Charles & Princess Di plate.

Except Mark had transposed the heads.

So that Anna was the groom and Simone was the bride.

Then around the outside, in ornate gold lettering, it said “We know who wears the trousers”.

I’ve got a feeling this will end up on the wall of their new home.

And in years to come they’ll be explaining it to their grandchildren.

Meanwhile I’d bought something several months back that I thought was perfect for the new bride.

It was “The Mafia Cook Book”.

This is written by an ex-hit man who also did the cooking for The Mob in New York.

He explains the occasion on which a particular meal should be served.

Then follows it with a detailed recipe.

So on one occasion, he might start, “Me and Joey the Nose were going down to Philly to do a hit.

Now in this situation you don’t want nothing too heavy, nothing that’ll slow you down.

So I’m thinking, start with a Mozarella and Avacado salad.

Now, with a dish like this you gotta use the best olive oil, so….”

And then he gives you the detailed recipe for the meal.

Or, on another occasion, he might start, “This one time Big Sal was due to go upstate and do a two year bit for jury tampering.

Now Sal can be a jumpy guy, so I’m not taking any risks with his last meal on the outside.

I’m staying traditional with Veal Parmigiana.

Now here the breadcrumbs are important, so you start by toasting….“

And he gives you the detailed recipe for the meal.

This is a very funny book, but also useful.

Think of the prison cooking scene in Goodfellas, where he decribes how you should always slice the garlic with a razor blade.

If you get a little creative with presents you can get much more value than just by spending money.

Every year on my wife’s birthday, and our anniversary, I send flowers to her office.

But I always send them to the wrong address.

Either the office next door, or the one across the road.

This means that the receptionist very kindly has to carry them round to the correct office and the women all discuss it as she does.

“Ooh. aren’t they lovely.”

“I wish someone would send me flowers like that.”

“Aren’t you a lucky girl.”

“Can I have your husband when you’re finished with him.”

And of course, the value of the flowers is doubled.

Because, for a woman, it isn’t really just the flowers she wants.

She wants the approval of other women.

So once you know that’s the real value of the flowers, then the brief changes. It becomes more about the delivery than just the flowers.

Of course I could just bring the flowers home.

But where would be the value in that?

No one else would see them and tell my wife what a lucky girl she is.


Like everything else, the most creative part is getting the brief right.