Give a coffee this Christmas

Retail giants have borrowed many an idea from the small, independent business-owner.

The retail giants have borrowed many an idea from the small, independent business-owner. Loyalty cards are probably the biggest steal; they are now available in almost every shop across our city.

From bookshops, sex shops and even the vet - they're all in on the act.

Expensive signage - designed to look like chalk-drawn blackboards - is another daylight robbery. And don't get us started on the brick-wall wallpaper.

Therefore, it's perfectly reasonable for little coffee shops to take something back. We're not interested in much that they have to offer, save one marvellous money-making morsel of merchandise: the gift voucher.

Gift vouchers have been at the top of lists for Santa for quite some time. It's less vulgar than giving your mate a tenner - and not only does it give you some control over where your money goes, but it also prevents yet another bath and body set taking up valuable room under the tree.

Retailers love gift vouchers, because they're easy money, most of them are never redeemed, and the people who do use their vouchers tend to spend around 30% extra on top. Santa loves vouchers too - they're less weighty in his massive sack.

Give the gift of vouchers this Christmas. You can buy coffee for your colleagues without having to watch them drink it. Thus, you can avoid hearing about that thing little Jacob did at his school nativity, how cute it is that Ava made a snowman out of cotton wool and the cardboard from a toilet roll, and how terribly inferior you are for not eating a pigeon in a duck in a chicken in a turkey, wrapped in a pig with a side of horse.

Merry stuffing Christmas to the lot of you.