I gave The Bloke a voucher for three meals as a birthday gift and he said, 'This is unbelievable' over and over.
Here's how the accompanying brochure describes the Chez Vous experience: Enjoy recipes of your choice cooked for you and your family or friends by a renowned amateur cook. You choose the dish. We do the rest.
The brochure includes some guidelines for choosing your recipe, some tempting photos to whet the appetite, and contact details for May Ooee of Chez Vous.
There are a couple of things to know if you'd like to give someone a Chez Vous experience. First of all, you won't find Chez Vous in the phone book or on the internet. I'll tell you how to organise a voucher later on.
Secondly, you'll need to be willing to commit some time, be handy on the computer and be a pretty decent cook. Why? The 'renowned amateur cook' is you. This is a voucher and brochure you make yourself, a fancy way of plating up an offer to cook a special meal for your beloved.
Ross read the voucher and brochure again and again, saying it was amazing and asking how I organised it. I kept saying, 'It's a Chez Vous voucher. You'll work it out.'.
Finally he stumbled across some hints in the brochure and voucher. I'd used formats from Microsoft Publisher and retained their sample email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may already have figured out that May Ooee was my Chinglish for 'mais oui'. The mobile number was my own, disguised by grouping the numbers unconventionally. I'd used different addresses in fine print: our address on the brochure and a vaguely similar but completely unrelated address on the voucher. Don't go looking for Chez Vous there please! There were also some spelling mistakes but hey, he's used to that from restaurant menus.
The good news is that he was still pleased and impressed even though the voucher was in fact a bit of a con. It resulted from a desperate reach into my imagination after leaving it too late to order in his real present. In retrospect, it was a cracker of an idea, and you're welcome to replicate it.
To organise your own Chez Vous voucher and brochure, find templates you like on the internet, choose a colour scheme and insert some photos that take your fancy. (You may as well angle for a dish that you'd like to eat.) I tried to lure some special wines out of our cellar by expanding my original description of the Chez Vous experience: To add to the experience, you may wish to choose dishes that match special wines you have cellared for a special occasion.
For a touch of class, I got the brochure and voucher printed on special paper stock at the local Officeworks for around $3. Plenty of places will do that for you: just take your files along on a memory stick.
Last but not least, remember to add an expiry date. If you're lucky, your voucher won't be redeemed in time and you'll have saved yourself work and money. It's the thought that counts after all.