Celebration and bubbles are inextricably linked. Be it Champagne, Cava or Prosecco, if there’s a glass of it to be found, it’s often in the hand of someone merrily toasting.
When I was crafting the ‘Sunrise and Bubbles’ experience for Lucky Dip Cards, I had a few things in mind. One was just how glorious a sunrise is, and the other, how it could be so much more magical if instead of just watching it then walking away, the moment could be savoured by expanding the experience to include the finest bubbles you could get your hands on.
‘Salute the morning! Find a truly beautiful spot and watch the sunrise, sipping the finest bubbles you can get your hands on.’
I purposefully kept the choice of bubbles open to suit the player’s preference and budget. However, if the world was mine to rule, there would be free-flowing Dom Pérignon and Dom Ruinart!
My greatest satisfaction as creator of Lucky Dip Cards comes from seeing how players bring their experiences to life. Stemming from the same prompt, each player does something unique...
With this in mind, I organised a bubbly catch up with a friend who is an ardent Champagne fan. Douglas Blyde shares his alcoholic encounters with readers of his weekly column in the Evening Standard magazine. Having not seen Douglas in some years, rather than asking him to methodically move through my questions via an internet connection, we seized the opportunity to meet in person, trying out Albert Adrià’s swanky ‘Cakes and Bubbles’ at Regent Street’s Hotel Café Royal. There we matched an artisan Cava (Llopart) with a slightly distracting pesto waffle, then paired honeyed, semi-sweet English bubbles (Nyetimber) with a sumptuous riff on a cheesecake.
As a new month begins, with a fresh round of experiences revealed, I thought I’d share how Lucky Dip Cards was dreamt up, and why different experiences have been included, or excluded, from this first edition of the game.
To begin, well, at the beginning, I need to take you all the way back to 2014, when I first created this game. It was the end of another hectic year in London, and I was indulging myself a little on this particular New Year's Eve, by staying home and having a quiet night in with my partner (for some reason, I don’t really like New Year's Eve parties).
I was relaxing in a bath and thinking (very clichéd) about the year that was just about over. I had been flat out all year, doing this, seeing that, trying this and tracking down that - busy, busy, busy. What eventually came to mind after racing through all those memories, were all the things I still hadn’t done. I had been so busy filling my year with absolutely everything, that I hadn’t taken the time to step back a bit and ask, “Is this really what I want to be doing?”. Or, “Is all this work and effort actually worth it, or is it completely forgettable?”.
An idea sparked! I popped out of the bath and shared my idea with my partner. To mark the start of the New Year, we were both going to think of 6 things each that we really wanted to do, but hadn’t done yet, and pop them into a jar. At the start of each month, we would draw a piece of paper out, and have until the end of the month to do it. Simple!
What started out as a novel way to make our way through the year immediately became a very fun and interesting way to spend our year. It was on the very first draw that I knew I already loved this game. My partner and I had climbed up and out onto our roof to watch the Clissold Park fireworks and once finished, the question of who was going to draw first arose. Unfortunately for my partner, as I had thought of it, I asserted that I should go first! So filled with all the excitement and anticipation a lucky dip in general creates, I pulled out a little piece of paper and opened it. “Soho Tapas Crawl”. I was thrilled.
I had asked a fabulously scruffy and unashamedly indulgent foodie friend of mine, in 2008 (yes, 6 years earlier!) where I should go for Tapas. He was (and still incredibly is) so excited by food, he knows and has tried absolutely everywhere to eat (globally really!). In less than 5 minutes I was presented with a typed up itinerary of the best places, along with dish recommendations, in a mapped out sequence so I could walk from one to the other logically. It was awesome!
And yet, for whatever reason, I didn’t ‘tapas’ that weekend, and then weeks turned into months, and then turned into years. Completely by accident, and completely predictable. What I did instead, I can’t tell you, I’ve no idea. It clearly wasn’t anything amazing.
And whilst lying in my bath, this is what came to my mind. I still had not been to Barrafina!
Well, this year was going to be different! With a little piece of paper in hand, and a vivid idea of where I wanted to go, I took charge of planning our tapas crawl. Much to my delight, squirrelled away was my friends golden nugget of an itinerary! When at last the date of our night out arrived, I was filled with joy. I was simply delighted that something I had wanted to do for so long, was actually happening. And I have got to tell you, Barrafina did not disappoint! Surprisingly however, of all the places, Salt Yard (the courgette flowers!) was my favourite.
The whole night was spent elatedly eating, drinking, walking and laughing. Instead of a rushed meal, we took our sweet time savouring the whole journey. Rolled into one night was a little sightseeing as we made our way to each restaurant, of course a lot of eating as we hopped from place to place, and unexpectedly, space for reflective conversations about what we had spent our time doing, reminiscing on great memories, and then also sharing dreams about what we were still wanting to do. By the end of the night I was so full up with a warm glowing feeling (and tapas and wine!) I couldn’t wait for the next draw. What else was in store? I wanted to rush through them all, right to the end of the year so I could look back and feel absolutely incredible.
As we made our way, month by month, through our little pieces of paper, a few insights started to reveal themselves. The things which required us to plan, to work together, to break our normal routine, were the things which we enjoyed the most. The things which were purchases, were instantly gratifying but not really very memorable in the end (specifically an expensive Jo Malone candle, which I had long coveted, but never given my myself permission to buy, as £50 on a candle, despite how divine the smell, is pretty outrages!). And, we couldn’t involve our friends in it.
The excitement of our friends, month to month, about our game was a happy unforeseen source of connection. They were really quite interested in what we were doing, throughout the whole year. At the start of the month they’d ask, “What did you get?”, “What’s next in your game?” knowing that we must have a new thing to do. And then they’d check in along the month to see how we were getting on planning, offering ideas of what we could do, and in a special instance, pay for a seat at a pop up restaurant I put on for one day (I love food and my partner thought it was absolutely high time I put a pop up concept to the test. It was hard work, I learned to make St.John’s doughnuts, and I felt incredible love for my friends who supported me).
When New Year's Eve came around again, I was once again tired, but oh so satisfied! During the course of the year I had tried new things, pushed myself a little and spent such lovely time with my partner and friends.
I had such a great time playing, and friends who joined in the following year loved it, that I considered sharing it with everyone. The concept is simple, in such a way that initially I wasn’t convinced this was really a product people needed (you could just write your own things down on pieces of paper as I did!). However a few friends opinions made me think differently. They thought that these days no one has the time to think about things to do, they are tired from work, from life, they want an easier option. And also that they simply don’t have the head space to continually think of interesting things to do, maybe a few a year, but otherwise will just carry on with their routine, the same old, same old.
Urgh, what a horrible thought! That was exactly where I was before I created this game. I wanted to, and could, help people with that! I want to help people experience memorable things, regularly, so when they get to the end of the year, it’s full of lovely exciting and interesting memories. So, I set about bringing my game to life.
As I touched on already, there were certain things that had a bigger impact than others. As we finished the first year, and sat down to think of new things for the following year, we reminded ourselves of the difference felt between them. However, it wasn’t until reading 'The Power of Moments - why certain experiences have extraordinary impact' by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, that I fully understood the reasons.
I came across this book (as if almost sent to me by the Universe, if you believe in that sort of thing, which I sometimes slyly do…), right at the very moment I was collating and culling experience ideas. I had an enormous list of things-to-do, broken down into different categories (entertainment, culture, personal, charity, pamper) and was on perhaps my third version of shortlists, when by searching for another book, Amazon suggested this book to me to consider. I was hungry for anything I could find to help me create the best game I could, so I added it to my cart.
What a revelation! Reading the pages, I felt as if I’d already lived the information, however when told through stories, and backed by evidence, it all came together in one clear picture for me. I was able to jump straight onto my laptop and immediately separate out the good from memorable with complete clarity.
The key elements, as described by the Heath brothers are; Elevation, Insight, Pride and Connection. A quick Heath explanation of each is: “Elevation: defining moments rise above the everyday. Insight: defining moments rewire our understanding of ourselves or the world, leading us to trip over the truth. Pride: Defining moments capture us at our best - moments of achievement, moments of courage. Connection: Defining moments are social and strengthened because we share them with others”. (I implore you, read this book! It will shape your life for the better, or at the least, make your trips better).
To give an example of why an experience is included, let me chat about one of my favourite experiences in the game (though I love them all, this holds a special place in my heart as it was in our very first game, and was the very first time I drank Dom Perignon - eeekk!); “Salute the morning! Find a truly beautiful spot and watch the sunrise, sipping the finest bubbles you can get your hands on”.
What’s so memorable about this then? Well, there are certainly a few elements working in this experience to make it quite a mega one. Firstly, elevation through changing the scenery, from your bedroom, possibly your house, and best of all from anywhere you ever normally go, shakes things right up. Then there’s the break in script (elevation again), setting your alarm for super early to wake you at a time your eye lids are generally (and hopefully!) super closed. That’s a very memorable start to the day. And then there’s the bubbles. Whilst not mentioned in the Heath Brothers book like this, is actually quite a memorable marker for me, is giving yourself permission to splurge a little on something fabulous, that you never normally do (in a way, break your own script, so elevation again). Living in London for 10 years has taught me to count the pennies, and whilst Cava is delicious in its own right, the thought association of how special an expensive bottle of champagne is, tips this over the edge for me. What I learnt from my candle purchase though, is by itself, it’s fun and exciting, but in the end, not that impactful. So, I’ve snuck it in here with a sunrise so you won’t forget it!
And example of what you won’t find in Lucky Dip Cards is “eat at a restaurant you've never eaten at before”. Whilst I love eating at restaurants, and have (potentially) spent far too many hours silently stalking particular chefs, there is nothing Elevating, Insightful, Proud or Connecting about this. However, when framed to lead you to make it impactful and memorable, it sounds like this; “Go on a delicious gorging journey. Restaurant hop on a cuisine crawl or tackle a degustation menu with all the bells and whistles”. It inspires and guides you to think bigger, to Elevate your choice of restaurant, to excite you so you’re more inclined to invite others with you which creates Connection, and if you manage to get a seat at your coveted restaurant, that you’ve been pining to go to for ages (hello Barrafina!), a sense of Pride that you’ve finally done it!
All of that - that’s why I created Lucky Dip Cards, and that’s what I hope it can do for you, your friends, or your family.
Each of the 12 experiences within Lucky Dip Cards has been selected, refined and shaped in such a way to make it as impactful, memorable and satisfying as possible. I want everyone to have the most wonderful, memorable year! There has been enough time spent at work, spent doing rapid-fire experiences, spent having complete info overload that you sit in a stunned, frozen state! I hope you’ll agree, it’s time to shake things up, to break the scripts, and start filling your year with friends, family and very memorable experiences.
If, after reading this, you’ve got a fire glowing in your tummy, please, pop on over to my Etsy shop and pick up a game for yourselves (with friends/family) to play. If you’re not quite sure yet, and fancy following this story along, come and hang out on Instagram with me. And, if in the worst case, you’re not at all interested, thanks for sticking with me (I have a habit of rabbiting on), and I wish you well!
LUCKY DIP CARDS
EXPERIENCE INSPIRATIONS AND STORIES