However for Seb Jones, 26, it led to him turning his back on his previous choice of career in the oil and gas sector, to go off in a different direction – brewing.
The present he gave his mother, food writer Jacqui Jones, was an ale he had brewed specially for her.
The former Aberdeen University chemistry student, is now producing 4200 pints of beer a week from his modern craft brewery, in an industrial unit the size of a tennis court in Forres, Moray, where he went to school. He opened for business in November with Moray IPA and Randolph's Leap lager.
Randolph's Leap is on the River Findhorn where in the 14th century Thomas Randolph, a nephew of Robert the Bruce was chasing one of their Comyn enemies, who was forced to leap the river to escape. Whether or not lager had been taken is not recorded.
Last month he launched Bottlenose Bitter, a new beer created in support of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. On the back of sales, Seb will donate money to help conserve and promote the work of the charity for the world's most northerly resident population of bottlenose dolphins, often in the firth. "I'm a keen kayaker and, like everyone, get a thrill every time I see a dolphin in the Moray Firth," he said.
"My business relies upon the success of the hospitality business, such as bars, restaurants and hotels, which in turn rely on tourism, which to a large degree in the Moray Firth benefits from the resident dolphin colony. Their continued presence here relies significantly on the work of WDC. To me, helping them in this way is a no brainer."
But it is a competitive market. The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) says there are now 1000 breweries in the UK – the highest figure for 70 years.
The Microbreweries Guide Scotland website, which was created to showcase the growing number of microcraft breweries, estimates there are more than 50 independent breweries north of the Border.
However, Mr Jones has a game plan which even includes eventual oriental expansion. But it all could have been so different.
"I studied organic chemistry and a lot of my peers were thinking about the petro-chemical industry for employment, as was I. But essentially what changed my mind was that I came back to Moray and brewed a beer for my mum's birthday.
"It was pretty well received by those who tried it and somebody suggested I should open a brewery which put the idea in my mind. I started doing research and it grew from there."
After the idea was planted he did some research about what would he need in terms of equipment and material. Then he contacted Business Gateway in Elgin for advice. That helped him focus on preparing a business plan followed by an application to the Prince's Trust. "I got a £5000 business start up loan from the trust. On top of that I found out I could apply for another loan from the East of Scotland Investment Fund, which is European money but the council administers it.
"I was awarded about £40,000 but on the condition that it was match funded. So I had to raise at least another £40,000, which I eventually managed to do from the private investors.
"What helped was going on an entrepreneurs course in Aberdeen with EPS, a privately funded course of seminars, one a month for about five months.
"There were 12 businesses on it and about 12 sponsors from lawyers, PR firms, HR, marketing, tax. So if you needed help with any aspect of your business you could get it. I learnt a lot and managed to get in touch with my now investors.
"We launched in November which was about 18 months after I crafted the birthday beer."
He said he had absolutely no regrets. His job satisfaction has "gone through the roof".
"To begin with we were selling about 20 casks in two to three weeks now we are selling 20 to 30 casks in a week. This has now allowed me to employ a full-time a brewing technician." He believes that with so many distilleries in Moray, the time has come for local breweries so people can taste Moray's beer as well as its more famous liquids.
"Choice is crucial to the real beer market. Beer drinkers want to be trying different things all the time. So it would be great to get more breweries up here."
His Speyside Craft Brewery was the first in Moray for over 10 years but two months after he opened another one was started by two ex-RAF men in Lossiemouth – the Windswept Brewery. "We get on fine with them. Sometimes we have to go and borrow a sack of malt, it's a friendly rivalry."
He also has a customer across the Moray Firth on the Black Isle despite there being two craft breweries on the peninsula already – the Black Isle and Cromarty breweries.
He plans to go to Edinburgh to seek new sales and will release a variety of seasonal brands.
"Hopefully this year we will get established and develop in Scotland and UK. Next year we hope to export into Scandinavia, Germany, Holland. Three to five years probably head out east to China, set up franchised brew pubs out there."
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