This year, instead of sending Christmas cards, we have donated to the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS) Foundation. www.cdls.org.uk Jane Embury, a Wrightsyle director, offers a few Festive tips.
At Wrightstyle we design, fabricate, supply and install steel and glass systems, often in challenging configurations.
It’s a complex business requiring effective management throughout the design, manufacturing and supply chain. It is, therefore, rather similar to the fraught business of planning for Christmas.
Here are a few of my tips on two of the most difficult aspects of Christmas – buying suitable presents and surviving Christmas Day.
Buying Christmas Gifts
The first problem with Christmas is that you have to buy people nice presents. The other problem with Christmas is the receiving of gifts that you don’t want. However, there are some fabulous gift ideas out there.
One of my favourites is underpants for squirrels. It’s not a joke, by the way. It’s what squirrels have always wanted. http://www.squirrelunderpants.com/
Or for a younger age group, why not fire their little imaginations with a Drug Dealer Magnet Set. It contains everything, according to the blurb, to get them started in the drug trade. Such fun. http://www.fridgedoor.com/drdemaset.html
A rather nice present is a Fish Training Kit, although perhaps only useful for those who keep fish. It teaches goldfish to perform tricks, apparently. www.lazyboneuk.com
Still on a pet theme, how often have you looked at your cat and thought how much nicer it would look if it resembled a 1970s Cher? I know I have. The answer is finally here, and it’s a wonder that it’s taken so long. http://www.kittywigs.com/
Another brilliant idea is a small glove that you use to keep your touch-screen phone or iPad free of grease. So much easier than occasionally giving the screen a wipe with a cloth. www.phonefingers.com
Another gift born of genius is the Ear Dryer. This battery-powered device fits into your ear and blows hot air, although the instructions do advise you to first dry your ears with a towel. www.dryear.net
Genius also extends to the perennial problem of having to keep twisting and licking a melting ice-cream cone. But problem solved, with the fabulous Motorised Ice-Cream Cone. Handily, you can also put it in the dishwasher. www.amazon.co.uk
Also on the subject of food, how often do you lie awake worrying about that half avocado in the fridge. Will it be brown and inedible by the morning? Will the evil drug magnets have sold it for cocaine? Now we can all sleep soundly again with the specially-designed Avocado Saver. Clingfilm would just be too silly an alternative. http://www.epinions.com/review/Evriholder_Products_Avo_Saver_Avocado_Saver_AVO_S_epi/content_561449307780
Some good ideas have inexplicably not made it into the shops this Christmas. For example, the coat parachute. That was the brainchild of Franz Reichelt who in 1912 fell to his death off the first deck of the Eiffel Tower while testing his fantastic new invention.
Or the hot-air balloon that, for propulsion, is first attached to an eagle or vulture (patented 1887). Of course, it does also involve capturing a suitable avian predator (but what else is Boxing Day for?). Its one minor drawback is that you can only then travel where your bird wants to go.
Others have perhaps not made it into the shops on the grounds that they might be illegal – for example, the plough (patented 1862) that handily doubles as an artillery piece. I don’t see the problem myself, especially if the kids have been told by the fridge magnets that they need a bit of firepower.
Other great ideas definitely should be on the market. For example, as an aid for cleaning the kitchen floor, how about duster slippers for cats? Just attach them to your cat’s paws, and that’s the floor done. Especially cute if the cat is wearing a kittywig at the same time – stylish and practical! If nobody else gets them to market, perhaps we’ll branch out at Wrightstyle and do it ourselves.
Getting through Christmas Day
Okay, so you’ve opened the presents, the goldfish has learned to juggle, the kids have set up a protection racket, and Aunt Mabel has survived jumping from the roof in her coat parachute and is tucking into the sherry. You now have to survive the rest of Christmas Day.
Because, make no mistake, it’s a dangerous time of year. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) more than 80,000 UK citizens end up in A&E over the festive period – some 6,000 on Christmas Day alone.
It’s not just kitchen burns or cutting your finger while peeling the potatoes – or children falling off new bikes. A few specific Christmas horrors are that some 1000 people are injured every year putting up Christmas decorations, 350 are injured by Christmas tree lights – and several dozen UK citizens have died over the past 15 years by watering their Christmas tree while the Christmas lights were plugged in.
British hospitals report about four broken arms each year after cracker pulling accidents and some five Britons are injured every Christmas in accidents involving out-of-control Scalextric cars.
More predictably, about eight Britons crack their skulls whilst throwing up into the loo and end up in hospital. (Moral: she may have survived jumping off the roof, but be very careful how many sherries you give Aunt Mabel).
Many Christmas Day accidents happen because of stairs – usually because they’ve been piled with Christmas clutter. The other favourite Christmas hotspot is the kitchen. (Best suggestion for Festive cooks is to stay off the booze until you’ve finished cooking and wipe up slippery spills as soon as they happen).
Still in the kitchen, don’t feel tempted to put the Christmas pudding in the microwave. The combination of fruit, sugar and water can react violently, as a 49-year-old woman found to her cost when her pudding blew up, necessitating hospital treatment (to her, not the Christmas pudding).
“People must realize that they are dealing with a potential explosive when they put puddings in the microwave,” a RoSPA spokesman helpfully observed, after the event.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that that we can mitigate against all risk. Some, frankly, can’t be guarded against. Take Aeschylus, for example, the Greek playwright who died in 458 BC when an eagle dropped a tortoise on his head. (The tortoise survived, incidentally).
Remember also that there may be 1,200 chainsaw accidents a year, but over 16,000 people are injured by their sofas. Socks and tights account for over 10,000 injuries (mainly falling over while putting them on), and vegetables account for more than 13,000 injuries.
If you go out, don’t walk near birdbaths (311 injuries) or wear wellington boots (5,600). Don’t even think about putting on trousers (5,900), don’t be rude to the breadbin (91) and be very wary of that tin of talcum powder (73).
If you can’t eat, relax in the living room, or wear clothes, don’t make the elementary mistake of thinking that the bathroom is a safe place. There are over 700 sponge and loofah accidents per year – and toilet roll holders, strangely, account for another 300 visits to A&E. There again, Aunt Mabel will probably be in there for most of the day.
However, from everyone at Wrightstyle, do have a wonderful (and safe) Christmas and New Year!