Gift-wrapped memories: our best and worst Christmas presents

Well, it’s the big day again. If you’ve got kids you are probably looking for batteries, thrashing around with wrapping paper and wondering how you are going to get through the next 24 hours without blowing your top. You probably won’t get a chance to look at this website… but if you do, and would like to know what dodgy presents – and life-changing gifts – have been dished out by Santa to Community Care’s team (a long shot I know), here goes…

Mark Ivory

Best: Chemistry set when I was eight or thereabouts (it would have to be something like that, wouldn’t it). My sister poisoned herself on the copper sulphate – nice blue crystals she thought were sweets. Dad always thought I’d done it on purpose.

Worst: Demis Roussos LP my nan bought me when I was 14.


Mike Broad

Worst: This year, because my wife and I are taking an anti-consumerist stand! It’ll be miserable.

Best: Last year, when the kids stayed in bed until 7.16am, which in my house qualifies as a lie in. 

Mike McNabb

It was the best of presents and the worst of presents. I was eight and the proud recipient of my first hamster, imaginatively named Hammie. They say a dog is not just for Christmas; but Hammie certainly was. He soon developed wet tail, a highly contagious bacterial infection which rendered his life obsolete come the new year. It was my first bereavement. My parents then presented me with Hammie 2, starting ominously to sound like a trilogy. It was. Hammie 2 fell victim to wet tail after a few weeks and my third Hammie, Hammie 3 would you believe, was next to arrive. All these Christmas presents and we were in February with a birthday to follow in March. Which was just as well as Hammie 3 – predictably – didn’t even make it to the spring equinox. By now I had honed my skills in dead hamster disposal (chuck ’em in the bin) and another one would soon arrive. It did and lasted three years, that’s about 420 in human years. A happy ending.

Maria Ahmed

Best: A bagpuss mouse that sang : “we will fix it, we will make it…”

Worst: Primark tights that laddered the minute I put them on.

Lauren Revans

Best: A second-hand, old-fashioned single lens reflex camera – it was a total surprise and made me do the photography course I’d been planning to do for years so I could learn how to use it.

Worst: I received a raw pig’s trotter from a colleague in one of my previous jobs for my secret santa present one year. What can I say – I am a vegetarian and he had a sick sense of humour!?

Adam McCulloch

Best: Papillon, the first proper adult book I got. It’s about the true adventures of the French convict Henri Charriere in South America. Superb, and not a bad film either.

Worst: A plastic fire engine bought for me by an aunt. I was 12 and the fire engine was clearly for a three-year-old. I kept thinking there must be more to it than met the eye. There wasn’t.

Caroline Lovell

Best: Last December, I was stone-broke. I was doing a full-time job during the week and then every Saturday I would work from 8am to 8pm on the reception of a post-production company in London. The 6am starts followed by a 12-hour shift sat on my bottom doing zero, slowly drained the life out of me. But on the last Saturday before Christmas, someone at work passed me an envelope with my name scribbled on the front. Inside, the owners of the company had put £100 in crisp £10 notes as a Christmas present. I finally had a bit of cash that I could spend all on me, me, me rather than bills, bills, bills!    

Worst: When I was about seven years old, we (meaning the Lovell children) decided to secretly open up the presents that Granny Margaret had given to my dad before she flew out to Australia for Christmas and New Year. After hours of hunting we finally found them hidden in a chest of drawers in my parents’ room. It was my older sister’s turn first; a camera. Then my younger brother; another winner: a remote control racing car. Then it was my turn with my twin sister; two identical black and white-striped shirts! Let’s just say they were returned and exchanged after the 25 December. 

Anabel Unity Sale

My best Christmas present: In the 1980s my eldest brother bought me some very fashionable navy leather, slouch side zip boots. He’d wrapped each foot separately but I’d already spotted where they were under the Christmas tree. I felt like an extra from a Duran Duran video strutting around in them.

Worst Christmas present: An all-in-one red fleece zip-up dressing gown that make me sweat like a hot water bottle from my Mother. Yuck. I was aged 27. Not really, I was 12.

Amy Taylor

Best: I got a Sindy TV study when I was about eight. It had interchangeable backdrops for different types of programmes such as the weather forecast or a Wheel of Fortune-type show. I used to like doing the weather forecast best and sticking the stickers (which came with it) on a map of the UK to illustrate when a cold front was coming in.

Worst: An outfit consisting of red cord trousers, a red lumberjack shirt, red jumper and red braces from Mothercare my late grandma bought me for the festive season when I was about 10. It wouldn’t have been so bad but she brought a matching outfit for my brother in blue and forced us to wear them out together and he thought it was hilarious to ping my braces.

Gary Brigden

Best: When I was 11 I received my first computer when Santa delivered a Commodore 64. It was the first computer in the house and amazed us. Looking back now, the outstanding graphic were little more than blocks, but even so, it was great.

Worst: The Official Review of the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup on DVD from my father in law. As a rugby league fan, and staunch anti-rugby union man, the present was never watched.


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