As we approach the festive season, I always start to wonder what festive treats will lay in store for me beneath the tree on Christmas Day. Despite dropping the odd subtle, and some not so subtle, hints I can almost guarantee that I won’t get what I asked for, and I doubt that this year will be any different.
However, one thing I have learnt over the years is that no matter how unwanted, horrible, useless or cheap a present may appear to be, I can normally find a good use for it somewhere. Some presents have even turned out to be very useful after I have applied a little bit of lateral thinking to them.
Here then is my list of the top 5 most unwanted gifts and their alternative uses!
1. Top of the list has to be socks. Something every man can be assured of receiving over the festive period. Now I am not against receiving a pair of socks for Christmas, far from it, but I am not keen on the bright multi coloured variety or those covered in cartoon characters. I’ve never exactly been seen as a fashionable man but even I must draw the line somewhere. However, what I have found is that socks are great for carrying loose change, mobile phones, spare keys and all those other little nick knacks that tend to get lost in the bottom of a tank bag. In this respect, the brighter or more multi coloured the sock the better, as it makes them easier to spot as you rummage through a complete set of luggage!
2. Jumpers, pullovers, sweaters call them what you will. I don’t know about you but I like plain simple ones in plain colours. However, from time to time something sneaks in that I wouldn’t even wear for a bet let alone out of choice. But they can make great helmet bags or covers, particularly when they are new as the material tends to be nice and soft and much better padded than a conventional helmet bag. Stitch the sleeves up to make a carry handle, put a bit of an elasticated tie around the bottom, and hey presto, one helmet bag that doesn’t carry any advertising and is more likely to take a few minor knocks than your conventional one!
3. Handkerchiefs appear to be self breeding. For every two I throw out another ten will magically appear from nowhere. But keep some stowed on your bike at all times, they make great cloths for wiping oil from a dipstick, or how about wrapping them around your hands when you check your tyre pressure? They’ll not only help keep your hands clean but they’ll also stop you from grazing your knuckles on the ground in the tight gap beneath your pressure gauge.
4. Talcum powder and smellies. A Christmas perennial. This must be the only time of year when your relatives can drop a subtle hint that you stink and get away with it. But that Boots own talcum powder can be great at soaking up those little oil or water spills in the garage, and in the summer when your helmet starts to get a bit whiffy, a couple of drops of after shave into the liner really has a freshening affect and can avoid the need to spend hours washing the liner out and probably days leaving it to dry out in an airing cupboard. Just make sure that you don’t put too much in or you may get odd looks from ladies in the street. However, a couple of drops of ‘everybody’s favourite’ Old Spice, will certainly smell much nicer than last season’s ‘Eau de Sweat and Dirt’!
5. And finally there’s the baby wipe. Now my daughter is no longer a baby, in fact she turned into a teenager this year. But it was only recently that we stopped getting at least one pack of baby wipes every year, seemingly on the basis that if she didn’t need them then my wife would be able to find a use for them. What I found out very quickly was, not only are they great for wiping down all the dead flies off your leathers, but they are even better as visor cleaners. Baby wipes are not only easy to use, but whatever is in them also seems to stop the flies and bugs from sticking as easily in the first place. Now on every trip I go on I take a pack with me in my tank bag. After all, if they are soft and gentle enough for a baby’s backside, then they are certainly good enough for my visor.
So there you have it, my top tips for using your otherwise useless Christmas gifts. No doubt many of you will have your own and I would love to hear them.
And on that note, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a terrific festive holiday, and a prosperous, but more importantly, safe 2018.