Each year, thousands of Americans end up with injuries that happen while they are celebrating popular holiday traditions.
The holidays are supposed to be about family, friends, and fun — but sometimes the cheer can take a turn towards complete chaos. Between the winter weather, home decorating, candle lighting, and booze-filled parties, there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong.
Each year, there's an influx of emergency room visits related to everything from stringing up lights to opening gifts and cooking holiday treats. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 18,400 holiday decorating-associated injuries seen in emergency rooms from November 2016 through January 2017. The most common injuries were falls (38%), lacerations (14%), and strains or sprains (18%).
During the holiday season, there are about 200 decorating-related injuries each day, according to CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle.
We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about their most ridiculous holiday-related injuries, accidents, and emergency room visits. Here are some of the best ones.
We hope their stories serve as cautionary tales so you can stay safe — and emergency room staff can enjoy a night off — over the holidays.
(Although, of course, there are plenty of unavoidable accidents, injuries, and health events that can happen too.)
1. The failed attempt at elaborate DIY decorations from Pinterest:
I was making my Christmas tree by gluing ornaments to a peg board on my wall and accidentally hot glued an ornament to my fingers! This resulted in 2nd degree burns right on my fingertips and a hefty urgent care bill. It was totally worth it, though, because my cat-proof tree is beautiful and I’ll always have an entertaining Christmas story!
2. An "indoor sledding" session that turned dangerous and knocked over an urn:
Since we didn’t have snow, my cousins and I tried to sled down our grandparents' stairs in a plastic box. My cousin went first and fell out about halfway down breaking her elbow, wrist, and two fingers before crashing into a table that had a fancy vase on top, which ended up falling on her head. What was in the vase? My great grandmother's ashes.
3. The guy who overdid the "holiday cheer" part when spending the holidays with his girlfriend's family:
It happened to my sister's boyfriend. Let’s call him Dean. On Christmas Eve many years ago, Dean drank an entire case of beer that afternoon and passed out. We didn't know he drank the beer and thought he was napping. My sister forced him to get up and we took separate cars to a Christmas Eve party. My dad had Dean ride with him. He was not too keen on Dean’s decision to get hammered and let Dean know. This prompted Dean to become an angry drunk and jump out of a MOVING CAR.
Blood everywhere, cops and ambulance came, chaos ensued. Dean was Care Flighted to a city an hour away and that’s how I ended up in the ER at 2 a.m. Christmas Eve. He ended up having minor injuries, so don’t feel too bad for guy. Luckily my sister is no longer with him and is instead happily married now to a great guy!
4. The toddler who was in the wrong place at the wrong time on New Year's Eve:
So this happened when I was around 2 years old. My parents were running around the house getting ready for our annual family New Year's party. Somehow in all of the rush, no one noticed that I was hanging out by the door. My finger just so happened to be in the way of where the door hinge closes.
To this day, no one will admit to having been the one to shut the door on my finger. We spent most of New Year’s Eve and all of New Year’s Day in the hospital because my whole finger tip had been severed. Luckily, they were able to reattach it.
5. The person who went up to retrieve decorations from the attic only to come back down through the ceiling:
I fell through the attic floor like in Christmas Vacation but instead of landing on a bed, I landed on the concrete garage floor and fractured my spine. At least I didn't have to run the turkey trot the next morning.
(PS: we hope you're okay now?)
6. Two stories that prove why stocking holders and children don't mix:
My family had these stocking holders of little churches with intricate steeples. When I was 8 years old, my brother and I were opening our stockings on Christmas and our dog came over to my stocking that was filled with chocolate. I jumped up and tried to hang my very full stocking back on the holder, which tipped over. The steeple went straight into the top of my head. There was blood everywhere and we drove to the ER thinking I’d need stitches, but turns out it was just a scratch that bled a LOT. We got rid of those stocking holders.
Once during a holiday party as kids, we all decided to play a game of tag around the newly decorated house. My best friend at the time ran under the fireplace, running into the stockings. The metal stocking holder fell off the ledge and hit her in the face. After tears and stitches she returned home. That party ended early.
7. The little brother who ended up cutting carrots, and a finger tip, for Rudolph:
When my little brother was about eight, we were chopping up carrots for the reindeer. His knife slipped, and he managed to cut part of the tip of his finger off. He spent Christmas Eve in the emergency room with our mom.
8. Two words: Nerf guns.
My nephew got a high-powered Nerf gun and shot my husband in the eye. My husband lost his vision for a bit so we had to go to the ER to get his eye checked out. It was fine.
9. The good old tumble down the stairs while carrying a box of ornaments:
I tripped down the stairs Thanksgiving day carrying a box of Christmas ornaments my mother had asked my sister to retrieve... wound up with four stitches to the chin, two broken ribs, skinned knees, and let’s not get into the mental anguish suffered when my mother saw the condition of some of her “heirloom” ornaments. Why so much damage you ask!? My mother is an organist, and her organ is conveniently located at the bottom of the stairs...
10. This story about using a knife to open gifts that ends just as you might expect:
One Christmas when I was 7, I got moon sand. I was so excited to open it but couldn’t find the scissors anywhere so I decided to find the sharpest knife in the kitchen to open the bags of sand. While opening the bag, I cut the top of my finger off and blood got everywhere. I’m screaming and my sister is just sitting there with an “I told you so” look on her face. My parents had to rush me to the ER on Christmas morning, and I had to get many stitches to get everything reattached. Let’s just say I wasn’t allowed near the knives in the kitchen for a very long time.
11. The kid who discovered his undiagnosed nut allergy through an old-time tradition:
My grandma always had fancy silver nutcrackers and a bowl of ready-to-crack holiday nuts out on the table each year. It wasn't something us kids would do, but my brother wanted to get in on the nut-cracking fun one year. He was about 10. After a massive hive breakout, trouble breathing, a swift trip to the ER, shot of antihistamine, and passing out, it's safe to say holiday nut cracking is off his list of holiday activities! Turns out he's deathly allergic to tree nuts!
12. The painful holiday feast-related burns that happened in unexpected places:
I stumbled in the kitchen, and my outstretched hand slammed on the handle of a pan of hot gravy. It flipped, hit me in the chin, and dumped boiling meat juice inside the collar of my shirt and down into the cups of my bra. I couldn't get the clothes off fast enough to prevent second degree burns on my boobs. The gravy was thick, so it clung and oozed, for extra burning. That same night, my mother's sleeve caught fire while she was serving dinner. Next December 23rd, I'm ordering takeout. Bah, humbug.
13. The woman who found out the hard way that ornament caps and barbed fishhooks have a lot in common:
One Christmas my mother got a metal ornament cap embedded in her heel. Seems simple enough to just pull out right? Well the wires that go inside in the ornament and stop the metal part from falling off also were in her foot and spread out in the same way it does in the ornament. We had to go to the ER and have them remove it with special pliers.
14. This cautionary tale about eggnog and unsupervised children:
When I was 8 or 9, I made my own breakfast of ramen and two glasses of eggnog with no supervision. After much vomiting, I was rushed to the hospital with everyone thinking my appendix burst. The doctor in the ER did a check up, then asked me what I had eaten. I told him about the egg nog and ramen, and ended up just getting some real food and anti-nausea meds. But I haven't had egg nog in 13 years and I probably never will again!
15. The dad who tried to fix a toppled over Christmas tree only to break his own body:
Last month my Christmas tree fell down in the middle of the night and my dad reached down to pull it up and tore his bicep. He just got surgery and is recovering well.
Two years ago on the night of the 25th I went to a party, slipped on ice twice, and broke my wrist. I ended up having to get surgery and three pins put in.
17. The time musical chairs during a holiday party ended in a torn ligament:
Playing musical chairs at my husband’s work party. I had not taken advantage of the open bar as much as the woman next to me and was not nearly as competitive. The music stopped and she hip checked me for the seat. I went down like a ton of bricks. Severely injured my pride and tore my MCL... surgical repair next week!
18. The lawn decorations that wound up stuck in a foot instead of the front lawn:
My husband and I had all of the outdoor holiday decorations laid out on the living room floor, including some snowmen attached to irresponsibly large and pointy lawn spikes. I came running in barefoot from the garage carrying a box in front of me and tried to kick the snowmen out of the way. While kicking, I managed to SPEAR myself with a lawn spike between my toes. My husband had to pull it out and I ended up with six stitches and an orthopedic shoe.
19. The time it was a terrible idea to dance to holiday music while holding a cooking utensil:
Last year, my friends and I were frosting holiday-themed treats. "Feliz Navidad" came on and we were jamming out. My friend, who had a cake frosting spatula, got a little too excited and started dancing around. Well, she accidentally lost grip on the spatula and it flew right at me, leaving a 2-inch gash on the side of my face. I still have a faint scar from it.
20. Two stories about how baking cookies and over-eager children don't go well together:
When I was six, my aunt and I were baking Christmas cookies and she called me into the kitchen. I came running in just as she was turning around with a cookie sheet and the corner got me right in the face. I ended up with a huge gash through my eyebrow and my father took me to the emergency room to get stitches. My parents got some interesting calls after I went back to school and told everyone that my aunt had hit me with a cookie sheet.
When I was 9, all the cousins got together to bake holiday cookies. We each had our “own” tray of the ones we decorated. When my auntie was taking mine out of the oven, I was so eager to see them I came running to behind her and she swung the 400-degree baking sheet into my neck! I had a burn that looked like someone tried to strangle me. I didn’t end up being burned badly enough to go to the ER, and fortunately it didn’t scar.
21. The time holiday parties, booze, and spirited karaoke resulted in two black eyes:
At a karaoke holiday party, my friend flung up his hands celebrating my husband’s rendition of Melissa Etheridge “Come to my Window." Unfortunately, as the hands went up I ran full force into them and my glasses were broken by these absurd metal Christmas light rings he was wearing for the occasion. The broken glasses cut into my face. Attached image is after I got some ice and stopped the bleeding but before the bruises bloomed. The swelling wasn’t so bad but I had black eyes for a week while everything healed. My mom was pissed because my face messed up the holiday photos.
22. The frenzied holiday shopping spree that ended in surgery instead of a sweet deal:
Not my injury, but a few Thanksgivings ago my aunt fell by tripping over the little hump at the end of the parking space when she went to get the paper for the Black Friday ads. She ended up breaking her shoulder and needed surgery. Needless to say she didn’t get the deals she wanted.
23. The time that ~rocking around the Christmas tree~ ended up in a head injury:
Before I was born, my family went Christmas tree shopping, and my brother wanted to scare my parents. He hid among the trees, but when he jumped out to scare my family, he cut his head open on a truck bed or something sharp. They spent the night in the ER getting stitches.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.