Besides the dodgy cracker jokes, be wary of vigorous bear hugs, heavier-than-expected nieces and elastics demonstrations for the grandchildren on Christmas.

ACC has received 3238 claims totalling almost $850,000 from Christmas Day accidents.

The biggest Christmas injury culprit was falling with it being mentioned in more than half of those claims.

But some mishaps were a little more left field.


One person was left nursing bruised ribs after what was described as a vigorous bear hug, while for another, pulling a Christmas cracker ended in an eye injury and a third person strained an elbow by picking up a heavier than expected niece.

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said some exercise devotees were "left with with more than a full tummy" while trying to work off their Christmas excess. Falling off the back of a moving treadmill, tumbling from the step machine, off an exercycle and "attack of the dumb-bells" were all included in the agency's records of accident descriptions.

And while they might be bright, shiny and exciting, new presents and toys should also be treated with caution.

Numerous trampolining accidents, an elastics demonstration for the grandchildren gone wrong and a couple of pogo stick upsets all caused minor injuries.

Elsewhere, flaming brandy on the Christmas pudding ignited more than just appetites and playing with the kids was too much for some, Ms Melville said.

"One dad was the victim of a hit and run when his toddler hit [him] over the head with a toy truck while in the sandpit and another parent mistook youthful vigour for youthful ability, falling off a child's shiny new bike on to the concrete driveway."

But without a doubt, Ms Melville said, falling was the main cause of injury on Christmas Day - as it was throughout the year.

Last year, falls cost $1.84 billion.


ACC has begun a Falls Innovation programme which aims to get New Zealanders thinking about how to prevent falls, particularly in the working-age populations.

The agency's public injury and insurance manager, Sacha O'Dea, said it would save millions if it was able to reduce fall claims by 1 per cent, or about 1000 working-age people.