Forget a new iPod or Nintendo Wii. All I want for Christmas is a simple device called an Open It.

While wrapping Christmas gifts last week, I came to the realization that almost every gift I'm giving this holiday season is heat-sealed in what can only be described as government-grade plastic. And that means one thing: Almost every gift I receive will be surrounded by the same impenetrable force field.

In an effort to reduce theft — shoplifters cost retailers $13.3 billion last year, according to a survey conducted by the University of Florida for the Nation Retail Federation — manufacturers are using plastic clam-shell cases, 2-inch-thick cardboard and heavy-metal twisty ties to package everything from CDs to baby dolls.

I'm all for protecting against shoplifting, but I've also spent too much money on these pearly whites to chip them while making a desperate attempt to gnaw open my Christmas gifts.

It seems every day I'm battling with batteries, tearing at a toothbrush package or clawing at a CD case, but no more.

After conducting an experiment to determine just how miserable the plastic packaging could make my otherwise merry morning, I've decided to give myself the greatest gift of all: sanity.

It comes in the form of the wonder tool I mentioned earlier. With two cutting features and a small Philips-head screwdriver for battery compartments, the Open It picks up where scissors leave off, saving you blood, sweat and tears come Christmas morning.

Don't believe me? Check out my gift-opening experiment at Charleston.net. With nothing but my hands and a pair of scissors, I spent nearly 30 minutes opening six small gifts from Kmart, four of which were children's toys.

Since I'm sure you'll be inquiring more about the Open It once you see the video, here are a few more specifics: Available at Home Depot and Walgreens for $11, the heaven-sent tool works best if you cut along the edges of packages, not straight across.

On the radar

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GDC Home: North Main Market shopping center on Main Street, Summerville. Opened Thursday.

--AT&T Store: 3032 W. Montague Ave., North Charleston. A new AT&T store design featuring "Experience Stations" allowing customers to interact with products and services was unveiled at the North Charleston location. Opened Friday.

--Park Forest Commons: Construction is complete on the shopping center at the intersection of Ashley Phosphate and Dorchester roads in North Charleston. The first lease has been signed by Yummy Japanese, with the restaurant set to open in early 2008.

--BlueFish Fitness Club: 360 Concord St., Suite 200, Aquarium Wharf, downtown. V Health Club has re-branded as BlueFish Fitness Club.