To tip or not to tip over Christmas - that is the question
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Will you be giving any tips, or “Christmas boxes” to delivery people this Christmas? Have your say in our poll.
The name “Boxing Day” for December 26 has nothing to do with the sport of boxing - but is believed to be derived from the custom of giving Christmas boxes to servants and tradesmen, dating from the 17th century.
Christmas boxes were sometimes money, but also sometimes presents that people could take home to their families.
In the 21st century, the term “Christmas box” has gone out of fashion, but is Christmas tipping becoming a thing of the past too?
Not many people may have servants - but many still give festive tips to people who deliver to their homes or who provide other services, to thank them for their help throughout the year,
In years gone by, postmen, paper boys and girls, refuse collectors, milk roundsmen, window cleaners and house cleaners were all among the people likely to receive a Boxing Day tip.
Where people do still give tips today, though, it seems they are now given over the whole Christmas period, and not just on Boxing Day itself.
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Tony Gill, owner of Fircroft Road newsagents in Ipswich, said: “Paper boys and girls do get Christmas boxes left out, but they are Christmas tips and are usually given before Christmas, not on Boxing Day.
“The paper boys and girls send people a Christmas card and often get a card back, with a bit of money inside.” He said Christmas boxes were normally around £1 to £5.
Charlotte Casey, circulation sales executive for Archant, publishers of the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star, also said some roundsmen and paper boys and girls working for them received Christmas tips, often from older customers.
She said “I know a few received gifts last year, mainly from rounds on residential locations, like care homes or warden control locations. I think they’re the more traditional ‘tippers’ as such.”
A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said of tips for refuse delivery crews: “I don’t know how common it is, but our policy is that we are happy for our crews to receive modest tips and gifts worth up to about £5, but we do not expect residents to give tips to our staff.”
However, one survey found that more than half of Brits no longer tip their regular tradespeople at Christmas. In the survey, by OnePoll, 22% of respondents said they planned to give a Christmas tip to their postie, while 21% tipped their hairdresser and 14% tipped binmen. Just over 12% gave a tip to window cleaners, with only 8% tipping the milkman - probably because many fewer people now have milk delivered than in the past.
The research also found that giving non-cash gifts, such as food or drink, had become less popular. Only 5% of people said they would give this type of gift to tradespeople.
Etiquette specialists Debrett has drawn up an official guide to Christmas tipping, suggesting that nannies, au pairs and cleaners should all receive at least a week’s extra wages, while a £5 gift would be appropriate as a thank-you for milk and post deliveries or refuse collectors.