A recent report says fewer than half of us give tradespeople a gift over the festive period. Posties and hairdressers are the service providers we are most likely to tip this Christmas
The Christmas “box” is a long-held tradition in the UK, believed to originate from the Middle Ages when people in service were given gifts by their masters. However, this Boxing Day tradespeople in the UK could find their pockets are a little lighter.
But today as few as half of UK households still tip tradespeople at Christmas, a new study has found.
According to the research, 23.2 million happy customers (46% of us) still tip either money or a gift to their regular service providers at this time of year. However, this is down slightly on the number who said they would tip last year (50%).
For years it was a time-honoured tradition: families would wrap a fiver around a milk bottle to thank the postman at Christmas, or slip a few quid to the binmen for a festive drink.
Just over a fifth of people tip their hairdresser, while postmen are the next most like trade to receive a festive tip (22 per cent) followed by binmen (15 per cent) and window cleaners (12 per cent).
But Londoners are the most generous, with 16.9 per cent of those who tip giving more than a tenner, in comparison to 1.3 per cent in East Anglia.
People living in the West Midlands are most likely to dip their hand in their pocket for the postman at Christmas, while London residents are more likely to tip their binmen during the festive period than people elsewhere in the country.
Of those who do tip, the majority (65 per cent) give up to £10, 6.4 per cent give more than £10 and 28 per cent prefer to give something other than cash, like food or drink.
Over 55s most generous
Another indication that tipping may be dying out is that it is far more prevalent among older generations than younger. And while last year over-55s were the most inclined to tip their service providers (55%), this year the percentage of this age group planning to do so has fallen to 48%. However, this is higher than the percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds who say they tip at Christmas (39%).
What we give
Most people who do uphold the Christmas box tradition give cash. The majority (83%) of those who do plan to tip their tradespeople say they will give up to £10, while just one in 10 (11%) think they will hand out more than this. Just over one in 20 tippers say they will be thanking their service providers with a non-cash gift like food or drink this year.
Debrett’s offers clear guidance on Christmas tipping, which it recommends for those who are happy with service they have received throughout the year.
It suggests the following:
Nannies / au pairs – Equivalent of a week’s wages – and a present, perhaps saying it’s from the children
Cleaners – At least a week’s extra wages
Milkman – A fiver wrapped up in a note saying ‘thanks and happy Christmas’
Postman – ‘Some feel obliged to reward a regular postie’. £5 would be generous
Dustmen – Some councils have banned it. But it is ‘still common to thrust a £5 note in your dustman’s hand, while muttering something like “have a Christmas drink”‘.