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How to survive France's New Year tipping season

It is traditional to give thank you gifts to firefighters, postal workers, refuse collectors and cleaners at this time of year - but how much is reasonable? And, what happens to the money you give?

It's the most wonderful tipping time of the year.

Firefighters and postal workers may already have visited your house selling calendars, but they're not the only workers who traditionally receive a little financial thankyou from householders at this time of year.

It is not obligatory to give money, or a gift of any kind, but many people want to recognise the hidden work refuse collectors, cleaners and caretakers with a little something extra. But how much is a reasonable amount to give as a gift to say thank you to these workers?

On average, a postal worker receives between €5 and €8 per calendar, which cost them about €2 each to buy, while firefighters receive between €5 and €10 - a gift that may be accompanied by a child's drawing or jar of homemade jam to add a personal thankyou touch, according to news website franceinfo.

Part of the money is distributed among the firefighters, whether they are volunteers or professionals. The rest is paid to associations, to the Departmental Fire Brigade Union, or is used to finance sports activities and competitions.

However, the news website warned householders to be aware of the postal worker delivering calendars outside their usual route, or criminals taking advantage of the season of goodwill.

Refuse collectors are often forgotten, especially as many do not bother to knock on people's doors - but there is a tradition of giving up to €5 as an annual gift in recognition of their work, which was once poorly paid. Those who do receive money spread gifts among the team.

Home cleaners, who work a few hours a week, traditionally receive a 'Christmas / New Year bonus' equivalent to half their monthly salary, of at least €50, or a more personal gift, while caretakers in shared buildings are regularly given between €30 and €50 by each property owner or tenant in their building, to supplement their monthly salary.

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