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Les etrennes - christmas presents for


Helen

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Can anyone please advise what would be a suitable christmas offering for a heating company that is coming to do some work on our heating on 29 December.  The company has been very helpful over several months and this will be the third visit.  However, the engineer this time will probably be neither of the two we have already met - and then there are also the office staff who have coped with my efforts at organising repairs long-distance and with limited french! 

And how wide should we spread the net - should we give something (what?) to the local builder whose devis we have accepted for some work to be undertaken next spring?  Or the chimney sweep who we haven't even met but who swept our chimneys in our absence?  We don't want to go over the top but equally we don't want to do too little either.

All suggestions welcome!

Thanks

Helen

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FWIW

I would be inclined to not start giving presents otherwise you may have to do so every year and it might become a chore. Why not send a really nice card thanking them for all their help etc. and I am sure this will be much appreciated, after all, it's the thought that counts.[:)]

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We invited everyone we thought appropriate, including neighbours, trades people etc for early drinks New Years Eve in case they had other friends they wished to see later. We saw in the New Year with some of them and had great fun!
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Thanks for the replies.  It was the boss of the heating company who told me about the tradition of etrennes which leaves me in a  bit of a tricky position!  His comment was very light-hearted and followed discussion about French and English approaches to working between Christmas and New Year - but nonetheless it got me wondering...  I can see that drinks might be a good idea for people from our village but the heating company is some 10 miles away and a somewhat larger enterprise.

Maybe I'll just have a plate of fresh baked warm mince pies to offer the chauffagiste...

Helen

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was advised by good meaning French friends and families that the Etrennes are very important and that we should be generous. As a rule of thumb I've been told to give to the those that knock and ask (ie. pompiers) but also to those that don't ask (cleaner, nounou, gardien if you live in an apartment etc).

I think a question a lot of expages will be asking over the coming weeks is what is considered the right amount? This is one of those cultural questions which if you get it wrong you can stand out like a sore thumb. My husband is French and he said "well, just something" and is never here when they come.

Does anyone out there have a idea please? i don't want to pass for being tight with my cleaner etc but then again I don't want to be ridiculous either as I'm on a tight budget this year!

 

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this year I have bought those huge tins of chocolates from England (roses etc) and have wrapped them up really fancy , maybe it sounds tight but I am on a budget as well so this seemed the cheapest way out (as buying a bottle of wine seems a little ??which is what I normally do in England for cheap pressies ) less than £5 a go as well I think that all the supermarkets have adeal on
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What about the shed loads of the stuff on sale in the airports!

I also came back recently with half a suitcase full for my chocoholic son, Terry's Chocolate Orange being his favourite, followed by Flakes which are a euro a hit in my local intermarche and only 3 pounds for 9 when I was back in the UK.

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I also give to the postman usually, but since moving last year I'm not so keen on this new postman. He drives his van as if he's at Le Mans and once actually ran over one of our dogs in our garden. The dog was ok miraculously. If he brings a calendar I'll give him probably 5e. The sapeurs /pompiers I give much more as I think they are wonderful. I alsogive 20e to the 2 men at the silos  who load the chicken's food into the car.
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Eh?  Sorry, this custom doesn't seem to have been mentioned in any of the books I have read.

Could someone please elaborate?  What is the expected participation?  Present for the postman?  Is that normal?  Anyone else?  What about the school-teachers? 

Lynda

 

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[quote user="lynda777"]

Eh?  Sorry, this custom doesn't seem to have been mentioned in any of the books I have read.

Could someone please elaborate?  What is the expected participation?  Present for the postman?  Is that normal?  Anyone else?  What about the school-teachers? 

Lynda

 

[/quote]

The OP was talking about gifts for their builders etc.

The firemen usually do the rounds with their calendars and they definitely deserve a donation.

I think gifts for teachers (at junior school level anyway) are the norm as in the U.K. 

A Fr. friend of mine was teacher in a maternelle and was always  given end of year / Christmas gifts.

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