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December 18, 2009 9:42 AM   Subscribe

We have an infestation of Christmas carolers. Help!

Husband and I are both non-natives to the UK. We just moved into a neighbourhood where the kids, apparently, believe in caroling. I seem to recall that carolers should be given treats, but can't remember being given anything when I was force-marched as a child with the church on caroling missions. H. has no clue, as it's not usual where he comes from.

So, what's the etiquette in the UK for Christmas carolers, especially ones who are under 12 and without an adult?

[For the record, I've given the carolers so far nominal amounts of change. Husband has just stood there, bewildered, finally managed to say, 'That's very nice, but, what are you doing?'--possibly scaring away any future carolers]
posted by brambory to Human Relations (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If they're not explicitly collecting for a charity, I think this is usually basically a form of aggressive busking. Either way nominal change is probably the simplest way to go. Slices of Christmas pudding would probably not go down too well.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:55 AM on December 18, 2009

Christmas carol singers, as far as I understand it, would still like money. The tradition started in that way, so why not do the same? Give em a couple of quid, and tell em they would've earnt more if they'd sung Wizzard and Slade. Of course, you don't have to open the door anyway, it's fine to ignore them if you're not interested.
posted by Sova at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2009

I've taken steps to become more good-natured in the past few years, but if someone even implied that I owed them something for requiring me to take part in their good cheer - good cheer which involved singing at me - I'd run them off my property.

posted by chrillsicka at 10:12 AM on December 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

Fruit. I like oranges which are quite festive. You could give them sweets, but that can get expensive, unless you go to a £1 shop and buy a big tub of Flumps.

If you want to get rid of them, give lemons. They won't be back next year.
posted by Solomon at 10:21 AM on December 18, 2009

Yes, I should clarify my comment — obviously if you have no desire to give people money for singing carols, don't open the door.

The only thing you should avoid is listening at length to a carol or two then not paying anything. For better or worse, I think there's a good chance this would be seen as getting something for free. (Even if you feel that you ought to be getting paid to listen to them...)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:29 AM on December 18, 2009

Best answer: Don't be the ice-hearted Scrooge on the block. But put a good foot forward.

"Oh, this is wonderful! Thanks very much! We're not from around here, but where I'm from, we give candy to carolers. Here, take some chocolate. Merry Christmas!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:32 AM on December 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

Mod note: A few comments removed. The question is "what's the etiquette", not "do you hate christmas/carolers". Please stick to answering it constructively and leave the anecdotes for elsewhere.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:04 AM on December 18, 2009

I'm not in the UK, but when I was a young teen in the US (circa mid-1970s) my friends would go out Christmas caroling as a way to earn money for Christmas presents. Folks that wanted to contribute opened the door, listened and then gave us a quarter or two. Those that weren't interested simply didn't open the door. No harm, no foul. A few people would give candy canes or Christmas cookies, which were also appreciated, but the basic rule of thumb for carolers is the same for subway buskers: if you don't want to give them anything, don't open the door. Their feelings won't be hurt.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:46 AM on December 18, 2009

I'm not entirely sure people really do this for money anymore so much as for spreading cheer, or because their parents made them do it (perhaps, still).

Remember, they're doing this at a time of year when its damn cold out. Maybe a tray of hot cider, or hot cocoa (with MARSHMALLOWS oh yes please) or maybe some of both so beggars can be choosers...
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:55 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

The few times I went christmas caroling, I never received or expected money. I think we got cookies once or twice, occasionally applause, and that was about it. This was in the US - UK traditions most likely differ.

There's always the Addams option
posted by dubold at 12:58 PM on December 18, 2009

I used to go caroling with my family and some family friends around our block, singing songs for our neighbors that we knew celebrated Christmas. We never expected to get anything out of it. This was in the US, from the mid-'90s to a few years ago.

I do like Cool Papa Bell's suggestion, fwiw.
posted by malthas at 1:33 PM on December 18, 2009

Display a menorah in your window or hide. Giving money to carolers just encourages them.

Give them fruitcake, smile brightly, and close the door.
posted by anniecat at 1:46 PM on December 18, 2009

Best answer: So, what's the etiquette in the UK for Christmas carolers, especially ones who are under 12 and without an adult?

At least amongst family and friends, the etiquette is not to answer the door - same for Halloween (though few bother to do trick or treating any more due to this). There are big bags of worms you're close to opening when interacting with non-adults alone in the UK and it isn't worth the hassle.
posted by wackybrit at 4:19 PM on December 18, 2009

Response by poster: Many thanks for the interesting answers! I marked three best answers that give us a range of seemingly appropriate responses--and ones that involve minimal amount of effort and money on our part.
posted by brambory at 6:42 AM on December 19, 2009

I would suggest that you bring them the figgy pudding and bring it right now.

I understand that they won't go until they get some.
posted by Megafly at 11:36 PM on December 19, 2009 [5 favorites]

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