Christmas gift ideas for butler who has everything

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 December, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 December, 1993, 12:00am

WHAT do butlers get for Christmas? Well, according to Ivor Spencer, who runs a school for butlers in London, his former pupils have Christmas lists this year that include a nose job, helicopter flying lessons and a honeymoon in Hawaii.

''Times have changed from the Upstairs Downstairs set-up when a butler was paid very badly, and might have got a turkey or a hamper worth around GBP15 [about HK$170] from his employer for Christmas,'' Mr Spencer told us.

''Today, British-trained butlers get starting salaries of between GBP20,000 and GBP30,000 a year - and they often get expensive gifts at Christmas time.'' Mr Spencer said he had three former pupils serving at Peak residences in Hong Kong, although this former butler was keeping very quiet about which local households had opted for a uniformed Englishman to serve their domestic needs.

''All I can say is that one Hong Kong Chinese employer is giving his butler a course of 12 golf lessons by a professional golfer.'' Mr Spencer told us that one butler in Los Angeles had been promised a better profile for Christmas, with an operation by a top plastic surgeon to make his nose smaller - paid for by his American TV star employer.

''Plastic surgery is quite a popular present, especially by American employers; I remember a couple of years ago one butler asked for the bags under his eyes to be removed.

''He'd obviously been working too long hours.'' One man is getting a round-trip business class ticket to the UK from Dallas, Texas, while another, who has managed to find time for romance during the 11 years he has worked for a rich South American businessman in Rio de Janeiro, is getting his honeymoon to Hawaii paid for.

''The happy couple are not only getting their return flights and luxury hotel paid for, but the employer has also promised to pick up the entire food and wine bill - plus give them US$1,000 [about HK$7,700] in spending money,'' Mr Spencer said.

Other gifts include six magnums of vintage champagne, shares in an American employer's private company, a tailor-made suit from Gieves & Hawkes of London - given by a Saudi employer - and a course of helicopter flying lessons from an Australian who has homes around the world.

But with all this money flying around, we were dying to know what kind of gifts the butlers could afford to give their employers in return.

''It's very difficult - these people have everything already,'' Mr Spencer said.

''We usually recommend that butlers spend between GBP125 and GBP350 on presents for their employers. If there are children in the house, one nice idea is to take a photograph of the children, and place it in a beautiful silver frame.''