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Mother-In-Law Wants To Charge Family $21 Each For Christmas Meal


Whenever I think back at the Christmas celebrations we had while I was growing up, what I remember the most is that nice, fuzzy feeling that came with spending time with the people I love the most.

The whole family would get together on Christmas Eve to add the last few ornaments to the tree, bake some sweet treats, hang up the stockings, and watch movies.

While I loved (and still do) getting gifts, I don't exactly recall every present I ever got or the specific meals I ate because they didn't really matter as much as the special moments I shared with my family.

However, not everyone's memories of Christmas past are as merry as mine.

For one woman, putting together a Christmas meal for her family is not only a lot of work, it also gets more expensive each year.

So this year, she decided to take things a step further and charge the four adults and one toddler attending the lunch she's hosting $21 each.

Mumsnet user Staceyjas opened up about her mother-in-law's unusual approach on one of the website's forums, explaining that the guests are being asked to pay because instead of cooking from scratch, "she wants to get it all pre-done so it's more money."

"My partner has just told me that his mother who he's having Christmas lunch with said she wants £17 [about $21 USD] per head from him! I'm going to my family's for lunch so invited him also but he has had it there all his life with his grandparents and siblings too," Staceyjas wrote.

"She said she doesn't want to do it all from scratch and wants to get it all pre-done so it's more money, which I understand but he's gutted and feels like he wants to come to my family now. I can see it from both sides and it's hard work and can be expensive but not like she is financially destitute," she continued.

She added, "This has never happened before and he has offered to bring the dessert etc. but he said handing over cash just feels wrong. As he says it's about family not money but I wanted to see what other people's opinions are? Or if you do this."

As expected, the mother-in-law's tactic was met with mixed responses, with many people taking her son's side.

"I'd never "˜charge' anyone for attending Christmas dinner at mine. Particularly if I was hosting for a large number of people, it would however be reasonable for people to offer or me suggest that they bring a dessert or wine etc," wrote one user.

Another user said: "Cannot think of anything less hospitable than setting the menu and demanding your "˜guests' pay for it."

"OMG! No! F**k, that is horrible," chimed in another. "We host Christmas: buy the turkey and pudding, everyone else brings a dish e.g. sausages in blankets etc. That shares the cost and the work."

Some users suggested that the family members take turns hosting, so the mother-in-law isn't stuck with the task every year.

"No - I would never ask people to pay to come to my house for dinner. Take turns each year or ask people to bring a dish if you are short on cash."

There were some argued that if you can't afford to cook a Christmas meal, it's best not to do it all.

"If you can't afford it, don't invite people. Or only cook what you can afford. I'd never charge anyone, far less family, for dinner."

Others, however, were not really bothered by the mother-in-law's request, considering how expensive cooking a big meal can be.

"Based on how much Christmas costs us I'd say that was a good deal! We tend to have family stay for a week over Christmas due to distances, so rota different people for different meals. But I don't think asking for a financial contribution is at all cheeky. But honestly until I'd done it myself I was probably a bit naí¯ve to the cost."

"It's really expensive to cater for Christmas dinner for a lot of people.I did it one year for my better off than me in laws. It cost me over £400 [$670]. If we do Christmas with my family, we will share cost of food or all bring different components of the dinner...Don't think of it as her charging you but instead think of it as you all contributing to the cost of the food."

"I think it's fair to be honest; why should she have to cover the cost every year when it's likely to be £100 [$127] plus and why should she have to cover the cost of not wanting to do so much cooking."

While Staceyjas's situation is unusual, it isn't the first time a host has done something similar.

Last year British mom Gemma Andrews charged her guests $40 each to make sure they would show up.

She has apparently been asking them to pay for a few years now and it has become common practice.

Gemma AndrewsITV

She appeared on ITV's This Morning to share her idea, but host Kathy Lette reminded her that it goes against the spirit of the season to put charge for a Christmas meal.

The show later conducted a poll, which revealed that about 10% of people would consider charging their loved ones for a holiday meal.

Do you think it's okay for this mother-in-law to make her family pay?

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.