A British mom charges her guests $40 per plate for Christmas dinner, and though she has her reasons (more on that in a few paragraphs), she’s still managed to spark an international debate about whether she’s in the right.
No one says that hosting a holiday dinner is cheap: in fact, between the meat, the wine, the side dishes, and the desserts, the cost can run into the hundreds of dollars or more. This is especially true in Europe, where food prices can be higher. However, most hosts or hostesses just consider the cost just one of the expenses of celebrating the holiday – like buying gifts and decorating – and absorb it themselves.
Not Gemma Andrews. Tired of guests who have shown up to her table empty-handed rather than bringing a dish, and mourning the kids who have become adults and developed a taste for alcohol over juice or milk, she’s decided to charge her guests a fee: £30 (about $40 USD, give or take), according to The Mirror.
At first, she said, she tried to be a conscientious hostess and absorb the cost herself. But, she says, she’d spend money on food only to have guests not show up.
“The very first year I opened my house to everybody on Christmas Eve I got let down by five people and I had so much excess food.”
Then she tried to host a potluck. It went about as well as you would expect.
“Come Christmas Eve, people said ‘Oh I forgot to get it’ and I’m running around trying to find a bag of prawns. It’s more stressful.”
Another problem Gemma was having: her son has severe food allergies, according to Little Things. That means she has to be even more conscientious about what she buys and prepares, costing her even more money.
Sick of it, she decided to start charging her guests – up to 16 of them, including her parents, grandparents, multiple cousins and all that – $40 per head. Children eat free.
Perhaps surprisingly, her family and friends are on board with the idea. Her husband’s grandparents, for example, come every year – and they pay in advance, she says, lest they sit at home alone and have nothing else to do. No one else has complained, either.
Of course, outside of Gemma’s family, people have different opinions. Some internet commenters are quick to point out that food isn’t cheap – particularly, holiday-specific food like turkey or, in Europe, goose.
There are a lot of people who have never hosted a Christmas dinner who just turn up and fill up year on year. It’s expensive and not everyone is minted to pay to feed and water you. If I wasnt asked to pay I’d certainly buy an extra special pricey gift for the host #ThisMorning
— 3800milesaway (@3800milesaway) November 29, 2017
Other commenters were quick to share their righteous indignation.
charging your own FAMILY for Christmas dinner is absolutely disgusting, using Christmas day as a chance to make money is greedy anyway never mind from your own family #ThisMorning
— Charlotte Moores???????? (@charlottemoorsy) November 29, 2017
For Gemma, however, the choice is clear: being able to recoup her food costs allows her to spend the money on something that she would otherwise have to dial back on: toys and gifts for her kids!