(GLOBAL NEWS) – One mom is leaving the internet in debate after suggesting charging guests for Christmas dinner.
Gemma Andrews recently spoke to This Morning, a British daytime television program, and said because her son has severe allergies, she likes to control all of the cooking during the holiday season.
“I have to be on top of it,” she said. “He has so many allergies that I wouldn’t trust anybody else to feed him.”
She added her family did not mind paying a fee of £30 (or roughly C$51) for the dinner.
“No one has never had an issue,” she continued. “Because I have to control what’s in the cooking, my grandparents turned around and said, ‘Why don’t I give you the money?’”
Andrews, a mother of almost five, said if her family members had an issue, they wouldn’t have to come. “All the money that I get goes towards the food … and [the price to feed guests] has gone up.”
Holiday dinner etiquette
Julie Blais Comeau, an etiquette expert based in Ottawa, says if you are inviting someone over for any occasion, you should not be charging them.
“Just like a wedding, when you are inviting someone it means you are paying,” she tells Global News.
She adds hosting a dinner is just like hosting a client at work: if you are taking them out for drinks or lunch, you should be the one who pays.
“It is also quite cultural,” she says. “In some cultures [people] are offended or would rather go into debt than to ask people to pay for something.”
Comeau says it is also a question of honour and when you volunteer to host the holiday dinner, you are showing off your hospitality and generosity.
“The good news for her is that her family members think it’s OK, and this depends on how she presented it.”
Social media reacts
On social media, many users had different thoughts on Andrews’ holiday dinner plans.
I would never think of charging my family to pay for any dinner let alone Christmas.
— Jennifer Spring (@SpringJazzy532) November 29, 2017
Well thats just stupid. You can’t invite people and charge them for the pleasure
— Beth Blayney (@Bet_H1) December 1, 2017
Others, on the other hand, thought Andrews was being fair. And since her family didn’t have an issue paying, it was not anyone else’s concern to judge her.
I voluntarily give money to my Christmas Day hosts as I would hate to have the stress of dealing with all the buying, preparation and cooking involved. They have never asked for any money but I feel better about my day now.
— Jane (@JBT0108) November 29, 2017
It’s expensive to host a whole Christmas dinner alcohol and all…I think it’s only right that people contribute
— diane bell (@RoebuckDiane) November 29, 2017
If her family are willing to pay then it is a joint agreement in my eyes. It’s very expensive and not everyone can afford to be so extravagant. They spend Christmas together which is the important thing. Good luck to them and Merry Christmas!!??
— Keri-Ann Smith (@KeriAnnSmith3) November 29, 2017
Others suggested a potluck method or asking guests to bring ingredients for meals instead of money.
In an article for Babble, Suzanne Jannese said she understands why this mom is charging guests for dinner — and agrees with her.
“Christmas to me (and pretty much every mom I know) is like taking on another job every December. Each year, I have to lay out for teacher’s gifts, presents for all the family, a tree, Christmas dinner, work drinks, work dinners, Secret Santa exchanges, donations at the school fair, and something to wear,” she wrote.
She adds the list of expenses is endless, and cooking for a family is expensive.
Ways to save on the holiday dinner
And if cooking a large dinner for several family members is putting a dent in your holiday budget, Comeau says there are ways to work around it.
She says allergies are much more common in households these days, and simply setting strict rules for your potluck means preventing any allergic reactions.
She also recommends splitting up the holiday menu — ask some family members to take care of appetizers or dessert or ask someone to buy a majority of the alcohol.
Even suggesting a “bring your own booze” method can save you hundreds of dollars during the holidays.
“The holidays is about spending time together and in all cultures, it revolves around meal time.”