20/12/18 Can We Charge Family For Christmas Lunch?

Is it ever OK to charge family for Christmas lunch? To get involved in this heated debate, read this week’s Weekly English Practice!


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Is it ever OK to charge family for Christmas lunch? (If so, how much?)

Hosting Christmas lunch for friends and family can be expensive, so could charging them for the meal be a way to cope?

Before you read the complete article, look at this vocabulary and find it in the text:

to charge: to demand a price for a service or a product

to shell out: to spend a lot of money

nibbles: small snacks, finger food

to cope: to be able to handle a lot of pressure

in keeping with: in accordance with, harmonious with

touchy: delicate, sensitive

staggered: very surprised, shocked

though: however

fizz: champagne (colloquial)

stuffing: the ingredients used to fill a turkey

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This time of year can be pricy to say the least. There are presents to buy, Christmas outings and parties to shell out for, and on top of that, there’s the traditional family meal.

The cost of festive nibbles, the turkey, pudding and alcohol all add up, and that’s before you account for the stress and extra work involved in cooking such a large meal. So who should host Christmas lunch or dinner, and could charging guests for their meal be one way to cope?

When a user on an online forum said her mother-in-law had decided to charge her family £17-a-head to attend this year’s Christmas dinner, it sparked a mixed response. Some thought it was fair enough given the cost, while others said it simply wasn’t in keeping with the season’s spirit of togetherness and generosity.

Asking friends or family to contribute financially at Christmas is a touchy topic. When the BBC asked people on social media what they thought of the idea, most were firmly opposed.

Staggered“, “the most absurd holiday thing I’ve ever heard of” and “a great way to reduce the number of people you have to cook for to zero” were some of the responses.

There’s no doubt that some people do do it, though.

Kimberly says, “We always ask the host to do the shopping and let us know what the cost per head is. Given the spirit of Christmas I think it would be rather horrible of us to do anything other than share the cost out”.

Myles says his mum charges the whole family £10-a-head and asks them to bring their own vegetables and gravy. “I personally don’t mind paying because service includes washing up, but it’s divided the family for many years.”

Daniella, on the other hand was shocked when her mother-in-law charged £40-a-head a few years ago, but allowed her then nine-year-old son to eat for free.

“We did pay it, but we haven’t been to theirs for dinner since and don’t think we will,” she says. Karen Barnes, editor of monthly food magazine Delicious, agrees, saying asking people to pay would “feel wrong somehow”. She points out that the standard response when you’re invited to any kind of gathering is to ask if there’s anything you can bring. “That’s the perfect opportunity to say yes,” she says. “My suggestion would be to ask people if they’d be happy to bring something, like the fizz to start the meal or perhaps the stuffing and a pudding. “That’s what we do in our family – everyone makes a practical (rather than a monetary) contribution and it works really well.”

Adapted from www.bbc.com by ECP coach Alison Keable

Let’s chat about that!

Write your opinions in an email and send them to your ECP coach!

  • Do you celebrate Christmas with a family meal?
  • When was the last time you cooked for a group of people?
  • What do you think of this idea of asking family to pay?
  • Have you ever shared the cost of a meal in this way?
  • Why do some people find this idea so upsetting?
  • How do you think family meals like these could be improved?



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