I Charge My Family for Christmas Dinner — Even the Children

7 months ago

While family traditions during the holidays are common, the act of asking loved ones for payment for Christmas dinner adds an unexpected twist to the celebration. A woman has raised eyebrows by charging her family, including young grandkids, for their holiday feast, but she’s unfazed by any criticism, and she explains why.

She started asking for money for Christmas dinner in 2016.

Caroline Duddridge doesn’t mind cooking for her family on Christmas night, but she won’t do it for free. The 64-year-old began the practice of charging her family for Christmas dinner in 2016. Originally, she attempted a “Christmas kitty jar,” encouraging her grown-up children to contribute, about $2 per week for her two boys and $1 per week for her daughters. However, things didn’t work out well.

“Some weeks everyone paid and other weeks some of the kids forgot or didn’t have change. It ended up with some of my adult kids paying more and others not paying as much. There was always bickering,” she said. Because of that, she introduced the current system, with a fixed price to ensure fairness. And though unconventional, the charging tradition has become an established part of the family’s festive routine.

There’s a deadline set for the payment.

Dinnger guests have to pay on time, otherwise they don’t get invited. Although they offer some degree of resistance every year, everyone ends up paying sooner or later. “I log into my bank account and check who has made their Christmas dinner payment in November. Once my ’naughty and nice’ tally is done, I do a quick ring around chasing my ’delinquent depositors’ and remind them to meet their payment date of December 1,” she explained.

“It’s a phone call my five grown children aged 37, 34, 32, 29 and 24 are used to. I know some will moan, and I will get excuses like ’my pay hasn’t gone in’ or ’my bank account is frozen’ and ’can I leave it another week?’ but I will eventually receive cash from them for the meal,” Duddridge admitted.

As for the kids, who also have to chip in, Duddridge views it as “an important life lesson” since it teaches them about responsibility and hard work. “The older grandkids like to try and offer to help me to earn some of their money back, and I admire that,” she added.

But how much does she charge each person? Well...

Duddridge, a mother of five and grandmother of six, set up a system that has varying fees based on age. Adults pay up to $18, with women being charged less than men as they have families and work part-time; while her 12-year-old and three 9-year-old grandchildren contribute about $6 each, and her two 3-year-old grandchildren are charged $3.

The cost covers custom dishes, drinks, pudding, Christmas crackers, nuts, cheese, and traditional table decorations. Additionally, it helps offset electricity expenses associated with the Christmas dinner.

“Expecting one person to pay for the entire meal and prepare it, clean up, have their heating and electricity used is too much. The amount I charge for dinner includes electricity. It’s a no-brainer for me, it’s the only way to go,” she explained.

She doesn’t mind the criticism.

Duddridge, whose husband passed away in 2015 cutting her income in half, now relies on a widower’s pension of about $1.200 per month. On top of that, she claims to spend considerable time meticulously seeking the most affordable deals at grocery stores, especially amid rising food prices. The latter makes it particularly challenging to manage a budget that buys less each week, so she has to strategically purchase ingredients for the Christmas dinner she hosts for 12 guests.

“Like many moms and grans who always make Christmas dinner, I couldn’t bear the cost of buying all the gifts and paying for the entire meal. I was worried I’d spend the New Year paying it all off again,” Duddridge shared, justifying the need to charge for the festive meal. “My plan at least streamlines dinner and ensures everyone has a say and helps out, and no one faces post-Christmas money problems.”

That’s why Duddridge isn’t fazed by any hate she might get online, and dismisses accusations of “money grabbing.” Her financial planning and resourcefulness seem to reflect her commitment to ensuring a holiday meal for her family while navigating budget constraints.

Another woman has gone viral for how she tackles Christmas dinner. The mother-of-two revealed she leaves the meal ready over a month before the festive day. But that’s not all, she also assures the method saves her thousands of dollars in food every year.


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