Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

What price Christmas dinner?

What’s the price of a family Christmas meal? For one woman in the UK, the entrance fee for family and friends works out at £17 per head, excluding the lingering cost of a family feud and a brief social media storm.

Rather than ask guests to bring their own fare and to share the effort for the impending festivities, the woman decided to ‘outsource’ the work, using mostly pre-prepared food.

In her attempt to recoup her outlay on this year’s fun family festive feast, she duly costed it out at 17 quid a pop before presenting the bill to her son, his partner and their family.

It seems said son was “completely shocked” by the request and is now “considering skipping the celebrations”.

He had offered to “bring the dessert etc but he said handing over cash just feels wrong” according to his partner who had unwisely sought counsel from the online community.

The ensuing tumultuous response from aggrieved correspondents, representing both sides of the argument, at least served to highlight the woes of asking the public anything.

People were either seeing it as ‘charging family’ and were self-righteously horrified, or as ‘sharing costs’ and thus indignantly defending the wounded matriarch’s rights.

Of the former, one wrote: “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.”

Another said, “I cannot to think of anything less hospitable than setting the menu and demanding your ‘guests’ pay for it”.

In defence, it was asked “why should she have to cover the cost every year”, a point which had another combatant helpfully suggesting that “you may as well go to a restaurant”.

Of course, wage arbitrage is always on the menu when costs are rising. One helpful contributor asked, “wouldn’t it be cheaper to hire a local student to help do it instead?”.

It would be cheaper still if they forget all about it and carried on like it was any other day. But maybe now the genie is out of the bottle and they can never return to normal… Bah! Humbug!