Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: Katana_Geldar on November 25, 2013, 03:49:03 PM

Title: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Katana_Geldar on November 25, 2013, 03:49:03 PM
This came up on another forum I frequent, and I must say my flabber was ghasted.

If you were hosting Christmas or some other extended family get together in your own home, would you deem it appropriate to ask guests to pay you to contribute to the costs of the meal? Even something smallish such as $30 per person.

Personally, I disagree. If I was in a position to host this many people (I'm not) then I'd ask them to bring food or drink rather than money. I might ask this if we were going out to a restaurant with a set menu or buffet and that $30 got you quite a bit of food and we still covered something like drinks (this was our engagement party). But never in my own home.

What do you think? Quite a few people in the thread agreed with the idea.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Wulfie on November 25, 2013, 04:02:17 PM
I think it goes back to the "if you can't afford to host, don't do it" school of thought.   I am ok with a potluck type set up but charging money is just flat out wrong. Plus, $30 is pretty high for a meal, even a nice one.  We are going to a nice resturant for Thansgiving and it is less than $20 each and that includes wine.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 25, 2013, 04:15:53 PM
This came up on another forum I frequent, and I must say my flabber was ghasted.

If you were hosting Christmas or some other extended family get together in your own home, would you deem it appropriate to ask guests to pay you to contribute to the costs of the meal? Even something smallish such as $30 per person.

Personally, I disagree. If I was in a position to host this many people (I'm not) then I'd ask them to bring food or drink rather than money. I might ask this if we were going out to a restaurant with a set menu or buffet and that $30 got you quite a bit of food and we still covered something like drinks (this was our engagement party). But never in my own home.

What do you think? Quite a few people in the thread agreed with the idea.

I don't think I'd be comfortable with a per head charge. But I guess it depends on your family. Here's some example's that I think it would be fine.

No one in the Jones family enjoys all the work for Thanskgiving but they prefer to eat at home then out. Susan Jones is fine having it at her house but doesn't want the responsibility of cooking. Cindy Jones suggests that have the entire meal catered and they'll split the cost. All are happy.

Kevin is a CIA trained chef and Laura is a master somelier. Their family is happy to have them plan the menu and do all the work as well as appropriate wine pairings. But the family knows a full meal for 20 is expensive so they volunteer to pitch in a per head cost.

Todd and Kelly have been hosting the holidays for 15 years and as the family has expanded more and more are joining their Thanksgiving feast. While previous generations were good about bringing sides and desserts, it seems that more family members are starting to show up empty handed. Todd and Kelly tell the family that they are sorry but they can no longer afford to host a family dinner for 30 and won't be hosting this year. The family cries out "but what will we do" and Todd and Kelly say they'd be happy to host if everyone will chip in on cost.

Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: MommyPenguin on November 25, 2013, 04:16:39 PM
I think it would be okay if, rather than being hosted, it were more of a situation where the family was like, "Okay, where can we get together to have Thanksgiving?  Anybody have a space for 30 people?"  And one person was like, "Well... I have space for 30 people, but there's no way I can buy all that food!  We're having a tough year, with my husband out of work and everything."  And then they were like, "Well, we could rent a space and then bring potluck, but everybody's coming in from so far.  Wait, what about if everybody sends you a check ahead of time for $30, would that be enough to buy all the food ahead of time and help offset the time you'd have to spend cooking everything, and then have it at your place?"  And the woman was like, "Yeah, with Ralph off work, we can both get the cooking done, we just don't have the money for the ingredients."  And then everybody was like YAY and happiness ensued.

But, yeah, in most other circumstances, definitely a no.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Vall on November 25, 2013, 04:20:12 PM
If a host is selling dinners then they aren't hosting the dinner.  What would they be giving to their guests that they aren't charging for?  $30 per person is a very high price in my family.  There would be a lot of people who wouldn't be able to afford to go to the dinner.  They are on fixed incomes, in college, recently unemployed, are pressed tight for medical bills or have several children, etc.  What a shame it would be to exclude all of these people from a "hosted" holiday family gathering.

Would people be expected to tip just like in a restaurant?

I really dislike this idea and would never attend even if I could afford it.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: rose red on November 25, 2013, 04:25:33 PM
Is Christmas really a party you (general) want to host, or is your home just the most convenient?  If the entire family want to get together but nobody else want to host or cook or shop or clean, then I don't mind either doing potluck or chipping a reasonable amount for for the food.

I guess it depends on the family and how the request is phased.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: shhh its me on November 25, 2013, 04:25:48 PM
   I think it depends on how it evolved.  On the surface its appalling rude but if over the years the family through mutually consent came up with " what works for us is ......" then I think its fine.  I could see " I'm bring the Blank , can I borrow your 22 qt slow cooker?" turning into "rather then come get borrow your slow cooker lug it to and fro. How about I just give you the $50 Blank costs." ,  the  year MOM stops cooking she still wants to buy the turkey , the next year you work out its easier for mom to just pay for the turkey rather then go out buy it and drop it off on Wend.  ect.     

BUT it has to evolve naturally and everyone needs to agree , really agree not just agree to keep the peace.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Katana_Geldar on November 25, 2013, 04:46:04 PM
Is Christmas really a party you (general) want to host, or is your home just the most convenient?  If the entire family want to get together but nobody else want to host or cook or shop or clean, then I don't mind either doing potluck or chipping a reasonable amount for for the food.

I guess it depends on the family and how the request is phased.
It's neither, it's just something I saw on the Internet.

As for $30 per person, that's a rather reasonable price in Australia for a set menu when your hosts are covering drinks. But, everyone we invited was in a position to pay this and there were no children in the party. We also made sure the food was good and plentiful. But this is my family and it's about enjoying company.

But I wouldn't feel comfortable with charging in my own home. I'd much rather ask them to bring something like snacks, drinks or dessert which would help me with costs in a way. Not today in planning on doing this as we live in a rather small apartment.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: mime on November 25, 2013, 04:49:18 PM
I don't like the idea of charging. It sounds like an admission price for an event rather than a family gathering hosted by relatives. I can't really think of a good way to introduce the subject, either.

Thanksgiving can be financially overwhelming and time&talent-consuming, though, so I think sharing the work and the cost is great. I have no problem with the pot-luck invitation: "We'd love to have you for Thanksgiving; we do pot-luck style. I heard you make great almond-asparagus; can you bring that, or is there something else you'd like to share?"

Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Deetee on November 25, 2013, 05:08:21 PM
I have a visceral antipathy to  the idea of charging guests for anything. Potluck is fine. Bringing Wine or Appies or Dessert is fine. Charging Money is not fine.

I have twice been offered money for hosting and both times I backed away like someone was offering me a poison snake. I was wondering about it because I would no problem if someone stopped a the liquor store 3 minutes from my house and changed the money into wine. But cash? Ugh!

(I have an exception if a  group of friends get together and decide together that they want to try an especially expensive food or set of wines and they all agree to chip in $20 and buy the lobster/cavier/prime cuts of meat etc...)
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: peaches on November 25, 2013, 05:16:48 PM

I have twice been offered money for hosting and both times I backed away like someone was offering me a poison snake.

This made me laugh  ;D

I'm firmly in the "if you issue the invite, you are the host and you pay for the event" camp.

Of course, if someone OFFERS help, it's fine to accept that help. I'm not in favor of drafting people to help with your party.

(When a group plans an event together, that's different, it's okay to share the expense or the bringing of food.)
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Deetee on November 25, 2013, 05:27:43 PM

I have twice been offered money for hosting and both times I backed away like someone was offering me a poison snake.

This made me laugh  ;D


It was pretty ridiculous. I spent some time thinking about it afterwards as it wasn't the most graceful rejection "No, NO. NOOOO, Of course NOT! NO!" and why I was so distraught and almost insulted when 3 minutes spent laundering that filthy money into a nice bottle of wine would have had me cheery with thank-yous.
 
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: *inviteseller on November 25, 2013, 08:11:19 PM
I would be so offended if anyone offered me money for a meal and there is no way in a very hot place I would think to charge anyone.  If I can't afford to host, I wouldn't.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: mlogica on November 25, 2013, 08:16:24 PM
I'm firmly in the "this is okay if this is how it has evolved in the family" camp.

Also, in my mind it's really not about "charging family members for a home cooked meal"; it's about a family sharing the cost of a holiday dinner.  Particularly in a situation where only one person has a big enough house to host everyone, so the dinners always take place there, it doesn't seem fair for that person to have to shoulder the entire cost.

And while it is possible to spread that cost over a group by having the meal be potluck style, with everyone contributing a dish, it's not always practical.  When counter, fridge, stove top and oven space are all at a premium, the hosts can juggle pot sizes and serving bowls as required; that is not so easy to do when the person bringing the potatoes shows up with a giant roaster that won't fit anywhere.  Even if it's emptied into smaller dishes, the empty pan still has to go somewhere.

To be honest, I think my family does do something to spread out the cost of the big Christmas meal.  My siblings rotate hosting for Christmas, and my parents (who live out of town) always insist on buying the turkey(s), but I think there is a quiet exchange of $$ to cover at least some of the other costs.  Since DH and I live several thousand miles away, and are only there every other Christmas, any time we try to contribute we are told that it cost us enough just to be there, and not to worry about it.

Also, I think we are very fortunate, in that while none of us are "rich", none of us are "poor", either, and we all get along.  No big simmering family drama, thank heavens.  My siblings have families of various sizes, but I don't think anyone counts family members and calculates a per person charge.  It's more a matter of "the whole thing cost $x, so let's all put in $y each".  And of course there would never - ever - be any mention of charging actual non-family guests!  As I say, it's just a quiet thing that I'm pretty sure takes place and that works for my family.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: magiccat26 on November 25, 2013, 09:55:32 PM
I understand the temptation, but I would never do it.  DH and I just finished buying all the groceries for Thanksgiving. (That was all we purchased).  We spent $350 on the food for one meal to feed 10 people (9 adults, 1 child age 11.  Of course my brother probably counts as two adults...)

We love hosting the dinner for both sides and we are the only ones with a dining room and double oven.  Since this has become a tradition over the past 6 years (since we purchased this house), DH and I just budget for it, knowing it will be expensive since we do it all from scratch.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Twik on November 25, 2013, 10:46:26 PM
If I were asked to pay a per head charge for my dinner, I would take it I was at an impromptu restaurant.

I'd feel free to request substitutions, and to send back things that were not to my liking.

If I dropped a fork on the floor, I would expect the host to immediately pick it up, and bring me a clean one.

When I had finished eating, I would feel free to leave the table, and do whatever I pleased, including sitting down to watch television, or go home.

In other words, I would be unspeakably rude in a hosting situation. So is charging your guests for their food.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: figee on November 25, 2013, 10:57:52 PM
I understand the temptation, but I would never do it.  DH and I just finished buying all the groceries for Thanksgiving. (That was all we purchased).  We spent $350 on the food for one meal to feed 10 people (9 adults, 1 child age 11.  Of course my brother probably counts as two adults...)

We love hosting the dinner for both sides and we are the only ones with a dining room and double oven.  Since this has become a tradition over the past 6 years (since we purchased this house), DH and I just budget for it, knowing it will be expensive since we do it all from scratch.

10 adults. I'm coming too if you cook everything from scratch.

I'm also in the camp of it depends but my family tend to split up responsibilities. If we're at my parents, we bring a pork roll, wine and/ or whiskey and either fruit or cheese.  My in-laws we either pitch in some money or stock up the drinks cabinet and drive 10 hours to see everyone.  However, at my place, we host everything, mainly to try to get my mother to stop being a whirling dervish and sit down and relax, and also because DH is territorial about his kitchen.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Allyson on November 26, 2013, 12:43:38 AM
I think some of the scenarios above for where it might be reasonable make sense for me. And, in our friend-group we do sort of a group holiday thing fairly often. In that case we all pitch in in various ways; some bring food, some help with the cost of the food for whoever is doing the 'main' dish (usually the people who's house it is) others do lots of cleaning, etc. But, it's super casual and I guess no one person would be considered 'hosting'. If we went by the rule 'whoever's house we are using is hosting so nobody else can help financially' then we wouldn't be able to do it at all, which would be very sad.

Honestly I hate cooking and cleaning and wish I could buy my way out of helping with dinner in any way pretty much anytime I go for dinner, but I can't exactly do that, sadly. :D
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: blarg314 on November 26, 2013, 01:41:14 AM
I think it's the kind of thing that can work well *if* the participants agree, and it's settled *before* the invitation is issued. In particular, it can be useful when one person is willing and able to do the work of having people over and cooking the dinner, but can't afford to feed everyone (particularly if no-one else is willing to host it fully themselves). It can also be a way for young, broke people to share a holiday dinner that none of them could manage to produce themselves.

The money is for the cost of ingredients, though - charging for labour is over the top.

I think it's not a good idea when the motivation is to upgrade the dinner/ingredients to a higher level at the decision of the hosts- if you want the free range turkey and organic vegetables and high end wine you should probably upgrade on your own dime.

And, of course, sending the bill around after people have accepted invitations (or eaten) is right out.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: cicero on November 26, 2013, 01:59:53 AM
I have a visceral antipathy to  the idea of charging guests for anything. Potluck is fine. Bringing Wine or Appies or Dessert is fine. Charging Money is not fine.

I have twice been offered money for hosting and both times I backed away like someone was offering me a poison snake. I was wondering about it because I would no problem if someone stopped a the liquor store 3 minutes from my house and changed the money into wine. But cash? Ugh!

(I have an exception if a  group of friends get together and decide together that they want to try an especially expensive food or set of wines and they all agree to chip in $20 and buy the lobster/cavier/prime cuts of meat etc...)
I agree that it really depends on how things evolved. and only when we are talking about the big-ticket meals (like t-giving, passover etc).  I don't think i would *ever* be comfortable in paying someone for a meal at their home - even though I would be fine with either bringing a dish or two, bringing wine, or paying my way at a restaurant.

In my family, we don't really have a *family home* that we can *go back to*. my family lives in two different countries. my mother died many years ago, my father sold that home. he is now living in a home that belongs to his current wife who is institutionalized. though he's lived there for so long, and he's been there for a few years on his own, it defiitely has the feel of "her home". (long story of weirdness that i won't go into). and being who he is, he doesn't really have the "host" in him and doesn't invite people over for holidays. (or if he does, it's like "oh so you'll bring all the food, right?").  so in that situation, on a few occasions that *I* invited everyone over or one of my sisters in Other Country has done the hosting, he has offered us some money to cover costs and I am fine with that. But I wouldn't charge people for coming for a meal.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: CakeEater on November 26, 2013, 02:51:46 AM
Or you could be like MIL, who organises a family reunion once a year at a park 2 1/4 hours' drive from us, asks everyone to bring a side salad or dessert, and asks for $10 per family to cover the costs of the meat. And makes it very clear that we will attend.

The things you do for family, huh?

If it arose as others have suggested, ie someone can cook, but can't afford to buy, and everyone kicks in, sounds fine to me.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Sharnita on November 26, 2013, 05:14:40 AM
I think it can depend. If the family agrees that dinner will be at Suzy's because she just had a baby and it is easier for her not to travel - I don't think she is obligated to pay for prime rib or Honeybaked Ham if that is what the family traditionally eats.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on November 26, 2013, 06:54:36 AM
I don't like the idea of charging. It sounds like an admission price for an event rather than a family gathering hosted by relatives. I can't really think of a good way to introduce the subject, either.

Thanksgiving can be financially overwhelming and time&talent-consuming, though, so I think sharing the work and the cost is great. I have no problem with the pot-luck invitation: "We'd love to have you for Thanksgiving; we do pot-luck style. I heard you make great almond-asparagus; can you bring that, or is there something else you'd like to share?"

I agree.  At $30 a head, there's no way our family of 5 would be able to attend. Especially if they would be unwilling to adjust the price for kids.  While my older two could eat $30 worth, the two year old most definitely isn't!
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: YummyMummy66 on November 26, 2013, 07:22:11 AM
I think it depends on the family dynamics.

Personally, if the fee was $30 per person, I would not be attending.  With a current family of 3, (two kids out of the house), that is $ 90 for our family.   With that 90, I can get a pretty good meal at a restaurant, and that could be including tip.  I would hope that the hostess has a fab spread for that cost, and doggie bags to boot.

I would much rather contribute a dish to the event itself.   
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: lowspark on November 26, 2013, 07:37:56 AM
I dunno, maybe where I live groceries are really cheap but $30/person is way over the top. I just bought a 15lb turkey for under $5. No one says you have to make 20 different sides but honestly, I think I could easily bring in a TG meal at around $5/person. And that would also include having leftovers.

I don't do TG, my sister does, but I buy a turkey anyway because they are so cheap and cook it later. I do host Passover though, and spend much more than $5 on a brisket, and counting that + sides, I probably come in at somewhere around $10 per person, again, with plenty of leftovers. And trust me, no one goes away hungry.

In any case, the only way I could see charging is in the example upthread where the host is going to have it catered because no one wants to cook and everyone agrees in advance to split the cost of the catered meal. Otherwise, you either make do with what you can afford or do a pot luck or let someone else host or all go out for the meal.

So put me in the "incredibly rude" camp.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Goosey on November 26, 2013, 07:44:04 AM
If one family is always "hosting" family holiday dinners (in quotes because, many times, it is less hosting and more providing space for family to get together - very casual, informal), I don't think the burden should always fall on them to spend $$$$ to provide the space. Often, distance, etc makes it very difficult for people to make and bring food. Even then, the family hosting usually spends a lot. So, I have no problem for asking for a reasonable amount of donations from family in support of the meal.

ETA: $30 dollars seems high. What are they eating, steak and lobsters?
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Harriet Jones on November 26, 2013, 07:54:39 AM
 I'd be ok with contributing money towards a special meal to relieve the financial burden on the host.  However, $30/person seems a bit much for a Thanksgiving meal. Thinking about what I've spent so far for this year's meal for the 5 of us, I don't know that I've even spent $30 total.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: MayHug on November 26, 2013, 07:56:08 AM
I think every family dynamic is different.

My brother has generously hosted our family for Thanksgiving now for about 10 years. He takes my sister shopping and buys everything and then she cooks it at his house. This year he has moved out of state and is not coming home for the holidays. I live a couple hours away from everyone plus I will be working til 3 that day. I asked my sister if she would be willing to have the meal at her house. She agreed but I know she isn't able to afford the whole meal and I don't have time to cook. So I sent her a check to cover some of the cost.
I didn't have a problem with this and I sure hope I didn't insult her.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: lowspark on November 26, 2013, 08:21:49 AM
If the same person/family gets stuck hosting every year and don't want to do it anymore, whether it's because of the expense, the effort, whatever, then they should certainly figure out some solution. But charging everyone ain't it.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: #borecore on November 26, 2013, 08:42:02 AM
We are visiting family this year, will probably use 1/2 tank of gas and will bring 2 dishes.
Gas: $20
Cranberries: $2.50 (I'm calculating ingredients by fractions used, approximately)
Butter: $.30
Flour: $.10
Sugar: $.25
Walnuts: $2
Other:$.25
Couscous: $2
Eggplant: $1
Tomato: $1
Chickpeas: $.80
Herbs: $.10

That's $30.90 if I did my math right. Since we'd be using the gas anyway, we'd be spending $80 @ $30/head. I'd say I definitely like our method better. We would not attend if we had to spend $80 at this point in time.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Sharnita on November 26, 2013, 09:18:38 AM
OP, you mentioned an extended holiday.  What does that mean?  I think since we are coming up on Thanksgiving people are thinking a single traditional turkey dinner which would be unlikely to cost $30 a person.  However,  the OP didn't say Thanksgiving and mentioned an extended holiday which could mean more than one meal. That's why I would say it depends. If the family is used to prime rib or lobster for Christmas dinner and the expectation is that the host provides it, I don't see defraying costs as unreasonable.

If the family of 5 are guests for three days and consume multiple meals and snacks,  some money for groceries does not seem unthinkable.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: bloo on November 26, 2013, 09:35:15 AM
I have a visceral antipathy to  the idea of charging guests for anything. Potluck is fine. Bringing Wine or Appies or Dessert is fine. Charging Money is not fine.

I have twice been offered money for hosting and both times I backed away like someone was offering me a poison snake. I was wondering about it because I would no problem if someone stopped a the liquor store 3 minutes from my house and changed the money into wine. But cash? Ugh!

(I have an exception if a  group of friends get together and decide together that they want to try an especially expensive food or set of wines and they all agree to chip in $20 and buy the lobster/cavier/prime cuts of meat etc...)

Totally agree with this!

I recently hosted / organized a party for 200+ persons and was wondering about something that could entertain the kids. I asked my BFF if she had any idea on the cost of renting a bouncy house. She told me what she thought they ran, price-wise, and I said okay (price sounded reasonable but out of my league). Maybe she could tell from my reaction that I would probably not consider it, so she suggested renting one and asking parents to chip in. I shook my head vigorously 'no' and said I could not do that. I'd rather forgo than 'rent and ask others to contribute'. I already had too much on my plate to try to organize renting/begging, anyway. She seemed hurt that I blanched at her idea.

At my party, we provided an expensive main dish and asked others to contribute potluck style. It could be a side, dessert, drinks, paper plates, etc. Everyone was asked what category they'd prefer if they could contribute.

Food? Yes!

Money? No!

However...

I have also experienced the one exception where friends asked if we wanted to chip into a lobster boil. It went great and we only had to pay for our lobsters. Our friend provided everything else and cooked the lobsters we paid for. Hating to arrive anywhere empty-handed, we brought booze.

Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: rose red on November 26, 2013, 11:08:15 AM
Please keep in mind the OP is talking about Australian dollars and she said that amount is reasonable where she's from. 

Of course that has nothing to do with the opinions of charging at all, even $3.  But there are posters saying they are willing to pay, and if we don't focus on $30, it can open up interesting discussions on cost. 
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: lowspark on November 26, 2013, 11:37:41 AM
OP, you mentioned an extended holiday.  What does that mean?  I think since we are coming up on Thanksgiving people are thinking a single traditional turkey dinner which would be unlikely to cost $30 a person.  However,  the OP didn't say Thanksgiving and mentioned an extended holiday which could mean more than one meal. That's why I would say it depends. If the family is used to prime rib or lobster for Christmas dinner and the expectation is that the host provides it, I don't see defraying costs as unreasonable.

If the family of 5 are guests for three days and consume multiple meals and snacks,  some money for groceries does not seem unthinkable.

I think you're referring to this sentence:
Quote
If you were hosting Christmas or some other extended family get together in your own home, would you deem it appropriate to ask guests to pay you to contribute to the costs of the meal?

And I think it's the family that is "extended", not the holiday. In other words you are hosting a  meal for extended family.

I understood it to mean one meal.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Redneck Gravy on November 26, 2013, 11:52:44 AM
We are going to a buffet place for TG dinner this year - it will be about $12 per person for all you can eat.  We will not have to pitch in for clean up but we won't have any leftovers either.

After lunch we will watch football then join the other lunatics for some shopping.  It's well worth the $50 I will spend to feed my kids & grandkids and not have the wee ones running amok too long in my house or have to be stressed over cooking/arranging the meal.

I used to host our entire family, sometimes around 25 people.  I cooked the turkey, dressing, couple of pies, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, deviled eggs and iced tea - everyone else contributed other side dishes and pies.  No joke one year we had more pies/cakes then attendees. It's overachieving at it's finest and it's expensive, it also required a deep cleaning of my house and then a major mess afterwards (even if other's helped with the dishes).  Dividing & storing leftovers, cleanup of spillage and trash, it's just more work.   

Nah, I'm good with the buffet! There's no way I would throw down $30 a head for a meal I could buy across town for half that.  I don't mind pitching in $30 to a general fund but $30 each - not happening.   

Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Twik on November 26, 2013, 12:14:13 PM
I think every family dynamic is different.

My brother has generously hosted our family for Thanksgiving now for about 10 years. He takes my sister shopping and buys everything and then she cooks it at his house. This year he has moved out of state and is not coming home for the holidays. I live a couple hours away from everyone plus I will be working til 3 that day. I asked my sister if she would be willing to have the meal at her house. She agreed but I know she isn't able to afford the whole meal and I don't have time to cook. So I sent her a check to cover some of the cost.
I didn't have a problem with this and I sure hope I didn't insult her.
I'm sure you didn't insult her by stepping up and doing what your brother had previously done to assist her.

It's one thing for people to offer to help, but for a host to say, "If you want to come and break bread with me, it's $X," is antithetical to hosting.

At most, one can mention that the big ticket items may not show up as expected due to cost, and hope that the rest of the family goes, "Oh, it's not fair that *you* pay for everything! We'll chip in!" Chipping in is accepted by etiquette - demanding that people chip in is not.

The idea that you can charge your guests is a sad development. What it will lead to is people feeling that they must pay exorbitant amounts, so that some hosts can have bragging rights about how luxurious their spread was. Yes, anyone can feed people in style if other people pay for it. But to be polite, if you can't afford to host, don't host, or find a way to do it less expensively.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Sharnita on November 26, 2013, 12:19:27 PM
I think if they are saying "we want/need x" you can say "I am happy to prepare that but the cost is prohibitive unless everyone helps".
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: mlogica on November 26, 2013, 12:30:29 PM
Chipping in is accepted by etiquette - demanding that people chip in is not.

I think this is a great way to express it, and it goes along with what I am picturing as an evolving process.  Not a situation where someone who is hosting just unilaterally decides one day that he/she will start charging everyone.  Rather, a gradual move from contributing actual food to contributing the $$ that would pay for that food.  It wouldn't work in every group or family.  But it's not inherently rude if the group involved are all in agreement that it's the sensible thing for them to do.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Katana_Geldar on November 26, 2013, 03:07:48 PM
If you are travelling, it's not hard to bring drinks or snacks from the supermarket.

I went back to find the $30 menu where we had engagement party and it's no longer there, I think there's new management.

Paying might be better for something you offer, such as to grandparents who host Christmas but need help with the grocery bill. In the end, it us about spending time with people.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: gramma dishes on November 26, 2013, 03:48:43 PM
I think it would be okay if, rather than being hosted, it were more of a situation where the family was like, "Okay, where can we get together to have Thanksgiving?  Anybody have a space for 30 people?"  And one person was like, "Well... I have space for 30 people, but there's no way I can buy all that food!  We're having a tough year, with my husband out of work and everything."  And then they were like, "Well, we could rent a space and then bring potluck, but everybody's coming in from so far.  Wait, what about if everybody sends you a check ahead of time for $30, would that be enough to buy all the food ahead of time and help offset the time you'd have to spend cooking everything, and then have it at your place?"  And the woman was like, "Yeah, with Ralph off work, we can both get the cooking done, we just don't have the money for the ingredients."  And then everybody was like YAY and happiness ensued.

But, yeah, in most other circumstances, definitely a no.


Love the way you tell stories!   ;D
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Twik on November 26, 2013, 03:57:49 PM
Chipping in is accepted by etiquette - demanding that people chip in is not.

I think this is a great way to express it, and it goes along with what I am picturing as an evolving process.  Not a situation where someone who is hosting just unilaterally decides one day that he/she will start charging everyone.  Rather, a gradual move from contributing actual food to contributing the $$ that would pay for that food.  It wouldn't work in every group or family.  But it's not inherently rude if the group involved are all in agreement that it's the sensible thing for them to do.

Well, also if they can avoid the implication of "You have three kids? Great, give us $150, or don't come."
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Oh Joy on November 26, 2013, 04:15:39 PM
I think that there are a ton of factors to be taken into context.

It's one thing to commandeer hosting and planning, then send a 'ticket price' to everyone.  Not OK in my book.  It's another thing entirely if someone was discretely saying 'Grandma and Grandpa spend around $XXX on groceries every Easter/Thanksgiving/Christmas to feed us all.  It would be nice to help offset the cost.'  There can be a place for that.

Again, countless variables and 'what ifs' come into play.  But I think specific background and family dynamics make a blanket answer difficult.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: mlogica on November 26, 2013, 06:58:57 PM
Chipping in is accepted by etiquette - demanding that people chip in is not.

I think this is a great way to express it, and it goes along with what I am picturing as an evolving process.  Not a situation where someone who is hosting just unilaterally decides one day that he/she will start charging everyone.  Rather, a gradual move from contributing actual food to contributing the $$ that would pay for that food.  It wouldn't work in every group or family.  But it's not inherently rude if the group involved are all in agreement that it's the sensible thing for them to do.

Well, also if they can avoid the implication of "You have three kids? Great, give us $150, or don't come."

True.  I admit that I'm seeing this through some rather rose-coloured glasses, given that my family dynamics around this kind of thing are so simple and non-stressful.  No doubt there are lots of families where this isn't true.

Also, FTR, this would never fly in my husband's family.  It's smaller, the various siblings are more spread out geographically and not as close, my MIL is still very much in charge of big holiday dinners, and so on.  Heck, I feel awkward bringing wine, and can not begin to imagine offering to help provide anything else, never mind offer $$.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Miss Tickle on November 26, 2013, 09:48:29 PM
Hosting is sacred. That's why people bring you presents when you do.

Gathering is not.

I'd rather feed as many as I can on my budget than as many as I want on yours.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: turnip on November 27, 2013, 02:20:40 PM
I would never charge for a event in my home.

However some extended family gathering are upwards of 30 people, and the family 'home' often belongs to a couple on a fixed income.  This is usually handled by a potluck/food sharing sort arrangement but - I'll tell you the truth.  I hate cooking.  I particularly hate cooking 'on the road' trying to find something that can be pre-prepped, or bringing a pile of ingredients and then fighting for burner space.

If someone suggested I just cut them a check, I'd do so with a smile and spend a happy holiday drinking wine on the couch!
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: auntmeegs on November 27, 2013, 02:50:12 PM
I don't see it as charging so much as everyone chipping in.  If one family always does the hosting, for whatever reason (they have the most space, they enjoy cooking the most, whatever), it doens't really seem right or fair that they should also pay for the whole party every time. 
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: hannahmollysmom on November 28, 2013, 01:11:01 AM
I would never charge. But, if I am available, everyone just assumes I'm cooking and that's that.

To be honest, at my job I have to work every other holiday, and it alternates year to year. This year I had Thanksgiving off, but volunteered to work. Reason being, I couldn't afford to feed everyone. I am divorced, live on my own, haven't had a raise in 4 years, yet my insurance has gone up, and deductibles for prescriptions have gone up, not to mention the cost of food. Plus, in my state, car registrations/inspections are in your birthday month, which is next month, plus Christmas.

My family all has other places to go, but prefer here, which makes me feel good, I just can't do it this year.

I guess the one thing that bothers me about guests, is they do not realize how much money and time go into preparing a big dinner, unless they have done it themselves. I know so many that have never hosted and don't understand. I also am not sympathetic to the ones of "oh, what shall we do?" My response is, make your own dinner!

Sorry, don't mean to sound so bitter, but it seems like some many depend on others for their holiday dinner.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: CakeEater on November 28, 2013, 05:03:59 AM
I would never charge. But, if I am available, everyone just assumes I'm cooking and that's that.

To be honest, at my job I have to work every other holiday, and it alternates year to year. This year I had Thanksgiving off, but volunteered to work. Reason being, I couldn't afford to feed everyone. I am divorced, live on my own, haven't had a raise in 4 years, yet my insurance has gone up, and deductibles for prescriptions have gone up, not to mention the cost of food. Plus, in my state, car registrations/inspections are in your birthday month, which is next month, plus Christmas.

My family all has other places to go, but prefer here, which makes me feel good, I just can't do it this year.

I guess the one thing that bothers me about guests, is they do not realize how much money and time go into preparing a big dinner, unless they have done it themselves. I know so many that have never hosted and don't understand. I also am not sympathetic to the ones of "oh, what shall we do?" My response is, make your own dinner!

Sorry, don't mean to sound so bitter, but it seems like some many depend on others for their holiday dinner.

I think this is the exact situation where this kind of thing would work. If everyone would chip in some money, you could enjoy your family and your holiday, and so could they.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Mikayla on December 12, 2013, 11:20:46 AM
I'm on Team Backstory.  Previous PP's have given some great examples of situations where this wouldn't be an awful compromise.

I do think $30 seems high, though.  If I found myself in this position, I'd want help with the costs, not necessarily full funding.  If I couldn't manage that, then I'd probably decline doing it.  I'd still want to feel I was the main provider.

Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Redneck Gravy on December 12, 2013, 01:00:08 PM
Our family has grown smaller since the first years that I hosted my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. but I remember thinking at one point that this meal was costing me around $300 which seemed ridiculous.

But...if you are a "new" cook and have to invest in various spices used for cooking your traditional TG meal; you are going to be spending a lot more that say a seasoned veteran cook.  After the first year I learned when turkeys would be on sale, to buy my side item ingredients in the off season and what spices I "really" needed to pull this event off.       

If you furnish a large turkey and a ham, dressing, two salads, several sides, a couple of appetizers, some non alcoholic beverages (sodas, tea, bottled water), a couple of pies and a decent bottle of wine or two - it can be very expensive.

Wine is not required and two pies are sufficient, then when someone asks what can they bring - have them bring a salad/appetizer/side item and it's manageable financially again.

But charging for a meal in my home - NOT happening.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: cwm on December 12, 2013, 02:15:20 PM
Chipping in is accepted by etiquette - demanding that people chip in is not.

I think this is a great way to express it, and it goes along with what I am picturing as an evolving process.  Not a situation where someone who is hosting just unilaterally decides one day that he/she will start charging everyone.  Rather, a gradual move from contributing actual food to contributing the $$ that would pay for that food.  It wouldn't work in every group or family.  But it's not inherently rude if the group involved are all in agreement that it's the sensible thing for them to do.

I love the first quote. I need to get it tattooed somewhere so I can point it out to various people. Like the girl who wrote literally a list of liquor bottles or a suggested amount of money to bring to her party to cover food and drinks. This isn't family, it's a friends gathering that she invited us all to and then basically said "It's booooring if you all bring your own drinks, we have a bar! Let us make you drinks! Oh, but we're running low on liquor. Here's our shopping list, or you can donate $XX to us for the night. And food is expensive, but whenever we do potluck we get all the same things. So don't bring food, but bring $XX so we can buy food or order pizza."

I work the day of the party. It starts before 6:00. I was planning on stopping by a store for actual food to bring anyway, and possibly bringing along one of my bottles of wine. Now that I know that they're only looking for cash and liquor, I'll show up later (after I've already had dinner) and bring my own drinks and be boring, if I decide to still go. I hate being seen as a traveling wallet.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Emmy on December 13, 2013, 05:31:24 PM
I don't see it as charging so much as everyone chipping in.  If one family always does the hosting, for whatever reason (they have the most space, they enjoy cooking the most, whatever), it doens't really seem right or fair that they should also pay for the whole party every time.

I agree with this.  Personally, I wouldn't like charging money, but would rather split the work and expense (have everybody bring a dish) or have family members take turns hosting.  It is a lot of work and expense to host a holiday meal and it is unfair for one family with the best location, most space, ect. and always has to shell out the cost and work in hosting.  If other family members, can't/won't take a turn to host, or can't/won't bring a dish, it is only fair they help contribute in some way.  I think it is a little tacky to invite people and charge a cover without first trying other suggestions.  I do think a hosting family should present the problem to other family members and see if everybody agrees to a charge or wants another solution.

Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: secretrebel on December 15, 2013, 05:50:38 AM
When we were poor college students the group with the largest house would host a Christmas dinner, the people with cars would do the shopping and everyone would pay a share of the costs (adjusted for teetotallers and vegetarians).

It was the only way we could have afford to do it.

I have no problem doing the same thing in a family so long as everyone knows what the deal is up front.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: blarg314 on December 15, 2013, 06:49:53 PM
When we were poor college students the group with the largest house would host a Christmas dinner, the people with cars would do the shopping and everyone would pay a share of the costs (adjusted for teetotallers and vegetarians).

It was the only way we could have afford to do it.

I have no problem doing the same thing in a family so long as everyone knows what the deal is up front.

That's what we did for Thanksgiving. I usually did the hosting and cooking (I shared a decent sized apartment with an amenable roommate, and liked to cook). The cost wasn't much per person, but it was enough over 15 people to be too expensive for any one person to host, and about half the people in the group couldn't cook past the most minimal stuff.

This year, I'm inviting the Christmas orphans (I live in a non-Christian country) but I can now afford to host it all myself, and if people ask if they can bring something, I'll request beverages.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: cocacola35 on December 29, 2013, 10:00:26 AM
I would never think of charging anyone money for the food and drink I provide in my home.  I was always taught that it was very ungracious and if you can't afford to provide a meal at your house, then don't have people over.  However for large family dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas, I don't think it is ungracious of the host to ask family members to provide a side dish or dessert to help with costs.  In my family, this is actually part of the tradition and it makes everyone feel good to be contributing to the meal.  The host is providing their home for the family to be together (often they aren't used to hosting that many people) and it is a bit harder to trim the guest list in those situations to be more cost effective.



 
 

 
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: gellchom on January 08, 2014, 10:37:22 PM
I'm firmly in the "this is okay if this is how it has evolved in the family" camp.

Also, in my mind it's really not about "charging family members for a home cooked meal"; it's about a family sharing the cost of a holiday dinner.  Particularly in a situation where only one person has a big enough house to host everyone, so the dinners always take place there, it doesn't seem fair for that person to have to shoulder the entire cost.

And while it is possible to spread that cost over a group by having the meal be potluck style, with everyone contributing a dish, it's not always practical.  When counter, fridge, stove top and oven space are all at a premium, the hosts can juggle pot sizes and serving bowls as required; that is not so easy to do when the person bringing the potatoes shows up with a giant roaster that won't fit anywhere.  Even if it's emptied into smaller dishes, the empty pan still has to go somewhere.


This, especially the bolded. 

The labels we put on things sure puts them in different lights, doesn't it?  I mean, I would never "charge" my guests for anything.  I hate cash bars at hosted events, even a tip jar.  But that doesn't sound to me like what's going on here.

This kind of string reminds me of a Miss Manners Q&A from her Guide to the Turn-of-the-Millenium
http://books.google.com/books?id=Ju1XvqoMookC&pg=PA219&lpg=PA219&dq=%22function+in+my+honor%22+%22miss+manners%22&source=bl&ots=5HDhAHC-xU&sig=az355VpZgXJ4vKq1ieZ4BgLcsr4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FCPOUq2JDKbi2wWIloDIDg&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22function%20in%20my%20honor%22%20%22miss%20manners%22&f=false
The "gentle reader" asked, "How does one deal with a mother-in-law who commands her dinner guests to perform as servants after the meal ... I have never attended a function, particularly not one given in my honor, where the guests' assistance was commanded."  And so on.  But smart Miss Manners saw right through the writer's righteous indignation to what had really happened: a family dinner at which the mom cooked and the children and their spouses cleaned up -- as they always did.  I have thought of this letter many times when reading or hearing stories of people's supposedly shocking behavior.

In this case, I suspect that this is a family that has, for one of the very sensible reasons hypothesized by mlogica, MommyPenguin, and others, or for some other reason, decided that this way of sharing the costs and burden suits them.  Maybe others don't want to do it that way and don't think it's a good idea.  But calling it "charging for a home-cooked meal" feels to me like trying to stir up trouble.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 09, 2014, 09:44:17 AM
I was teasing my sister at Christmas about paying me for a home cooked meal. I host 90% of our family holidays. We decided as a family to do the "Big All Day Feast" which includes a bushel of unshucked oysters for grilling, a gallon of shucked oysters for frying, prime rib, and assorted sides. So not a cheap meal to feed 20 people. While family members brought some sides and desserts, DH and I bought and prepared most of the remainder. One of my sisters left a check written to me with my DD for a sizeable amount because she said she just didn't feel right having us pay for the entire meal that we all as a family had requested.

I called my sister and thanked her but told her I'd be going to EHell if I cashed the check. She joked back that I'd be going to family-hell if I didn't. And If I didn't, she'd just send the check to my DD because she knew a college student would turn down free money.  ;D
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Raintree on January 11, 2014, 02:02:49 PM
In our family we all pitch in for the dinner. It's too expensive for one person/family unit to shoulder, but we do want to all get together. And the person hosting has to do a lot of work, too.

But this is only for immediate family; I don't think any of us would dream of asking a non-family member to come over and pay.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: shhh its me on January 12, 2014, 12:17:08 PM
In our family we all pitch in for the dinner. It's too expensive for one person/family unit to shoulder, but we do want to all get together. And the person hosting has to do a lot of work, too.

But this is only for immediate family; I don't think any of us would dream of asking a non-family member to come over and pay.

Well I do think "hey , do you want to go half's on a pizza" is ok in some circumstances or "hey we could hire a sushi chef if we all pitched in. is that something you'd like to do?"  I think there is room in etiquette for providing the venue and coordinating.  The concerns are 2 fold "how much control do the coordinators really give up." and "oh we were just hanging out and all chipped in for delivery.  So even though we watched the walking dead at Susie's for 13 weeks.  She wasn't really hosting so we don't have to reciprocate."
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Emmy on January 12, 2014, 03:13:34 PM
Family holiday dinners are different than dinner parties.  If somebody decides to throw a party, they should expect to fund that party.  At family holiday dinners, often the host is the same and is usually the one the convenient location or most space.  They may agree to have it at their house because it is beneficial to the family, but that is different than deciding to throw a party.  If one person always does the hosting for family holidays because it works best for everybody, it is only fair that other family members should contribute something (either work or money) to help pull these get togethers off.  If a host runs across this problem, they should explain the problem to other family members and work out a solution together instead of just announcing that Thanksgiving dinner will be $x.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 13, 2014, 03:08:10 PM
Recently in another forum I frequent one of the other posters was invited to a wedding where the bride and groom invited a poster and her DH to a wedding and asked guests to pay $60 each. And contribute to a wishing well.

This is in addition to paying for petrol accommodation and someone to look after her kids.

Apparently the bride won't think much of the guests who don't pay the price of admission to her wedding, saying they obviously don't mean much to her.

I imagine, if they asked for cash in lieu of gifts (and didn't specify an amount) people would be generous anyway.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: gellchom on January 13, 2014, 04:04:59 PM
Well, see, I think that's what people are saying.  Obviously that's NOT OKAY, big time.  And the OP seems to be saying that the principle applies across the board, in all situations: hosts pay, guests don't.

But what is rude for a wedding or even a dinner party is not rude for a family meal -- not necessarily, anyway.  I mean, as in the Miss Manners letter I referenced, I wouldn't tell the wedding guests to head into the hotel kitchen and do the dishes.  But if my adult kids and their spouses are in town for a holiday, do they do the dishes after the big meal?  Of course.  I don't even think that there is anything wrong with asking the whole family to pitch in.  If it's okay to suggest a potluck family dinner, it's okay to suggest cost-sharing with the same group, especially if a potluck is untenable for some reason.  Remember, there's another difference between a family holiday meal and a dinner party: you don't have the same freedom of arranging the guest list.  It's not "your party" -- it's the family holiday meal, even when you are the host.

It certainly wouldn't be okay to spring it even on family by handing everyone a bill at the end of dinner without warning.  But if the family in the story OP read customarily divides the expense of holiday meals, then an outsider, a new in-law, or even a disagreeing member of the original group was, in my opinion, probably just trying to make trouble by calling it "charging family members for a home cooked meal." 

I'll bet you anything that the rest of the family doesn't say they are being "charged."  "What are we doing for Thanksgiving?  Well, our family really likes to be together, but we can't take turns because only my sister Daisy has a big enough place for all of 24 of us, and we can't really do potluck because half the people live out of town or don't cook, so we all chip in for the groceries and wine so Daisy doesn't have to foot the bill for that big group a few times a year.  It's enough she does all the cooking!"

Not quite so shocking that way, eh?  Even if Daisy had been the one to suggest it to begin with.

Why couldn't the person in the original story simply say they don't want to do it this way anymore and suggest an alternative such as taking turns hosting or giving the alternative to do some of the cooking or bring beverages instead?
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: Figgie on January 14, 2014, 11:09:54 AM
After Mom died, Dad loved having the big holiday/family meals at their place.  Before she died, we had moved around from our place, my sisters place and their place.  Dad didn't cook, so all of that work was on my sister and I.

So, Dad would pay for the meat and give my sister and me twenty bucks each to cover the rest of the costs.  We never asked, he just offered because he said it wasn't fair to make us pay for everything and have the hassle of transporting it to his place with him doing nothing but the vacuuming before we showed up.  :)

I agree with the posters who have said that family meals are often different.  They can be potlucks or done by one or two family members like the way my sister and I would split out the meals.  And the guest list isn't our guest list, but the family guest list.
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: mlogica on January 14, 2014, 04:58:06 PM
It occurs to me that another difference between a traditional big family meal and a hosted meal is the menu.  When you host a dinner, you choose the menu that makes the most sense for you, including the most sense for your budget.  But often a traditional family meal involves very specific food.  If those particular items are beyond the budget of the family member who is providing the space, then (IMHO) it behooves the rest of the family to contribute in some way.  And it may be simplest to simply give the hosting family member some money to purchase the supplies.

FWIW, I found out over Christmas that my family has changed how they handle the costs of the big family meal.  It's no longer split up each year.  Instead, each of my siblings (who for years have taken turns providing space in an established order) picks up all the costs in the year that he/she hosts.  I'm sure the costs vary somewhat from year to year, but clearly not enough that anyone is worried about it.  Works for them so who am I to argue? :)
Title: Re: Charging family members for a home cooked meal
Post by: amylouky on January 15, 2014, 10:33:02 AM
My sister's husband is terribly allergic to dogs and cats, and the other four sisters (including me) all have pets in our house. For that reason, my sister will usually host holiday dinners at her house. Normally it's done potluck, and we just figure out among ourselves who is bringing what.
But, if for some reason something is going to be well above the average expense (say, the year we all wanted a honeybaked ham), I really wouldn't have a problem with Sis asking us to chip in. As long as it was an asking, and we had the option to decline. IE, if she said "Hey, I thought we could all make sides, and then chip in to buy a honeybaked ham.. would that work?" OTOH, I'd be miffed at, "OK, I decided on honeybaked ham.. your share is $20."