I charge my family for Christmas dinner & electricity – even the 3-year-olds pay, they moan but it’s fair | The Sun

IT might sound crazy to some, but a woman has revealed that she charges her family for cooking their Christmas dinner.

Widower and pensioner, Caroline Duddridge, 64, doesn't care if people moan, because this year everyone’s festive meal will be more expensive than ever.

The mum-of-five and nan-of-six explained that she is charging everyone, including her grandkids, for her yuletide spread with adults forking out up to £15, the grandchildren including a 12-year-old and three nine-year-olds £5 and two three-year-olds £2.50. 

But she’s not alone. 

An online survey of Fabulous readers revealed 58 percent of people agreed with charging for the special meal while 21 percent were against it and the remaining 21 percent were sitting on the fence.

Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, Caroline explains how her ‘dosh for dinner’ is an annual tradition.

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“I log into my bank account and check who has made their Christmas dinner payment in November,” she said. 

“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.

“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.”

This year grocery prices are skyrocketing and nabbing the best deals will mean the former teaching assistant, who is on a widow's pension of £1,000 a month, will be spending more time than ever visiting supermarkets and checking deals. 

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“I’m spending dozens of hours finding the cheapest prices, best bargains and timing supermarket trips to get the pick of cut-price yellow label items,” she said. 

“Every week my meal budget buys less and less so I have to be tactical in buying ingredients to make the dinner for my 12 guests.

“I don’t allow late payments and the kids know it. Some complain about their bills and other costs, but I simply tell them they’ll get uninvited. Everyone pays up.

“I know many people will criticise charging for the Christmas meal, but I’m not bothered. 

“It’s not money grabbing, it just makes budgeting sense and spreads the cost fairly between everyone at the table. 

“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.”

Some complain about their bills and other costs, but I simply tell them they’ll get uninvited

“If I had my way, we’d only have Christmas twice a decade. I love Christmas but all the expense and drama surrounding it is exhausting. 

“My plan at least streamlines dinner and ensures everyone has a say and helps out and no one faces post-Christmas money problems.”

This year Caroline is charging her two sons £15, her three daughters £10, her four grandchildren over five years old £5 and the grandkids under five £2.50.

The women are charged less because they have families and work part-time.

Partners are charged similar amounts.

“For the immediate family and the grandchildren paying for Christmas dinner is nothing new,” said Caroline. 

“Some people might think it’s harsh to put a levy on meals for kids but it's an important life lesson. The older grandkids like to try and offer to help me to earn some of their money back and I admire that.”

Caroline started charging for Christmas dinner in 2016.

If I had my way, we’d only have Christmas twice a decade

“My husband passed away in 2015 and my expendable income was halved,” she said. “I was working part-time as a teaching assistant and started receiving a widow's pension but making ends meet became harder.

“Like many mums 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 all off again. 

“I told the children I was starting a Christmas kitty jar so everyone could contribute to the festive dinner. I asked the two boys to put £2 a week in and my daughters a pound each.”

Caroline said the kitty jar was hard to police.

“Some weeks everyone paid and other weeks some of the kids forgot or didn't have change,” she said. “It ended up with some of my adult kids paying more and others not paying as much. There was always bickering.

Last year she announced she was scrapping the kitty jar and introducing a set menu price to make it fairer and less stressful.

“I called a family meeting and announced the kitty jar was out and a one-off bank transfer payment was in,” she said. “The kids liked the idea. Although a couple, being bargain hunters, tried to haggle me down.”

A couple [of my kids], being bargain hunters, tried to haggle me down

Everyone has a say in the menu and the dinner includes wine, soft drinks, Christmas dinner and pudding with the traditional table decorations, Christmas crackers and a selection of nuts, and cheese.

“We’re not big meat eaters,” she said. “I make a turkey with traditional trimmings, gravy and a nut roast plus loads of veg. 

“My grown children bring beers or any speciality alcohol. Everything else is on tap and as much as you can eat.

“I know what soft drinks the kids love and what speciality non-alcoholic drinks the adults like and buy them on sale.

“I use my traditional table decorations, and everyone gets a job when it comes to serving. After lunch we’ll watch the King’s Speech on telly.”

Caroline isn't concerned some people will call her selfish for making her kids and grandkids pay.

“No one wants to be overwhelmed with debt and it’s unfair to expect one person to pay and make the entire meal,” she said. “I know some mums feel guilty if they don’t do it all and provide a huge meal with no one else paying but I am practical.

“I love the joy of Christmas and all the family together, but it’s now become so commercial. People get overwhelmed and it’s too much. A nice family meal and a gift made with love is all I need.  

“We should only have Christmas twice a decade. People would appreciate it more.”

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