CHARGING your guests for their Christmas dinner can be a quick way to make yourself unpopular.
But for Helen Robertson, a busy mum of two, she chooses to charge her guests for their Christmas dinners, and has no regrets about it.
As ab administrative assistant, 43, from Hitchin, Hertfordshire, with two sons, Peter, 17 and George, 11, Helen wants to go in the new year with zero debt.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, she said: "Sitting in front of my computer I happily typed into my Excel spreadsheet.
"But I wasn’t inputting work for my office job.
"Instead I was out my Christmas dinner finances - who’d paid, who’d not and who wasn’t going to.
"I decided I would charge for Christmas dinner in March this year after racking up an eye-watering £2.5k debt over previous festive periods which took me practically all year to pay off.
"Last year, because of the lockdown, it wasn’t too bad. But realising it was back to normal for 2021 and I was due to cater for 12 something had to change.
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"I’m not a charity and while I love entertaining people it isn’t sustainable to cook a full Christmas meal with all the trimmings for friends and family."
Helen admitted that some guests had made her feel 'taken advantage of before.'
She explains that: "I don’t take the mickey - I’ve planned a lovely meal where everyone gets a starter, mains, desserts, canapes and snacks as well as a glass of Champagne or juice."
The mum makes sure to be inclusive of all diets, saying that she: "includes vegans and vegetarians. Plus everyone has special requests like their ‘favourite trifle mix’ or ‘gravy, just so’.
"Adults will pay £35 (or £70 with supermarket-brand booze which will give them access to unlimited white and red wine, beer, sherry and two glasses of Champagne or Bucks Fizz) while kids will pay £10.
"I’m even charging immediate family with my kids, Peter, 17, and George, 11, shelling out from their pocket money… 50p at a time.
Her savvy son George even negotiated a discount of 50 percent by agreeing to help wash up.
I’m even charging immediate family with my kids, Peter, 17, and George, 11, shelling out from their pocket moneyHelen
Helen reasoned that her prices are: "similar to what hotels in the area charge, so I’m not being unreasonable.
"But of course people’s reactions have been mixed - and there was a certain amount of surprise when I sent people an invoice attached to their Christmas dinner invite.
"Within half-an-hour of the email going out I had five people tell me it was a great idea. And two even put a deposit into my special Christmas dinner day account.
Unfortunately some have called Helens meal: "the ultimate act of greed and selfishness and not in the Christmas spirit - and some refused to come.
"Meanwhile, other people are desperate for every detail wanting to know how I plan the menus, how I get people to part with their cash and how I ensure everyone gets value for money.
"Some mums and dads at George’s school have even asked me for copies of my menus, spreadsheet guides and emails I send telling people about the cost structure and how to pay me.
"I plan to do the big shop 10 days before Christmas, although I’ve pre-ordered the booze, turkey and any special requests which are hard to get.
Commandeering the entire family for the day, Helen has been running cooking drills in her mum’s kitchen.
She says: "Her kitchen is bigger and I am using her house to host so I’ll pay her a little for gas and electricity.
"If everything goes to plan I will make a small profit which I will use for a posh manicure because my nails get wrecked by peeling Brussel sprouts.
I’m not a charity and while I love entertaining people it isn’t sustainable to cook a full Christmas meal with all the trimmings for friends and family.Helen
"I also will need a facial because of all the grease and steam I put up with slaving over the hot stove and a massage but I figure I earn it.
The ultimate reason Helen is charging for dinner is the peace of mind knowing she wont have a huge debt to drag her down in the New Year.
As for if there are any leftovers, Helen says: "If there is any food left over everyone will get a goody bag and I will make sandwiches the next day.
For Helen: "A bank transfer is better than a cheap bottle of plonk or ‘thank you’."
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