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Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

The holiday season is a time of caring, togetherness, and giving – and maybe a little bit of family drama.

A U.K. woman recently revealed that her partner’s mother was requesting 17 pounds ($21 USD) from each family member to cover the cost of their catered Christmas meal. While the anonymous woman and her partner were both shocked at this request, she turned to parenting forum Mumsnet to get other people’s opinions.

“I can see it from both sides and it’s hard work and can be expensive but not like she is financially destitute,” she wrote on the website. “This has never happened before and … [my partner] said handing over cash just feels wrong. As he says, it’s about family, not money.”

Forum members had mixed reactions, and some felt the mother was completely justified in asking for financial contributions during an already-expensive time of year. However, most agreed that charging cash was not the way to go.

“If you can’t afford it, don’t invite people,” wrote one Mumsnet commenter. “Or only cook what you can afford. I’d never charge anyone, far less family, for dinner.”

It’s true that preparing and hosting a holiday meal can be stressful and costly, but many commenters suggested a less controversial alternative, like asking people to bring a specific dish.

“I would ask people to contribute by bringing specific contributions to the meal instead (‘Uncle Paul is bringing stuffing, Auntie Lucy is doing the sprouts’ type thing),” wrote another commenter. “But if someone asked me for cash I’d pay.”

Could There Be Another Reason Behind The Request?

Asking relatives for cash can certainly be an awkward conversation, but sometimes there’s a legitimate reason behind it. Let’s say a family member does ask everyone to chip in for the holiday meal. Maybe it’s completely out of character for this particular family member to make such a request – and if that’s the case, you may want to dig a little deeper.

Run a quick background check on your relative to see if they are having financial troubles or have posted anything online that could indicate they’re in trouble. You may discover that they’ve filed for bankruptcy or are in the middle of an expensive lawsuit, and they’re simply too proud to admit it to your family.

If you happen to spot the “real” reason your family member is looking for money, subtly offer your help in other ways. Ask them how they’re doing and encourage them to confide in you if they’re experiencing difficulties. Sometimes, a strong emotional support during a difficult holiday season can make even more of a difference than simply handing over cash.