Why some people are charging their families for Thanksgiving dinner


There’s an online debate raging about Thanksgiving dinner right now. It has people firmly divided in one camp or the other—and it doesn’t even involve politics! The issue is this: It has come to light that some people charge their families for Thanksgiving dinner (for example, $30 a plate).

Yes, you read that correctly: There are some Americans who find it completely normal to pay for their delicious Turkey Day meal. Here are a few comments about this custom on Twitter:


While others are shocked, as they have never considered paying their Thanksgiving host for turkey and all its trimmings.

And some are just in pure disbelief:

Now, I get it—the idea of paying your family for food that is supposed to be made with love and the holiday spirit can feel a bit off-putting. After all, no one wants to feel like their holiday celebration is mercenary, or that their family members are greedy.

But you know what’s actually greedy? Showing up empty-handed at a family party every year. Entering a warm, festive house that someone spent hours (if not days) cleaning and decorating, and just taking that for granted. Making a plate (or two or three) of a delicious meal without even considering the fact that your grandma had to get up at 6 a.m. to start cooking or that your aunt had to drive to the store four separate times just to get enough ingredients for all the dishes she prepared.

And let’s not forget that making Thanksgiving dinner is expensive! Lots of recipes require ingredients that you only use once a year (like pecans and heavy cream), while others are incredibly labor-intensive (peeling three bags of potatoes is no joke, and the same goes for rolling out dough for homemade pie crust).

I guess what I am saying is this: If your relative asks you to chip in for Thanksgiving dinner, consider the fact that it is not because they are trying to make a quick buck, but because they are doggone tired of doing all the work every year, not to mention buying all the food. (Especially if they’re anything like me and you have to re-buy ingredients after messing up the recipe the first time.) It’s no wonder so many Thanksgiving hosts feel cheated—not just out of money, but out of gratitude.

And isn’t that what Thanksgiving is supposed to be all about? People coming together as a community, each chipping in whatever they can and sharing their bounty, and then giving thanks for the blessings that have enabled them to do so.


So, even if your family’s Thanksgiving host doesn’t charge by the plate, consider this: She probably deserves more than just a cursory thank you. Maybe that means that you offer to make the pies this year, or you bring a couple bottles of wine.

If she dismissed any offers to help, here’s an idea: Why not get together with some of your other relatives in the future and take her out for a “thank you” meal at an expensive restaurant? Let her enjoy someone else’s hard work for a change.

Or, perhaps you don’t have money to chip in right now. That’s OK. You can still lighten your loved one’s load. Offer to come over early in the morning so that you can help clean the house or prep some of the dishes. And stay at the party after everyone else has left and help tidy up.

The bottom line is that one or two people shouldn’t be stuck making every dish or cleaning up the mess. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about working together. So whether you want to fork over a few bucks, make a pie, bring some wine or wash a dish, just make sure you contribute something to the celebration!

Holiday & Seasonal

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About the Author
Bridget Sharkey
Bridget Sharkey is a freelance writer covering pop culture, beauty, food, health and nature.

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