the expense of entertaining

I am in shock about the amount of money I have spent on food for one of our family Christmas parties.  Who would have thought feeding 14 people would be so expensive!?  Well, everyone I am assuming.  It isn't like your normal fare either, it is fancy, or maybe not fancy, but different than what you typically would have every other day.  Obviously we want it to be special!  It is only a once per year kind of thing.

Typically, each year we alternate where the party is.  And we usually will have everyone pitch in to bring some type of food.  This has always worked in the past, and definitely helps to cut down on the cost of everything.  This year, however, I decided that I would purchase all of the food, and then I would have everyone send me a check to contribute.

I think this will definitely work in everyone's best interest.  I will have everything prepared when people show up, so there isn't a mad dash for the oven, or trying to find another outlet for a crock pot, and we can start right in on spending time together.  Also, everyone has to travel to get here, from 30 minutes to 2 hours, so not having to deal with the transport of food is always a good idea.  I remember one year my mom was bringing kielbasa out to a friend's house for another Christmas party, and it spilled...all over the car.  It was not a good evening for my mom :-)

What about you?  Are your family parties potluck?  Or do people contribute money to the host for food?  Obviously, this is not something you would want to do if you were having a party with friends, but a family party I think it is OK to ask for cash instead of a dish.

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