My partner's family hosted Christmas... and sent me an invoice

Can you tell me a bit about you, your life and your relationship?

I've been with my partner for over 10 years. We live together and have frequently spent time with his family over past Christmases.

What happened that Christmas?

One year we were invited to my partner’s sister's house for Christmas celebrations with the whole family. She works in finance making a good salary, and her husband runs his own successful business - so they are reasonably well off. But even so it was a very generous offer to host and we accepted. They live in a different part of the UK, so everyone had to travel a long way (via planes etc.) to get to them. We stayed for three nights and had a lovely time - I also have a dietary requirement and they bought lots of extra treats to accommodate me - almost too much for the amount of time we were staying!

The shock came three weeks after Christmas, when each family member was sent an itemised invoice for the amount of food and alcohol they had consumed - even broken down into individual meals - and of course mine was extra because of those expensive dietary treats.

How did you react?

I think the whole family was shocked at the way it was handled. Of course if we had been asked in advance, we would have happily contributed towards food or brought dishes along to help share the load! It was just so strange that there was no mention of it at the time, and it was a very sobering message to get in January.

It left us feeling really disappointed and definitely changed how we felt about the time that we had with them. My partner and I also found it a little unfair that we had no say about what meals were bought but unknowingly had to contribute to them. The stinger was that this couple collectively earn at least double what the other couples that attended do, so it wasn't as though they were particularly short on funds. In fact they left for a foreign holiday the day after we all went home!

How has it affected your relationship with your partner's sister and her husband?

We still see the family but it has definitely changed our opinion of them. Whenever we are out for meals together now we definitely advocate for ourselves more, and insist that we are only going to pay for the food we've eaten. The couple are also known for over-ordering and then wanting to split the bill equally across everyone no matter what people ordered.

It has also made me reflect on the importance of communication around money and my own financial choices - I would never offer to host or invite someone over to my home, and then send them a bill!