Dear EFAP: clueless Christmas dinner host

Thank you to those who have written to “Dear EFAP” for input on your dilemmas. As you are aware, we read every inquiry that comes in but we are only able to print a small selection of responses.  Our “pithy” answers are modeled after the lighter hearted Dear Abby style and are grounded in common sense.  If your issues require a more personalized level of support please call EFAP (1-800-505-4929) and we can confidentially book you a counselling appointment with a senior level therapist.

We welcome all inquiries – please submit these to All printed responses use the anonymous descriptor that you sign your inquiry with and do not reveal any identifying information.  Our goal is to support you through insight and common sense.

Below is our response to the next selection – enjoy!



I’m on a tight budget. I just started working and I don’t have Christmas off. So that means I’ m not going back east for Christmas this year. I’ve always been a bit of a Christmas angel and truth be told I still believe in Santa Claus (although I now believe he lives in our hearts rather than the north pole and that he comes out in us all at Christmas  – maybe a bit corny but true).

I was sad at first to not be going back home for the holidays, but I decided to turn it around and host an orphan Christmas dinner. Well it’s not going to be right on the day as my pals and I have to work, but we are all excited.

My issue is that I can’t really afford to do a big fancy dinner. Many people are coming (which is great) with many different food and drink preferences: meat eaters and vegans and wine drinkers and those who prefer beer. Is it OK to ask them to contribute to the dinner?  I have no clue.

  • Clueless Christmas Dinner Host

Dear Clueless Christmas Dinner Host

It is completely ok to ask people to contribute to the dinner and best handled by not asking for money contributions, but by food and drink contributions. This will also mean far less work for you.

Think of it as kind of assigned potluck. Figure out how many you will have and let people know. It’s probably best if you cook a few mains and have everybody do everything else. Turkey and a vegan type main dish like whole roasted cauliflower with nuts are good options for main courses. Assigning veggies, appies, and dessert, and even decorative Christmas pull crackers for people to bring is totally cool.

As for drinks you can ask your guests to bring what they would like to drink or you can assign wine and beer as well. Sometimes a host will have a festive drink going like mulled cider for a fun theme and it smells great, but it’s not necessary and it too can be assigned.  And if you are short on cutlery, plates and chairs, you can also ask your friends to bring those.

It’s lovely that you are carrying your Christmas angel role on in this way and creating memories with your friends. The key thing here, my friend, is that you are opening up your home to share the Christmas spirit. It’s not so much about the meal than it is about coming together.  Santa is clearly coming to your Christmas dinner. Enjoy!

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The advice offered in this column is meant to be used as general guidance based on the facts provided. The opinions or views expressed should not be relied on as treatment or counselling services. If you are a VCH staff member and find yourself in need of counselling or support, please contact EFAP toll free at 1-800-505-4929 or 604-872-4929, your family doctor, or another appropriately trained and qualified specialist.

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