Sure, there’s room at the Inn (sometimes)

Dear Mary

Every year we extend invitations to people who we know are on their own for Christmas. It is (almost) always a success. Problem is, they have too much fun and expect to be invited back year after year. Our “orphan” count for this year is now 5 – if we keep inviting them, we can’t invite anyone else. What do we do?”

Signed, More the merrier – to a point


Dear Merrier

First of all, people want to come to your family Christmas? More than once?

This piece of information alone tells me that it’s probably better than 98% of family Christmases.

But sure, I can see why it does pose a wee bit of a problem for you. After all, if you’re really going to open your home at Christmas to those less endowed in the filial department than you, you want to make sure as many people as possible know that you are a GOOD PERSON right? And if there are lonely people choking up the pipeline, your reach is narrowed.

So, there are two schools of thought on the extra guests at Christmas question – the first is, it’s Christmas, lighten up. Plan a menu that is less focused on impressing your guests than it is on including them.

70s-dinner-partyYou Follow @70s_party on Twitter for great inspiration like this photo.

Here you’ll find a range of scalable delicacies from 1970 cookbooks that you can simply add more tinned spaghetti or manufactured meats to and in an instant you’ll be feeding the additional hoards.

BConsider it your loaves and fish mousse experiment.

The second – which I’m sure you’ll appreciate – is  to hell with them, it’s just bloody presumptuous to assume you get invited twice.

It’s a little hard to dress that up in Hallmark telemovie terms, but I’m not here to judge, I’m here to help.

So here we go.

If you insist on keeping your Christmas strictly to the number of matching chairs you have, you have a couple of options.

The first option is simply to tell your would-be guests that you agree with Benjamin Franklin and have a 3 day rule for guests and fish – so if they’ve basked in your glory for the past two Christmases, this has to be their last hurrah. Insert detail as appropriate and you may find your guests giving you year-round space without much more intervention needed.

The second option, known as “Preserving your veneer of festive spirit” requires you to lay some ground-work this year for your reward next year.


  1. “Jobs and growth” – as much as it is Malcolm Turnbull’s mantra for 2016, so should it be yours.

jobs-and-growthJobs – When your repeat-offender offers to bring something, this is where you start with the jobs. Make it small at first, and preferably something that appeals to their ego, like “could you bring some of that delicious [insert convenience food item here – dip, chocolate, chips] you brought last year?”

Growth – then, every day until Christmas, send them an email, with an increasingly
annoying item to bring with them. If you know they’re travelling on public transport, ask them to pick up four bags of ice on their way. If they’ll be driving on their own, get them to bring a food item that is impossible to transport without someone holding it on their lap. If they love wine, ask them to find some non-alcoholic Maison wine (bonus points if they are under 30 and would never have heard the beautiful strains of the 1970s jingle “from the vine, comes the grape, from the grape comes the Mai-son…”)

2. Overtly match-make your guest with a family member – anyone in the room will do. Actually everyone in the room will do for this exercise.

3. Tell your guest that “Three in a row means you’re promoted to Family” – it sounds nice, but it isn’t really. And they’ll know it.

Combine these three easy steps and they will opt-out themselves next year.

And you can sit back and enjoy that smug feeling that comes from being able to deny something to someone else on Christmas Day.

Love, Mary

PS Merrier, here’s a little song Denis Leary may well have written just for you




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