P is for Planning a Family Reunion on a Budget

We would all love to have a family reunion in some exotic location at a luxury resort, but most of us can’t afford this extravagance. Years ago, when families stayed near one another, it was easy to have simple reunions at home where everyone would bring a dish and stories to share.

Today, however, many families dwell in different locations around the country or the world. This can make planning a reunion a bit more difficult – but still possible with a lot of planning and hard work. However, before you start the process keep a budget in mind otherwise, you may plan an event that will be too costly for everyone to attend. Start by obtaining a date for your reunion and below are some tips that can help you plan a fun and affordable reunion.

Discuss a budget with family members – even a modest family reunion can become costly. Make sure you know everyone’s dollar limitations. This information will help you decide the next step, the venue. Will it be a DIY reunion, or can everyone afford a resort location? Create a budget for the event, including all probable expenses and give yourself a cushion by adding 10 percent for unexpected costs, it can always be returned.

Start the Planning Process a Year in advance – this cushion can help give the planner enough time to coordinate a date and location and provide family members plenty of notice so that an accurate head count can be injected into the budget. Planning early will also help with booking availability, so you aren’t faced with settling for what’s available last minute.

Choose the location – if cost is the number one factor – pick an area that is a midway point for all family members, this will lower travel cost for all.

Shop for group rates on hotels and airfare – if you need more than ten hotel rooms, you can block hotel rooms as a group and save at many hotels. Both American Airlines and Southwest offer group rates on their websites.

Use Offseason Dates – when staying at a resort during peak season you will pay top dollar. Choosing to book hotel rooms during offseason can save you up to 50 percent. Ski resorts in summer offer many other activities and being at the beach during winter months can be a refreshing treat. There is also more privacy and fewer crowds during offseason; giving opportunities for long walks on what seems to be your own beach but dress warmly.

Rent a Vacation House – a vacation home through Airbnb or vacation by owner can give you a venue where each family can divide the cost equally. It will also allow you to cook at home saving money on eating out at every meal.

Email Invitations – the price of stationery can be costly, save money and send them via email. For all those savvy social media users you may choose to create a family reunion Facebook page, it will let you communicate in an open forum.

Collect Deposits – once you have a rough idea on the cost of the reunion you should ask everyone to send their deposit by a specific deadline. Having a family commit, monetary will help family members commit to the gathering.  You can use a free service like MyEvent which allows your family to register for a reunion, pay their deposits and even make additional donations.

On a Tight Budget – consider a state park, you can rent a pavilion at a reasonable rate, and cabins typically are more affordable than hotel rooms. Other options to ponder may be a local lake or beach for the day, the zoo, a theme park or rent a local recreation center.

So, whether your reunion, is big and extravagant or just a small gathering, the importance of this get together is not where you meet but how wonderful it will be to connect with your people. Spending time telling stories, sharing memories, laughing at each other’s quirky habits and making more memories makes the fuss of planning worthwhile. The purpose is about connection and keeping in contact with those you love throughout the years.

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About Ann Zuraw

Ann Zuraw, the voice behind "Chicks, Chat and Change", is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™). If you have comments on this post contact Ann Zuraw

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