If you’d like to get your clan together for something other than the occasional wedding, major anniversary or birthday celebration, consider holding a family reunion. There’s no better way to forge bonds and develop family spirit. Reunions range from the simple — like a big picnic at the beach or a park — to the elaborate, with several days of togetherness that includes visits to local attractions.
If most of your relatives live close by, planning a reunion is a relative snap. Pick a date, reserve a picnic site and coordinate a potluck or arrange for participants to chip in for a catered meal. Or for a super-simple affair, have each family bring their own food.
If, however, like most families, your relatives have scattered with the winds, planning is a bit more complicated. Where will you hold the reunion? Where will out-of-towners stay? What about visiting local attractions? Sorting out the details can seem a little overwhelming–and it’s easy for costs to mount — but if you’re looking to do a reunion on the cheap, here are a few tips:
Pick a “cheap” location for your reunion. Shop around and find locations with good air service or within driving distance, as well as free or low-cost activities. For instance, if most of your clan lives in the Midwest, St. Louis with its central location and abundance of free attractions makes it ideal. Longing for a beach reunion? Alabama’s Gulf Coast has some great beaches and other attractions with more affordable prices on lodging than many nearby resort areas. If you can hold your reunion off-season when lodging costs dip, you’ll save even more.
Save on stamps. Garner email addresses for family members and use them for sending queries, invitations and updates, rather than incur postage costs. And consider setting up a website or Facebook page to communicate plans to family members.
Keep it simple. Renting a pavilion at a park is obviously cheaper than renting a meeting room in a hotel.
Skip the fine china. Opt for lower per-person cost meals. If a potluck won’t work because most of the participants are coming from out of town, consider a pizza party or take-out food from an affordable local restaurant.
Book a condo. If lots of out-of-town family members will attend, consider a vacation rental. The cost often competes with hotel rates and even if it’s a bit higher, you’ll save on dining out. Even if you don’t want to cook the entire time, having breakfast at your rental saves not only money, but also time.
Track down the local Convention and Visitors Bureaus. Not only can they help in planning your reunion, but they typically offer vacation guides, maps and even discount coupons to area attractions. Some will send out a “hotel lead” that meets the specific needs of your reunion. After reviewing your requirements, the hotels respond directly to you.
For additional advice and tips, check out these resources: