13 Reunion Budgeting Tips
Reunion planning is a multi-faceted project that shouldn’t be taken on lightly. Whether you’re taking on all the planning yourself or you’re part of a planning committee, there is one aspect of your plans that has to be clear for everyone involved: the budget.
Outlining and then sticking to your budget is one of the most important components of planning a reunion. Regardless of the size of your budget, you’ll need to ensure your planning adheres to it. This is partly to protect your own finances but mostly to ensure all of your family members don’t get mad at you for any sudden price hikes! Otherwise, read on to get 13 tips for planning a reunion budget and then put them all to good use!
REUNION PLANNING BUDGETING: THE OVERVIEW
Your reunion planning needs to include budgeting from the very beginning. Without a budget plan, your reunion spending could quickly spin out of control!
But don’t get overwhelmed by all the different potential costs. It’s certainly helpful to understand the full picture before you dive into your own planning process. But that doesn’t mean that every single potential cost will apply to your reunion.
When going through these reunion budgeting tips, keep in mind your specific group. Demographics, diversity of interests, home location, and family circumstances can all impact any individual attendee’s budget. That, in turn, will impact your group spending. The point of a reunion is to bring everyone together for fun and to create memories. The last thing you want is to create bitter memories based on overspending or making some folks feel unwelcome.
If you’re careful in your planning, you can definitely avoid hurt feelings – and wallets!
1. KNOW ALL THE POTENTIAL COSTS
When reunion planning, you’ll want to look at all of the potential costs to get a clear idea of your budget options.
Consider the big costs, like renting a venue, travel and lodging expenses, as well as food, drink, and entertainment options. But also consider all the small things. Those cute little decorations, printing family photos, even signing up for that family reunion website can all put a small dent in your own wallet…and that dent can quickly grow!
Knowing all the potential costs will help you to better plan from the beginning and then stick to that budget as you start making purchases and booking vendors.
2. PLAN A REUNION WITH SPREADSHEETS
A family reunion budget needs to incorporate all the potential costs involved. The best way to create a budget and then monitor your use of that budget throughout the planning process is to track everything in a spreadsheet.
We know…spreadsheets certainly aren’t everyone’s favorite thing!!
But it’s really important to keep an eye on all of the expenses. Even those little items can add up quickly! You don’t want to be out of pocket yourself, so make sure every single item is tracked and accounted for as you plan.
3. START YOUR REUNION PLANNING EARLY
If you start your reunion planning early, you’re more likely to find the best deals for your budget. Looking at least a full year in advance is advised, depending on the size and scope of your reunion.
If you have plenty of time, then you can negotiate better deals and do plenty of research to find the best possible location and vendors. You also want to give your attendees plenty of time to plan their travel and personal budgets.
FREE Whitepaper – Budgeting for a Reunion
When your aim is a fun get-together, nobody likes a costly surprise.
Understanding the costs involved in reunion planning is the first step to navigating your budgeting challenges. There are many tools you can use to help plan your budget, as well as to minimize your expenses.
This guide will offer multiple options for tools alongside suggestions for creating and sticking to your budget.
4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO CROWDSOURCE
Crowdsourcing can be a huge help for your budget! Try asking your reunion attendees for contacts and connections in a destination so you might get better deals or the best services available. Ask everyone for discount codes or loyalty program options – your attendees might save at specific hotels or restaurants. Even airline prices might be better if someone in your group can book on points! It’s a great idea to ask everyone for helpful tips and insider access.
5. REMEMBER THE TRAVEL FEES
Travel fees can sneak up on attendees, leaving them feeling like the costs escalated too much. The last thing you want is an attendee showing up at the reunion in a bad mood after paying out last-minute fees.
Warn all attendees of the common travel-related fees. These might include baggage fees at an airport or additional insurance on a rental car.
Being prepared and making sure everyone knows the potential costs will help ensure everyone is happy with the total expenses for the reunion.
6. PLAN A REUNION OFF-SEASON
Booking off-season can provide you with big savings in popular destinations. You might not have lots of flexibility if there are school-age kids coming, but you can still adjust your travel dates and destinations to suit your budgeting needs.
For example, a popular winter destination might actually be very affordable in the summertime. Alternatively, look at shoulder season travel, using a school break in April or the long weekends in autumn to maximize days off work and school. Booking over a holiday weekend will be more expensive than regular weekends, but it could still be much cheaper than peak summertime prices.
7. SAVE ON YOUR DESTINATION
Diversify your destination choices to see where you might save more. We have plenty of recommendations for the best places to host a reunion, but you should also ask your attendees. Maybe someone will recommend a brand new location none of you have visited before!
8. KNOW THE TYPES OF DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE
You don’t know if you don’t ask, right? Negotiating better deals and asking for discounts will be a crucial part to your reunion planning for budgeting purposes. If you can save money for certain age groups or individuals, it helps the whole event feel more affordable for everyone.
9. . CONSIDER A BYO EVENT
Catering can certainly be a big expense for a large family reunion. Consider alternatives like a potluck or a BYO event. Outdoor spaces can be free or low-cost and the work gets divided well if everyone can share and help out.
This isn’t always possible, however. Consider those traveling from farther away and make sure they have something they could easily pick up en route to the location if they don’t have a kitchen at home to prepare something. Alternatively, ask those traveling from farther away to contribute in other ways – such as creating music playlists or coordinating the photos.
10. ENTERTAIN NEW ENTERTAINMENT
You can hire an entertainer (or several), or you can consider alternative ideas. Streaming music is an option instead of hiring a DJ or band. Low-cost crafts and activities for kids can replace hiring a professional entertainer or going to an expensive tourist attraction.
Get creative and get everyone involved! We have an entire guide devoted to entertainment and games, so we encourage you to read through for inspiration and effective budget planning.
11. AMATEURS TAKE GREAT PHOTOS
Use social media to gather all your reunion photos under a single hashtag. It’s fun to get the younger generation involved and it gives them an important job to do. If you task them with taking photos of everyone and sharing them for all to see, you’ll undoubtedly get some great shots.
You might also get some interesting insights into their perspective on life and family!
12. USE TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
We mentioned a few options for technology, including photos and entertainment options. But there are also countless apps and websites that can help you track your expenses, invoice and receive payments from attendees, and organize all your reunion planning.
Looking to keep your reunion costs under control? One of the easiest ways is to fundraise.
There are all sorts of fun ways you can get your whole family involved, from bake sales to auctions and more. We highly recommend you consider fundraising to offset some of the larger expenses.
MONITOR YOUR REUNION COSTS
However you manage to do it, your primary obligation during reunion planning is to stick to the group’s budget. You can’t force a family member or friend to pay for things beyond their means, so you’ll need to be strict about the expenses.
At the end of the day, this reunion is meant to be fun for everyone! While the planning can sometimes be more work than play, if you use these tools and follow our expert advice, you’ll be in the best position for success.
Amanda Walkins is a digital content strategist and freelance travel writer. Originally from the Boston area, she has lived in 6 other countries and loves creating connections in communities around the world. She shares insights into her expat life and adventures overseas on www.amandawalkins.com.