There’s nothing better than getting the whole family together for good food, drinks, laughs, and games. It’s easy for everyone to get wrapped up in their busy lives — chasing dreams, raising kids, traveling the world. But, a family reunion or family gathering changes everything. Unfortunately, it can also break the bank if you’re not careful!
As the saying goes, “Families are like branches on a tree: we grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.” And as the host of the family gathering, you’ll be rooted right in the center of all the chaos!
With the help of these budgeting tips, some creativity, and an open mind, the only real challenge will be finding a date where EVERYONE can meet in one place.
Save on Photos
It can be tempting to spend some extra money on a professional photographer to capture all those precious moments while you’re together, but the cost can be much more than it’s worth. The truth is, everyone today has comparable picture-taking devices in their pockets. Some even have comparable skills! Chances are, they will be pulling it out for pictures, whether there’s a professional there or not.
What’s more, you wouldn’t believe how much money you can save on your family get-together by not adding this expense. According to the national average, people report spending about $235 an hour for a photographer. Assuming your get-together is at least four hours, the price tag before tax will be at least $940.
You can designate a family member for taking pictures if you prefer, but they’re not going to want to miss out on all the fun. A better option would be to assign a small group to do pictures — the younger family members, in particular, since they will be on their phones anyway!
That way, you get a host of different shots and funny points of view that can be uploaded to your Reunacy Event page to share and:
- View whenever they want
- Tell background stories of their shots
- Have some of the best laughs — even after the ‘fun’ is over
- Reminisce for years to come
If your reunion will be at a large banquet hall or venue, you may be considering your options for music. You could go with a DJ offered to you through the venue or take a look around for better deals with outside companies. However, a large portion of your budget will be on music if you go with either of these choices.
In fact, the national average for a DJ at your event is between $700 and $1200, with some states averaging much higher. To save on unnecessary costs, ask around your family to see if anyone has a good portable speaker. Then you can ask a musically inclined family member to connect their phone and play DJ. You may even witness most of your family members taking part in the music selection, excited to play their favorite hits!
If you’re worried about the type of music that will be played, feel free to add in some of these helpful guidelines as well as your own to keep the event family-friendly:
- Only censored versions of songs can be played
- If it’s inappropriate for a child to hear, stay clear!
- Keep the mood upbeat and fun, so friends and family don’t make a run!
According to a huge survey, music from the 70s and 80s is the most popular for large gatherings, so you may want to consider some hits from that decade to please everyone.
You will want to accommodate everyone — well, at least most!— when choosing where to have your family get together. Not only is it important to consider how many families will make it, but you’ll also want to consider what will provide the experience you’re looking for at an affordable price.
For instance, you can use sites like Airbnb or VRBO to find deals on a large vacation house at a fun destination, such as the beach or in the mountains. This can be a great way to keep everyone entertained together while staying within budget. It’s also a great way to extend the fun from one day to a whole weekend or longer.
By dividing costs equally with each family, the price of a destination vacation can cost you as little as a hotel stay. Add in home-cooked meals, and you’ll also be looking at 30% or more off your reunion costs!
If you’re not looking for something quite as big, other affordable accommodations can include:
- Local parks
- Community rec room
- A family member’s big backyard
- Campground — depending on the time of year, water events are typically an added benefit.
You may be able to toss out the idea of hiring a DJ or inviting a professional photographer, but food is a family gathering ‘must have.’ It’s also one of the most expensive costs of the event if you’re not careful.
If you get it catered, you will likely overpay for all the extras like staff and fees. Suppose you have food sent over but not catered. In that case, you risk not appealing to everyone’s different needs on a budget — one family member may have a gluten allergy, another doesn’t like vegetables on their food, while another doesn’t eat meat.
Instead, consider keeping it simple and letting everyone fix their own meals as they please by setting up one or more of the following with veggie equivalents with lots of good new plant-based meats like Impossible meats or Beyond meats:
- Hot dog bar
- Nacho bar
- Hamburger bar
- Taco bar
- Ice cream bar
Another option is having a potluck meal plan that can be set and approved by everyone ahead of time can be a great way to make sure everyone will be fed and happy at your family get together — more importantly, not ‘hangry!’ After all, you’re not yourself when you’re hungry!
Ask everyone to chip in by contributing to the meal with their chosen dishes and enjoy the perfect potluck dinner that fits everyone’s budget. Better yet, don’t be afraid to ask everyone to contribute. Not only does it take some stress and responsibility off your shoulders, but your family will be happy to help and may even feel more included. Everyone wants to meet up and have a good time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to ensure there will be enough!
Get creative and have a lot of fun with your decorations when planning your get-together. You don’t need to rent any expensive centerpieces or spend a ton on balloons and streamers to make it memorable.
Instead, make it more personal and meaningful. Dust off those incredible photos from the past couple of decades, full of love and memories, and find fun ways to incorporate them into your decorations. This not only will save you a lot in decorations that will be sent back or thrown away but will also take guests back to some of their most precious memories.
After all, isn’t that what this gathering is all about? Remembering where you came from and the people that got you where you are today?
Other quick and easy ideas you can use for inspiration are:
- Grabbing paper lanterns from the dollar store, or consider recycled jars with tea lights in them for table decorations.
- If you have a party themed around camping, use a flashlight, bonfire, or lantern for lighting when the sun goes down.
- For water-themed parties, pull out your kiddie pool and hang a few beach towels over the fence or lay them out on the ground.
- Framing pictures that match your theme (holidays, outdoors, tropical seascapes, etc.) and place them around on the buffet table.
When it comes to party favors, take a breath and relax! Your family isn’t expecting you to break the bank with “Thank You” gifts. Keeping it unique and simple will still convey how happy you are to have them over!
- Create a mix of goodie jars that consist of your family’s favorite chocolates and candies.
- Bake “Thank You” cookies and separate them into baggies, so families can easily grab them and take them home. If you’re feeling extra fun, attach a personalized “Thank You” message that incorporates the family name.
- Potted succulents are quick and easy-to-take-care-of gifts to hand out that appeal to friends and family with a green thumb, as well as those who have a habit of killing any plant they take home!
If you have the time, include an email after your gathering that thanks them for coming out and offers all of your best wishes until next time. While you’re at it, send over some great photos from the party that you know they would be excited to see.
Use Reunacy Events For All of Your Family Get-Togethers
Hosting a family get-together on a budget doesn’t need to be a hassle. Making your own decorations and party favors can cut your expenses in half — so can letting loose and asking everyone to take photos and chip in on food and venue.
To keep all of your plans and ideas organized, and everyone in the loop on updates and announcements, start a group on Reunacy, and create an event! It’s the perfect platform for designating potluck meals, sharing family photos, listing music guidelines, asking for help, and more.
It’s as easy as:
- Start a group
- Create an event
- Invite the whole family!
In the meantime, you can learn more about starting your group and getting ready for the next big family get-together!