This article is part of our series of articles on family reunion budgets.
In an ideal world, everyone would be able to afford a lavish family reunion vacation every year.
That not being the case, a successful family reunion hinges on proper budgeting and financial planning.
Take the steps below to create and organize a budget for any sized family reunion.
So What’s The First Step?
Selecting a good leader to head off the finance committee is the single most important step towards creating a successful budget.
The person you select should be qualified based on their experience and compatibility with the rest of the family. For example, selecting a person who runs a successful business would be a prudent thing to do since this person already handles budgets and is familiar with how to how to create, categorize, and update them.
Identify The Goal Of The Budget
The goal of any family reunion budget is to make sure you are not underfunded. There is nothing worse than asking family members for more money to pay a vendor at the family reunion. In order to make sure that this scenario does not play out at your family reunion, you need to understand what needs to done and the steps needed to get you there.
In order to avaoid running short of money, you have to plan a detailed budget that takes into account every single expense. In order to get to a detailed budget, you need to get a preliminary family reunion budget sketched out.
How Do You Create A Preliminary Budget?
A preliminary budget should be created to give everyone an estimate of what the overall family reunion will cost. For example, if you haven’t selected a hotel for the family reunion, you can fill in estimated costs by calling around and getting group rates from hotels. Average the group hotel rates and use this number in your preliminary budget. Once the hotel selection committee has finalized on hotel, then you can enter the actual group rate for overnight rooms.
In your first family reunion planning meeting, ask that every other committee email you their timelines (Timelines are just a list of responsibilities and tasks with due dates) along with an initial estimate of expenses.
With the timelines and an initial estimate of expenses in hand, you can get a preliminary family reunion budget completed. The preliminary budget should not be too detailed and should just be an outline with estimates for individual categories of expenses.
While you can create your own category of expenses for the family reunion, you should create the preliminary budget based on the most common categories of expenses.
So What Are The Basic Categories Of Expenses?
Family reunions come in all sizes and shapes so no two are alike. The expenses for a family reunion of 25 people will be vastly different from one that has 150 attendees. We have included several categories below and you can customize the list by adding or removing them from your budget.
Communications & Marketing – this category includes any expense associated with contacting or relating information about the family reunion. Expenses such as phone bills, fax, postage, printing, and copying are also included in this category. Remember to include any costs associated with the design and production of family reunion registration packets and surveys. Marketing expenses include any costs associated with designing, creating, and maintaining a website or newsletter for your family reunion.
Hotel/Banquet House/Parks – family reunions can be as simple as a backyard barbecue in someone’s house or a picnic in the park (if you are having a family reunion in a Park, then make sure you verify the need for a permit. If so, remember to budget for it). Expenses related to a small family reunion are minimal and can be planned for very easily.
It’s when you get into booking banquet halls or blocking hotel rooms for your family reunion that things get complicated. If you are going to be using a banquet house, or will need to block hotel rooms for your family reunion then read this article.
Catering/Food -smaller reunions generally don’t require catering as most people bring one or two food items to the reunion itself. The only thing to budget for would be linens, paper goods, utensils and any rental items that you would need. you can estimate the costs of these items by visiting a party supply store.
For larger family reunions, this is probably the most fun category to plan for during the family reunion. It is also the committee with the largest number of volunteers during the planning process. The group that is responsible gets to try out food and desserts from various caterers (Normally, catering companies will provide a taste test at no extra charge. In some cases, they may have a nominal fee).
Larger family reunions, especially ones that are a weekend long, will require planning for several meals. Make sure to budget separately for any breakfasts, lunches, and dinner. You also have to remember to budget for snacks and any meals at restaurants.
One way to save money on catering is stay at hotels that have rooms with full kitchens. Another alternative is to rent several large vacation homes. Doing so will result in substantial savings for your family as a whole. You can reduce the cost per person by almost 30% by cooking the meals yourselves.
Activities -Make sure to budget for activities like bingo, mini golf, dunk tanks, and even a Broadway show in Manhattan, New York. get preliminary estimates from the activities committee and adjust the budget as actual expenses come through.
Transportation– there are several different types of transportation expenses that can be incurred for family reunion. They range from reimbursing people for gas or tolls when running errands to renting a bus for a group trip. Costs associated with transporting family members can be relatively minor for small reunions. If you are having a simple reunion in the Park, most of your family can carpool and save on formal transportation costs.
If you are having a larger family reunion that involves staying at a hotel, you may need to consider getting quotes from several vendors. Transportation from the airport to the hotel can generally be handled for free by the hotel itself. When you are negotiating group hotel rates, make sure to ask that they agree to provide airport pickup and drop-off for free.
For reunions that need to transport 25 or more people, you may need to rent either a school bus or a coach if you plan on transporting people to activities.
Professional Help – videographers, photographers, DJs, clowns, magicians fall into this category.
Trinkets– T-shirts, souvenirs, centerpieces
Miscellaneous – regardless of how well you plan, you will need to have a miscellaneous category because not everything falls neatly into one the categories above. Place 5% of your budget for miscellaneous expenses.
Each category above is its own entity and should be planned for separately in the family reunion budget. Each coommittee should provide a rough estimate of what expenses they expect to incur.
Once you have a preliminary budget, email it to the other committee members for approval and ask that they start to send you a detailed list of expenses they expect to incur before teh second family reunion planning committee meeting.
As you get a better idea of expenses from each committee, begin creating subcategories within the expense categories listed above. For example, the catering category can be further divided into Breakfasts, Dinners, And Lunches.
Here is what a sample family reunion budget looks like. You can download it and adjust it to your needs
As you being to input the details of all the expenses, don’t forget about the income portion.
What About The Income?
Once you have the expense side of the budget done, you still have to figure out the income side. Registration fees may be your sole source of income to fund the reunion. Family reunions, however, often rely on donations from well-to-do family members and fundraising events to help lower the cost of the reunion for everyone.
Put together a rough estimate of income by adding what you expect from fundraisers, T-Shirt sales and registration fees.
Figure Out Cost Per Person For The Family Reunion
Once you have a total estimated cost of the reunion (Make sure to take out what you expect from fundraisers, auctions, and donations), divide it by the number of attendees to get a cost per person for the family reunion. The resulting number is what each family needs to contribute per person.
Cost of Family Reunion $24,000
T-Shirt Sales, Auctions $1100
Net cost of reunion $18,600
Number of attendees 70
Total cost per person $266
Is the cost per person too high? Will families be able to afford to come to the reunion? If that’s the case then consider going back to the budget and looking to see what activities can be cut. When looking for things to take out of the budget, try to select non-core, non-essential items first. For example, removing bouquets from dinner tables during the banquet dinner would seem prudent rather than taking away a childrens activity.
One Piece Of Advice
Having budgeted before, we would have a small cushion (5-10%) built into the budget as well for the unexpected expenses that are bound to show up. While your goal should be to break even at the end of the reunion, any leftover funds can be utilized towards the next reunion.
At this point, you have a good idea of what the family reunion is going to cost as a whole and per person. Making sure that you plan every expense is the key to avoiding any last-minute budget mishaps. It is our hope that the steps above will help your family reunion plan, create, and maintain an accurate budget.
What should you do next?
Since you’re creating a budget, take a look at some great tips on planning a family reunion on a budget.