Planning a Family Reunion: How To Get Started

Maybe you are thinking about how to plan a family reunion. Here are some quick guidelines you might find useful for getting started. Keep in mind that Pickwick Travel can provide any assistance you might need in setting up or organizing a family reunion vacation or any other type of group travel.
Set up committees

Don’t go it alone. Share the work. Everyone has different skills and experience to bring to the planning. More than likely, you’ll have to do this long-distance with emails and phone calls.

Some of the different ways you can divide up the organizing—
• Food/Catering Committee
• Communications–Compile a list of invites and send invitations. Keep guests in the loop with updates. (See below: “Creating a family information web site.”)
• Establish one person to collect money and keep track of the finances.
• Activities, decorating, putting together a memorabilia table.
• Committee to organize the set-up and clean-up.

Create a timeline & payment schedule

The first meeting should be to determine what kind of get-together you want to have– a one-day party, a weekend, a family vacation week, or a cruise. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of deposits and final payments.

Set up a budget
Remember to add up all the little things. You may want to pad it just a little for unexpected expenses.

Things to budget for–
Venue rental * Banquet/Catering cost * Decorations * Invitations and postage * Entertainment * Family website * Welcome packets and award gifts.

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After your planning committee is formed and dates and location are established, the next step is to fill in the details.

If you are going to block hotel room space at a group discount, be careful–some hotels require a contract with an attrition clause.
• Negotiating guest rooms sometimes involves an attrition clause, which basically guarantees the hotel that you will use a certain percentage of the guest rooms contracted or blocked. Most standard hotel contracts have an 80 percent attrition rate, where the group is financially responsible for eight out of 10 guest rooms blocked even if they aren’t reserved. It’s vital to go into a contract negotiation knowing your group. If you overestimate the number of rooms needed, you may find yourself receiving a hefty attrition bill at the end.

Create a family information website.
There are several internet companies that let you create a small simple website for events. These websites are reasonable–around $10/month. You can also set-up a Facebook page.
Catering/Banquet room
Buffet style is best and is usually the most affordable for a group. When getting a quote, be sure to get beverage (non-alcoholic) and gratuities included in the per-person cost. If you are planning far in advance, touch base with the restaurant manager or sales director periodically to ensure they are still in their positions, and confirm that your group reservation is still on the schedule. At least a week before event call to give them your final head count.

Reinventing Family Reunions

Have you been on a cruise lately and seen all the groups of families (wearing matching t-shirts) and having a fantastic time together? They’re on to something fun. Kids spending a week playing with cousins and sharing quality time with grandparents. A week on a cruise ship with family, no hurry, no worry, and plenty of time to just … hang out together.
I personally have immediate family in six different states. Needless to say, my husband and I spend a lot of time traveling over the course of a year to visit family. And I know of many others who are doing the same thing.
Families today seem to be more spread out across the nation. It is becoming rare that kids grow up living in the same area as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
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                                 This is why Pickwick Travel is branching out— and focusing more on family reunion vacations.

                   We all try to take vacations periodically anyway. So why not every year or two get together for a multi-generational family vacation?  it’s the new family reunion! Many of us may have grown up attending Saturday afternoon family reunions in a park or church basement with a pot-luck dinner. They were fun, lasted one day, but only the people who lived nearby attended.

Why not reinvent family reunions, make them young and fun?! Families are more active and grandparents are more youthful than ever before. Happiness for all is centering family time around camping, boating, national parks, and beaches.

There is always something to celebrate—

  • New babies
  • New spouses
  • Graduations
  • Anniversaries

Pickwick Travel invites you to visit our newest family member—Branching Together, which specializes in family reunion vacations.  www.branchingtogether.com