Family reunions don’t have to be expensive. There are lots of money saving tips that will help stretch your budget without skimping on family-friendly entertaining activities, family event souvenirs, great food, and an exciting venue.
Treasure Hunt- Entertain young and old alike with a treasure hunt. There are free printable maps and icons to include in your own custom designed treasure map. If you’re crafty, you can mimic the aerial view of your venue. Make your own treasure by spray painting articles with metallic gold paint. Even plain rocks could turn into loot with this customization. Other ideas for cheap treasure are lip gloss, yo-yo’s, hard candy, glow bracelets, temporary pirate themed tattoos, bubble solution with creative wands, and sparklers..
T-shirt Piñata– Test this out with the lightest candy pieces you can find and use the strongest type of tape to adhere the candy pieces to a t-shirt. Make sure whoever is lucky enough to be the piñata has a strong constitution for being chased.
Hula Hoops- These aren’t just fun for kids. Simply having these really cheap toys at your family reunion is going to incite some laughs from the adults. Choose teams and make keeping the hula hoop off the ground a competitive game. You can also fill a kiddie pool with soapy water and use the hula hoops to make extreme sized bubbles for the kids!
Water Balloons- Start an epic family feud with water balloons. On a hot day relief from the heat along with good times will quickly ensue. Water balloon baseball with a plastic bat can entice the whole family to give it a swing.
Kites- A time honored family pastime that’s fun for people of all ages and skill levels. Even grandma can have a go at flying a kite once it’s been launched into the air.
Balloon Stomp– blow up balloons and tie it to one leg of participants. Players will have to try to pop others balloons while protecting their own. This game can get a little rowdy so it’s probably best if everyone is barefoot playing on grass turf.
A Regular Piñata– Great for young and old alike and it only requires the purchase of a piñata, a cheap rope and some candy to stuff it with.
Frozen T-shirt Contest– Prepare as many t-shirts as you can by soaking them in water, wringing them out, then folding and placing wax or plastic sheeting between layers. When contest time comes, hand out to players quickly and whoever gets their frozen t-shirt on first wins the game.
Family Member’s Home- Obviously the most affordable choice is for a family member to host the family reunion at their home but this may be problematic if you have a huge family. In that case consider the following options:
Local and State Parks- These are often very budget friendly options which depending on the size of your gathering may not even require a fee. Some activities that usually incur a permit fee are beer consumption, bouncy houses, and live music but these are typically a nominal cost in the scheme of the entire family reunion.
Group Rates at Hotels– Hotels typically have facilities for business and social gatherings so renting this combined with the business they’ll receive from your group staying at the hotel could warrant a very pretty bundled price for the event.
Airbnb- If you haven’t heard of this, it’s a fantastic option that can be cheaper than renting a venue and dealing with lodging. Private home owners offer their homes for rent. It might be a bit tricky to get the schedule you want so plan well in advance and be sure to evaluate the reviews of the renter. People than own vacation homes in desirable areas offset the price of maintaining the cost of the home. Oftentimes there will be exciting local attractions to attend.
Ski Lodge in Summer- Off season rates often apply for these types of facilities depending on the area. Plus a ski lodge is going to be located in the forest which offers up plenty of outdoor space for activities.
Beach House in Winter– A beach house rental during Fall or Winter is going to cost less than in the middle of summer. And the beach is always an attraction and offers a chance for awesome cookouts and volleyball tournaments.
Church Camps- Check with local churches to see if they have hostel style lodging for their summer youth camps, if your family reunion is planned off season, these facilities may be available for rent at a sweet price.
Camping- Of course! Camping offers a cheap venue that doesn’t require a lot of investment and is usually thrilling to the kids! Think of boating, fishing, and hiking opportunities. Local state parks typically have additional facilities like toilets and showers. Food preparation might be a little trickier with camping but simple often means cheaper. If family members don’t own tents and aren’t keen on making the investment, camping tents and gear are actually available for rent on sites like Outdoors Geek. If you have attendees that can’t comfortably sleep on the ground they even have cots for rent!
If you’re making a menu for the family reunion or giving suggestions to family members that will contribute, keep seasonality in mind. Vegetables that are in season are much more likely to be on sale or lower priced than off season veggies. Plus, in season vegetables and fruit are likely to be much tastier than the alternative. Shop local Farmer’s Markets too.
Comparison shop more expensive ingredients like meat by checking grocery websites. When it comes to a large purchase, 30 cents a pound can add up to a huge difference. If you have a very large family reunion scheduled, you may even consider contacting a local farmer to purchase meat in bulk by literally purchasing a side of beef or pork. Do your research on this method because if you purchase too little or don’t know the difference between the weighing methods and price per pound, you might end up paying more, (but still healthy since these are naturally fed and raised beasts.)
If you’re serving buffet style anything, keep the more costly choices at the end of the buffet. Family members will normally load their plates up as they go along and will see they have plenty on their plate before hitting the expensive foods.
Keep your alcohol to just beer and wine. You can take advantage of sales for these beverages months in advance so keep your eye out for Bev Mo types of offers where you can buy one and get the 2nd for 5 cents. You can stretch wine by making your own sangria which is also delicious and will slow down family members from becoming intoxicated.
Make a Fancy Soda Bar– Allow your family reunion guests to make their flavor of soda. You can often find Torani flavored syrups for cheap at discount stores like Bealls Outlet, SteinMart, Ross, TJ Maxx, and even dollar stores. Buy seltzer water, crazy shaped straws, and provide sliced fruits like lime, lemon, watermelon, pineapple and berries. Don’t forget the whipped cream. The line for this attraction is going to be busy all day.
Corn on the Cob– Buy in bushels, soak in the early morning and put on the barbecue grill with husk intact. The corn should be ready for consumption when the silk is scorched and the husks are dry. Salt and butter are optional but hardly needed with this tasty cooking method.
Carb it Up– People love comfort foods and are not going to be as concerned with their waistline at a festive occasion like a family reunion. Serve less expensive dishes like macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken legs, and bean and rice dishes.
Taco Bar- This idea is great for saving money and taking care of everyone’s dietary needs such as gluten-free corn tortillas and vegetarian and low cal seekers with beans and accoutrements. Plus the meat is easy to prepare ahead of time in a slow cooker. You can stretch the meat by adding beans to the pot. Buying cheese and shredding it yourself is a cheaper alternative than preshredded. You can even put the older kids to work with this task and they’ll feel like their contributing. Dry rice and beans are about as cheap as it comes and are perfect accompaniments to this idea. By adding a love of vegetable toppings to the bar, people will be less likely to overstuff their tacos with meat because they’ll want room to add all the extras.
There are lots of cheap options for family reunion souvenirs but consider mementos people will actually appreciate and find useful.
T-shirts– This is one of the most popular options for family reunion souvenirs because they are typically cheap when ordered in bulk and they can be used during the reunion to foster family unity. To keep costs down, a basic white t-shirt is almost always going to be the lowest priced choice. A one color design printed on one side of the t-shirt likewise is going to keep the price affordable. What you may not know is using all the available space on one side of the t-shirt does not cost more. You can include text and art to utilize the entire printing canvas without incurring additional ink costs. Specific colors do not cost more either unless it’s glow in the dark or some other kind of specialty ink color so go bold with your color choice. We offer some of the best family reunion t-shirt design templates online so you don’t even have to worry about the outcome looking professional and high quality. All of this but without the high price tag.
Custom Family Reunion Tote Bags- How many times have you wished you had an extra reusable bag to tote belongings around in? Not only is this a practical family reunion party favor, but it’s cheap to have these personalized.
Aprons– If your family loves to cook, having a family design emblazoned on a custom apron will thrill your event attendees.
Caps, Hats, and Visors– Some people never leave the house without their headgear so make a design that keeps the family spirit alive all year round.
Here are a few extra tips that aren’t necessarily cheap for your family reunion but could be vital. Prepare a first aid kit that includes bandages, antacids, aspirin, sunscreen, lip balm, feminine hygiene products, tweezers, and antibiotic ointment. Also bring a fire extinguisher, flashlight, and make a list of local emergency numbers as well as on call transportation contacts for anyone that has too much to drink.
With this cheap and easy family reunion tutorial, you should be well on your way to throwing the best frugal family reunion possible without sacrificing on the stuff that makes great memories. Good luck!