Anniversary Party Ideas
Family Reunion on a Shoestring
Throwing a Great Party for Less
My in-laws will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary the day after Christmas this year. Three of their five children will be travelling more than a thousand miles with their families, so they already have significant expenses. We want to find a place within a couple of hours of their rural location where we can all stay (15 to 25 people) together, fix our own food, and have beds to sleep in, without spending a huge amount of money. Any creative ideas would be appreciated.
Is there a church camp or youth camp near by that might have all year facilities? If there is, they might rent you the space for a few days for a very reasonable price. These types of organizations are sometimes eager for whatever off-season support they can get.
Sara in Wisconsin
You didn't mention where you are located, but I recommend checking to see if there is a youth hostel nearby. Try Hostelling International at hiayh.com.
A step up from camping, most hostels offer dorm style beds as well as family and/or private rooms for less than half the price of hotels. Most do not have televisions or phones, but almost all have fully equipped kitchens where you can fix your own meals and merely ask that you clean up after yourself. Some of them are open all day, but some of them do close during daytime hours and/or have curfews to save on staffing costs.
The best thing about hostelling is that you meet people from all over the world. On our last vacation we had breakfast with people from China, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Italy, and a Tibetan Monk. Hostelling has allowed me to take vacations that I could not have afforded otherwise. Each hostel is unique, some better than others, though if you're looking for luxury accommodations, it's probably not for you. But if you're looking for an economical yet clean place to sleep and a fun experience, especially with kids, it's definitely worth looking into.
I would like to suggest to you that you take a look on vrbo.com (vacation rentals by owner) or cyberrentals.com. I have had much success using VRBO when I take a vacation for a week. However, most homes can be rented for a couple of days as well. Without knowing where or how long you need accommodations, I hope this might be helpful to you.
Many Catholic abbeys, etc. are not being used by the church any more. Check with the diocese in your area and see if one is available. Many rent out their facilities (dormitory-type rooms, living areas with comfortable couches and chairs, large kitchens, etc.) at bargain rates for weddings, anniversaries, and family gatherings. We attended a small convention at one that was heavenly. It had beautiful grounds and gardens, catered meals (ask), and a quiet setting.
Melody in WA
Some state parks have group lodges with sleeping and cooking accommodations for large groups at reasonable prices, and some have discounted prices during the winter months. The price divided among several families should be affordable.
Dianne in TN
For my family reunion, my aunt booked us a week at the United Church Camp. It was great. We slept in bunk beds, but they did have an industrial-sized kitchen and a lot of toilets and shower stalls. There was one shower stall for someone in a wheel chair. We were responsible for garbage removal and clean up before we left. 80 people came from British Columbia to Quebec. The entire cost, including food, was $50 for the week with children under 5 free. So contact churches and see if they have a "camp." We all had a fabulous time.
I know that around the holiday times, and during the summer, some of the schools and universities offer their dorms at a cut rate price. I'm not sure if they have kitchens available, but they do have low-cost cafeterias. Hopefully, there will be one near you.
National or State Park Services sometimes have facilities that can accommodate small groups. Cabins are often reasonably priced, especially in the off season. You may need to bring linens and some kitchen gear, so be sure to ask for details. Larger privately-owned campgrounds may also have cabins or dormitory-style facilities available.
Some military installations have hotel or cabin facilities that are available for rent. You need to be a member of the military or a federal civil service employee to make a reservation (you or someone in your group needs to show a government ID), but guests do not need to be. Generally, rates are extremely reasonable.
Contact a local Chamber of Commerce for additional ideas. While vacationing in Maine several years ago, we stopped at a Chamber of Commerce for area brochures and learned that a waterfront condo rented condos even for short periods (we were only in the area for two days). We stayed in a beautifully decorated condo steps away from the beach and for half the price of a hotel room.
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