S.L. asks from Westborough, MA on June 28, 2009
Taking a Vacation with a Group of 30
In August my family and I are taking a vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. We are renting a 14 bedroom house that we will all be staying in. I was wondering if anyone has done this before and how you went about organizing things such as buying food and other products for the week. SOOO excited for this vaca - but we need to have a little organization beforehand!
1 mom found this helpful
J.D. answers from Boston on June 29, 2009
I've been to the Outer Banks several times. A bunch of friends would rent a huge house just as you're doing. It's so much fun!! First of all, food is pretty expensive down there so we would bring things like herbs and spices. If you're into Gluten Free or specific organic snacks or anything of that nature, I would bring those too. Our friends from PA would stop at the farmers market before they left and would get fresh fruits and vegetables. The quality was better and a lot cheaper than the markets down there. We didn't go with 30 people - more like 15, but the way we would do it, is that each mom would take a night to cook for everyone. Of course everyone pitches in to help. We only went out to dinner maybe once during the week. The dads were in charge of clean up duty every night. We would blast the Bee Gee's or something disco-ish and laugh as we watched our men dance around the kitchen while they cleaned. We would do up a food list when we arrived of what everyone wanted and kind of estimate (better to over estimate a little) what we'd spend. We'd have each family pitch in. Maybe $100 per family or so - depending on how many kids they had. Then a few of us would go food shopping. Whatever money was left over we'd keep in a basket or bowl on the counter for incidentals. That way if we ran out of bread or cream or something, one of us would just grab money from the "pot" and go get it. If we were getting low everyone would add more to the pot or if there was money left over at the end of the week, we'd divide it up evenly between each family. Well I hope this info helps you a little. Have a fabulous time!!
B.R. answers from Boston on June 29, 2009
You could assign or draw names for each meal so that one family plans and cooks a different meal....... Each family could be responsible for a days worth of meals. Not sure how long you are going or how many families. Have a great vacation
M.F. answers from Bangor on June 29, 2009
Hi S., We took a trip over Christmas with 19 people. We realized early on that we could NOT expect all of us to do the same thing all the time. So, we each purchased the essentials to our families needs (diapers and pull-ups along with whole milk were among ours) then we each took turns making breakfast one day and then everyone was on their own for lunch/dinners. Not the only answer I'm sure, but being flexible and not trying to herd your whole group to the same places at all the same times are going to be key!! Have so much fun!
R.B. answers from Providence on June 29, 2009
We did a vacation to Bermuda for 16 people and found the following to be helpful:
Assign some people to work together on menu planning ahead of time (obviously some things will change, but having a basic plan will help). For example, we didn't plan breakfast or lunches but chose dinners for every night. We shopped for as much ahead of time and packed dry goods in our suitcases because groceries in vacation places can be expensive. Assign a book keeper to collect all receipts who can split up the costs at the end of the trip and pay out the reimbursements.
We also made a clean up chart for after each meal, while we expected people to clean up after themselves when eating on their own, having some people responsible for making sure things weren't out of control before the next meal certainly helped keep peace and sanity.
Menu planning people should survey group for any allergies or food aversions.
Try and give each family an estimate of how much they may be contributing for food, but keep it as an estimate. At least $10-15 per person per day to start (for home made food). expect that food costs will be higher than you expect!
Assign a group to be the "fun" planners - who figure out where the activities are, how much things cost, what options are available, etc.
Hope these help!
R.R. answers from Boston on June 29, 2009
Hi S.-We are actually going to the same place but we go in two weeks. We are staying at a similar house and going with 6 adults and 3 kids so I will let you know what worked for us when we get back. I know we are planning on buying food when we get down there and we are all making lists together so we don't have tons of duplicates. I am sure I will have more advice once I get down there with my two year old. Good luck! We can't wait!
S.S. answers from Boston on June 29, 2009
We have a family reunion of my immediate siblings and their kids every 3-4 years with the numbers ranging from 15-25 people. We pick a different part of the country each time to explore new places--Oregon coast, Bass Harbor (Maine), Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota, etc. And we always pick a place where we can do our own cooking. It's a world of fun!
Everyone (family group) comes with one or two favorite recipes. We sit down after everyone has arrived and plan the suppertime menus. And a few people go to a local grocery store to pick up the goods. Since we always pick a place with a kitchen and dishes, we usually just need to buy napkins (plus paper towels and TP, depending on what's provided at the place we're staying) beyond the food. Every family chooses a clean-up day for which they are responsible.
For breakfasts, we plan for cereals, eggs, toast and pancakes. People prepare their own breakfasts on their own schedules. Some like to sleep late, others are early birds.
For lunches, we plan for sandwiches, fruit, fresh-cut veggies, or any leftovers from the evening before. Again, people are basically on their own for this meal as well. Some are out for hikes, some hang around, others aren't lunch people.
For suppers, one family is responsible for each evening meal. They cook and ask for help if needed. For one evening, we always plan at least one meal out somewhere. The families who go out are on their own for the cost.
We usually just keep track of the receipts and then divide them up with however many people are there. At this point, we all have full appetites, so we each count as one full person. If a family had small children, you might charge half for each child.
For the most part, we all have similar tastes, so we haven't gotten into haggles over undue extravagances. Some meals will cost more than others to make, but as long as everyone has agreed to the meal plans, you should be fine. We're not a particularly picky-eater crowd. We're game for just about everything!
One note--I would suggest that any alcohol is the responsibility of each family. Some drink more than others and it's not fair to have the non- or light-drinkers paying for that.
Those depend on the crowd. On our first reunion, my one brother drove some of us nuts with planning an excursion every single day. And when he said it was time to go, you better be ready. Others wanted to mainly hang out and just visit. So, as long as there is flexibility for people to participate if they want to, or not, then things should go smoothly.
If it's an unfamiliar place to people, it's always good to have maps or area brochures available for those who want to have an excursion. Our group tends to range from grade schoolers to 80s so we have a full range of ages, abilities, and interests.
Our group is very participatory regarding clean-up. We don't have to pull hair to get it done (men or women), so it's not a drag. But if there is a possibility some people will sit around, letting others do all the work, then clean-up can be assigned as well to share the work load.
In our group, some love to putter and tidy up. But we all in general are responsible for our own messes and helping others with theirs if the need arises.
Have fun! As long as everyone respects the wants and needs of each other, you should have a ball!
H.M. answers from Boston on June 30, 2009
Sounds like great fun!
What we've done is to have each family, couple, or single sign up for preparing certain meals on certain days. For example, my husband and I might do a dinner on Thursday and a breakfast on Sunday. Perhaps one family could prep and cook, and another clean up? Shopping is out of this world! We've either had a few people go ahead of time to get everything needed, or when we arrived, the ladies go into town and hit the stores!
HAVE A GREAT TIME!!!
P.S By the way, I had never heard of "head corn" until on one of these shopping deals with a couple of friends. We had almost finished the shopping, when Martha said she needed some head corn. I'm thinking, what is that? Never heard of it. So she goes to the freezer section, picks up the cheapest bag of frozen corn she can, and explains that the bag of frozen corn fits perfectly on her hubby's head for his headaches, thus "head corn." Groan......
D.B. answers from Boston on June 29, 2009
We used to do this - we set up a "kitty" of a certain amount per person - you could do a different amount for kids under 12 or whatever a reasonable age division seems. Over 12, they tend to eat a lot. We had a chart and everyone signed up for particular jobs - shopping, food prep, clean-up. Everyone took turns. We had a general agreement on the types of meals we all liked - and every meal had a meat and several vegetables/salads. You cannot get into an argument of "I didn't have dessert so I don't owe $2."
Have each family submit a list of simple meals and snacks they like, then assign someone the job of listing the things that are most in common. That person gets light duty once the vacation happens.
If you can bring some things from outside the vacation area, it will save costs. This is especially true for main groceries and beer/liquor. Of course, if people are flying in, you can forget that! Then you need a bookkeeper to sort out the details though. But do it first so that people then put into the kitty what is proportional. If the kitty runs low, then everyone needs a day's notice to kick in more per person.
If you do meals out, then each family is on their own. Try to grill a lot and picnic - it's easier.
We found that, if all the parameters were set ahead of time, it made the vacation very smooth with no arguments/resentments and no financial surprises.