On several occasions I have been away for a UK weekend break with large groups. Whether it be for a big birthday or a hen party, it’s always been with a mixture of family and friends and we always have a great time. These weekends always seem to follow a similar format and it works really well, so I’m jotting them down here in case its helpful to anyone who may be planning a group get together.
First off, you need to work out how much you and your guests are likely to want/be able to pay for this trip. Everyone has a different budget so try to get good value for money without compromising on quality. The more people you invite, the less the price per bed, so make sure you fill the house! Also consider food and drink. We usually all contribute to food and soft drinks before the trip and someone will do a ‘big shop’ and bring it with them. Generally people bring their own alcohol which isn’t included in the budget.
We usually hire a really large house or group of smaller houses in the same place. Not everyone will drive and some people will only be able to stay Friday and Saturday night (many properties are let for a min of 3 nights). Sometimes others won’t be able to set off until late on the Friday due to work commitments. Consider these things when deciding how far to travel to your weekend destination. Also, make sure people who are car sharing are all planning on staying for the same length of time so no man is left behind!
When deciding who to invite, make a list of those people whose attendance is the most important to you and check their availability. Once they’re on board, add in everyone else! Take deposits from everyone when booking so you aren’t footing the bill if someone drops out. Collecting money can be tricky, so plan in advance and give people the option to pay in instalments over a few months to make it more manageable for more people.
Some people get along together better than others. Make sure there isn’t anyone who doesn’t have a good friend within the group, besides you. If you are the organiser and host you may not have time to spend with someone who knows only you. If there’s someone who doesn’t know the rest of the party maybe ask them if they’d like to bring a mate too. The other logistical issue to consider is who will share bedrooms. It is unlikely that people will be able to have a room of their own so make a list of what bedrooms you have and who will go in with who. This isn’t always easy!
Finally, you need to decide what you’ll all do when you arrive! We usually have a quiet night on the Friday as everyone arrives. Saturday is The Day. A group activity during the day (clay pigeon shooting, trip to the local town, canoeing… just see what’s available locally) before a party in the evening. Sunday is recovery day! Some people may go home and others will just spend the day getting over their busy Saturday. The kind of properties we stay in are usually rural so Sunday is a great day for a leisurely walk to the local pub for a Sunday Lunch.
Speaking of lunch, here’s what we usually do for food:
Weetabix/cornflakes, milk, tea, coffee, sugar, bread rolls, sausage and egg. You’ll find that people assign themselves as cook/cleaner/organiser-of-people and everyone is always willing to help.Get someone on grill duty for the sausage and egg, someone on buttering duty and another taking orders. It will work well, I promise!
Saturday: lunch can be as big or small of a deal as you like. Sometimes we go out for the day and so eat out, sometimes we are doing an activity at the property or are back before lunch. If we’re eating at home then a buffet style meal gives everyone plenty of choice.
Sunday: there might be the option of a pub lunch as I mentioned before or if a few of you are up to it, perhaps just make your own roast dinner at the property (the kitchens are usually massive and gorgeous!).
Friday: if there is a local chippy you could pre-order and collect, or alternatively we have batch cooked lasagne or potato pie and taken it with us. Something easy that people can help themselves to. Make sure you know about people’s dietary requirements and factor them in.
Saturday: Party night can start with either a sophisticated sit-down meal or just a big pan of chilli or curry on the stove. Many properties offer a chef service if you feel like really splashing out, but there will more than likely be one or two within the group who love to be in the kitchen – so let them help!
Sunday: Depending on what you’ve already eaten, Sunday evening tends to be a quiet one for food. Some nibbles and sandwich ingredients for people to make their own should be sufficient.
So there you have it, my 5 points to consider when planning a weekend away for a group! Have you been away on a UK weekend break like this? Where did you get to and did you have a brilliant time?