ORGANIZING A REUNION?
Reunions are a wonderful opportunity to renew friendships, acquaintances and long lost loves. Many grad classes plan reunions every 5 years; others are happy to see each other every decade, and then there are the classes that only get together every 20 - 25 years. It is all up to you and your class - the grads - to help plan and organize the best possible reunions for yourself and your classmates.
It takes a great deal of time, energy and planning to put together a great reunion. Over the next few months we will be adding suggestions for making your reunions a great one.
So you've been elected organizer of your class reunion. It sure is different from homecoming queen or king, ain't it? It's time to celebrate life's successes and renew old acquaintances. It's also time to start losing the pounds, covering the grey and planning a reunion to remember.
1. Form a committee. First try contacting the student council from your year. Then find local classmates. Assign one person to keep track of the master list and update it as responses come in. Delegate other tasks such as securing the site, maintaining the budget, invitations, food, music and decorations to other committee members.
2. Develop a detailed budget. You'll need to figure out how much each attendee will pay in order to cover the venue deposit, printing and mailing of invitations, and long-distance phone calls.
3. Start sleuthing. Call your high school to ask if it has contact information. Use Web sites like Classmates.com, Reunion.com and Switchboard.com. Send out an SOS e-mail message asking for the whereabouts of missing classmates. Check phone books on the Web or in libraries. Call local alumni from other classes. Check your yearbook for people's full and maiden names.
4. Shop for a venue. Find out if a favourite hangout from back then is still operating. Contact clubs or banquet halls. Ask what's included and shop around. Inquire about discounted rates at hotels for families of alumni attending the reunion.
5. Select a date and start publicizing the reunion as early as possible so attendees can make travel plans. Holiday weekends and summer reunions allow alumni to plan their vacations accordingly.
6. Decide how the event will be structured. It can be anything from a one-night banquet to a weekend-long event. Some classes host an informal cocktail party on Friday night, a sit-down dinner on Saturday night, and a Sunday family barbecue. Some grad classes go for formal sit down dinners ..others are happy with a pub night. You and your committee get to decide - just remember - the more formal the greater the expense.
7. Set up an account at a bank or credit union with two people required to sign for transactions. If you have a large number of attendees or an expensive reunion paid for in installments-- a cruise, for instance--this is a must. Inform the bank that this is a non-profit account and you may not be charged any banking fees. Better yet, find out if someone from your grad class works at a bank and let them organize the accounts.
8. Decide to go with a band or a DJ, then shop around and book one. If you recall a good high-school band, ask those alumni if they'll play a couple of tunes.
9. Ask classmates for information about their lives (including contact information). Compile it all into a booklet and mail this out to alumni before the reunion so they can be ready to pounce on old friends as soon as they walk through the door. But remember to build the cost of any type of "Reunion Annual" into the cost of the reunion or you might be short of funds. Also account for the cost of mailing an annual.
Invite a mystery guest-- maybe a student who became a celebrity, or a stand-out teacher.
Hire a professional reunion planner who can take your event every step of the way, from locating classmates to contacting local media to hiring the band. Contact the National Association of Reunion Managers at Reunions.com.
Make the invitations fun, incorporating your school mascot or prom song. (Still know all the lyrics to Hotel California, don't you?)
Create collages from yearbook photos and newspaper articles (on microfiche at your library) to transport classmates back in time.
Be prepared to recognize your friends' parents. That's right--your friends may now look exactly like their parents did when you were in high school. Don't laugh, pal - you're in the same boat.