Too many invitations to class reunions get tossed to the side or recycled with the junk mail. Sometimes it’s because alumni just don’t have the time to fly across the country or drive upstate in order to attend. But bland invitations and mediocre entertainment don’t make for a very promising event.
Want to throw a memorable class reunion? A real bash that will both revive old memories and help everyone create brand new ones? You just need to follow these 10 golden rules for the ultimate class reunion.
1. Don’t go it alone
You may be the king or queen of planning, but no amount of organization is going to allow you to take on a task like this solo. The first step is to recruit committee members, so grab your list and find a few high school acquaintances you can rely on. Everyone should have a job they can focus on, and creating a group email chain or text chat can help you all coordinate.
2. Pick a dynamic venue
Money is going to be the main consideration here, but finding a good location for your reunion is a must. If an alumnus gets an invitation for a reunion held at a bland venue, he or she isn’t going to feel compelled to show up.
Luckily, you’ve got a potentially cheap, fun and nostalgic venue that’s ideal for the event: your school itself. Head to your alma mater, ask about dates and explain your class reunion ideas. Show them your design for the class reunion T-shirts with the school name in big, proud font, and they’re sure to be won over.
3. Be efficient at finding classmates
While you’d think that booking a band, setting up catering, finding an affordable open bar or other planning logistics would be the most time consuming parts of spearheading a reunion, it’s more likely than not going to be ing alumni. Facebook will take the brunt of the legwork out of the project, but for those classmates who aren’t on social media you’ll need other tactics. Class Reunion Planning has some tips that will come in handy, from running local newspaper ads to Google and LinkedIn.
4. Be effective with your invitations
Here’s the moment of truth – does your invitation get tossed in the trash or pinned to the fridge? Start by using some of your budget to impress alumni from the get-go. Consider including a class reunion magnet with an iconic image and “SAVE THE DATE!” message on it. Don’t be afraid to get clever and tongue-in-cheek either – consider ordering a batch of custom bottle openers with the class reunion date printed on them!
5. Build buzz
Don’t settle for whatever RSVPs you actually get. Continue to build buzz around the event. Get on Facebook, start a Twitter account, call people on the phone to reconnect ahead of time. One of the best things you can do is create a website or a blog for the event. Gather all the old photos you have to post on the site and solicit old classmates for more snapshots. This trip down memory lane could be enough to persuade a few alumni sitting on the fence to come.
6. Don’t stop with alumni alone
Teachers, coaches, guidance counselors and other staff were all integral parts of your time in school. Often, seeing them can be just as exciting and rewarding as catching up with your classmates. Include them in your invitation list as well and let them know how much their presence will mean.
7. Pick a theme
While themes aren’t 100 percent necessary, they can go a long way toward unifying your class reunion ideas. Besides, themed events are a school tradition, from college parties to high school prom night. Whatever theme you do settle on, make sure it’s trimmed with nostalgia – and don’t let it impact the dress code. Save the costume party for another time and tell everyone to come dressed as they would for dinner out with friends: dressy casual.
8. Choose your music carefully
Live music and DJs both have their advantages. On the one hand, a DJ will have a back catalog of classic tunes from your and your fellow alumni’s days at school. These nostalgic hits are sure to bring back memories. On the other hand, live music has an energy and excitement you rarely get from turntables and speakers.
The best option might be a mix of the two, especially if any alumni have or had high school bands themselves – they can make it a true reunion tour!
9. Go big with decorations
Blow up old photos, order custom balloons, string reunion banners over tables and doors, put out old yearbooks or school papers, and design nostalgic centerpieces using old CDs and cassettes or other memorabilia from your years together.
10. Make new memories
Of course, by the end of the night, you don’t want to just have reveled in old times. The slideshow is a must and a new set of superlatives is a blast, as are reunion giveaways or scrapbooks. But the goal of the night should be creating new memories as well. Encourage alumni to take photos, and give them a blog address or Twitter hashtag so they can share them all together. Encourage everyone to exchange phone numbers and email addresses. Convince those Facebook-phobic folks how fun social media can be! And don’t forget to provide a fun and memorable souvenir for everyone to take home. Designer mugs or class reunion baseball caps are great options, but the best may be a simple custom picture frame. They can put their favorite snapshots on their shelves, and this way they’ll have something to be nostalgic about at the next reunion.
Class reunion planning is a detail-oriented job, but by using these ten golden rules as a framework, you’ll be on your way to a successful event. Go get working on a night none of you will ever forget!