It’s tradition that the senior class officers bear the responsibility of planning class reunions when the time comes. For me, that time came a few years ago.
While the class president would normally spearhead the class reunion planning efforts, ours was living in Michigan. The class reunion needed to be held in Texas, where we graduated, so it would have been extremely difficult for him to handle the class reunion planning.
That’s where I came in. I had been the senior class vice president, I still lived in Texas, and I didn’t have children yet. Full-time job aside, I had the spare time and the willingness to take on the planning of our class reunion.
Let me just pause here to warn you that class reunion planning is not for the meek. It’s not for the weary. It’s time-consuming, and it’s aggravating at times. It took more than a year of researching how to plan a class reunion, locating classmates, convincing some stubborn classmates to attend and making preparations to pull off the event.
But it was worth it. You feel 16 again when you rediscover classmates you haven’t spoken to in years. And when the big event finally comes, it’s extremely satisfying to know that you helped bring everyone together again to relive some great memories and make new ones.
I consider our class reunion a success. About 70 classmates (plus their significant others) out of a class of 200 attended. That’s about 35 percent. From what I’ve read, a class reunion is successful if 40 percent of classmates attend. But I’m not sure how you can truly gauge the success of this kind of event by the numbers. What’s most important is that the people who participate have a fun and memorable time. We achieved that.
In this article and in a series of others in which I hope to go into more detail about various aspects of class reunion planning, I’d like to share the knowledge and experience I gained while planning my class reunion. Let’s get started with the first steps you should take to plan your class reunion.
While you must have a leader to coordinate the class reunion planning efforts and keep everything organized, one person simply can’t do everything. I was fortunate that I had kept in touch with a few terrific classmates who were eager to pitch in.
My initial goal was to get a classmate to volunteer for each aspect of the class reunion planning: classmate finding, decorations, promotions, door prizes, fund raising, music/entertainment, catering, etc. You didn’t think there was that much to a class reunion, did you? Yes, it’s similar to planning a wedding, except it’s harder. This is because, unless you want to pay for it all yourself, you have to ask your classmates to pay to attend. So you definitely need some help.
Don’t worry if you can’t get one person assigned to each of these areas. I ended up handling several of them myself, and I didn’t faint from exhaustion. But don’t try to do it all, either. Sometimes that can be easier than having to rely on others, but unless you want to end up resenting this class reunion, get at least two or three other people you can count on to coordinate areas that might not be your specialty.
Matching jobs with people’s talents or interests is always a good idea. People will work much harder doing something they enjoy, especially when they aren’t getting paid for it. And when they’re happy with their jobs, you’re less likely to see those jobs fall back into your lap.
Now, can you think of some reliable classmates who might fit the bill? Great. Send them e-mails, post comments on their MySpace pages or give them old-fashioned phone calls and ask them to join the class reunion planning committee. Then ask them to do some brainstorming about the kind of class reunion they would like to host and to conduct a little research on the costs associated with their assigned areas, and find out when they can meet.
Hold a Planning Meeting
Getting class reunion planning committee members together in one place at one time might seem impossible, but it’s important to try to do so at least this once. You can get by with e-mails and phone calls during the rest of the class reunion planning, but I strongly recommend that this first meeting be face to face. You want everyone focused on the topic at hand, and you want to make some big decisions. If you try to do that via e-mail, you’ll never get anything accomplished.
What will you discuss at this meeting? Take a look at the following agenda. It was the one I used to conduct our planning meeting. Perhaps you can use it as a model for your own class reunion planning meeting agenda.
Proposed Meeting Agenda
I. Events, Locations, Times
A. Decide on the number and kinds of events we want to have.
1. Discuss possibility of icebreaker event, picnic, sporting event, etc.
2. Discuss reunion dinner/dance.
B. Decide on locations of events.
1. Discuss cost, availability, features of each proposed location.
2. I learned in high school that you need a 2 when you have a 1, so here it is.
C. Decide on dates and times of all events, if possible.
II. Event Specifics
A. For each event, discuss everyone’s ideas and what point people have found out about the following:
1. To theme or not to theme the event (“Under the Sea,” etc.)
2. Food and alcohol options
3. Decoration ideas (including memorabilia display)
4. Entertainment ideas (music plus any kind of program we might want to have)
5. Door prizes, souvenirs, other activities
III. Preliminary Budget
A. Discuss starting a bank account: where, when, under what organization name, etc.?
B. Choose someone to be in charge of keeping a record of those who have paid for their tickets, depositing the money, writing checks from the account for expenses, etc.
C. Make list of expected expenses, including:
1. Location rental(s)
a. Dance floor
c. Other related costs
2. Food and alcohol
a. Cost of actual meals/drinks
b. Serving staff
c. Utensils, plates, napkins, glassware
d. Tax and tips
3. Tables, chairs, linens, etc.
a. Band or DJ
b. Audiovisual equipment, if not provided by facility
a. Paper supplies
c. Other decorations?
a. Memory book
b. Cups, pencils, shirts, etc.
9. Door prizes
10. Web site
11. Other stuff we think of at the meeting
D. Discuss ticket sales
1. Set ticket price, if possible, based on above expense information.
2. Decide on amount to collect from committee members and collect for preliminary expenses, including deposits on facilities, entertainment, first mailout.
3. Discuss ticket sales options.
a. Sell for each individual event or one for all events?
b. Reduced ticket price for paying before a certain deadline?
c. Accept partial ticket payments?
4. Discuss other ideas for fund raising, if needed.
IV. Make initial reunion promotion plan.
A. Discuss logo, if it’s ready. (We had a classmate who is a graphic designer create one.)
B. Discuss Web site, suggestions for content, etc.
C. Discuss proposed mailing schedule.
D. Discuss content of first mailing.
V. Set next meeting date.
VI. Cruise Sonic. (or whatever you did in high school for fun)
Following your class reunion planning meeting, in which you should try to come to an agreement on at least the location and date of your class reunion, you should begin gathering contact information for your classmates. Click here for more in-depth articles on various aspects of class reunion planning, including how to begin searching for classmates.