High school reunions provide a wonderful opportunity for old friends and classmates to remember good times from the past and create new memories. Even so, these reunions don't happen by themselves, so planners need all the advice and ideas they can get to put together an event that's worthy of everyone who attends.
Organizing a Reunion
Planning a large scale event such as a reunion requires time and organization. The following tips will help you get the ball rolling, but be prepared to improvise as needed in order to make the event happen.
Choosing a Date
It is wise to start planning for a reunion at least two years in advance. This gives classmates time to plan for the event and also save money to cover any travel expenses that may be involved. Any time of year is appropriate for a reunion, but some times might be better than others. Many people travel during the summer months, so classmates who live far away may be able to attend if they plan their family vacation around the reunion. Homecoming is also a perfect time to host a reunion. Most schools plan their homecoming events in either September or October. On the other hand, it's probably best if you avoid holding the reunion too close to major holidays.
Choosing a Location
The high school gym or cafeteria is usually a large enough space to hold a high school reunion, and classmates enjoy the opportunity to return to their old stomping grounds. A fancier affair might be held in a hotel ballroom or another classy venue. Be sure to choose a space that will be large enough for all guests. Keep in mind that most alumni will want to invite a guest to go along with them.
Funding the Reunion
Paying for the reunion may involve some generosity from the planners, as well as former classmates who wish to make a donation for the cause. Ask members of the planning committee if they could contribute a set amount to help with up-front expenses. Sell tickets to the event well in-advance to help fund the rest. You may even be able to repay the money that was initially donated to help start the process.
Finding and Inviting Classmates
Ideally, you will be able to contact your entire class to invite them to the reunion you are planning. Contact the school to see if you can obtain a list of the names and contact information for all graduates from your graduation year. Use Facebook and other social networking sites to fill in any gaps in your student list. You can be unconventional with your invitations, using today's popular invite options such as Evite, and event bulletins through Facebook and other social networking sites to help spread the word.
Getting Classmates Involved
Assemble a planning committee to make decisions concerning the event. Inviting a wide assortment of former students to be on the committee will help generate great ideas and a reunion everyone will love.
It is helpful to stay organized by putting emails from graduates into a specific folder. You should also keep a calendar of important dates related to the reunion, such as the dates to reserve the hall, pay the deposit, and confirm the catering.
Choosing a theme for the reunion offers a great way to help tie together all elements of the party from the invitations to party favors
Pay homage to your alma mater at your reunion.
Decorations: Cover venue walls and tables with images of the school mascot and logo. Use balloons, streamers, flowers, tablecloths and plates in school colors. You may also want to have a large vinyl banner made with the school logo and the year of the graduating class on it.
Activities: Show highlights of school football games, pep rallies, or plays on a large screen if this footage is available. Also ask the current cheerleading squad to lead the attendees in some of the school cheers from past and present.
Music: In addition to playing a selection of popular dance music, invite the school's choir to lead the group in singing the school song.
Invitations: Include the school mascot and colors on the invitations. If your budget allows, order professionally engraved invitations. If you are low on money, create a digital file using the image of the school mascot and email the invitations to the guest list. Just keep in mind that some classmates may still need a paper invitation.
Reminisce with a scrapbook theme.
- Decorations: Feature over-sized scrapbook pages as décor, including "then and now" photos of as many reunion attendees as possible. Create a photo booth area that features school colors and the mascot.
- Activities: Create a trivia came comparing common things from your high school era and now, such as gas prices, clothing and musical trends. Put cameras on tables and invite guests to use the cameras to take candid photos of each other throughout the night. Use these photos to create scrapbook pages for the next reunion.
- Music: Play tunes from your high school years and current favorites.
- Invitations: Create an invitation out of colored scrapbook paper. Use embellishments and photographs from the yearbook to complete the look. Ask classmates to join the committee and help create the invitations so they have a truly homemade scrapbook feel.
Use the year of your graduation as the inspiration for a reunion party. Expand the theme to include the entire decade. For instance, if you graduated in 1996, feature the celebrities and culture of the era as inspiration for decorations and activities.
- Decorations: Research the most popular celebrities, songs, fashion trends, television shows, and movies from the decade of your graduation. Blow up poster-size photos of some of these items, and hang them on the walls of the party venue. You may also want to have some of the items on the display on the tables.
- Activities: Also consider creating trivia questions regarding popular television shows and movies from the graduation year. You could even have computer monitors and a large screen television play movies and shows from the era
- Music: Make a playlist of all the most popular music of the era. Include both fast-paced dance tunes and slower songs for more intimate dances. .
- Invitations: Use the year of your graduation as the theme for your invitation. Feature the year as the prominent image on the front, and have the reunion details on the inside of the invitation.
For monumental reunions, such as a 50th, consider a Hawaiian theme. A laid-back, leisurely atmosphere will create a low-key ambiance in which your classmates can relax and reflect upon days gone by while they enjoy a few island-themed beverages.
- Decorations: Fill the party venue with fake palm trees, plenty of raffia, and exotic flowers. Use sunset and beach posters, as well as tiki torches enhance your theme. Consider decorating the tables with grass skirting and grouping shells together as centerpieces.
- Activities: Hire a hula dancer to entertain guests and perhaps give a lesson to guests who are interested.
- Music: Listen to Hawaiian music, but break it up a bit with other music selections so it doesn't become monotonous.
- Invitations: Use images of sunsets and beaches for the cover of the invitation.
Reunions really don't need to include a packed schedule because most graduates typically want to catch-up with old friends. It is a good idea to have a few ice breakers on hand to help get things started and make spouses feel more comfortable.
Memory Lane Slideshow
Looking back can be entertaining. Show guests a slideshow to spark fond memories.
- Images from high school: Include senior pictures, prom photos and shots from sporting events from the high school years.
- Pop culture: You may also want to include photos of fashion trends, movie and television stars, and popular foods from the era.
- Where are they now?: Create a slideshow of photos of classmates who are not able to attend the reunion. You can even play a taped message from them while the photos are displayed.
- Memorial: Honor classmates who have passed away by displaying their photos during the reunion.
Test classmates with fun trivia on a variety of topics. Draw upon high school and present day experiences to create your questions.
- Era-related trivia: Create a trivia game that is specific to the high school years and time period. The questions might be about popular songs and musical artists, historical events, and other cultural items of the era.
- Who am I?: Send out a questionnaire to classmates prior to the reunion perhaps with the invitations. Ask them questions about their favorite foods, vacation spots and any interesting things about their lives. At the reunion, you can ask everyone to match their classmates with the answers they gave.
Have your own award ceremony and give awards for various accomplishments. Everyone loves to get a prize or an award, so try to make sure that each guests receives some type of award at the reunion.
Some possible awards include:
- Married the longest
- Person who traveled the farthest to attend
- Person who traveled the shortest distance
- Classmate with the most unusual job
- Person who was married the most recently
Avoid awards that might hurt someone's feelings such as the man with the most hair or the woman who changed the least.
Food and Refreshments
You'll want to make sure your reunion features plenty of food and drink choices, so attendees will stick around and party the night away. Since a high school reunion is all about mingling, finger foods and small snacks often work best.
Some refreshment ideas include;
- Skewered tortellini: This type of finger food is great for a party because it provides a small sampling of a "main course" without having to invest a lot of time or money to prepare it.
Simple spinach dip: Most people enjoy this appetizer. Serve it with tortilla chips and raw veggies.
Party drinks: Be prepared to serve a variety of drinks. Also remember to provide something yummy for guests who may not want an alcoholic beverage.
Shaved beef on toast: It's wise to include meats into your menu because this will be popular with many guests.
Fruit and whipped cream: A simple dessert of fresh fruits like strawberries topped with whipped cream is likely to please a wide range of people, and it's easy to prepare.
Pick a buffet spread that matches your theme, or maybe feature foods and non-alcoholic beverages that were especially popular when you were in high school. Don't forget to have some vegetarian offerings as well for guests who don't eat meat.
A Reunion to Remember
There are a lot of details that go into planning a reunion, but with enthusiasm, planning and cooperation, it can be accomplished. Be sure to start early and stay organized throughout the process to assure that it is a special and memorable event for everyone..