It was a moment of weakness.
You were having lunch with your special group of high school friends. The five of you have stayed close ever since senior year, almost three decades ago, and you try to catch up over a meal as frequently as you can (which seems to be a lot less often as your lives get busier!).
The conversation had turned to high school (understandable, given your common history). And someone mentioned how long it had been since graduation. You all realized that it was almost time for another reunion (30 years!).
Then a couple of your friends expressed the opinion that the 20-year gathering had been a bit of a disappointment. Someone said, “The same people were in charge again, and they never reach out to enough people.”
You agreed but also said that it shouldn’t be that hard to make the next event better.
Your closest friend in the group fixed you with a look that said, “You can do this!” You immediately threw one back that said, “Are you crazy?!”
Yet, somehow, in the next moment, you found yourself blurting out, “Why don’t WE plan the 30-year reunion?”
After a lengthy discussion, in which the pros and cons were discussed, everyone agreed and promised to help as much as possible.
And – big surprise — you were unanimously nominated to lead the planning.
In a situation like this, what’s the best course of action? There are a lot of components to planning a class reunion, and it can be overwhelming if you’re not organized.
Most importantly, unless you have tons of time on your hands and are great at event planning, don’t try to do it all alone. A celebration of this magnitude really takes a committee. So choose your partners wisely, and make sure they’re committed to helping.
Also, if (as in the above scenario) there is a group of people that has typically done the reunion planning, be sure to reach out to at least one of them beforehand. That way you won’t duplicate efforts – and can, ideally, join forces.
We recommend that you break responsibilities down into different areas:
- Chairperson (in charge of keeping everything organized and moving)
- Treasurer (keeping track of the reunion funds and paying vendors when needed)
- Communications (leading the effort to get the word out to fellow class members)
- Entertainment (in charge of food, music, slide show, etc.)
Once you’ve got people in place, it’s time to begin planning. Note that this is something that should ideally be started about a year in advance.
Here are the big items on the checklist:
- Setting a budget
- Selecting a reunion date
- Choosing and reserving a venue
- Creating a reunion page on Classmates, to serve as the class communication center
- Reaching out to as many class members as possible (beginning with a “Save the Date” announcement)
- Selling tickets (the earlier, the better)
- Planning food and beverages (may be determined by the venue)
- Deciding on music (we’ve got some playlists to get you started)
- Putting together a slide show
- Planning a registration area
Some other things you may want to consider including in your event:
- Hiring a photographer or videographer
- Creating a memory book (either a physical book or a digital version)
- Selling class t-shirts
- Setting up a memorials area to honor alumni who are no longer with you
A few tips to help ensure good attendance:
- Try to include people from different social groups in your planning committee. You’ll have a better chance of reaching a larger number – and wider range — of class members.
- While the person in charge of communications is the one primarily responsible for reaching out to fellow class members, this is something that EVERYONE on the committee needs to do. (Again, this is why it’s important to have a diverse group of people on the planning committee.)
- Don’t just reach out once. Send people repeat messages, encouraging them to attend — and to invite others!
- Encourage people to buy reunion tickets early (perhaps offer a discount for early purchasers). This ensures that you have more money to work with (and don’t have to keep dipping into the committee’s reserve funds).
Remember, on reunion day, the hard part is over. Have fun catching up with your fellow class members!