High School Reunion Etiquette

June 16, 2017 · CLASSMATES FUN

Have a high school reunion coming up? We know you want to make a good impression on your fellow class members. Although you’re all grown up now, it’s never too late to brush up on manners. Without further ado, here’s our breakdown of suggested tips for proper class reunion etiquette:

The basics:

  • Send an RSVP. While you could probably just show up (or not), it’s much nicer to let the planners know whether to expect you. They need to plan ahead for things like food, drink, and parking.
  • Dress appropriately, whether that means casual clothing for a picnic or cocktail wear for an evening event. And you’ll probably want to leave the controversial t-shirts and skintight clothes at home.
  • Unless they’re sincerely interested in attending, don’t force your partner to accompany you. Being stuck at a party where they only know one person is not a great recipe for fun (for either of you).
  • It’s natural that you might feel insecure or shy, but don’t just stand in a corner looking at your phone. You’ll never strike up a conversation that way. And didn’t you come to the reunion to talk to people? (If you’re anticipating this as a problem, read our post on reunion conversation starters before you go.)
  • Introduce yourself by name when saying hello (unless you’re greeting someone you’ve been seeing regularly, of course). You may have vivid memories of the other person, but it’s possible that they might not remember or recognize you.
  • Please don’t overshare, whether it’s family photos, divorce war stories, medical ailments, or bragging about how great your life is. People may be interested at first, but after a while you might start to bore them (or, worse, drive them away from the conversation).
  • Be mindful when giving compliments. While you may mean “You haven’t changed a bit” in a positive way, the recipient could interpret it differently. Best to just stick to the classic “You look great!” Or, even better, share positive sentiments that have nothing to do with physical appearance.
  • Think twice before bringing up old memories that could embarrass someone or make them feel bad. Even if high school was 30 years ago, painful events can still seem all too vivid to those who experienced them.
  • People are always appreciative when you take an interest and ask about their lives. And everyone likes a good listener. Just avoid overly personal or prying questions, especially if you don’t know what’s been going on in your fellow schoolmate’s life. They could be dealing with a stressful or upsetting situation that they just don’t want to talk about.
  • Avoid politics.
  • Take it easy with the alcohol.
  • You may want to snap some pictures at the event, but respect the wishes of people who don’t want to be photographed. And if you choose to share photos later, do your best to keep the unflattering ones to yourself.
  • Try to let any grudges or bad feelings go, and just enjoy the time with your fellow class members. After all, you only get to do this every ten years or so!

The next level:

  • Contact old schoolmates beforehand, and encourage them to attend your reunion. They’ll appreciate the personal invite, and it will make them feel more welcome if they decide to go.
  • Move beyond the easy conversational talking points (how long it’s been, what you do for a living, etc.). You’ve all learned things and had interesting experiences since high school, and there’s lots to talk about if you delve a little deeper.

Etiquette superstar:

  • Get in touch with reunion organizers beforehand, and offer to help with the planning.
  • Reach out to a fellow schoolmate who would like to attend but has physical or financial limitations. Help your class figure out a way to get them there.
  • Volunteer to pitch in with cleanup after the party is over (even if it just means stacking a few chairs).
  • Send thank-you notes to everyone who helped put the reunion together.

Now you’re ready for the big event!

On the fence about going? Check out our list of top 10 reasons to attend your reunion.