You’re going through your e-mail and there it is – an Evite for your “X-Year” High School Reunion. What’s more – it’s sent to a ‘select few’ of you class asking to help plan it! We say – GO FOR IT! Here are some ideas you can take with you to those planning conference calls that will make you look like an expert.Every class is different.
Every Reunion year is different with emphasis on varying social events. We’ll cover some activities, mention the year(s) that we’ve had success in implementing them at and make suggestions on how to advance them past the ‘same ‘ol’ category.
MEET & GREET: This is usually done on a Friday night of Reunion weekend – generally for 15th year and forward. It’s an informal way for classmates to meet, socialize & get back in touch prior to a Saturday full of a formal program. Hint: Do have someone there to take down updated info, make a role of who attended and BRING TICKETS for the Saturday day/night. It’s been our experience that once people get to the first event – they are eager to do more with their classmates. This is also a time to get some feedback from attendees to see how well the contact/invite process went, answer questions and create rapport for future reunions. It is a nice touch to invite faculty from your class years to this event – ask them to sign autographs or have a photo op with a favorite teacher. It’ll show them how much they were appreciated – then & now!
ICEBREAKERS: This can be used at every reunion. The further away from the year of graduation, the more intimate & detailed this may become.
A). Question/Answer list – Each name tag has an added sticker that has a question printed on it and it’s the recipients job to find the classmate that has the answer. This initiates contact between the guests. Provide an incentive for people to participate – all correct answers go into a drawing for a prize (case of (donated) wine, free night’s hotel stay (that weekend if possible), High School memorabilia, etc. IDEAS FOR QUESTIONS:
5 year: School/Job focused: College or Trade school people attended.
10 year: Career/Pastime focused: Where people work, most unusual set of hobby
20 year: High School glory: Awards, sports, teachers, significant events of the past.
25 year: Family focused: Marriage, kids, where you met your spouse, still single.
30 year: Trivia from or about High School.
B) A Scavenger Hunt. Again, you can use a prize(s) to encourage participation. This could include picture with the Valedictorian, Class President(s), “The Old Gang”, etc. as well as familiar items.
DÉCOR: Every reunion. Typically this has (obviously!) a lot to do with when/where you went to school. School colors, yearbooks, etc. Things to include that set your Reunion apart may include: Lettermen jackets on display. Trophies won by members of your Class (as school to borrow/send a rep. w. items). Local newspaper clippings highlighting local stories. Pictures of favorite hangouts – or better yet – memorabilia from these places (signs, printed menus, etc.) Up lighting in your school colors.
DANCING: There is usually a dance segment at most reunions from 5th year through 25th. A lot depends on A) How large is your gathering? B) Where the Saturday evening event is held. C) Band or DJ. D) How much this portion is emphasized/promoted. Your class may have had a lot of dancers and if your attendance is over 100 you’ll have at least several couples / singles that will want to cut it up on the dance floor. If you have it, make sure you take into consideration hiring a professional DJ or Band that has a wide variety of music but more importantly – knowledge & the ability to read a crowd. Which leads us to:
MUSIC: Again, this is at most every reunion. As the years progress however, the ROLE the music plays differs. At the earlier years (say 5th, 10th, 15th) the music is a mix of current and classics for dancing. The 20th on tends to focus on classics from the class. Your entertainment should have a good handle on the ‘local’ music scene – this helps to personalize your reunion. Perhaps you had an artist that made it big in your area & was a popular draw for local shows. Include some of this music – but perhaps focus on less-popular songs. Maybe this artist can come to the Reunion or make an appearance at the Friday night informal gathering.
The music can also be used to introduce or enhance: speakers, slideshow/video presentations, games or activities. How much & when depends on your individual class. We use some specific questions to determine how to best incorporate music into the program. You can take music requests ahead of time too especially if you’re DJ offers this service. That way you may get some unusual requests you may have even forgotten about in your brain-storming sessions!
GIFT/MEMENTO: This is given out at a 20th on up. It’s not necessarily at every one but something to keep people connected – and wanting to come to the next one is great. One class we worked for published a newspaper, with pictures of the school in their day, articles about “Whatever Happened To…”, profiles & contact of classmates, etc. You could also develop a closed or secret group on Facebook and reveal the link to everyone at the Reunion.
PICNIC / ACTIVITY DAY: Usually from 20th on up. At 20th & 25th events many people still have grooving families at home. A Saturday or Sunday picnic / pot luck is great fun for all attendees – it’s casual. You can have music of the era (that wouldn’t necessarily be played that night). Your DJ/entertainer can provide games/contests to involve not only the attendees but also their families.
As the years move on set activity events can be set up ahead of time & special packages may be able to be planned w/local businesses (seasonal happenings to be considered). For example: a day of golf at a local club w/tee times set up for your class, a day on the lake w/a boat rental place, a special day at a waterpark or pool, a museum tour, etc.
SPOUSES of CLASSMATES: At all reunions. If you’ve ever been to a reunion, you’ve seen lots of people milling about like they don’t know anyone. The reason? They DON’T! These folks come as a courtesy to their spouse but inevitably end up alone while their partner relives all ‘the good times’ & ‘memories’ with classmates. So, amend some of the above activities to include & embrace the spouses: have questions like: “I have 5 kids & married the Class President. Who am I?” or “I didn’t graduate with you but came from the same town.” Another way is to solicit info about attendee’s spouses when collecting confirmations. Put together a small questionnaire about who they’re bringing and make it part of a Trivia Game or a special announcements segment. “John Smith would like to thank his wife of 22 years Sarah for traveling with him all the way from New York.”
There are lots of other ideas – you’re only limited by the amount of input you get from others. Try and hire entertainment or talk to event planners that LIKE reunions – not everyone does! It’s best to jot down lots of ideas, explore each one and develop an event that has something for everyone, is fresh and solicits input from those committed to coming. We all like to have something to look forward to! Happy Reconnecting!