Planning a Reunion!
Planning a reunion is an involved task. It takes a great deal of time to
locate all your old classmates who have scattered across the globe. Once
everyone is assembled though, the hard work pays off. It is fun to reminisce
about the old days and catch-up with one another.
Decorating for the big night doesn't need to be too involved. Remember that everyone is back to see each other, not some decorations. Why not give the reunion team a reminder of the past?
Have old pictures from the yearbook blown up to poster size. Mount them on cardboard or foam core and place them around the room. Many copy stores can blow-up black and white and color photos to 11"x17".
Take old pictures, sections of the senior pictures from the yearbook work
well, and photo copy them. Laminate them and use them for placemats.
Decorate the room similar to the decorations used at the Senior Prom. Although decorating for the prom probably took a lot of time and energy, for the reunion, scale it down. If your theme was Stairway to Heaven, rent a set of stairs, cover them in white, and place snow batting or clouds at the base. Post a large sign with the theme – Stairway to Heaven.
Decorate the tables with products from the past. If it is your 20th reunion,
select items popular when you were in school. Buttons from political
elections, magazines, books, records, you name it, it will get people talking
of the good old days.
If your class voted on each other during the senior year – review the votes and see how everyone faired. Look at Most Likely to Succeed, Most likely to have 20 Kids, etc. If you sense this would hurt someone's feelings, leave certain votes out. The goal is to have fun, not to make someone feel self-conscious.
Make charts of the places people have lived since school, the jobs they have held, or the number of children they have.
Look up old teachers and find out what they are doing. Have guests guess what the teachers are doing now. How many years did they teach? How old are they now?
There are a lot of jobs and tasks involved in planning a reunion. Here's a partial list.
Coordinating the entire event
Assembling a "Reunion Committee"
Developing a time table for planning the reunion
Taking notes at the Reunion Committee meetings
Obtaining current addresses
Putting all the names and addresses of class members in a database and making mailing labels.
Creating a Class website
Creating an E-mail list
Arranging for a facility to host your reunion
Contacting your old high school
Contacting hotels for special room rates
Creating mailers and registration forms
Creating a questionnaire to help make a Memory Book
Organizing a golf outing or other events
Finding a DJ or band
Finding a photographer.
Coordinating the taking of candid pictures at the reunion (classmates and spouses can take pictures)
Arranging for mementos/favors/souvenirs and "goodie bags"
Finding sponsors and/or companies to make donations
Finding a guest speaker
Arranging for a Master of Ceremonies
Planning ice breakers, games, and activities for the reunion
Collecting and banking money
Creating program booklets
Printing and assembling program booklets.
Creating Memory Books
Creating or acquiring awards for things like "traveled longest distance," "most kids (grandkids), etc.
Setting up Memory Tables with the display boards (everyone brings stuff, such as pictures, scrapbooks, old sweatshirts, etc. )
Making multimedia presentation of class memories and past reunions
Calling classmates to encourage them to attend the reunion
Publicity. Calling local newspapers and write up articles for any papers that will take them. Don't forget the cable companies, and the online alumni sites.
Arranging for centerpieces and decorations.
Making name tags
Arranging for decorations
Getting "Thank You" gift for reunion coordinator
Greeting guests at the door and checking them in.
Acting as liaison with the facility during the reunion
Sending out thank-you notes to contributors and sponsors
Doing a follow-up survey of classmates
Distributing photos and Memory Books
Putting reunion photos on the web site
Making a class reunion video
Deciding who will work on the next reunion
Distributing a class newsletter every six months or so.
Name Tag Ideas
Use different colored name tags for class members and spouses/guests to make it easy to tell who is who. For the spouses/guests, you might consider having their name on the name tag, along with "spouse of ________" or "guest of ____________" (fill in the blank with your classmate's name)
Have extra "blank" name tags printed so you can use an indelible marker to write in the names of last-minute arrivals
As we get older, it gets hard to see small print. Make sure the names (especially the first name) on your name tags are big enough to be seen from a distance. Many name tags have the first name printed much larger than the last name.
Use name tags with magnetic fasteners instead of safety pin fasteners or clip
Put copies of senior pictures on the name tags
Potential Problem Areas
Give folks an opportunity to register (and pay) early, with a reduction in the registration price as an incentive. Folks who register during the "regular" registration period pay the "regular" fee, and folks who register after the registration deadline get to pay a higher fee.
Several different sources estimate that from 10% to 25% of a class will attend a typical reunion, and many of those will wait until the very last minute to sign up. This last minute sign-up may cause problems with your banquet hall or caterer. One strategy is to increase everyone's fee by a small amount and then use the additional money to order several extra dinners when you submit your final count. Then if several people show up at the last minute, it is no problem to add them. You may want to charge an added premium for the last minute registration.
Make the actual registration process as simple and quick as possible. If your registration process includes an "about you" questionnaire, many folks may set it aside until "later" instead of just writing a check and registering. If you're going to ask your classmates for additional information (like biographical information), consider doing a completely separate mailing so that if your biographical questionnaire gets set aside until "later," you've still got their name, address, phone number, the name(s) of the folks who will be attending, and their check.
Most reunions have someone show up after the meal is served, expecting to get in for free. On your registration form, make it clear that classmates are welcome to join you after the meal, but they will need to pay their share of the reunion costs. Determine that amount by subtracting most of the price of the meal from the normal ticket price.
Make it clear in all your contacts with your classmates that there is a date that you will be ordering souvenirs, and that the budget does not allow any/many spare souvenirs. Spares will be first come, first serve to latecomers. They are welcome to pay late (and late fee), even at the door, but they may receive less goodies.
Folks interested in complaining or offering constructive criticism after the reunion should first fill out an "I volunteer to help with the next reunion" form.
Planning a Family Reunion can be a one person job, If the gathering is going
to be small. If your event is large and you are expecting a lot of guests,
get some help and delegate some responsibilities.
Have a BBQ at a local park. This could be done by having everyone bring their
own grilling items (hamburgers, hotdogs, etc) and a covered dish to share,
making it a Potluck meal or having it catered (if you take up a collection
Have your family reunion at a restaurant or hotel banquet room. This usually means more cost, but a large part of the workload is done by others (leaving you more time to enjoy your family!)
If your the outdoorsy type of family - make it a weekend and go camping! Just be sure you choose a campsite that is kid friendly and everyone knows what to expect of the surroundings.
And of course, just about any theme you can think of can be made into a family fun time for all! Luau, Wild West, Mardi Gras or Winter Wonderland can all add great memories to any reunion!
For Large Events -
Explore your family history
Pin a Branch on the Family Tree
The entire family will enjoy this spin on the popular Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game. Give an extra twirl to the biggest kids and see who can restore the missing branch to a friendly family tree.
This can be done in many categories to get everyone at the Family Reunion involved! Try Hit Songs (even selecting a decade or genre), Sports, family members if a tight-knit group, Movies, etc. Use your imagination and get everyone in on the fun!
Musical Hats and Wigs
Keep your head covered to win this variation on musical chairs. March around an odd assortment of hats and wigs until the music stops, then grab some headgear and put it on. No wig or hat? You're out!
Ring Toss, Beanbag Toss, Backwards Obstacle Course, karaoke
Here's a typical timetable for any small to medium-sized family reunion (or any
2 to 4 weeks before:
Reserve any necessary equipment
1 to 2 weeks before:
Plan the meal or refreshments
Purchase beverages and supplies
3 to 5 days before:
Choose attire, or assemble your costume
Obtain rented or borrowed equipment
Make a shopping list for what you need for your family reunion (games, food, tableware, etc)
3 days before:
Clean the house
Prepare make-ahead food
1 to 3 days before:
Set up the beverage area
Decorate for your reunion
Create a final checklist
Day of event:
Go over checklist
Set the table
Have everything ready well before guests arrive
ReasonToParty has your Reunion Party Ideas
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