Reunion Planning A – Z (or 26 Tips to Planning Your High School Reunion)

A – Attendance varies by reunion, but a good mark to follow is 25% of the class size will attend.  This includes guests.

B – Bar setups become less important the further you get from high school.  Go with the open bar at your 10 and 20-year reunions, then switch to a cash bar for your 30, 40, and 50th.

C – Classmates rarely remember where the reunion was held, but always remember how they felt seeing an old friend.

D – Don’t underestimate the amount of time necessary to plan a reunion on your own.  Block out of your schedule 45-hands-on hours, minimum.

E – Encourage your classmates to attend by making personal calls and sending personal e-mails.  A little effort from the committee can mean great reunion attendance.

F – Facebook is a wonderful reunion planning tool, but it isn’t the only tool you’ll need.  On average, only 35% of classmates join a reunion page.

G – Greet your classmates at the door the night of your reunion celebration.  It eases nerves, sets the tone for the party, and gives you a chance to say hello to everyone.

H – Hiring a professional reunion planner is an easy, stress-free way to plan your reunion.  And you avoid the financial liability.  Find a professional planner by contacting the National Association of Reunion Managers.

I – Invitations to the reunion should always include suggested reunion attire.

J – Just because you are excited about attending your reunion, not all of your classmates feel the same.  High school wasn’t an easy time for everyone, and some classmates prefer not to go back.

K – Keep the class list and current addresses so you’ll have them for your next reunion.  Giving a copy to everyone on the committee ensures you can find it 10 years later.

L – Looking through your yearbook at your first reunion committee meeting is a great way to kick off the reunion planning process.  It brings back memories, and begins the conversation of “who still talks to who”, which will be important when trying to find classmates.

M – Money matters, but not as much as you think.  Don’t be afraid of a $79-$90 ticket price.  Classmates will pay if they perceive the value.

N – Never sign a venue contract with a minimum you are not willing to pay yourself if you have lower than expected attendance. 

O – Only one person should be the committee contact with the venue.  This eliminates misinformation and multiple calls to your venue sales person.

P – Planning for your reunion should begin 8 – 10 months before the reunion celebration date.

Q – Question your classmates on Facebook about songs they would like to hear at the reunion celebration. 

R – Read the fine print on all contracts and agreements.

S – Select an appropriate way to remember deceased classmates.

T – Take time to answer each e-mail or Facebook posting, even the negative comments.  It will show your classmates that you value their opinion, and can help put a stop to any destructive misconceptions surrounding the event.

U – Understand the upfront costs before you take on the task of planning the reunion by yourself or with a committee.

V – Videos or slide shows from your high school years are big hits.  Make a copy for each classmate attending as a give-a-way.

W – Wedding months mean less availability and higher prices.  Book early for popular venues.

X – Multiply the number on your reunion guest list by 20% to come up with an estimate of the number of classmates and guests who will pay at the door that night:

100 pre-registered classmates and guests X 20% = 20 additional registrations at the door.

Y – Yearbooks are hot commodities at a reunion.  To keep your copy safe, display it at the staffed registration table, not as part of your memorabilia collection.

Z – Zip code sorting sends your reunion invitations at the cheaper bulk rate.  But, build in extra time for the post office to deliver.

5 Ways to Honor Deceased Classmates

The harshest reality of a high school reunion is learning of the death of a fellow classmate. You’re young, or maybe you feel young, so it is hard to believe a classmate just as young is no longer with you. At your reunion, you want to remember these classmates, but want to do so in a respectful and appropriate way. Here are a few ideas:

1)  Create a Memorial Table Photo Display   On a linen covered table, set a framed photo of each classmate.  In front of each picture, place a lit white votive or candle.  You may also frame a list of names along with a single white candle.  Adding an appropriate poem or quote is also a nice touch.

2)  Include a Directory Page  
Include a page for each deceased classmate in your directory or memory book, add their high school photo, and ask a fellow classmate to write a memory or thought.  Or, have a single page listing the names of each classmate in the front of the book.

3) Remember Parents or Family Members  
Let parents or families know you haven’t forgotten your classmates.  The Kirkwood Class of 1991 set out cards for reunion attendees to write a note to the parents of their deceased classmates.  Each card was filled with messages about how the classmate was missed.  You may also want to send flowers to the parents or families, letting them know their loss is felt by everyone in the class.  

You may be concerned this would be upsetting to family members.  Parents and families deal with their loss every day.  This isn’t a reminder.  It is a way to let them know you also share in their grief.  But, use your best judgment as to what you and the committee feel is most appropriate.

4) Make a Donation to Your School  
Make a donation to your school or alumni association in memory of your classmates.  Include the donation as part of the ticket price, or allow classmate to donate to the fund when they register for the reunion.  The donation may be used as a scholarship or to buy something the school needs, such as equipment for the football team or books for the library.  Click here for a story about the Lafayette Class of 2002 and the scholarships they created in memory of their classmates.

5) Create a Permanent Memorial   
Collect donations to purchase a tree or bench.  Have the dedication during the reunion weekend, and include pictures in your directory or on your memorial table.  The tree or bench may be placed on the school grounds with a plaque or sign, such as “In Fond Memory of Our Classmates, the Benton Class of 1991”.

What Not to Do

  • It is not necessary to include the when, why or how of a deceased classmate.  This gossip isn’t anyone’s business, and you don’t want to offer information which may not be 100% correct.
  • Don’t read names or have a moment of silence during the reunion program.  Classmates are usually too busy talking and visiting and drinking to listen to what you have to say, making it hard to maintain a tone of respect.  If you are able to hold the attention of your classmates during this time, transitioning back into the spirit of the reunion celebration can be difficult. 
  • Don’t leave empty chairs at a table in memory of each deceased classmate unable to attend.  

Most of all, know it is not wrong to celebrate your reunion while at the same time remembering those classmates who are no longer with you. 

Here are a few quotes you may want to include as part of your memorial:

No love, no friendship, can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever. 
Francois Mocuriac

So many things have happened
Since they were called away.
So many things to share with them
Had they been left to stay.
And now on this reunion day,
Memories do come our way.
Though absent, they are ever near,
Still missed, remembered, always dear.
Author Unknown

Hold a true friend with both your hands.
Nigerian Proverb

We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere.
Tim McGraw