I’m not exactly sure just how it happened, but I have recently been elected to organize my 25 year Catholic grade school reunion. And let me tell you, planning such an event is quite the undertaking. Of course, I am not alone as I quickly enlisted the help of other classmates. There’s definitely safety in numbers!
There are many essential steps in planning a class reunion. The following is a list of helpful tips, ideas and suggestions for a stress-free, successful and enjoyable affair.
This is perhaps the most important and yet most difficult task of organizing a class reunion, especially a grade school event. Locating classmates takes a ton of research. I started by contacting the school who put me in touch with an alumni representative. Fortunately, the rep had a partial list of our class of fifty plus students. I was not sure how current the list was, so I began to verify each address via email and phone calls.
Next, came the really hard work: finding people without any leads. I began by asking anyone and everyone for help and was able to accumulate many emails with this method. I also researched and sometimes contacted siblings of my former classmates for address information. And I looked in a good old fashioned phone book for addresses of students still residing in the immediate area. If all else failed, I gathered parents addresses entrusting them to pass the information onto their children.
I also utilized several internet search engines. I had the best results with a site call Zabasearch.com. Zaba gave me the most recent addresses for my fellow classmates. And finally, I located many of my pals on Classmates.com as well as Facebook and then decided to post the invitation on both websites to further spread the word!
We thought it would be a nice touch to include teachers on our guest list. The alumni rep was also able to give us current information on present and former staff members.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
We played around with the idea of hosting the event right at our old school, but given the amount of work involved, we quickly changed our minds. We also discussed the possibility of a sit down dinner at a restaurant or banquet hall, but given today’s bleak economy we felt that $70-$80 per person was far too steep a fee. We wanted to ensure that each and every member of our graduating class could afford to attend our reunion.
So, we opted to host our reunion at a fellow alumni’s tavern and soon found we would be able to charge under $20 for pizzas and mini burgers while having a cash bar. This way people are covered for food and whoever wishes to partake in alcoholic spirits can fend for themselves. Also, having our event at a local pub eliminates the need to hire a caterer, DJ, bartender, etc. Our venue offers many drink specials and we are also allowed to bring along CDs from our era of the 70’s and 80’s to be played throughout the evening on the sound system.
Ideally, we would like to email all of the invites because, let’s face it, it’s free! Unfortunately, we do not have everyone’s email address. We decided to email and mail a “save the date” notification about three months prior to the class reunion. And then we will follow it up with the actual invitation a month or so later. We will end up having to pay twice for postage but feel it will be worth the extra cash to spread the word early and often.
For collecting monies, it is a good idea to designate just one person to this task to avoid any confusion. Also, be to sure to make a photo copy of each check and then immediately cash it and store it in a safe place so there are no payment discrepancies and you will have an organized record of who paid and when.
Since our class reunion is at a bar and we don’t really have the option to decorate, we came up with some extra ideas to make the night more personal and special.
We created a giveaway CD for each guest complete with a compilation of hit tunes from every year of grade school. We also included our graduation song!
We designed a memory bulletin board to display on a table at the bar that includes our graduation class photo, the ceremony program, a swatch of material from our uniforms, school pins and emblems and other fun memorabilia.
Each guest will also receive Mardi Gras beads in our school colors of blue and gold to proudly be worn throughout the evening. And as a special treat we have decided to bake a few hundred butter cookies, also decorated in school hues, to enjoy for dessert. We will also offer zip lock baggies in case classmates want to take some sweets home to their kids.
The true secret to a successful class reunion is to keep it simple, keep it fun and keep it economical!