This is the second of two parts on how to plan a class reunion.
In this How to Plan a Class Reunion post, we’ll address class reunion activities, food, beverages, special diets, playing golf, name tags and more.
THE REASONS THEY DO COME
They genuinely enjoy catching up with close friends, as well as the class at large. For them, the more opportunities to interact officially or unofficially the better. Some have never been able to develop relationships and bonds like the ones formed during their hometown school years. These events are extremely special.
I couldn’t find you on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. … didn’t-know-if your-high-school-boyfriend-was-single now? Don’t be surprised if she shows up after a divorce and tries to rekindle an old flame.
Classmates may feel extremely comfortable in his or her own skin. Some always have. Some needed to earn a degree, secure a job with a career path, divorce a spouse, fit into that size 4 dress or have a business succeed before they made an appearance. It doesn’t matter to most.
For others, there’s a competitive desire to show everyone up and try to impress. Has anything really changed since high school?
The reunion committee wants you to come regardless of the reason why.
CLASS REUNION ACTIVITIES
For those wishing to maximize the entire weekend, class reunion organizers may want to plan a variety of events to encourage a range of participation.
For instance, begin the weekend on Friday with happy hour at a favorite watering hole. Packaging the main event with happy hour, lets reunion organizers track interest and attendance. The kick off event could include a couple of beers or glasses of wine and light hors d’ouerves for a flat fee. The reunion committee “bank” then pays for all those who bought this ticket.
Leave Saturday morning open on the agenda, but recommend a local café or two for breakfast.
As a morning activity option, arrange and sell, as an add-on to your reunion weekend, a tour of the town by a professional sightseeing group so folks can see how much things have changed over the years. Alternately climb into a classmate’s van and take an informal windshield tour of the new football field, the site of underage beer parties and old hangouts. Make time to stop and visit the mom who welcomed everyone.
Play Golf – For golfers arrange for time on the links – an early morning outing for those who arrived too late to attend Friday’s event and a late morning or early afternoon tee time for those who attended happy hour. This is just one more way online sign-up forms make it easy to organize a golf outing with multiple tee times and draw as many participants as possible.
Girl’s Lunch Brunch – Pick a newer restaurant with quiet acoustics where the girls can gather and catch up over a long lunch. Negotiate a flat fee with the restaurant for several menu options including tax and gratuity. Just another option for the online sign-up form that allows classmates to select in advance which meal they prefer. The time lost deciding what to eat can now spent visiting.
Maybe allow time at the hotel pool for out-of-towners to catch a little sunshine before the big event. Appears mom did turn your old room into an office or doesn’t approve of your boyfriend.
Bob, who hosted the late Saturday night pool party (and we’re not sure if that was billiards or swimming pool), also offered to host the Sunday morning Cocktail Making Class. Menu items include Bloody Marys, Breakfast Margaritas and Morning Mimosas. For those more worldly mates, Bob promises imported beers. While he always seems to be able to handle a crowd, providing Bob advance notice (using the online sign up form) as to how many people plan to attend, allows him to pick up ample supplies.
If your school was known for volleyball – and you’ve included a volleyball game sometime over the weekend, offer tee shirts for sale as part of this reunion event in a variety of sizes.
And if you think all of these events are just more work for a few, think again. With online ticketing and registration all of your events are organized online and purchases are made and payments collected online.
Some of the cooler ticketing systems even have apps. If you forgot your ticket or your printer ran out of ink, it’s possible to send your ticket to your smart phone and one of the reunion organizers can simply scan your phone. It’s that simple.
FOOD & BEVERAGES
Nowadays with so many individuals having special diets, it’s not as easy as offering chicken or beef.
Let’s look at just a few of the vegetarian options:
• Lacto vegetarians dine on dairy but not eggs.
• Ovo vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy products.
• Combo Lacto Ovo Vegans – forget the eggs and the dairy.
• Vegans focus on food sans animals and animal products, e.g., milk, goat cheese, duck eggs, etc.
• Raw vegans are all about the fresh, uncooked veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Gluten free diets are recommended for those with intolerance or sensitivity to certain grains.
Diabetic diets vary in what the best solution.
In the end, as a class reunion organizer holding an event at an established club, restaurant or banquet venue, or involving a caterer, ask questions as to what they see as the latest trends and dietary requests.
One of the greatest features of online registration is that you don’t need to keep a notepad by the side of your phone with tally marks. Online registration forms provide participants the opportunity to select from a variety of options, allowing each classmate and their guest a chance to select what type of food works best for them.
THE NAME TAG
Do you really need name tags?
How many of us went to a high school that was so big that we didn’t even know who was in our class the first time? Remember sitting through the graduation ceremony and hearing someone’s name read? And this little cartoon bubble floats above your head…“That’s who that is.”
Strange things happen at class reunions:
You’ve been standing there for 10 minutes talking to this person. You recognize them. You recognize the voice but you just can’t place the name. And absolutely no one has interrupted to say “Hi!” Help someone save me. For the life of me, I can’t remember his or her name.
And there are the class reunion crashers – the people who weren’t in your class but hung out with the guys or gals in your class. I’m sorry ‘mam, but I don’t see a name badge with your name on it. Are you sure you are a member of this class?
C’mon how many people still look like their senior class photo? Oh please don’t put those on the name badges, just my name from 20 years ago. Well and maybe the last name of my two ex-husbands … you never know. Why yes, I am single now … well maybe just use my maiden name.
Without name badges you can have lots of fun. A woman, one of 50 in her parochial school class who had not attended any events before the 25th reunion, shows up with a dark luscious tan. One of the popular guys starts chatting with her but has no idea who she is. Alphabetically she sat right behind him for four years and was also in the very small school band with him. She took great pleasure in keeping her identity guarded all evening.
The moral of the story, use name badges as the years go one. It will minimize awkward and uncomfortable moments, unless you really want the reunion to feel like high school again. If your online registration system features name badges, use them. You’ll save lots of time. Forget the senior photos though.
AND WHEN IT’S OVER
The most important thing you, as a class reunion organizer, need to do is find your replacement. With online registration there’s no reason not to raise your hand. All the information will be right there in the system next time, so all you need to do is copy the event and make changes for the next one. Volunteer to coordinate the online tools, it will leave you plenty of time to come up with clever ideas for the rest of the class reunion committee to do.
If you missed, How to Plan Class Reunions – Part 1, click here.
To learn more about event and festival management, check out “Secrets to Successful Events: How to Organize, Promote and Manage Exceptional Events and Festivals.” For those with event planning experience, consider, “Secrets to Successful Events Resource Guide: 42+ Easy-to-Use Tools and Resources.” Both are written by internationally known author and speaker Lynn Fuhler and are available on Amazon and at major booksellers.