High school was a time when many of us developed fast friends, close relationships and enjoyed new experiences like sports and dances. Looking back, people tend to miss their time in school and that is where high school reunions come into play. Psychologists suggest that reunions are a great way to revisit old memories and channel the teenager you used to be. A trip down memory lane can help you gain relevant insight into the person you’ve become today. But that’s not the most important part: A well-planned reunion can be surprisingly fun.
When planning a high school reunion, it can be difficult to know where to start. So, how can you make the planning effortless? When you’re charged with organizing a high school reunion, a good committee and a little technology can make it easier to organize the big event. Here’s how to get started.
Planning for the Reunion: Put Together a Committee
The first order of business is to establish a reunion committee. For this, you’ll need five or so go-getters who are willing to spend their time on the details of the event. The committee should appoint a leader. Remember that the larger the committee, the more difficult it will be to get things done. If necessary, divide the committee into subgroups so that the effort is more efficient.
Once you have your committee in place, it’s time to get planning!
1. Find Your Classmates
Before you can have a reunion, you need to find classmates. Certainly you’ll want to create a Facebook page to help track RSVPs and share updates easily, but remember that not everyone has a social media profile. The best way to find everyone is to use a people search engine, like Spokeo. With Spokeo, you can use the information you do have about your classmates — such as a first and last name (even a maiden name) to locate email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers and more.
Using the contact information you uncovered on Spokeo or social media, create your guest list. Then, work with your committee to send out invitations and start to fundraise. You’ll also want to come up with a communication cadence to generate excitement and send reminders so you can get the best attendance possible.
2. Determine a Budget
You will definitely need a budget before you can start to make any concrete plans for the reunion, so start by determining how much money is required for the event based on the number of people you expect to attend. Make your budget estimates generous, as you can always save surplus funds for the next reunion or donate to charity. Then, determine how you’ll finance your reunion — you may have to do some fundraising or charge for tickets, probably a combination of both. Finally, assign one trustworthy person within the group to be treasurer, responsible for collecting proceeds, putting the money in the bank and paying the bills.
3. Pick Your Location and Food
Once you’ve determined the reunion date and have the money to pay a deposit, secure your location. For a low-budget option, consider using the high school gym or having a picnic at a local park. You don’t need to rent the ballroom at a luxury hotel and serve a sit-down dinner. But if that’s how your class rolls, go for it. Just be sure that ticket sales, or a generous benefactor, can cover the expense. Also, set aside a few tickets for those who cannot afford to pay.
4. Themed Decorations
As with location, you can be as lavish as you want with decorations. You can also deploy a reunion theme that requires little or no money. Enlarge pictures from past school events, or make your decorations from recycled materials. Hang a hand-painted banner and bring in the school pep squad for a little nostalgic cheer. If you choose to spend money on decorating, remember that the goal is to make your classmates feel comfortable and welcome.
5. Plan Engaging Activities
Even with the best location and great food, the party will fall flat if people don’t engage. Classmates may have drifted apart, so you’ll need activities to encourage classmates to reconnect. Don’t be afraid to use ice breakers. But know your audience and its tolerance for games. Here are some ideas that are adult enough to invite participation, yet entertaining:
- Name That Tune: Play popular music from the school years and challenge classmates to name the song and the artist.
- Jigsaw Puzzle: Create a giant jigsaw puzzle using a blown-up class photo and give out pieces to classmates as they enter the event. The challenge is to assemble it.
- Slide Shows: Create a slideshow of events from your school days.
- Two Truths and a Lie: Have each attendee write on a large name tag two truths and one lie about themselves. Classmates should guess which one is a lie. The person who goes the longest without having the lie detected is the winner. This activity encourages people to speak to those they don’t know well.
Music, live or DJ, may be part of your event. Make sure, however, that you keep the volume at a reasonable level to promote conversation.
No one should feel bad after attending a high school reunion. There are many opportunities to ensure that everyone feels welcome. Invite classmates into the reunion committee who are representative of the entire student body. Post pictures and stories that include all groups, not just the popular few. That way, you can be sure everyone will be eager to return for the next reunion.
Reconnecting with friends is crucial to mental health and happiness as it helps you to build a better support system. While it can take some effort to find classmates and organize a successful reunion, these gatherings will generate memories for years to come and make your friendships stronger. Let Spokeo help you to plan a high school reunion today.