Most class reunion planners make the mistake of planning a class reunion with no theme at all.
They ask everyone to come in the traditional black tie and dress hoping that classmates will mingle with each other with no provocation.
But that does not work, at least not very well.
People need an icebreaker at a class reunion.
And that is exactly what a class reunion theme is for.
What A Good Class Reunion Theme Will Do
A good class reunion theme serves much like an icebreaker in that it will bring back common memories that classmates share and that’s what gets them talking.
In our class reunion (Theme was the 80’s), we gave everyone a cassette tape at the entrance with 80’s songs (Madonna, Michael Jackson, George Michael etc.), and our menu included a snack table with Bubble gum, Nerds, and Jawbreakers.
Also, we had posters of famous movies like Wall Street, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Fast Times At Ridgemont High up on the walls. The 80’s theme provided the kick that people needed to start talking about the past by saying “Oh, I remember when [XYZ] happened.”
If you hear people saying that at your class reunion, then your event is going to go well.
In this article, we are going to go cover some popular themes followed by some tips to help make your class reunion an enjoyable experience for every attendee.
Here are some of the most successful class reunion themes used today.
Class Reunion Themes
Anything related to the school can be turned into a class reunion theme. You can do a prom night, or a homecoming night, or dress up as you did in a popular musical in school. Here is an example:
Location: Original prom location
Dress: Use clothes from your graduating year. For example, if you graduated in the 70’s, then have people come in with bell bottoms, flares and ruffles.
Invites: Send out a postcard with a photo from the original prom
Dance: Have the homecoming King and Queen dance one more time
Music: Use music that was played at your Prom to add to the theme
How Things Used To Be
This theme is all about how things were. This theme allows for maximum creativity since it is not restricted to any niche and can be expanded as far as your imagination lets you. Here are some examples:
- Have actual rotary phones on every table as a centerpiece (Also use a photo of them in the invite)
- Place a typewriter that works at the entrance so people can use it. Test their typing speeds too!
- Have everyone dress in clothes from the era that you graduated in.
- Dress up the banquet just like a Disco from the 70’s.
- Use posters, props, and anything else you can think of to stir those memories in your classmates. The more memories you bring up, the more people start to talk to each other.
Rock And Roll
Think gramophones and record players, leather jackets, milkshakes, outdoor movie theaters, and the Fonz!. Place a jukebox in the banquet (or at least a photo of one) and play Rock and Roll music from the legends of 50’s.
Have men slick back their hair, wear jeans and a white T-shirt while the women can come in poodle skirts. Popular colors of the time were black, white and hot pink.
The invites, website, and all communications should convey the theme as much as possible. For example, your save the date postcards can be in the shape of a milkshake.
The 60’s were very much about peace and love. Use peace symbols, tie dye colors, and play songs from popular artists like Bob Dylan or the Beatles. Encourage people to come in dressed as hippies with dark shades and long hair. Hand all attendees love beads as they enter as a symbol of the past (Plus it makes for a great conversation starter).
At the class reunion, have ice cream sodas, sundaes, milkshakes and malts along with burger and fries (All delivered by a carhop on skates, of course).
In order to get people talking, have posters of people and events that changed history (Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Moon landing, Vietnam
A popular sitcom in the 70’s, this show defined an entire generation. Think bell bottom pants, floral shirts with collars that were “up”, and large rounded sunglasses. Host a best 70’s costume event at the class reunion banquet to make things interesting. Make sure the dance floor has lots of strobes to get people in the right mind set.
Disco was popular, as were 8-track tapes and Jordache. Use terms like “Groovy”, “Far out” or “Can you dig it” in your invites and at the class reunion. Popular foods that you can still serve are Fondue, and pigs in the blanket.
For a historical reference, use Watergate, Inflation, and Oil crisis and Charlie’s Angels
Fast Times At [Name your school]
Remember the movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High? We’re sure you do. Take the spirit from that movie and apply it to your class reunion. Ask everyone attending to come in with lots of hairspray wearing Jeans Jackets, or Z. Cavaricci pants. Play music by Madonna, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran and Boy George. You can even have a special showing of the namesake movie at the local theater for your classmates.
If you are planning on having cake, then have it created in the shape of a Nintendo console from the 80’s. Have posters of Reagan, the A-team, and WWF adorn the walls.
Now that you have some great theme ideas, here are some tips on selecting one and making it uniquely yours.
Tips To Create A Class Reunion Theme
Planning a class reunion theme is a lot of hard work and requires some very creative people to plan ahead. A theme is not something that can be put together at the last minute (at least not a good one, anyway). In order to help you get started, here are some tips on selecting a class reunion theme for your event.
- Use a theme that will relate to the largest number of classmates. Doing so will increase your class reunion attendance.
- Use movie and musical references any chance you get. Have posters with popular actors, and musicians to stir up memories. At the class reunion banquet, play music from the decade that you graduated in or host a movie night where everyone can get together and watch a movie on a big screen projector.
- If you are reserving a block of hotel rooms for out of town classmates, then create a themed welcome gift bag for each one.
- Use historical references (positive ones) to stir up memories of when you were growing up. Examples include the Civil rights movement, Ronald Reagan, John F Kennedy, and the Moon Landing.
- When decorating, embed the theme into every detail that you can afford to. For example, if you’re doing 60’s theme, send invites that are in the shape of record labels or have a cake in the shape of a Jukebox.
- A class reunion theme should incorporate a then and now framework. It should get people to think “Oh, how things have changed from when I was at school”.
- Involve the location into your class reunion theme, if possible. For example, if your theme is “Prom Night”, then try to use the same venue that was used for the original prom.
- When decorating, use slogans that were popular when you were in school like “Rad!” or “Airhead” or “Chill!” Post signs at the entrance with popular slogans of your time and ask that people use them in their conversations during the class reunion.
Once you have selected a theme, filling in details is not that difficult. Host a brainstorming session with fellow classmates on the class reunion planning committee to come up with creative ideas that will get more people to attend. The tips and class reunion theme ideas above will help you get started.
What should you read next?
Get some more ideas by reading our guide to planning a class reunion.