Want to plan a successful class reunion?
Want to organize one that people will remember as one of the best class reunions they ever attended?
This section will provide you a detailed overview of how to get started, what to plan for, some class reunion tips, free class reunion planning resources and what to do after the event.
Before you dive in, remember to pace yourself as it is a lot of material to take in at one sitting. If you have never planned a class reunion, then spend some exploring each of the four sections below.
The four sections are
- Researching A Class Reunion
- Getting Help To Plan a Class Reunion
- Organizing The Class Reunion
- Follow-up, Showtime, And Post Reunion
Within each section are links to articles that will provide more detail on specific topics (And if you just need a cheat sheet, download our Class Reunion Checklist For Planners. It is a detailed timeline which specifies what order everything should be done in).
Let’s get started with the first section.
Class Reunion Research
Every successful class reunion has certain things in common. They have organizers that start planning at least a year out and are passionate about getting together with classmates. In addition, well planned class reunions also have strong planning committees, a focused plan of action, and great leadership that is willing to do the research needed. Read about how to start planning a class reunion.
What kind of research is needed for a class reunion?
What are the best months to have a class reunion? How many classmates should you plan a budget for? How many hotel rooms should you block for out of town guests?
The questions above are common ones that many class reunion planners don’t fully research before they commit to dates, venues, and lodging. In our article on class reunion statistics, you would learn that July has the highest percentage of class reunions, that around 20-25% of your class will attend the reunion, and that you should plan on blocking hotel rooms for around 15% of your class.
There are many more useful class reunion statistics in the article and we would encourage you to read it.
The Alumni Office
Once you have conducted your research, pay a visit to the alumni office at your school or college. One of their main objectives is to help you plan a class reunion. They provide tons of information like a class list, budgeting help, checklist, timelines, and information on creating a class gift. They can also provide templates that will help in creating invitations, save the date cards and registration documents.
Not only do they provide information, they serve as a great place to get advice on activities and events that have worked for other class reunions.
Lastly, they can also help narrow your class reunion dates based on school availability.
The alumni office is a great resource that many planners do not use enough of. Read more about the role of the alumni office in planning a class reunion.
Once you have done some research on the basics of planning a class reunion at your school, it’s time to recruit other people to help the planning into action.
Getting Help To Plan A Class Reunion
If you think you can plan a class reunion on your own, then you are badly mistaken. Any kind of class reunion (even a small one) will require a few people to organize the details, and carry out the plans effectively.
Putting together a class reunion planning committee is the best way to go when planning an event of this magnitude. Not only is the work load less intense, it also provides for much better ideas and a more diverse opinion base when it comes to making decisions.
A -Common Class Reunion Committees
Before you select volunteers for a committee, decide on what you are looking to plan. For example, if the class reunion is going to be a three day event, then it would be prudent to have a hotel selection committee, a catering committee, and a decorations committee.
If, however, the event is just a one day picnic in the park, then all you really need is a person to organize a potluck, another to setup and clean up, and a third person to create signs and bring sports equipment.
Below, you will find a list of Common Class Reunion Committees? and their associated responsibilities:
- Class Reunion Finance Committee Responsibilities
- Estimating Reunion Expenses For A Class Reunion
- How To Create A Class Reunion Budget
- Template To Calculate A Per Person Cost For A Class Reunion
Class Reunion Website Committee
Hotel Selection Committee
- How To Get a Free Room When Booking a Hotel For a Class Reunion
- How To Reserve Hotel Rooms For A Class Reunion
- Responsibilities Of the Hotel Selection Committee
- Need To Book Hotel Rooms For A Class Reunion
Catering Committee – Reunion Meal Planning
- What Are The Responsibilities Of The Class Reunion Catering Committee?
- Catering Tips For A Class Reunion
- What Are The Responsibilities Of The Communications Committee?
- Free Downloads for a Class Reunion
- Class Reunion Registration Form Template
Classmates Finding Committee
Class Reunion Activities And Entertainment Committee
Memory Books Committee
- How To Create A Class Reunion Memory Book Online
- Memory Book Questionnaire
- Class Reunion Memory Book Template
B- Select Class Reunion Committee Members
Who should be on the class reunion planning committee? How many people should be on there? How often should the committee meet? Who should you recruit? Who should be the leader?
Answers to these questions and many more are in the article “Tips On Putting Together A Class Reunion Planning Committee“.
C- What To Prepare Before The First Class Reunion Planning Committee Meeting?
The trick to preparing for the first meeting is to make sure you have an agenda or a list of topics to talk about. Discussions can range from the theme of the event to handing out initial responsibilities to each committee member.
The meeting can be held at a local restaurant, at the alumni offices, or a local hotel. Subsequent meetings can also be held online through Skype or Google Hangout.
For a detailed list of things to discuss, read our article “Preparing For Your First Class Reunion Planning Committee Meeting“.
D- Initial Funds
Many class reunion planning committees loan the initial money needed to get the class reunion planning started. Many don’t realize that there are many other sources of revenue to get things going. The five main sources are:
- Money left over from a previous class reunion,
- Selling ads,
- School support,
- and pre-selling reunion tickets
To learn more about each, read “Ideas On How To Raise Startup Funds For A Class Reunion“.
Planning The Details Of The Class Reunion
Committee meetings will help you organize everything from selecting a hotel for a class reunion to picking the colors of the linen. The trick to planning an extraordinary event is to have detailed discussions about every facet of the event.
In order to understand all the aspects of what needs to be planned, we have written a two-part article on things to discuss in the class reunion planning committee meetings. This article is long and it may be best to print it out and highlight key points as you read through them.
For a shorter version, here is a synopsis:
Announcing Your Class Reunion
Just calling old classmates is not an effective method of getting the word out about a class reunion. In today’s day and age, you have to use the internet to reach out to classmates. Creating a Facebook page, and a class reunion website are not novelties anymore – they are now necessities.
In your planning meeting, discuss various methods (both old and new) of reaching out to classmates.
Read our article on announcing a class reunion to learn more.
Select A Date, Location, And Type Of Class Reunion
This is something that should be discussed in the first meeting. Decide on a date based on the availability of the school and hotels (Make sure to use the class reunion statistics as a guide).
The location of the class reunion is usually at the school itself. In some cases, however, the banquet occurs at a caterer or at a hotel.
Other options for locations are local community centers, Elks Lodge etc.
Decide on the type of class reunion early on. Will it be a themed event? Will you have several dinners or just one? Will the event be a weekend affair or just a one day party.
To learn more, read “How to select the date, location, and type of class reunion“.
Every committee person that leads their own subcommittee (e.x. Hotel selection committee) should be given the responsibility of creating a preliminary budget for their own expenses. They should estimate expected expenses and create a mini budget that reflects their monetary needs. By the second meeting, everyone should have a preliminary budget for their department that they can present to the class reunion finance committee.
The finance committee can put together the individual expenses to create a master budget that should be presented to the entire committee for a vote.
To learn more, read “Class Reunion Budgets”
Do class reunions do fundraising? Of course they do. The registration fee paid by attendees usually just covers the dinner at the event. If your class reunion wants to conduct any activities, or have entertainment, they will need additional funds.
To raise funds effectively, make sure to plan ahead, create a goal, and host lots of little fundraisers everywhere. You can use Pizza cards, car washes, sell ad space, and ask for donations from well to do classmates. To get some more ideas, read “Fundraising For A Class Reunion“.
If you are planning a class reunion, then you’re going to have to think about blocking hotel rooms for out of town classmates. But before you go ahead and start calling hotels, discuss the following with the planning committee.
- What type of hotel (3 star, 4 star, 5 star) is suitable for a class reunion attendee?
- What room rate is ideal?
- Does the class reunion qualify for group hotel rates? (If you need more than 10 rooms, then you should get discounted group rates for hotels)
- What perks do we get for blocking rooms at a hotel?
Instead of calling hotels individually (highly inefficient), try using the group hotel rates request form. Hotels in your desired city and price rage will email you their group rates in less than five minutes. The service is completely free with no strings attached.
Once you have group rates for hotels, it is time to compare what each hotel offers your class reunion. Look over the most Popular Hotel Amenities For A Class Reunion before you decide on a hotel.
Once you have the ball rolling and everyone is going about their tasks, your meetings no longer have to be in person events (though those are the best ones). You can switch to meeting online if all that is left to do is follow up with people and make sure that everyone is keeping pace.
The follow up should include going over the budget from every department. Each sub-committee should present their revised budgets that include some actual expenses and some estimated ones as well. Make sure that no committee is going over their budget, and if they are, make proper adjustments (e.x. cut something else) to compensate for it.
Follow up on the latest attendance numbers, and discuss how these numbers can be improved upon. Are there any strategies that can be used to increase additional registrations? Can an incentive be provided that will convince some of the “on the fence” folks?
Go over each committee timeline to insure that no one is falling behind on their tasks. If there is a group of people that have fallen behind, then offer additional help from other members to help them catch up. Remember that you can only go as fast as your slowest committee member so helping them catch up will in turn let you move faster as well.
Go over hotel room bookings, contracts that need to be looked at, and any other decisions that need to be made in relation to lodging.
A month before the class reunion, follow up with individual committees to make sure everything on their lists is crossed off. If numbers need to be adjusted for the hotel rooms or for the dinner, then now is the time to do so. Also, final deposits for caterers, photographers, and the D.J. may be due around this time too.
Encourage everyone to continue researching and finding new classmates throughout the whole process
Every committee member should arrive a day ahead of the actual class reunion (if the budget allows, then the class reunion should pay for the hotel stay on this day). Have a final meeting with everyone on the night before the class reunion begins just to finalize any tasks, catch up, and help with the decorations and the signage.
Hold a small pep talk about how the goal of the class reunion is to get people to catch up and talk to each other.
Encourage committee members to mingle with new faces instead of hanging out with other committee members. Remind them that they are the stewards for the class reunion and their primary responsibility this weekend is to make sure everyone feels at home and is having as good a time as they can.
The welcome committee and the set up committee should also consider arriving a day early. The head-start provides time to organize the volunteers without being too pushed for time.
As people check in, encourage them to attend the cocktail hour where people should introduce themselves. While some may be shy at first, watching everyone else make a fool of themselves will encourage participation. Start by introducing yourself and then hand the microphone over to a committee member.
While it is ideal for the class reunion chair to be able to sit back and relax at the event, this is never the case. The class chair will end up putting out fires, clearing up any confusion, making sure that the rooms are set up properly and anything else that will help make the class reunion a resounding success.
Above all, remember to have fun at the class reunion. Don’t get too bogged down in the details. Try to have fun and encourage others to take a lighthearted approach to the weekend. While disagreements will undoubtedly occur, the class reunion weekend is not the time to hash them out. Just have fun and worry about everything else later.
Before the class reunion is over, have a final (short) meeting with committee members to congratulate their efforts and to bring them up to date on attendance, the class gift, and the budget. Follow up with finance chair to make sure final payments were made to vendors for their services. Also, they should account for and deposit any funds that were received from last minute attendees into the bank.
Once the class reunion is over, it is time to return all items that are borrowed, finalize the budget, update the alumni office on attendance, send out a post class reunion survey, and post pictures on the class reunion website with a synopsis of how the class reunion went. For a detailed overview, read “What happens after the class reunion”.
Congratulations, you have made it to the end.