One of the most important things to understand about hosting a 20-year reunion – or any reunion – is that outreach is as important to success as the big party itself. Start early to build anticipation and maximize participation.
Email and social media such as Facebook make this easier than ever. Chances are you already use Facebook, have joined the “You know you’re in/from [insert hometown here] if…” FB page, and have spun off a reunion page that you administer. (If not, all these ideas are translatable to email, message boards, etc.) The next step is to utilize it effectively. Use the page to:
Find high school classmates and 20 year-old artifacts. Put out short lists regularly of people you’re seeking, yearbooks you’re missing, and old photos of landmarks you’d like to display.
Build new reunion memories. Use status updates to provide a personal welcome to new members as they join. Ask questions: “Anybody here from the CHS Choir?” “Did you catch Jurassic Park when it opened? Who’d you see it with?” “Tube skirts or flannel shirts?” Conversations will nurture a comfort level among participants. They will also tell you what’s still universally memorable to the Class of ’93. At the reunion itself, many committees set up stations that replay a high school video or leave scrapbooks filled with pictures. Ask attendees to sign a physical or digital guest book with messages about the past or predictions for the future.
Add value to the reunion ticket. Perhaps reunion committee members have worked out a deal for a block of discounted hotel rooms, or someone is organizing an afternoon picnic. Give reminders of these extras regularly to ensure that new page members see it – some folks will search older threads and the Events page when they join, but many won’t.
Let’s say that the Jurassic Park mention got a huge response. What do you do with this information? We recommend planting a cardboard cutout of a T-Rex somewhere in your venue as a symbol of a good time had by all.
Take the symbolism as far as you want: Empire State Building prop to stand in for Sleepless in Seattle, Red Roses backdrop for Bon Jovi’s “Bed of Roses,” and so on.
Party props mixed with Class of ’93 artifacts (game balls, photo canvases of class outings, etc.) can form the basis of a guessing game about senior year events that classmates start on upon arrival.
The overall party theme could reflect early 90s popular culture or could come from other shared experiences, such as:
- Favorite hangouts: beach, movie theater, dance club
- Special events: annual fair/carnival, excursions into the city
- School pride: winning-est sports, music and academic teams; school colors
- Other: senior prom theme duplication, crowd-sourced ideas put to a vote
Again, let outreach interactions be your guide. Once the reunion theme is chosen, you’ll be able to coordinate banners, favors and tableware with theme decorations.
Two areas may require extra supplies: tableware and favors. Be sure to know how many display tables you’ll need for name tags, yearbooks and the like so that you can cover them similarly to the dining tables. Likewise, have contests worked out in advance of ordering (dance moves, classmate-who-traveled-the-farthest-to-get-here) so you can select favors as prizes.
Are you planning a reunion party this summer? Let us know how it’s going!