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Notes for Planning High School Reunions

 
 
  1. Start Reunion Meetings ONE year prior to reunion event.
  2. First reunion meeting – delegate duties to committee members at first meeting to keep them coming back to more meetings.  First meeting will be the largest turnout of classmates. *Make sure you get people that WILL DO what they say they are going to do BEFORE the date of the reunion.  Better yet...you are better off cherry picking the classmates that you want.  Think of this reunion planning as if it was a small business....would you hire them to work for you?  Do NOT allow crazy people to help.  They will be a major thorn to all that is participating and ruin the fun!
  3. Keep duplicates of everything – keep with 2 classmates.  (Shit happens!)
  4. It is IMPOSSIBLE to make everyone happy!  Save yourself A LOT of grief by ONLY getting the opinions of the classmates that are part of your committee.  Hopefully there are enough committee members to VOTE so the stress is not all on one person – group effort.  Opening the door for all classmates to voice their opinion was a waste of time.  Most do not respond. The ones that do typically have issues. Consider the source and move on. Don’t set yourself up for added grief you will have enough as it is. Pick your battles. (Opinions are like assholes, we all have one!)  EXCUSES for not attending reunion – you will hear them all.  If they only realized how much easier it would make it on the planning committee if they just said the truth…that they have NO desire to go! They take the beating around the bush approach and say the ticket price is too high, they don’t like the location, someone looked at them the wrong way, my panties are in a bunch, etc.  The classmates that want to attend will attend no matter what!  Do NOT take anything personal!  You will be asking yourself, “why am I doing this crap for all these people when the majority don’t care?”  What matters the most are the classmates that do care – focus on them!  Since classmates don’t commit….there is a lot of guessing going on.  We have 346 classmates in our class and a good estimate for us for attendance is approximately 100 classmates. (If you are over or under by 25 that is close enough since most places are accommodating to high school reunion events – they get it.)  You will drive yourself crazy by trying to guess your turn out.  Classmates don’t understand how important it is when you need to pick location size and ticket price in advance. (The more classmates that you have actually attend will help lower the ticket price for all.  It is simple math – example if DJ cost $500.00, 500.00 divided by 50 classmates = 10.00 per ticket price per person/ 100 classmates  = $5.00 per ticket price per person.  This is JUST for the DJ, this doesn’t include all the other stuff needed for a reunion that you need to add to ticket price.  There is something special about reunions – when you see people have the chance to reconnect and totally enjoy themselves – PRICELESS!!!! 
    Don’t give up! Good luck SUCKERS!
 
  1. Reunion Check List:
    1. Location of Event – Crab Deck ***Make sure date for Reunion is available at location of choice.
      1. NO hall fee
      2. Can accommodate smaller and larger groups
      3. Conveniently located – Hotels, bars, restaurants, boat docking
      4. They set up/decorate and cleanup/take down
      5. If we forget something they will have our back
      6. Crab Deck allows us to bring our own jello shooters
      7. Classmates don’t commit - Crab Deck is understanding and will wing it at the last minute. (Seating and Food)
    2. Date and Time of Event - Which month is the best month to have a reunion?   - JUNE
      1. Has to be when Crab Deck is open  (May - October)
      2. SEPTEMBER bad month (too many other events going on)
      3. Are there school activities/Holiday/events ? College, homecoming, Narrows Boat Races, Nascar, etc
      4. Month that is big for vacations – August!
    3. Bookkeeper (Serious job – need someone on the ball and trustworthy!)
    4. UPDATE Classmates:  addresses & email addresses (BIG pain in the butt – HUGE task)
      1. It would probably be best to assign this to a few committee members that are willing and give them sections of the alphabet to locate and update.
      2. Few months prior to event personally reach out to EACH classmate via email, facebook, phone, etc.  Making it personal makes a huge difference.  You may be the one and only contact for that person to feel comfortable enough to come to reunion. (Think about how uncomfortable it must be to step foot in a room where you haven’t seen or stayed in contact with other classmates in years.)
    5. Website/Emails -  (ALWAYS keep website)  What you see on website is just a bonus.  All that it does behind the scenes is MUCH needed and worth its weight in gold! Stores classmates information.  Handles all emails and stores them.  RSVP, polls, stores photos, accepts credit cards, keeps track of payments, etc. – PRICELESS!
      1. Emails should be sent on a monthly basis - constantly in their face but don’t overdo it because then they will stop reading/ignoring.
      2. You will get NO feedback from classmates – Do NOT take it personally – they are reading.
      3. Ticket Sale deadlines.  Have ONE deadline.  No more crying wolf.  After deadline increase ticket price $10.00 per ticket (at the minimum!!!).   You have to have a deadline for seating and quantity of food, AND jello shooters needed!!! LOL
      4. Lots of procrastinators – do not take it personal – it’s just the way it is!
      5. RSVP - I feel is a waste of time – joke – nothing says more that their coming than their payment
             f. Budget – (Bookkeeper)
            g. Ticket Price – always try to keep as cheap as possible to accommodate ALL.
  1. Appetizers (Selection depends on ticket sales.)
  2. Non-alcoholic drinks (iced tea, soda, coffee)
  3. Beer, Booze, Jello Shooters
  4. Dessert
  5. DJ
  6. Photographer
  7. Venue space for 5 hours (all private from the restaurant section)
  8. Decorations, table linens and tableware
  9. Gifts/Keepsakes
  10. Set up and breakdown/clean up
  11. All taxes
  12. All gratuities for food servers
  13. Name tags
  14. Mailed invitations and stamps
  15. Reunion website
            h. Invitations - (Use all methods – then you know you did all you can do!)
  1. Mail Postcard (We should do this no matter what!) – Postcard (least expensive) – upload mailing list and use their mailing service to address and stamp (cost nothing extra for that service) 4x6 is the best size!  5x7 cost more money in postage to mail than 4x6 size.
    1. Some people not on the internet.
    2. We had/have a lot of bad email addresses
  2. Email
  3. Facebook
  4. Website
             i. Decorations - should always have some touch of our school colors.
             j. Cake 
  1. Food Selection - Buffet dinner is expensive but you won't leave hungry – Appetizers ONLY is the cheapest way to go. (Keep ticket price as low as possible)
  2. Booze Selection - ALWAYS make sure we have keg of beer, booze and jello shooters
  3. Jello Shooters – (minimum 500 jello shooters per 70 people)
  4. Questions for Trivia
  5. Games for entertainment -(10-15 minute segments - too long gets boring.) Karaoke!  Trivia - More games – DJ AL Wysong
  6. Prizes for games – gag gifts are fun
  7. Gift/keepsake – (ask classmates that own a business – they may have a product to offer)
  8. Raffle – another way of raising much needed money
  9. Name tags – Should be name they like to be called (ie Donald -> Don)
    1. Nice to have printed and ready before reunion.
  10. High School Memorabilia – should always be at Reunion
  11. Hotel (block rooms) -  **Check with hotels before setting date to see if not too booked already.
  12. Photographer -
    1. Always make sure photography fee includes copy of photos on disk.
  13. Memorial Book of deceased classmates – keep updated
  14. Donations – make announcement to all classmates (this offers classmates to be a part of it too)
    1. Donations to help with reunion expenses
    2. Donations to pay for classmates that can’t afford
    3. Donations for prizes/keepsake (it doesn’t have to be money; it could be a product that they sell. Example microfiber cloths with school logo.)

Locating Classmates
Courtesy of Leslie Christopher

Here goes with some advice after working on our reunion for a year!

#1 Buy White Pages Premium.  They have recently raised the prices.  At one point I had 500 lookups per month for $40/month.  I originally bought 200 lookups per month for $20.00 and I have moved back to that level when they raised the 500 to $90!! Horrors.  No one else ever stepped up to the plate to buy the service, so I was all alone on the lookups.  It is the ONLY way to find people...especially the women.  You can put in Leslie Nunnally (my maiden name) and Leslie N Christopher comes up.  There is a section that says May Go By...Leslie Nunnally and Leslie Kappel (first husband's name).  The only other tip on the look ups is MIDDLE NAMES.  If you have a copy of your program or a list from the school or a newspaper article (we had all 3 and they did not match)...the middle names really help.  Some women keep their middle names...so putting in Leslie Carol Nunnally helps to find someone that may go by Leslie Carol Christopher or Leslie C. Christopher.  Also, you may end up with 100's of people named Kirk Young...there is a slider you can use to narrow it down to people between the ages of SAY...67 and 69...then you end up with 3 Kirk Youngs and you can pretty much figure out if you have your man.

#2 After you find the person...save the lookup sheet in PDF so you can go back to it without looking up again.  You can also send contact sheets to other people for calling.

#3 Generic answering machines are a problem.  You don't know if you have reached the correct party.  So, leave a message like this: "Hi this is Therese (maiden) Price. I'm trying to local Kirk Young about the ? High School Reunion to be held September 15, 2018 in Kent Island, Maryland.  If this is Kirk, please call me back.  If this is not Kirk, please let me know it's a wrong number.  My number is 703-827-0927.  Repeat it.  Or you can reach me at lesliechristopher@verizon.net to get further info or decline the invitation.

(Some people just write back and say thanks but no thanks).

#4 Since you have little time....you may have to try people that you knew first.  I had the luxury of calling and re-calling every Tom Dick and Harry.

#5 If none of the numbers are working....go back to White Pages and click on other family members (costs an additional lookup). Sometimes the husband's cell phone is the correct line.  Last ditch effort, call the oldest adult daughter.

If you have EXCEL, make a data base.  If you don't have EXCEL, you can use OPEN OFFICE which is free to download.  Names can be sorted alphabetically.  You can add phone numbers.  Sort by MAIDEN name or you will lose your mind.  As soon as you get the email (the first thing you ask for)...put it in the data base. 

#6 When you are making your pitch...study the yearbook and conjure up some connection with the person...weren't you in Key Club?  were you in my gym class?  Did you go to so and so Elementary School.  Put that crap in your notes on the data base.

Last advice: Rinse and Repeat.

If you have any questions, please send me an email.  I just put myself in a trance and called.  All they can do is say NO.  That's okay.

Best regards,

Leslie Nunnally Christopher

PS...if someone has 43 criminal records, don't call them! 40 is the cut off.