High School Reunion - Planning Advice!
October 10, 2007 7:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning a high school reunion for my class and the two classes that graduated after me. Am I overlooking any planning details?

It will be our 4th, 5th and 6th year reunions all happening at the same venue.

What I've done:
1. Obtained the mailing address of all class members
2. Reserved a location.
3. Written a 1 page invitation with details.
4. Assigned 1 class member from each class to serve as a contact.

I've pasted the contents of my invitation below. Please let me know what I'm missing.

What details/planning items am I missing aside from items that should be in the invitation? Planning aspects, things to "watch out for", overlooked positive outcomes, overlooked negative outcomes…

Thanks!


...


!#---BeginPasteOfInvitation---#!

High School Reunion!
This is a reunion for THREE classes at the same time.

Details we are providing to you, the alumni:
1.When: Wednesday, November 21, 2007 from 9PM – 1AM.
2.Location: [venue name]
3.Cost: $45 per person. Must be at least 21 years of age or older.
4.What You Get: Open Bar, Appetizers and a Live DJ from 9PM – 1AM.
5.Please visit [www.website.com] for directions, transportation suggestions and a virtual tour of the establishment–OR–MapQuest the mailing address below.

Details we ask you to provide to us, the alumni reunion organizers:
1.Please cut off and fill out the below RSVP form and place in an envelope.
2.Please include $45 per person. Make payable to “[venue]”. Checks or money orders only.
3.No later than November 1st, 2007, please mail the completed RSVP form and $45 per person to the following mailing address:

[address]

If you have any questions, please contact the alumni reunion organizer for your class:
• [contacts]

------c-u-t--h-e-r-e----------RSVP FORM----------c-u-t--h-e-r-e--------

CLASS REUNION RSVP FORM

Your name: add $45 ___
Guest 1 name: add $45 ___
Guest 2 name: add $45 ___
Total = ___
Your Phone#:
Your Email:

!#---EndPastOfInvitation---#!


Thanks again!
posted by thankyoumuchly to Human Relations (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
If I received the invite, I'd be looking for more "sell". Why should I go?

(But then again, I hated high school. If $45 got me a new car, I might not go.)
posted by clh at 7:23 PM on October 10, 2007


How many people are you expecting? Personally, $45 seems awfully high. But that doesn't answer your question...
  • Have you confirmed your venue?
  • Have you confirmed the open bar and its hours?
  • Will the venue be handling parking?
  • Who's going to be cleaning up?
  • Who will set up chairs and tables and food?
  • When is the DJ arriving?
  • Have you told the DJ what sort of songs you (don't) want to play?
  • In your venue walk-through, did you find a spot for the DJ?
  • Does it have its own 20 amp circuit with at least 2 grounded receptacles within 6 feet?
  • Was there a dance floor at the venue?
  • If not, you'll have to rent one. Either way, is it big enough for the number of people? You'll have lots of groups on (and off) the dance floor because of the 3-at-once thing.
  • Do you have a way to identify the people in charge (nametags? shirts?)?
  • Speaking of shirts, do you have giveaways for the classes to take home?
  • Speaking of giveaways, was there some rivalry that existed at the time all three classes were in school? Could you somehow replicate that rivalry at the reunion in some comical fashion?
  • What happens when (not if) you run out of food?
  • Do you have a plan for if people are injured/drink too much and pass out?
Make sure you specify how you want payment (you don't say "make checks payable to...").
posted by yellowbkpk at 7:36 PM on October 10, 2007


Whoa. I have one question, can you plan my high school reunion? Because I got the invite for mine, and it was $86 dollars per person for 1 hour of open bar.

I think the price is great for that much open bar. I'd go based on that alone.

I think you need to get that invite in the mail ASAP. Nov. 1st is fast approaching.
posted by zackola at 7:54 PM on October 10, 2007


I work in alumni relations for a Canadian University.

No matter how recent these graduates are, you will need name tags.

Yes they are geeky. Yes people hate wearing them. However... they save guests from a lot of awkward situations...

The format I use always goes:

FIRST NAME (in big, all caps)
First Name and Last Name (in a smaller font, not all caps)
Specialization and/or Year of Graduation (i.e. Arts 1996)

With everything centred on the tag. If people have changed their names because of marriage, etc. since graduation, make sure you include the original name on the tag somewhere.

Name tags for guests, spouses etc. without the degree information are also important. These events are all about socializing. Socializing becomes very challenging when you forget the name of the person you are talking to... especially when alcohol is being served.

Because you are collecting info before the event, a simple mail merge and some ready-made tags from Staples will make the process easy. You should also bring extra blanks in case people register late/misspellings.

God bless name tags!
posted by elkerette at 7:56 PM on October 10, 2007


Might be worth mentioning something about real food around the area of the reunion. If there's a long open bar with nothing but appetizers, people might get too sauced.
posted by zackola at 8:04 PM on October 10, 2007


My 10-year reunion was in 198(mumble), and our ticket price back then was $30 each for an open bar and a few finger foods. No DJ; I made several mix tapes of songs that had been popular during the years we'd been in high school. (I wasn't even on the reunion committee; I happened to strike up a conversation with one of them when dropping off my payment, and she bemoaned how they were running out of money, couldn't afford this or that...so I volunteered to provide the tunes.) In any case, my point is to make sure you're charging enough per person. You're renting a venue, paying a DJ and providing an open bar. You don't want to have to pass the hat at the end of the evening in order to pay your bills.
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:43 PM on October 10, 2007


These answers/comments/suggestions have been great! Here are my responses:

Just as a disclaimer, I found this venue because I went to a random party there for another event. It's mainly a club used only for renting purposes (isn't open as a bar Mon-Thu) so it's set up with a house DJ, kitchen, etc. The manager I'm dealing with provided me with a contract and tips for what they've learned for similar events since they do a lot of business (similar to this reuinion) so a lot of the above comments have been taken care of except for the following (thanks for the suggestions, it makes me more confident that our committee has planned almost everything).


# Have you told the DJ what sort of songs you (don't) want to play?
-Not yet, GREAT idea!

# Do you have a way to identify the people in charge (nametags? shirts?)?
-Great idea. Hadn't thought of this. Another poster rose the same point, definitely going to do this :)

# Speaking of shirts, do you have giveaways for the classes to take home?
-Hadn't thought of this. Giveaway suggestions (e.g., what to give away - specific digial camera or gift certificate to best buy... etc)

# Speaking of giveaways, was there some rivalry that existed at the time all three classes were in school? Could you somehow replicate that rivalry at the reunion in some comical fashion?
-I'll have to think, good idea! What did you have in mind as an example?

# Do you have a plan for if people are injured/drink too much and pass out?
-It's local to the high school area. Being that this is planned for the night before thanksgiving, I'm *assuming* everyone will be close to their house/parents old house/friend from high school's house. Is this a bad assumption? If so, what contingencies should I have (chage $50 and use the extra $5 as the hotel cost because"Tim got hammered and we had to get him a hotel because his parents moved to Europe and he just flew in from Canada"?)


We're getting closer to having a bulletproof draft of the invite! Thank you all!
posted by thankyoumuchly at 8:47 PM on October 10, 2007


Additional questions I've thought of from reading through your wonderful responses!:

1.) Do you think we need full meals as opposed to appetizers? The attendees are all in their twenties and frequent bars in the area as it is (most local bars don't even have appetizers on fri/sat nights).

2.) Should I establish a simple website for our alumni planning committee (nothing currently esits) and mention it in on the physical mailing above for collecting more current/up to date/where are you now/etc. info or is this a headache. If I should, what simple sites can I use (simple front end form for alum, simple backend db that I can download or maintain online)?

3.) What store can have the invitation flyer printed and mailed for us? ~500 people are being invited and the committee doesn't want to print 500 invitations and stuff, address, lick the envelopes, etc. Is there a 1-stop-shop? Staples? UPS Store? FedEx-Kinkos? US Post Office? Who will do it all and who is the cheapest?

4.) Should we get a P.O.Box for undelivered mail? The Venue/Bar is handling the RSVPs. The high school isn't into giving us a mailbox in the alumni office and I don't want the return address being my place for 500 envelopes (I'm worried about the ones that actually go to their intended address, not the "return to sender" ones), I just feel like someone will sign me up for every credit card and junk mail ad on the face of the earth (yes this happened to a few of our friends an high school ;).

5.) Should I specify only checks or money orders? What are the odds cash will be stolen? Advice?

6.) How much extra should we charge per person? We're already adding $5 (bar/venue only want's $40 and we're asking $45).
Breakdown:
+Inviting ~500 people, if only 200 show up that's still $1,000 extra.
+Postage = ~$200 (41 cent stamps).
+Paper and envelopes =?asked this above (lets assume $500).
=That's ~$700 in logistics. We'll still have ~$300 left for emergency. What else should we look out for that will cost $$?

--how much emergency $ do we need (my above estimate leaves ~$300)
--is it assumed we will tip the venue and bartenders? if so should the alumni committee tip the bartenders in a lump sum up front? if not (and we let everyone tip for their own drinks) how should we tip the event organizer at the venue? (remember, we're only charging $5 over the bar's price per person for misc. costs above.)


Gracias!
posted by thankyoumuchly at 9:00 PM on October 10, 2007


The Venue/Bar is handling the RSVPs

This sounds terrible. Managing the guest list is not really something to pawn off on someone else, because that data is important. How do you know how many people are coming? How do you know who they are? Are they bringing a guest? Who is the guest? It can work, but you need to think through every step and resign yourself to the outcome. I'd lose my mind if I had to call the venue every time I had a question. But if you don't think you'll really care who is coming, and don't plan to print nametags or anything. Maybe. The other issue I can see is that, as an event planner, I'd never want to be removed from the money. I want verification that the checks are in before I turn them over to the venue. I don't trust anyone that much. Plus, checks get lost, people have questions, and they are going to call you. I say get a mailbox for 3 months.

What store can have the invitation flyer printed and mailed for us? ~500 people are being invited and the committee doesn't want to print 500 invitations and stuff, address, lick the envelopes, etc. Is there a 1-stop-shop? Staples? UPS Store? FedEx-Kinkos? US Post Office? Who will do it all and who is the cheapest?

Hmmm...Try a mail house like http://www.modernpostcard.com/. Or just Google for a Mail House in your area. 500 seems like enough that someone would maybe take notice. Maybe they can design a self-mailer with a tear-off pre-paid postcard. I don't know what the minimums are for that stuff. Also, people often get someone else to handle their wedding invitations in the way you are describing, so calling some wedding planners or other wedding vendors may yeild that. You can also pay some temp-type person from craigslist to do it.


Other questions:

Is the venue assuming the risk if you don't have enough people? This is the biggest issue with these things, what do you do if 50 people sign up? A lot of reunions get canceled because of this.

People go to these reunions to see people they care about catching up with. You really need a method to show who is coming. If people don't know someone who is attending, they probably won't go.

Along the same lines, you may want to come up with a printed booklet or an internet page to capture "what people are doing now" info from those attending and those not attending. But it isn't required.

I didn't see the cancellation/refund policy. This is important. People will try to get a refund if they decide not to go, this is maybe OK 3 weeks in advance, not so OK after the event. If they cancel, do they get all their money back? All but $10? What?

People procrastinate, you may want to have an "earlybird" and a "regular" price to encourage people to RSVP sooner. This helps a lot with the "do we have enough people to go forward with the event" issue. Also, maybe charge people more than $45 at the door.

You need to find out if gratuity is included. If it isn't, the bartenders will put out jars. If the jars seem empty, you will need to kick in a little.
posted by Mozzie at 9:14 AM on October 11, 2007


The organizers of my 20th reunion started a Yahoo Group for the alumni about six months before the reunion, and it became an amazing resource. Everyone did the "so what have you been up to?" stuff on-line beforehand, and by the time we met old friendships had been reaffirmed and new ones started, so the night-of was a total blast!
posted by nicwolff at 1:49 PM on October 11, 2007


I'm going to check out the "what are people doing now"/group idea. Any suggestions aside from Yahoo Groups for a free website that hosts a simple database (for bio's)?

Also, to revisit a questions I asked in response to your answers, I appreciate your advice on the following:

How much extra should we charge per person? We're already adding $5 (bar/venue only want's $40 and we're asking $45).

Breakdown:
+Inviting ~500 people, if only 200 show up that's still $1,000 extra.
+Postage = ~$200 (41 cent stamps).
+Paper and envelopes =?asked this above (lets assume $500).
=That's ~$700 in logistics. We'll still have ~$300 left for emergency. What else should we look out for that will cost $$?

--how much emergency $ do we need (my above estimate leaves ~$300)
--is it assumed we will tip the venue and bartenders? if so should the alumni committee tip the bartenders in a lump sum up front? if not (and we let everyone tip for their own drinks) how should we tip the event organizer at the venue? (remember, we're only charging $5 over the bar's price per person for misc. costs above.)

Thanks!
posted by thankyoumuchly at 2:34 PM on October 11, 2007


You could use Google Base .
posted by nicwolff at 3:33 PM on October 11, 2007


The issue with your pricing structure is that you have based it on 200 people attending. But you have no idea. If it is 150 you are scrambling a little. Normally you'd have some flexibility to allocate the funds differently to compensate for this, but $40 of each ticket goes to the venue. You really only have $5 per person to cover your own costs. And those costs are on the front end and not actually dependent on how many people attend.

The smart way to do this is to get actual, real printing and postage quotes ASAP. Add $250 for contingencies. Divide by 120. Add that to the $40 for the party. Try to get it to $49 or $54.

The lazy way to do this is to make the price $49. It isn't psychologically different from $45, so it shouldn't cost you people. But it gives you a cushion.

You can always give people more for their money. Or you can donate any overage to charity or as a gift to the school. You'd rather have an overage than a shortage, right?

Plan to give your event contact at the venue a gratuity or a gift, depending on how much they go out of their way for you. When you are low on cash, a thoughtful gift [find out what they like, ask co-workers] is just as appreciated. Otherwise, maybe $50-$100.

Cheapie Printing:
Paper from staples
laser printing on someone's printer
Envelopes scavenged from offices [remember, envelopes do not have to match]

Can you do an e-mail invite and have the ticket order form as a google document or PDF? This saves you the whole printing/addressing extravaganza. And yours is the digital generation.

Also, invite a few teachers, maybe as guests of the event! Young alums like catching up with teachers too [unless my people are just dorks]
posted by Mozzie at 4:15 PM on October 11, 2007


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