1. Start as early as possible and create a Facebook event page.
Getting the ball rolling one and a half years out is not unreasonable; in fact, this will alleviate a lot of the stress because word about the party will spread more organically. Creating a Facebook page will also give you a platform to call for a team of volunteers to help throughout the planning process. Give each volunteer event host access so they can invite others to the page.
2. Assemble an event team.
Not only will you go up the wall trying to tackle this yourself, you will also miss out on unique opportunities to get people involved and excited. Don’t be shy to ask for help– large or small. Their input will be incredibly valuable in shaping the party. Be accommodating to the workload each volunteer can take on and tap into their valuable talents (designers, crafters, artists, musicians, strategists, etc.). Remember that they are volunteering to help you; not be your minion. Put away your #Plannerzilla hat.
3. Collect email addresses too.
Not everyone is on Facebook and having their email will help when you send out Eventbrite reminders. A method that worked well for me, was to break down the senior class yearbook by volunteers. We were each assigned a section of names and were responsible for collecting the email addresses of people in our group. The spreadsheet should live in a shared document for easy access.
4. Send out a poll.
You are essentially creating a micro-community of classmates from your school and class. While you won’t be able to please every single person, you can make decisions based on the interests of the group. We sent out a google form a little over a year before the event to get a sense of what people wanted to get out of it. Find out what the most preferred month, price range, and type of activities your peers want to see. Surveymonkey is another great polling platform and the Facebook event page has an option to create them as well. This was useful for coming up with a hashtag (and can be extended to other quick questions for engagement).
5. Never forget that attendance is more important than the details.
This is not a wedding, your birthday party, quinceanera, or bat mitzvah. A school reunion should bias on inclusion, so it’s up to you to pick a convenient location. Encourage plus ones to make everyone feel welcome. Let go of any preconceived notions that will trap you; such as the need for formality, professional services, high-quality decorations, etc. There is always a workaround.
6. Keep ticket prices low.
This piggybacks on the importance of point #4. Low ticket prices mean more people will be inclined to go. Our $25 entry fee included the cost of the venue, light appetizers, and the photo booth vendor (Oh Snap! Visuals
). Feel free to set up tiered ticket system to encourage early bird sales and put the pressure on with late snail prices. A separate “at the door” fee can also be put in place and collected by a “booth team” of volunteers that rotate in and out for 30-minute shifts.
|Comedian, Igor Hiller (part of our class) amping it up at the party.
This is a relatively reasonable platform to use for ticket sales. This will allow you the flexibility of processing ticket payments, sending out marketing campaigns, tracking progress, issuing discount codes, and much more. It’s probably a good idea to create an event password so you don’t get opportunistic party crashers (unless you want them there, of course).
8. Use your Facebook event page to be communicative about what you are looking for.
I asked for recommendations on food truck vendors, decoration supply donations, photographers, and much more. This engages your reunion community! You’d also be surprised at how many people have great connections and/or have since developed skills that can help. One of my high school mates volunteered to take professional photos (most shown here), and they turned out incredible. Check out RTL Photos on Facebook
9. Be scrappy.
Do you really have to hire a DJ? I borrowed audio speakers from my husband and got access to a paid Spotify account. The morning of the reunion, I found a smashing playlist titled “Hits of the 2000’s”, with everything from Sisqo, Destiny’s Child, and DMX. Do you really need to spend money on decorations? See if your venue has color accents or other pieces they can let you borrow for free. Ask around if anyone has leftover wedding decorations you can use. Organize a decoration making night and use any craft supplies you have around. I was able to get an up and coming food truck company to park outside of the venue once the party ended. Win-win situation!
10. Go with the cash bar and determine an “after party” location.
There is really no need to drive up ticket prices by having an “open bar” concept. If someone wants a drink, they can and will happily pay for it. The party will naturally continue once your time at the venue ends. Identify an after party location and make sure it is known through all your channels. A lot of people may have come from out of town and they’ll be jazzed to keep the party burning all night!
The best parties are the kind that caters to the community. Reunions are all about catching up and rekindling old friendships. If you can create a fun, engaging environment where people can comfortably chat with each other– you’ve got a great party on your hands. Let me know how your planning process or event goes!