Reunion Checksheet – Best Practices

Reunion Checklist and Best Practices

The following are suggested items for reunion committees to consider learned from past reunion planning experiences. It is not meant to be considered a completely comprehensive list and there may be additional things that committee’s may face; however it is designed to provide a good head start and hopefully get your committee off to a good start is planning and anticipating issues in advance.

  • Planning the event – Making decisions – getting started
    1. Once venue and vendor cost options have been obtained the committee will be able to set ticket prices depending on which ones are selected.
    2. A sign-up sheet needs to be designed several examples of other classes exist so don’t be afraid to steal good ideas. After name, address, and phone most classes will add additional questions that may be used during the presentation the night of the event or on signing or decoration. Things like who traveled the farthest or shortest, number of children, number of grandchildren, or interesting elements about the classmates or class in general that come off the sign-in sheets add some fun elements to the evening.
    3. By this time some financial issues should be put into place. Setting up a bank account to handle funds. Many people use different payment options so setting up a PayPal and Venmo accounts will allow for people to pay in multiple ways. Method of payment needs to be clear on any communication sent to attendees.
    4. One key question that comes up from attendees is if they can buy tickets at the door. Reunion committees go both ways on this question. On one hand you want the ticket sale. On the other hand, you need funds as you move along and by allowing ticket sales at the door you allow the person to wait until the last minute to commit. Out committee published no ticket sale at the door (but then we took two on the night of the event). 
    5. The general pattern will be that you will get a large response at first. Then the response will drop off for a period of months. Just when you are about to panic the response will again rise very close to the event. Don’t panic!
    6. Reunion committees that hold multiple events usually will make the secondary events no host, but some do sell tickets to each event separately depending on what is being supplied.
    7. Once you have these decisions made you can start to develop media and begin to market the event.
    8. Many classes establish Facebook group pages for their class or reunion. The Alumni Association will support the event through marketing on their Facebook group page and website at  Continued reminders can be posted during the period prior the event to maintain interest. Information you would like posted on the Alumni Association sites can be sent to
  • Establish a committee – Develop a tentative event date.
    1. In the best case this step would be at least one year prior to the event. The sooner this is completed the easier things will flow later.
    2. Committees usually start off small and grow over time as word gets out and other classmates volunteer or are recruited to join. As you move into future stages you will need help so encourage the help. In today’s environment members do not need to live close to the event location. You will have tasks that can be handled from remote locations.
    3. When determining a date consider other events that might conflict with your date and restrict attendence. Also, if your event covers several days other add on events such as football game, golf tournament, picnics, etc.
    4. Establish a meeting schedule for the committee. Initially they will not be as often and can be held in person or virtual, or a combination of the two.
    5. Establish general job assignments.  A Chairperson who will schedule meetings and establish agendas. A Treasurer to keep track of funds and report to the committee. A Secretary to keep and distribute notes to members. As you move along other assignments will come up along with subcommittee groups working on specific elements.
    6.  At a high level discuss things like event type (dressy, casual, indoor, outdoor, extra-curricular events, etc.) These may all be changed later but its best to get a feel for how the members feel. Get as many ideas on the table as possible and plan to make hard decisions at a later meeting.
    7. Lastly have fun. No matter what you do, your classmates will appreciate the effort and will have a great time. Did we mention to start early.

  • Planning the event – initial phase – establish targets.
    1. This should be completed as soon as possible to lock down locations and suppliers
    2. Determine the type of event and location. Assign someone to contact venues and determine availability on your desired dates, cost, venue requirements or restrictions. Venues are in high demand so the earlier you start to locate options and nail down a date the better.  Most venues will require that you use their bar and bartenders so review those elements for each venue you survey. Also discuss insurance needs with your venue, some will require you have insurance. Single day policies are not expensive.
    3. Determine items like menus, entertainment, decorations, themes. Assign someone to contact vendors to determine availability, options, cost. Some reunions provided communitive items (t-shirts, coffee cups, pictures, etc.), determine your committees desire and what elements you would provide as part of the event ticket or have people purchase personally. Some classmates may not be able to attend but would still purchase memorabilia.
    4. These elements will require contracts. Committee members may need to fund the initial phase of deposits and be reimbursed later by the committee
    5. Locally some reunions have used local restaurants or Tary’s for Friday night no host cocktail parties. Some have held catered brunch or potlucks in parks or at the Castel Air Museum.
    6. The committee may want to discuss a target price for event participation. There are many options in this regard. (Current reunions with sit down dinner, entertainment is running from $60 – $80 per person). Many reunions establish one price for classmates who sign up early and a higher price for late sign ups or at the door arrivals if you choose to allow for that option.
    7. The number of estimated attendees will have some impact on the cost to attend. It is better if you open up attendance to other classes. Several alumni in class years close to yours will be interested in attending. Your venue may determine a maximum number and the sooner you get the information out and move to the next phase the best.
  • Contacting classmates – the hardest job.
    1. As part of your original planning sessions a group should be established to begin to start looking for classmates to contact as many as possible. This is both a hard job and a fun job.
    2. There is no central location for contacting all your past classmates. Make a list of your classmates and distribute it to the group. You can break it up and have each member of a group to research.
    3. Facebook is an obvious search method. Also, family members who still reside in the area.  Classmates is all right but in general does not provide a great deal of information. The Alumni Association has a data base of classmates by year who follow us on Facebook. Depending on the class the number can be good or poor. If you have anyone in your group who uses has access to one of the ancestry search programs, that works great.
    4. Some committees who have access to one of the ancestry search sites how found them useful in finding classmates.
    5. This element will have the greatest impact on the number of attendees so start early.
  • Reunion Elements – Presentation and programs
    1. At least six months prior to the event several detailed elements of the reunion should be determined or close to being completed.
    2. Communication should be continuing social media platforms and email distribution lists if possible. Consider sending postcards to classmates who’s addresses you have on records and provide a rsvp email option as well as methods of payment.
    3. Sub Committee set up to develop decorations and determine cost.
    4. Photography or video.
    5. Plans started on presentations at the event. If any audio-visual elements are planned equipment and content planning should begin.
    6. Any special program elements determined.
    7. Decorations run the full range and can include table settings, flower presentation. Signing. Memorabilia tables where classmates can display items, yearbooks, or pictures. Memorial pictures or a presentation to recognize members who have passed. Committee and decoration group should plan a visit to the venue to review possible decoration and display option. Make a floor plan layout for future reference.
    8. Finalize design for tickets if you plan on producing and mailing. Name tags. Many classes add pictures out of senior yearbook to produce name tags for classmates and then printed name tags for guests.
    9. Professional photography can be expensive. Consider contacting the high school and see if they could provide some help. We used members of the Photography Club at AHS to handle photo booth and general photos in exchange for a donation to the club. They may also be able to help with design elements or display elements as they have some very strong clubs on campus for those items.
    10. Many reunions also include an element to support the Atwater High School Alumni Association Legacy Scholarship program which provides scholarships to students at AHS who have a parent, grandparent or legal guardian who attended AHS. Different programs have included an extra surcharge to each ticket sold, 50/50 raffles at the event, donation jar, sale of center piece floral arrangements, blind auctions. Classes that donate to the fund are recognized in communications from the association and during the yearly scholarship presentation program at AHS.
    11. Consider inviting teachers who were at the school during your school year. Several have attended and generally these are offered as guest of the committee and not charged.
    12. These elements will dominate the committee meeting as they are tweaked or refined as the date gets closer, but all should be finalized four to six weeks prior to the event.
  • Countdown – Three months prior to event.
    1. While this may seem a little far out the time will now speed up and at this point final preparations should be in place.
    2. Social media updates and reminders should continue. If the budget allows a second hard copy mailing should be considered to those who have not responded to the first.
    3. Committee meeting schedules may want to accelerate to keep everyone up to date and as different areas will now be interdependent on each other.
    4. Decoration plans and cost should be finalized. Plans for when, who and how they will be done at the venue should be finalized.
    5. Entertainment program should be final, and contracts signed.
    6. Review open items and determine actions needed to close.
  • Countdown – Two months out
    1. Finalize event presentation and develop program for attendees. Most reunions will include a recognition section in the program. Recognize committee members, any teachers who attend, special guest or classmates, veterans, first responders, etc. 
    2. Continue to market the event through social media outlets. At this point you will start to see the original procrastinators show up with questions.
    3. Determine who will greet guest, work sign in table, distribute name tags. Make presentations during the program.
    4. Review all open issues and determine action needed to close.
  • Countdown – One month out.
    1. Most of the items and plans should be in place. Review to ensure all committee members are on the same page on the event schedule.
    2. Name tags and programs should be either printed or ready to print at this point.
    3. If the reunion is mailing out tickets, send out tickets to those who have paid.
    4. Decoration plans should be complete and a schedule of what will be produced and when, who and where the decoration group will set up the venue.
    5. If a memorabilia table is part of the program, start to organize those items. If a memorial board or presentation is planned finalize the list. A point for the committee here, no matter how hard you work on this there will be some you will miss.
    6. Continue to promote on social media if you have not reached the venue attendance maximum.
  • Countdown – Two weeks out
    1. Review any open items and make changes or decision to move them to closed.
    2. Print any signing for venue, sign in table, display tables, etc.. A final visit and review of the venue is suggessted for any last minute physical set up changes.
    3. Have any sign in forms prepared, include blank lines for any classmates who should up at the door.
    4. Be prepared for last minute sign ups, name tags.
    5. If mailing tickets final date to mail tickets.
    6. Venue may require a final count for seating and food service at this point. They always plan for a few more and so should you.
    7. Confirm with any entertainment on date and times.  If a music list has been developed deliver it to the entertainment.
  • Countdown – One week out.
    1. Finalize and close any outstanding issues.
    2. Finalize timelines for all events.
    3. Finalize formal program details. IF presenting awards determine winners.
  • Event Day             
    1. Relax, have fun you all have earned it.
  • Post Reunion
    1. Conduct a final debrief meeting.
    2. Make notes for future reunion committees. Organize and store files.
    3. The Alumni Association maintains a data base of alumni by class and at the committee’s discretion can store a class list for future reunions. If sending the list, please include a listing of all alumni you know who have passed away as well as future reunions would need that as well.
    4. Send out thank you notes, follow up letters and donations.
    5. Determine final financial accounting. The Alumni Association can hold excess funds for the class for startup funds for future reunions if the committee does not want to maintain a bank account. Surplus funds can also be donated or distributed at the committee’s discretion.
    6. Ensure all bills are paid and plan on closing bank account.
    7. Update social media sites with pictures and description of the reunion. While we may not think we have changed much, any social media postings with pictures should be tagged with names to save you from getting multiple requests from views as to who is in the pictures.
    8. The Alumni Association can post a reunion update line on the website for pictures and information on the success of the event for all alumni to view in the future.