Detailed Reunion Planning
Reunion planning will be fun! Like a mini-reunion if this is the first one you’re planning for your class.
Form a Reunion Committee
A core local team of dedicated and enthusiastic individuals will be those most motivated to ensure a successful reunion. A reunion chair arranges meetings and circulates agendas. A treasurer will create a working budget and handle finances. A secretary records and circulates minutes, notes, Action Items. A registrar co-ordinates the search for missing grads and handles registration for the events. Beyond these 4, the more volunteers the better, who can actively participate and work on various reunion tasks. There may be more to do than you first realize, so more help is important.
When do we start?
It’s best to give yourself 12-16 months to plan. Some start up to two years in advance. It depends on how elaborate an event you want, but the more time the better. Many of your classmates need enough lead time to plan travel, etc. And prime locations and services you want often book up early.
Where do we start?
Check out Upcoming Reunions and Past Reunions on this website for ideas. Contact the alumni’s Reunion Co-ordinator for info and advice. They will provide you with a spreadsheet of all alumni registered for your year, with whatever contact info is available for each. If you share this on something like GoogleDrive or DropBox, you can update the list collaboratively, add tracking columns like # of tickets, tickets paid, etc. Then return the updated form to the Reunion Co-ordinator afterwards so we can update our alumni database. Sample forms for registration, budget planning, and silent auction are here as well. Make sure you have alumni register on this website if they’re not already there.
How often should we meet?
Once a month works for most. Virtual meetings can allow out-of-town alumni to help. Zoom or Skype or conference calls. Most tasks are done virtually anyway.
When should we have our reunion?
Weekends are best, and most reunions happen spring through late fall. Thanksgiving can be popular as many out-of-towners may be home visiting family. Think about the age and life stage of your classmates. Is weather a factor? Is summer better when school is out? People do like to tour Vic High, so check with the school as summer tours may still be an option. Note: Seismic upgrades and renovations are expected to complete by summer 2022. Until then, there is no access to Vic High.
Should we have a single day or multi-day event?
Some classes just have a one evening reunion event while other classes host multi-day reunions. Those classmates who have attended reunions repeatedly echo the same words after the reunion is over – “the evening went by too fast” – “there just wasn’t enough time to talk with everyone I wanted to.” How do you pack 5, 10, 20, 30 years of each other’s lives inside of 5 hours? The answer is you can’t. Hosting a multi-day reunion however gives your classmates additional time to relax and get reacquainted. This is also a far more attractive option for those travelling from afar to attend the reunion. It may involve a little more work to host a multi-day reunion but offers many advantages to your classmates.
Friday Night Ideas
Many classes kick off their reunion activities with an informal Friday night get-together to get reacquainted. Depending on the expected attendance, these could be held at a local restaurant or bar or for larger crowds, book a venue. Most keep this event simple – serve light appetizers and provide a cash bar. If this event isn’t offered, your invitations can always include a suggestion to simply gather at a local bar or pub – ideally one with a separate room. Fernwood Inn is a great supporter of Vic High, and along with many fond memories…has a large private room that holds up to 60 people.
While the evening is typically reserved for the big event, consider adding some daytime activities. One of the most popular ones is a tour of the school. (Vic High is scheduled to re-open September 2022 once seismic upgrades and renovations are complete.) A pre- or post-tour informal gathering at the Fernwood Inn is often included in some classes’ plans. Another options might be a morning golf outing or a local sightseeing tour, a classic car cruise, or even a scavenger hunt to old haunts.
No matter what pre-reunion events you plan, don’t underestimate their value in terms of making classmates more comfortable attending the reunion event. They all help people get reacquainted, or acquainted for the first time, and can help make the big event a smashing success.
Some classes also plan a casual wind-down event, a chance for any catching up and saying goodbyes in a less hectic atmosphere. It could be a fun family event that includes spouses and kids.
Reunion Activity Ideas
If you are planning an evening event, it may include a meal and some musical entertainment, depending on what you feel your alumni would enjoy. Be sure to include some opening remarks, tributes to classmates who have passed on, recognition of school couples still together. Prize draws can be fun, too, with silly – or serious – prizes, for silly or serious categories. But leave lots of free socializing time. Buffet meal service can be a good way to keep people mingling more.
A continuously running slide show of old school photos is always a great attraction. A nostalgia table to view memorabilia and artifacts is a great way to jog faded memories and spark discussions. Ask each guest to bring some personal memorabilia for the nostalgia display. If you want to encourage dancing, make sure your music provider plays music from your era.
What are some upfront expenses we might incur?
Stationery supplies, postage, printing (reunion booklets, name tags), gifts / novelties, decorations, website development & hosting, liability insurance, reunion facilities deposit, entertainment deposit, deposits for additional activities (tours, etc).
Ask your committee members for their registration fees early to provide start-up funds, or offer an Early Bird price for early registrations. Seek sponsors and donations. Or include a Silent Auction to increase revenue.
Running the events
You might consider asking friends or family members to handle things like registration or bar service (if you run the bar – which can be a way to help cover expenses.) Or make arrangements with volunteers from the class year ahead of you or behind you in exchange for providing this service at their reunion. They’ll know some of your guests, and it could be fun. (Some classes invite alumni from years before and after theirs, or invite volunteers from those years to collaborate on producing the events.) And lastly,
make sure there is a plan in place for the end of each event for the clean-up and collecting of memorabilia, lost and found, etc. Nobody wants to do this job alone, and most people are more than willing to help.
What decisions need to be made?
- choose event formats, venue(s), dates
- recommended lodging (near venues, etc.)
- programs for each event – speakers, tributes, etc
- timeline and logistics list for every event
- classmate contact listing
- Contact Reunions for a class list in spreadsheet format
- use spreadsheet collaboratively online to update as you contact people and find more to add
- divide up the list for initial phoning or email contact
- search for missing classmates (Canada 411, Facebook, internet search)
- website development / maintenance / updating – some set up their own Facebook page too
- decorations / displays, entertainment, tribute awards, event swag, registration / name tags
- silent auction items, door prizes
- marketing & communications
- mailers, emailings
- newspaper and internet advertising (Facebook, website)
- tribute to deceased classmates
- additional reunion activities – school tours, picnics, golf, classic car cruises, scavenger hunts to old haunts, etc
- class / reunion donation to Alumni Association (supports scholarships, school amenities), or to school to fill a particular current need
24 Months Before
- Gather volunteers and form your committee
- Request list of registered alumni from Reunion Co-ordinator. Add to it, any alumni not listed so you have a Master List of all alumni. Use your Camosun, or click through from your year’s alumni listings to a digital copy of your Camosun.
- Survey classmates for ideas and options / recruit committee volunteers while you’re at it.
- Decide on number of events / event formats / additional activities
- Set dates
- Develop budget – very important.
- Create simple website and start adding information as decisions are made
- Reunion dates, event descriptions, registration info
- Missing Grads list (Help Us Find them)
- List of attendees as they register
- Silent Auction info
- Scout potential venues
- Start searching for alumni with no contact info
18 months before
- Select, reserve venues
- Book entertainment, caterer, arrange photographer
- Send out Save the Date information
12 months before
- Determine tickets costs
- Publicize reunion information
- Public websites, newspapers, your website and Facebook page
- Pay deposits if required
- Arrange additional activities – tours, etc.
6 months before
- Confirm all reservations – venues, caterer, entertainment, etc.
- Select menu
- Meet with venue staff
4our months before
- Make payment arrangements with all suppliers – catering, tours, photographer, DJ, entertainment, etc.
1 month before
- Finalize all details
- Create Event Plan / timeline for each event or activity with as much detail as possible
- Recruit co-ordinators for each event and review detailed Event Plan with them
Finalize any last-minute details
ASAP After all the fun
- Thank everyone who helped make it such a great success
- Contact all alumni – attendees and those who didn’t – with a big Thanks for Coming! message, for helping make it such a wonderful reunion. Ask them to send you any photos they took.
- Send your Master List with all available updates to Alumni Membership so we can update our records and everyone can stay connected.
- Finalize the finances. Organizers usually hold back seed money for the next reunion, and if there was a profit, then decide where to send them.
- Post updates / photos (if given permission) on your website, Facebook page
- Send info about the reunion and photos we can add to the alumni website, to Website Co-ordinator