‘I wonder what they’re up to now…’ Organising a reunion

A group of my University friends recently got together to spend a weekend in the town where we studied. Although we all think we’re still young and fashionable, we realised it was approaching 15 years since we’d left university, and the looks we were getting when we wandered around our old campus were probably not admiring glances from our ‘peers’, but looks of curiosity from the present students who were wondering why a group of ‘old birds’ were invading their space.

Waterfall Events High School Reunion Image from avondalechapel

High School Reunion

The 6 of us had kept in touch over the years but as we reminisced, conversation soon turned to the people we used to share our halls of residence with, who we had shared an important part of our life with, but we had not seen or heard from for over a decade. Thanks to social media some of us had an arms length idea of what some people were up to, and after a few glasses of wine we were soon logged into our various accounts, tagging photos and sharing anecdotes with our long lost peers.

None of us had ever fancied holding a reunion before, all of us dreading the stilted conversations, the comparisons, and endless repetition of the same old questions ‘so, what do you do now, where do you live…etc’, but we all realised that there were a number of people we’d quite like to see again and an informal reunion might well be a good idea. But how would we go about organising an event that even we didn’t fancy attending. We came up with some thoughts:

Invite List
Think carefully about who you want to invite and perhaps more importantly who you don’t! We all thought that a year group reunion was too large a group, but meeting up with the people from our halls of residence was much more manageable and appealing. We lived in a pretty small hostel with just 25 people and seeing this relatively small group again was neither too intimidating or daunting. Of course, it’s possible to organise a much bigger event and these can work well, just think about your guests and what would work best for them. Be aware though – it’s not nice to be left out, if you’re arranging something for a group, try to remember everyone and don’t single people out. It was bad enough feeling left out when you were young, try not to make anyone experience it again.

Find out where our your guests live, where might be an easy place for everyone to meet? If everyone has moved to London, there would be no point holding the reunion in Newcastle. Think about travelling time and costs and try to find a location that is equidistant from most people’s homes. If you are organising a school or university reunion it might be nice to hold it in the place where you studied.

Think about what you want to do with the group. If you want to sit and chat – go to a pub or function room. If you want another distraction for the evening – go to a restaurant, talking about the food being served can be a good icebreaker if nothing else! If you’re an adventurous lot, perhaps try a daytime activity followed by a meal. If you think a few hours with the group is long enough – don’t arrange a weekend residential! Choose something that will make everyone feel comfortable.

If people are travelling to attend the reunion they may need to stay overnight. You might want to make arrangements for everyone to stay in the same place or you might want to let people arrange their own accommodation. A night spent reminiscing and catching up can take its toll, although exciting and interesting you might crawl into bed shattered and needing some ‘me’ time. If you’d rather not re-live the question and answer session the next morning, leave accommodation up to individuals.

Will you recognise your guests? You might think you’ve not changed over the years, but actually, take a look at those old photographs you keep in the loft and you might be surprised. There’s nothing worse than forgetting someone’s name so if you’re a bit unsure ask your guests to wear name badges.

Going back to those old photographs – are they in the loft because they’re perhaps a little embarrassing. Did you have a crazy hair cut or the worst dress sense. Chances are your old friends did too. Bring the photos along, they can be a great way to re-live and remember the days gone by and can be a starting point for a great giggle!

Ice breakers. Some people may have come on their own and may feel nervous about starting up conversations with people. Have some ice-breakers on hand, conversation starters or games to play. Remember, you’re all adults now though – drinking games or forced team games might not be appropriate. A simple quiz might be a nice idea.

Home time
It’s time to say goodbye again. Sending people home with something to remember the reunion by would add a nice touch. Arrange to have a group photograph taken or make up a memento book using some old and new photographs given to you by the group (ask for these in advance!), if you’ve met in the town where you’ve studied, give guests a postcard or a locally themed gift. Think about whether or not you’ll continue to stay in touch after the event, if so, swap numbers and emails. If you or other people in the group would rather not, don’t feel guilty and don’t pressure others into doing so.

The main thing is to feel comfortable and have fun and if you don’t want to organise your own reunion get in touch with us and we’ll do all of the hard work for you! Visit our website and get in touch!

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