Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How NOT to plan a high school reunion

Part 1

First of all, let me say that my ten-year reunion this past weekend was really fun. People came that I actually hadn’t seen in ten years, the food was delicious and only one person noticed that I accidentally got drunk and knocked over a trash can.

I don’t remember why I volunteered to plan the reunion in the first place, since I was definitely NOT the valedictorian or salutatorian or a member of any committee whose responsibility that would fall under.

(Unless you count me being the secretary of the classic film club. Which really shouldn’t count for anything. Man, that club was so awesome.)


The thing that’s so different about planning a high school reunion from planning a birthday party (or, uh, a Christmas oyster roast) is that a reunion is a long-standing tradition. Filled with expectations! You only have one ten-year reunion after all. R-e-s-p-e-c-t!

As such, it deserves more planning and structure than simply putting together a Facebook event and hoping someone brings Wii Dance Party to your house (and, uh, a Wii).

No! You have to think about the reunion’s true purpose (catch up with old friends! Reminisce about old times!) and you have to figure out how to make it as painless as possible for your fellow Catholic girls’ school graduates (see: food, alcohol, various distractions).

But I didn’t think of all those things when I volunteered to plan it. All I thought about was a venue and a date.

First, I wanted it to be on the back deck at this bar near our high school because large gatherings outdoors are fun and celebratory and everyone looks better surrounded by twinkle lights.

Next, I had to pick a day, which posed several challenges living in New Orleans.

It couldn’t be during the summer, because I didn’t want everyone looking like they just got slapped in the face with a wet washcloth while mingling.

And it couldn’t be in the frigid 50-degree winter either, because no one likes hovering under heaters and that doesn’t make for a good photo.

Then you have to consider that from July to November is hurricane season so you’re kind of crossing your fingers there. And finally you have to plan it around LSU football games, because Tigers beat reunions.

In early spring, I decided the date of the event would be September 17, and then did nothing for six months.

Other than make it everyone else’s problem, that is.

First, I imposed on a fellow graduate the responsibility of letting everyone mail her their checks, because I’m really bad at math and I’m incredibly unorganized.

(Also, mailmen have a hard time finding my basement apartment in which to deliver things.)

Then, my roommate mentioned that her work could cater the party, so naturally I made her order all the food and figure out pricing.

With all that taken care of, I sat back and played on the reunion’s Facebook event page.

That is, until I Googled “planning my high school reunion” and panicked when I was told by Miss Manners that I needed to have some sort of party favor, like at a wedding.

A party favor? I’ve never given out party favors before.

I took a quick poll of my friends.

We initially decided on personalized beer koozies, because you can never have enough koozies or have cold enough beer.

But then a non-drinker friend (I know...can you imagine!...kidding mom) said a koozie would be useless for non-drinkers like her, and shot down my claim that people sometimes use koozies for sodas.

So I decided on getting plastic cups (which we call “Mardi Gras cups” down here) which can be used for both water AND beer, ThankYouVeryMuch, and I’d get them personalized with the reunion date and high school logo.

Three weeks before the reunion, I spent an afternoon designing the cups online (which was super fun) and when they arrived, they only had ONE typo!


Google also told me that people want to be reminded of high school at their reunion (Really? Why???) and things like a slide show or name tags with senior year photos on them are “super festive.”

I chose a slide show. I solicited classmates to email me photos, and then forgot about it until TWO days before the reunion, when I spent all night scanning.

THE DAY OF THE REUNION, with all the scanned photos in a nice folder, I (illegally) downloaded songs circa 2001 to accompany the show and felt proud of myself.

But then I hit a snag when I realized I had no idea how to get the slideshow from my computer onto the TV at the bar.

Thankfully, my dear friend Meredith offered up her cord that transfers things from computers to TVs and then let me borrow her computer, because I realized two hours before the reunion that mine wasn’t compatible.

As I was picking up the computer and cord, I made my parents and aunt spend their Saturday afternoon tearing drink tickets for everyone.

I thought everything was in place until FORTY-FIVE MINUTES BEFORE THE EVENT when I went to the deck to test out the slideshow.

The good news was that my best friend and fellow graduate’s boyfriend had surprised everyone and spent all morning decorating the deck with lights and our school’s mascot.

(Yes, I made the reunion his problem, too.)

The bad news was that when I tested the slideshow, it didn’t work.

I plugged in the cord from the TV to the computer but the screen remained blue. I checked everything twice, ran back and forth to both devices but nothing worked. Then I had a nervous breakdown.

“JOHN!” I wailed over the phone to my friend who works on computers. “I’M GOING TO DIE!”(Dramatic? Who’s dramatic??)

Thankfully, John lived nearby and came right over. He found me on the deck gnawing my face.

In less than ten minutes, he figured out how to change the settings on the computer and immediately, my awkward high school photos came up on the large TV screen.

I jumped on him like a monkey as a thank you, soliciting odd looks from everyone enjoying afternoon drinks on the deck.

I then realized I now had exactly one half-hour to shower and get ready for the reunion, which meant I didn’t have time to shave my legs or check myself in the mirror (hey...just like high school!)

Yet, with the deck already decorated, my roommate already picking up the food, my friends already making the slideshow a GO and my parents’ already portioning out everyone’s drink tickets, I really didn’t have that much to do.

(Except get drunk and accidentally knock over a trash can.)

The moral here is that I’m incredibly fortunate to have such an awesome roommate, friends and parents who are willing to help me with my odd reunion-planning decision.

(This also applies to the awesome photographer, my former co-worker, who agreed to come and take pictures in exchange for food and booze).

So, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU FRIENDS! I absolutely, 100 percent, couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you.

And I’d also like to thank everyone who came, without which there wouldn’t be a party.


Now someone else plan the 20-year.



  1. Michelle Romero MarantoSeptember 21, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    yeah totally didn't want to tell you how drunk you were. When did I miss the trash can? before or after that retarded band started playing?

  2. You did a great job planning Jenny! I'm sorry to miss the trash can incident!


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