How to Plan a Class Dinner
Class dinners are a good way for classmates to keep in touch during both reunion and non-reunion years. Though each class can customize the event to suit their needs, the format usually includes a cash bar cocktail hour followed by dinner and a distinguished speaker. The following suggestions will help you to plan a class dinner:
- Planning a class dinner should begin six to nine months prior to the event.
- If you need help, volunteers should be recruited early. Unless you prefer to work independently, we suggest that you have a committee made up of no more than three classmates.
- Once a committee has been established, the members will have to decide on the date and time for the dinner. More than one date should be selected in case there is trouble securing a location for the dinner. The committee should also decide if spouses and significant others will be invited, establish a rough budget, decide how much to charge for the event, and discuss the ideas for speakers and topics that might be interesting to classmates.
- A location for the event should be booked as soon as possible. The HAA can recommend different locations in the Boston area. If the location does not provide on-site catering, a caterer will also need to be contacted. Always ask for menus and get exact costs to make sure that the caterer and location are able to provide services within your budget.
- When booking the location and caterer, be aware of additional expenses such as tax and gratuity charges as well as fees for additional services. This information will also help you decide how much you should charge for the event.
- The committee members should try to get a speaker as soon as possible. Many professors need at least three months advance notice. The HAA can provide assistance with obtaining a speaker. An honorarium is not usually necessary.
- Once the logistics have been set, it is important to advertise the dinner in a mailing to your classmates, on the Class Web page, and on the Class e-mail list.
- Invitations to the dinner should be mailed no later than 6 weeks prior to the event. The Office of Classes and Reunions can provide you with helpful suggestions and samples for the invitation and can also coordinate the mailing details.
Hints from the class of '65
The Class of 1965 has held an annual (class member only) dinner in the spring for many years at the Harvard Faculty Club (usually in the library). The predominance of the attendees (approximately 65) come from the Boston area. Recently however attendees have also come, in connection with other travel reasons, from around the US. A small planning group organizes the dinner. Cost is about $65 for wine and dinner and the room.
The format is drinks, remembrance of recently deceased members, one minute statements during dinner from each attendee, and a classmate speaker.There is no lack of interesting speakers from classmates. No fees are paid to speakers.
Classmates choose what they wish to say in their one minute. Some present simple chronologies, some make very personal statements and all classmates are treated in a sympathetic and supportive manner.This format works very well for us and each year it is better and better and forms the basis for reaching out to classmates you may not have known well before.
If I can help further email at email@example.com or call 617-491-1605 (home). Dave Hannon