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How to Host an Alumni Cocktail Party

School spirit can really hit you around homecoming time in the fall. Maybe it's the brisk autumn weather that triggers those nostalgic feelings from childhood of returning to school after summer and seeing friends.

Join fellow alums from your Alma mater at a Homecoming Alumni Cocktail Party to celebrate your school days and reconnect today!

Organizing the Alumni Party

Most homecoming events happen in the fall so take time in the summer months to touch base with active alums as well as former students who may want to come back to their old school community. No doubt, Facebook and other social media websites have reunited more school chums in the last couple of years than the traditional "Dear Alumni" letters in the mail.

Reach out to alumni online as much as possible for a budget-friendly and effective way to manage your event.

Post a message on social media websites to get started and establish a planning committee. Create an event for the actual celebration as well as for the planning committee.

Touch base with the school's alumni association if they have one and talk to any people who have spear-headed prior alumni events or reunions.

Send out a "Save the Date" message on a social media website, by email, or the postal service.

Gauge the response and potential guest count of the party and then decide on the best place to host the event. It's customary to charge a fee "per person" to help pay for the event. The fee usually covers costs for the location, food, and extras like postage or rental equipment for a slide show, microphone, etc... Many events go with a cash bar where guests pay for their drinks at the party.

Send out online invitations. Your guests can RSVP with just one click, as well as share and invite any other alums you may have missed! Plus, potential guests can see who is attending - if their unrequited high school crush is attending you can bet they will be clicking "YES" and then visiting the mall for a fabulous new dress.

For those who are not online, send an invitation in the mail with details about the event and make sure that you update them by phone or mail to keep them in the loop.

Post the link to your event page or online invitation on the school's website as well!

How to Decorate

While you don't have to "prom out" on lavish decor, a few accents in the vein of a grown-up pep rally could be both tasteful and thematic for a Homecoming Alumni Cocktail Party.

Mums: Few flowers say homecoming like Chrysanthemums. Mums, the classic fall flower, are used in everything from homecoming parade floats to the boutonnieres with dangling school color ribbons and charms popular in the south.

Single mum stems in small glass vases around the room would be ideal for this party, because you can set them up quickly and the cost is minimal.

Look for mums in your school's colors for a spirited touch.

Add votive candles in glass holders to create a nice ambiance.

For larger tables, cluster about 4 vases in the center of the table along with votive candles.

Welcome Banner: A Welcome Banner at the entrance will warm everyone up the second the walk into the party.

Order a custom banner online.

See if any of the invited alumni has a print shop that could create a banner gratis or for a price that fits the party budget.

Go "old school" and have an artistic alum create a banner using fabric and felt varsity letters or with paint and paper!

School Color Linens: Show your spirit by using the school colors in cocktail napkins and table linens.

"Class of" Badges: Since this is an alumni party, chances are that guests may not be acquainted with each other as they would be at a class reunion. While name badges are customary at these types of event, include the class year for this party as well.

Homecoming Activity Programs: It may be a nice touch to print up a handout that lists all homecoming weekend activities. This way, guests can touch base with other at the party and meet up at another function.

Homecoming Drinks and Cocktails

Often times the food for an alumni cocktail party is provided by the location or a caterer so there's not much creativity involved in the menu planning. However, you can feature a signature cocktail that spotlights you school's colors.

School Color Cocktails: One of the easiest ways to match a drink with a theme is by choosing a vodka-based cocktail. Vodka works with just about anything from a sweet fruit juice to a savory mixer like tomato juice. Give the cocktail a fun name like the "Rio Americano Splash" with an orange juice mixer and a green lime wheel for school colors of gold and green.

Scholastic Drink Garnishes: Go with school color plastic cocktail picks for drinks garnish with olives and onions. Or choose a school themed pick such as a football, grad cap, or pennant. For tall drinks, look for stirrers in school colors.

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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