Q: I am attending my class reunion this summer and wondered about general etiquette tips for navigating this event. And should I take my spouse or leave him home?
A: There is nothing like your high school class reunion to conjure up a host of emotions. For some, it may strike terror, especially if you haven't seen most of your classmates for 20 years or more and your memories aren't particularly good ones. For others, it's a time of nostalgia as you go back in time with people whom you shared fun experiences.
Whichever category you fall into, I recommend going back to a reunion at least once in your lifetime. Sometimes new friendships are formed and even old romances rekindled (if you are single.) With that in mind, here are some tips to navigate the event to make it memorable:
* Be sure to RSVP to the planning committee, and be sure to thank them for their efforts. The planning committees work hard at putting together something that will be fun for everyone. And for sure, don't complain about the arrangements, or you may find yourself planning the next reunion. Any feedback should be given politely and constructively.
* Dress appropriately for the event and venue. This is the time most of us want to look our best. However, it's not essential to spend a fortune on designer clothes. In fact, understated is better than showing up in designer everything. That can look like bragging. But I do recommend wearing something in which you feel confident and comfortable.
* Make sure you wear your name tag where everyone can see it. Many people change a great deal in appearance after high school, and it can be hard to place who they are. Putting senior pictures on your name tags also can be helpful.
* Mix and mingle with everyone. It's important to step outside of your comfort zone. Just sticking close to your old group of friends limits connecting with many others who may be a real pleasure to know. And if you bump into the old high school love in your life that dumped you, ... be courteous and move on.
* Be interested in others and what has gone on in their lives since graduation. Ask about their families, where they live, etc. Remember, who people are now may be very different from who they were in high school.
* If you have become highly successful in life, be careful not to toot your own horn too much. Not only does it sound boastful, it may alienate you from those who have had some tough times in their lives.
* Don't be the person who is sharing all of the funny, embarrassing stories about others. Most people have a thing or two they'd like to forget about during their young and foolish days.
* If you'd like to spend more time visiting with old friends, consider making arrangements to connect before or after the reunion. In that way, you can really get caught up.
* As far as taking your spouse, that's a personal choice. Some spouses fit in everywhere, while others aren't so social. Many married people go to their reunions alone.
Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.