How To Plan And Throw A Retirement Party

Hard work deserves to be celebrated! One of the best ways to celebrate retirement is with a party. But if party planning feels overwhelming, you’ve come to the right place. Sometimes all it takes is a quick guide and some inspiration to throw that perfect celebration. Honor your retiree with a bit of hoopla and fun by following these top tips on planning a retirement party.

Start With Your Budget 

Every party starts with a budget. Determining how much you can (and should) spend on a retirement party helps make every other decision that much easier. Here are just a few things to consider when putting your budget in place:

  • Where the party will take place (venue) and associated costs
  • Food (formal or informal catering vs. potluck style)
  • Decorations
  • Invitations (digital, printed, mailing costs)
  • Games and activities
  • Entertainment
  • Equipment rental costs
  • Number of guests

Before diving into the finer details of your event, take a moment to decide who will help cover the event’s costs and how much everyone is willing to chip in. Once your final budget is in place, choosing that perfect venue and retirement cake will be a breeze.

Formal or Surprise?

The type of retirement party you plan to throw also influences your budget and party planning decisions. Does the guest of honor love big, vibrant celebrations? Are they introverted and avoid being the center of attention? 

Who you’re celebrating, as well as the company and role they are retiring from, play an important role in the type of party you plan. The two main types of retirement parties are formal and surprise parties. 

Surprise parties are great for those who simply love a good celebration (and a good surprise). If you aren’t sure what your guest of honor would like, check in with their loved ones and closest friends. Consider your company’s established traditions when throwing a retirement party for your colleague. Perhaps a formal luncheon at a local restaurant, a fancy dinner with close colleagues, or a midday office party are the favored methods of celebration.  

Create a Guest List & Decide on The Mode of Invitation

Now you’re in the fun part of planning and throwing a retirement party! It’s time to create that guest list! The big decisions are made, and you can focus on the finer details. 

Guests lists are influenced by the size and type of retirement party you are planning, but here are a few important people to consider, including: 

  • Direct colleagues, employers, and work friends
  • Past colleagues and employers who have remained close friends
  • Spouse, family, and friends from outside of work

Retirement is a huge milestone; your guest of honor’s loved ones will undoubtedly want to be involved! For smaller, formal luncheons, it’s okay to simply include the retiree’s spouse and closest colleagues. Larger parties are an excellent opportunity to expand the guest list to include children, past bosses, and friends from outside of work or from past jobs.

Decide on Date & Venue

The time and venue of your retirement party set the tone for the celebration. Spend time considering the retiree’s likes and dislikes and discussing timing with their spouse and family.

It is considered good practice to host a retirement party on or just after the date of retirement. Too early, and the retiree’s final days at work can feel anticlimactic. Too late, and they will already be on to their next adventure (that long-awaited European vacation, perhaps?).

Choose a venue that matches the essence of your theme (if you have one) or simply the vibe of your party. Going for a casual summer retirement party? Consider an outdoor venue that allows your guests to enjoy summer games and sun. Aiming for a formal and intimate surprise party? Do some sleuthing with friends and family to find the guest of honor’s favorite fancy restaurant.

What About The Menu?

Let the venue, theme, and type of retirement party help direct your menu. If you’re throwing a travel-themed party, try matching the cuisine to some of the retiree’s favorite destinations.

Some venues (such as country clubs and restaurants) will cater the event to your specifications. For other venues, such as a private home or public park, consider either catering or cooking some of the retiree’s favorite foods. There is no right or wrong answer regarding a retirement party menu. Just be sure to end your menu with a slice of cake or a retirement-themed dessert!

Party Decoration

Part of the fun of planning a retirement party is picking a theme that fits the retiree. While not every party needs a theme, having one helps you decide on party decor. 

Some fan favorite retirement party themes include travel (or a specific destination such as Paris or Hawaii), golf, books (for the bookworm, of course), garden tea party, or even a specific decade (disco, anyone?). A theme based on the retiree’s hobbies, goals, or career is a great place to start!

The theme will also influence whether you’re throwing a formal soiree or an informal shindig. Hawaiian BBQ probably won’t jive with your private dinner party, so keep that in mind.

Ultimately, have fun with it! Focus on decor that also works well with your theme and venue. Wine bottles labeled with “Party like there’s no work tomorrow!” add some humor to any retirement party theme. For the lighthearted retiree, funny banners, buttons, and decor with a fun tagline go a long way in making your retirement party a success.

Other Ideas Around a Retirement Party

You’re off to a great start planning the ultimate retirement party! Here are just a few ideas to incorporate during the big event.

Emphasize Speeches

Take some time during the retirement party to give speeches honoring the retiree. For larger parties, assign this task to a few significant people in advance, such as a boss, spouse, or close colleagues.

Walk Down The Memory Lane

Nothing says retirement quite like a walk down memory lane. Take time to share the significant moments and memories from the retiree’s career. This can be done with a photo slideshow, a video, or a collaborative memory book. Memory books are a great way to include the entire office and family members, giving everyone a chance to share their favorite memories.

A Creative Cake

Don’t forget the dessert! Every party needs a cake (or at least something sweet to celebrate). Consider getting a cake that matches your theme or the retiree’s career. Some ideas include a gavel for the retiring judge, a map of the retiree’s first travel destination, or even a simple cake with your favorite quote or office joke.

Have Games & Other Fun Activities

Games are a great way to keep your guests entertained while emphasizing your party theme. For the backyard BBQ, include some cornhole, bocce, or volleyball. For a more formal affair, icebreaker games that can be played around a dinner table are a great option. For larger events, consider music and dancing to keep your guests energized and having fun.

Build The Party Around the Hobbies of the Retiree

Hobbies are a great source of inspiration when planning a retirement party. If you aren’t familiar with your retiree’s hobbies, consider asking their spouse or family for some ideas. Hobbies such as golf, gardening, boating, and travel make great foundations for a retirement party.

Commemorate The Retiree

Be sure to schedule some time at the party to honor and commemorate the retiree. This can take the form of speeches or can be a separate time where a specific person takes a moment to share some of the retiree’s accomplishments. This is also a great time to give the retiree a group gift. 

Give a Retirement Gift

Gifts are always a great idea! Common retirement gifts include engraved items (like pens, clocks, or frames), hobby-specific goods, gift cards, and books. A Newlywords memory book makes a unique gift for something a little more personal. It is both personal and custom, a gift the retiree can return to again and again to relive fond memories. 

A Fun, Lighthearted Playlist

Did we mention music? There are plenty of options for adding some good sounds to your retirement party. Hire a DJ, hire a band, or simply put together a fun and memorable playlist to play in the background.

Set Up a Photo Booth

One way to capture all the fun memories from the day is to set up a photo booth. You can either rent a booth or make a DIY version. Whichever way you go, when you plan your retirement party, be sure to include plenty of themed props!

Consider Doing Some Charity

For the conscientious retiree, make their party unique with an element of charity. If your retiree volunteers time or money to a specific charity, consider including charity work in the party. This can take the form of hands-on volunteer time before the festivities. It can also take the form of an auction, game, or competition at the party that raises funds for that charity.

Send Your Colleague and Loved One Out The Right Way!

It’s party time! Now that you’re a pro at party planning, it’s time to plan the perfect retirement party. Every retiree deserves a celebration, and your party will surely be a big hit. Your colleague is sure to feel honored and celebrated when you send them into their next season of life with a personal, well-thought-out event.

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