Retirement Party Ideas

Lorraine Winter

Planning a retirement party can be a daunting task, especially for an employee who has been given the task of planning the farewell party for a long serving, revered colleague.

Or, you may be planning a celebration for a spouse or another family member. Whichever it is, planning and hosting a retirement party need not be a stressful one because we have some great ideas… and some hints and tips to help the whole event run smoothly too!

#1 Plan well in advance

People tend to know when they plan on retiring and so, as soon as you know the date (or even an approximate date they intend retiring), start planning.

Retirement party ideas are not just about the here and now, but about celebrating the past too. So, the sooner you start the hunt for old colleagues and stories from the past the better.

#2 Decide the date and the venue

The retiree may be finishing work on Tuesday but sometimes, the party is better held on the Friday or Saturday.

We always suggest that the maximise attendance, you check the calendar for events and sporting fixtures. Having said that, most people will make an effort to attend so make sure that you hire a venue that is big enough to accommodate your guest list – and a few extras too.

#3 Theme or no theme?

It can be tough to decide whether to have a theme for a retirement party or not. We have known some incredibly successful themed parties – everyone dressed as the retiree, or wearing some kind of reference to the job that they did – but we also know of many retirement parties that were not themed that also worked as well.

Top tip – make it fancy dress with people coming dressed in the style of the year that the retiree started working!

However, there is one aspect that is simply essential and that is decorating the party venue.

Set yourself a party budget – your colleagues will be more than happy to contribute – and make sure that the venue is festooned with balloons, banners and other bright, decorative items. There is a whole range of accessories and items that work well, especially when you consider the possibility that some can be linked to the occupation of the retiree…

#4 Games

In some cases, games can be a great way to break the ice or to warm up the party. Some general party games can be good but some that are specifically linked to retirement can be a great way to add a little more zest to a party…

  • Retirement ideas – many people struggle with the notion of retirement, wondering how they will fill their time. Have a large poster paper with plenty of pens and ask people to suggest ways in which the retiree can spend their time. You’ll find a mix of funny suggestions as well as some poignant ones too…
  • Share memories – this can be a game full of laughter and tears of joy, as well as tears of sorrow as colleagues realise that their peer is not returning to work. No doubt there are plenty of memories that people would like to share but help them with certain prompts. Again, have posters dotted about the room with plenty of pens nearby and ask guests certain questions such as…
    • Most embarrassing moment with X
    • Saddest memory
    • First memory
    • Funniest memory

Your main speaker, if you have one, could use some of this (incriminating) information.

#5 Retiree bucket list

The bucket list has become a common phenomenon in recent years. This is a list of things someone wants to achieve or do before they die (kick the bucket!).

Why not have your retiree write their own bucket list or, even better, get colleagues and relatives to suggest an alternative bucket list? Some retirees actually do take on some of these challenges in their retirement.

#6 Gifts

Retirees can be showered with gifts but if you know that there is something they would really like, then creating a gift fund is one way of buying one main gift that means something. A keepsake is often a good idea.

Having said that, we have known of colleagues come together and buy a long weekend away of a city break for their retiring colleague and their spouse, a welcome present and a great way of creating new memories in their retirement.

Retirement is a special time, a time to do something different. But for many, as the door on their career closes, it can be tough saying good bye. A well-planned retirement party is the perfect way for colleagues to bid their peer farewell!