Things to Consider When Planning a Retirement Party
Planning a retirement party takes a lot of, well, planning, but it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as might you think. If you keep the guest of honor in mind and focus on throwing a memorable party for them, planning a retirement party can be fun and rewarding. Retirement parties celebrate a milestone in the retiree’s life and honor their career and contributions to the community. When planning a retirement party, you want to focus on making the retiree feel accomplished and prepare them for a happy retirement.
As mentioned, there is a lot of planning involved in executing a successful retirement party. There are many things to take in consideration, like:
- Guest List (intimate or large gathering)
- Venue or location
- Theme, decorations, and food
Use this guide to help you plan the perfect retirement party.
Determining the Budget
Knowing your budget ahead of time will help you set priorities for your retirement party. It helps determine all aspects of the planning from how many guests to invite, renting a venue, decorations, and food. The first thing you want to do is establish an amount that you can work within, then build a budget for each expense and create an expense checklist. You can use an Excel spreadsheet to keep everything organized and track your expenses as they happen. Some basic items to include are:
- Venue Cost
- Decorations/Party favors
- Food Costs
- Gifts fot the retiree
- A/V or Equipment rental
After you have established a budget, you can move on to the fun part of planning a retirement party – the actual planning!
Type of Celebration to Choose
When deciding the type of retirement party you would like to throw, think about the retiree’s interests and hobbies. Focusing on their personality can help you make a thoughtful decision and create an unforgettable experience for the guest of honor. If the retiree loves sports, you might want to inquire about hosting the party at a baseball or football game. Or if they love a good old-fashioned cookout, then hosting the party outdoors and having a BBQ picnic would be a great idea.
Another important thing to find out is if the retiree would prefer a more intimate gathering with friends and family or a larger crowd to include co-workers. This will also help you decide what type of retirement party to plan. Whatever you choose, if you remember to keep your focus on the retiree, your party is sure to be a great success!
Who to invite?
Creating a guest list for a retirement party can be daunting. You don’t want to offend anyone by leaving them out or invite someone that would be out of place. If you know what type of retirement party you are planning (intimate or large gathering), the guest list should come pretty easy.
For a more intimate, or private party, close friends, family, and co-workers are acceptable. Private retirement parties are usually hosted outside of work, so it is okay not to include all the retiree’s co-workers and to only include the most important people to the retiree. Larger gatherings, or corporate events will have a larger guest list and will normally include the retiree’s office co-workers and important people from their career. For corporate retirement parties, it is acceptable to invite the retiree’s relatives and friends too.
There are many ways to send out invitations, but the type of invitation you choose will depend on the kind of party you’re hosting. A paper invitation is appropriate for a larger, corporate event, and an e-vite is good to use if it is a more casual, small party. If you are planning a themed retirement party, make sure to match your invitations to the theme and when sending out your invitations, there are a few things to remember:
- Send out invitations at least 3 weeks in advanced to give your guests ample time to RSVP
- Add the date, time, and location
- Specify the dress code
- Include whether the guests can bring a plus one and ask them to RSVP a head count
- Let your guests know if any food/drinks will be provided
Picking a Date & Location
Retirement parties are usually held at the end of the retiree’s employment. You will want to plan the party for within a week or two of their retirement, or if you can, the day their retirement starts. Any day of the week is acceptable to host the party, but the weekends might be the easiest for all your guests to plan accordingly and be able to attend.
Selecting a location will be determined by the size and type of retirement party you are planning. If you are hosting a party in Houston, Texas, Imagen Venues has two different event centers to choose from that can accommodate any size party.
When selecting a location, some things to keep in mind are:
- The number of guests
- If you will need AV for toasts/speeches
- Type of food you will serve (appetizers, lunch, or dinner)
- If food is included with your venue
- Chairs/tables included
Retirement Party Theme
Planning a retirement party theme can make the party entertaining and memorable. You should do some research on the retiree’s interests and hobbies and find a way to include them in the theme to help you plan an unforgettable retirement party. If the retiree is relocating or planning a trip after retirement, a destination theme can be an enjoyable way to celebrate as well. Encourage your guests to dress up according to the theme you choose to make things more fun!
Retirement Party Theme Ideas
- Favorite decade
- Favorite hobby (golf, sailing, fishing, picnic, etc.)
- Las Vegas
- Black tie affair
- Great Gatsby
Your party decorations and food should tie into the theme you have selected. Decorations can range from balloons, streamers, centerpieces, and personalized banners. For a Margaritaville or beach theme, guests can wear Hawaiian shirts and receive leis at the door, and you can set up tables to resemble a luau. You can also include themed party favors to act as decorations and be taken home by guests to commemorate the event, like customized coasters or koozies. The retirement cake should be the center of attention of the food you serve and should complement the theme as well. A Las Vegas themed cake could be shaped like dice or include chips and cards and read “Welcome to Fabulous Retirement”. Coordinating decorations, party favors, and food with the theme of a retirement party will really stand out and impress your guests.
Activities to Keep the Party Going
It is common for retirement parties to include toasts and speeches that celebrate the retiree’s career. When planning the event, make sure to arrange some time for anyone who would like to say a few words and be sure to ask people ahead of time so they can prepare. Instead of toasts and speeches, you can plan a “roast” to take place during dinner or after the cake has been served. A roast is a humorous way to honor and celebrate the retiree by sharing stories of their career or embarrassing moments. Whether to host a roast or not depends on the personality of the retiree. A roast may not be a good idea for someone who is more introverted and does not like to be put on the spot.
While toasts and roasts are usually the main event for entertainment, planning additional activities is a good way to keep everyone interested in the party. Other activities you can consider include:
- Photobooth with themed props
- Pin the briefcase on the retiree
- Bingo game with retirement terms
- Memory or autograph book
The type of activities you organize for the retirement party will also be based on the type of party you are planning. Of course, a more formal party won’t include picnic games, like pin the briefcase on the retiree, and a cocktail party might not have the space to host a bingo game. For larger parties, hiring a DJ and setting up a dance floor may be the only additional activity you need to keep the party going.
Planning a retirement party is no small affair, but in doing so, you are guaranteed to have a successful event. Remember to keep your guest of honor in mind and focus on preparing them for a happy retirement.