Planning a Retirement Party – A Unique Celebration

 Planning a retirement party is always a bit of a challenge. Most times there is a genuine feeling of regret and loss but at other times relief that you'll be seeing the back of "old Joe".

Whatever the circumstances, and whoever the person use your imagination to plan a fitting occasion. This may vary from a very formal corporate affair to the more common, more informal, saying goodbye to a friend.

Whatever the format, planning a retirement party is often a pleasure and privilege. The person retiring may have made a lasting impression on the organisation and many of their contemporaries and colleagues.

It may be a time to acknowledge someone who at times may have felt that no-one even knew they were there!

Planning the Party

When planning a retirement party ensure that all the elements are appropriate to the individual person. This should be an enjoyable and memorable occasion and not just a formality because it's the "thing to do".

To show their appreciation and affection for the retiree, or relief that "old Joe" is going at last, get a group of staff to brainstorm and come up with ideas for an original and suitable theme, venue and program.

Whilst it is important to involve as many people as possible in brainstorming ideas there should be one person with the final say.

Depending on the position of the retiree it may be necessary to have more than one retirement party. These parties may be organised by the same or different groups of people.

Set a budget for the venue, food and drinks, and entertainment and decide who will be invited. In some cases it may be for company staff only and in others it would include husbands, wives and partners, or even children.


A good party depends on good organisation which results in it going along so smoothly and naturally that it appears impromptu … it must not feel staged or false.

Choose a venue, based on the retiree's preferences. Would they prefer a small or large affair, a traditional evening or an informal celebration? Look for original venues that really suit the occasion.

With themes and decorations relate them to the retiree's hobbies, activities and passions. Golf, classic cars, music, gardening, skiing and so on.

An important decision is the master of ceremonies who will make the function hang together. The emcee should be able to work the crowd and add to the success of the party and this is probably not the boss!

When planning a retirement party make it memorable. Ensure that every step is planned from the invitations to the food, the music choice, and the gifts.

One final word of warning if you're planning a surprise party make sure it is a surprise. It is very cheesy for the poor person to spend days having to pretend that they don't know what's going on.

Planning a retirement party should also include the roasts and toasts.

If you plan a roast ensure that the emcee can carry it off. Office politics or some personal quirk makes a good subject. Good roasts should be natural and clever and could be done by a group, or pre-recorded on a video.

Make the speeches light and fun. The person is probably feeling quite emotional and this isn't the time for tears.

Keep in mind that simply offering genuine appreciation for someone may be the best accolade of all. Start a round of toasts where guests can tell the retiree what they did that had an impact on their life.

Recognize their life and accomplishments.

Display awards, trophies and photos. Hire a videographer or photographer to record the festivities. Encourage guests to toast -or roast- the retiree on camera. Disposable cameras can also be used to capture the moment and leave some lasting memories. These photographs and video can be compiled into memorable story of the occasion.

Have old photographs or memento's on which people can write their personal messages.

A caricature is often appreciated ... and is an ideal gift for someone who has everything.

Finally make sure it is fun!

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