One of the best ways to celebrate retirement is with a retirement party.
Who to Invite
Sometimes hosted by the retiree's family and sometimes an official company event, the retirement party is an event where you want to mix the guest of honor's family and friends with their work colleagues.
If possible, it is nice to invite associates from past positions as well as people the retiree interacted with professionally outside their own company – vendors, salespeople, etc
When and Where
A retirement party can be anything you want it to be:
- A luncheon during the workday
- A big gala on a Saturday night
- A sporting event on a Sunday afternoon
- Afterwork drinks at a local hangout
There are no particular etiquette rules to guide a retirement party. The party can really be anything that suits the interests and personality of the retiree.
A retirement party is the opportunity to celebrate the retiree's past accomplishments as well as their future endeavors.
The party should therefore reflect these endeavors.
Most traditional retirement parties involve speeches that honor the contributions of the retiree.
Usually the person throwing the party gives a speech, but you can also ask bosses, employees, friends or family to say something. Retirement speeches should highlight the accomplishments of the retiree. It is also nice to recount the history of the person's career – starting with their first job as a child or teenager.
It is also nice to involve all the guests in a commemoration by
- Providing a blank book where each guest can write something about the guest of honor
- Asking someone to videotape each guest's remembrances of the retirees contributions
- Arrange a roast for the retiree. A roast is where a panel of friends or colleagues gently pokes fun at while also commemorating the honoree. Ideally a range of people from different aspects of the honoree's life can each speak.
- Encourage all guests to offer toasts or speeches. If you plan to do this, it would be nice to mention it in the invitation so that everyone has had to time to think about what they would like to say or prepare specific remarks.
Commemorate Their Retirement
In addition to a speech or speeches, try these other ideas to commemorate the retiree:
- Write up a quiz about the retiree's life and work accomplishments. Give a prize to the person who knows the most answers.
- Collect photographs from the retirees life and have them scanned and running in a loop on a television or computer.
- Create a powerpoint presentation that goes through the retiree's work history and accomplishments. Have it on loop throughout the party.
Get the Retiree Started on Their New Life
If the retiree is lucky enough to be entering a life of leisure, you may want to celebrate their retirement with an event focused on their hobby.
- A golf tournament
- A fishing trip
- A gourmet luncheon
- A picnic and baseball game
Other Themes for a Retirement Party
If the retiree is someone who would enjoy a themed event, here are a few ideas.
- Have all of the guests dress like the retiree. This can be a touching and fun tribute and easy enough if the honoree had a particular style of dress – a police uniform or perhaps they wore something similar almost every day – a button down shirt and jeans for example.
- If they are relocating, you could plan a party around their new location. A Costa Rican party could have jungle decorations and everyone could wear Hawaiian shirts for example.
- A golfer may like a golf themed event or even a golf tournament.
- A traveler might appreciate an around the world party with maps and food from all over the globe. Guests could wear attire from their favorite destination and offer travel tips to each other.
- You can decorate for the party by taking cues from the retirees life or accomplishments. Devote different tables to different hobbies, jobs or roles from their personal history.
- If the retiree is a grandparent, perhaps you could plan a party that involves fun games for the whole family. But leave time for a flattering toast to the honoree – it would be touching and inspiring for the grandchildren to hear about the accomplishments of their grandparent.
- You could do a "This is Your Life" party where you recount the retiree's entire biography with pictures, speeches and surprise guest appearances.
Other Fun Stuff for a Retirement Party
Here are a few other fun ideas for your retirement party planning:
- Smash the alarm clock! An important symbol of the workaday life is the alarm clock. It may be fun (and perhaps cathartic) to enable the honoree and other guests to use a hammer or mallet to smash an alarm clock to bits.
Old alarm clocks can be purchased from the thrift shop. You can put them in a pillow case to protect everyone from shattered pieces. Just be sure to recycle the electronics appropriately.
- Nothing says celebrate quite like fireworks! For a memorable send off, give guests sparklers or – if safe and appropriate – arrange a real fireworks display.
- Create a playlist of songs appropriate to aging and retirement. Some suggestions to get you started:
- "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen
- "Working Nine to Five" by Dolly Parton
- Any Jimmy Buffet song
- "Touch of Grey" by The Grateful Dead
- "When I am 64" by the Beatles
- "Young at Heart" by Doris Day and Frank Sinatra
- "Vacation" by the GoGos
- "V A C A T I O N" by Connie Francis
- "Barefootin" by Robert Parker
- "My Generation" by The Who
- "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" by Jan and Dean
- "The September of my Years" by Frank Sinatra
- "End of the Line" by the Travelling Wilburys
- And the list goes on
Keep in Touch
One of the hardest aspects of retirement can be saying good bye to people you see on a daily basis.
Help keep everyone in touch by:
- Providing all of the guests with the retiree's new contact information.
- Setting up a blog or web site where the retiree can broadcast updates and easily here from friends and family.
- Encouraging the retiree to join Facebook and "friend" their colleagues.