How to Plan a Proper Retirement Party

Have you been tasked with the planning of a friend or loved one’s retirement party? You’ve just been gifted with a wonderful and rare opportunity. You’re about to take 30+ years of someone’s life, package it up into a couple of hours of fun, and send them off into a brightly colored sunset. Retirement party…

Have you been tasked with the planning of a friend or loved one’s retirement party? You’ve just been gifted with a wonderful and rare opportunity. You’re about to take 30+ years of someone’s life, package it up into a couple of hours of fun, and send them off into a brightly colored sunset. Retirement party planning is fun once you get the budget worked out and secure a stunning venue. We’re going to kick things off by offering you a retirement party checklist and then dip into the finer details.

How to Host a Retirement Party

If you have the joy of hosting a retirement party, the best place to start is with a checklist. Below, we’re going to give you a retirement party planning checklist template to help you start off the way you’ll want to continue: in an organized fashion.
  1. Set your budget.
  2. Select the setting (i.e., garden party, catering hall, or barbecue).
  3. Set the date.
  4. Create a guest list.
  5. Send out the invitations.
  6. Ask someone to prepare a toast.
  7. Create invitations & gather mementos.
  8. Purchase a meaningful gift.
  9. Get ready to meet and greet.
  10. Be prepared for cleanup duty.
Whew. It seems like planning a retirement party comes with a lot of to-do items, doesn’t it? Fear not. If you take this checklist and walk through it, one bullet point at a time, your retirement party ideas will quickly come to fruition. Let’s take a deeper dive into the most important elements on this list.

Plan the Budget

When planning a retirement party on a budget, it’s important to know who pays for the retirement party. If the company is paying for your friend or family member’s party, ask them what you have to work with. If you’re personally planning the affair, then figure out how much money you have available before you make any of the other decisions. Ask siblings or other family members if they’d be willing to contribute and how much they’d be willing to commit to. This will impact every area of your planning. It will determine if you can reserve a catering hall or need to offer something more casual with a cash bar and appetizers. It will also establish how many people you can invite, what type of food to serve, and what kind of retirement gift you can shop for.

Plan the Guest List

woman retirement party
With your budget in hand and venue in mind, it’s time to take out a pad and pencil and prepare the guest list. Start with the people your friend or loved one will be leaving behind when they go: their co-workers. Will you invite the whole office? Every member of their immediate team? Or only the personal friends they went out to lunch with and grabbed coffee with? These are the most important attendees. After that section of the list has been established, you can begin to think about personal friends and family. Who stood by your friend or family member through thick and thin as they toiled away each day? Certainly, the immediate family is on the list. Then, are there any extended family members they were close to? A cousin they spoke to regularly or any in-laws? Retirement party invitation ideas abound. So, this is another fun part. You can create invitations yourself online or, if you have the budget, hire someone else to do it. Another consideration is whether or not you’ll have to find the wording for a retirement email or print them out yourself.

Plan for Food and Decorations

This takes us back to our budget again. Will you be able to host the big day in a spacious catering hall or will you need to offer just hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar? Retirement party food sets the stage as much as the decor. It’s expected and it’s, in its own way, the secondary focal point. If you’re not limited by your budget, don’t shy away from the plethora of retirement party food ideas out there. Make it a savory affair that everyone will remember. While we’re discussing the table, let’s spend a moment on retirement party table decorations. You can go classic with hurricane lamps, candles, and flowers. Or, you can do something quirky with your retirement party decorations like centerpieces that feature antique clocks and flowers. They’ve done their time; they’ve earned that glass of wine; so, make sure the table setting says it all with festive retirement party decorations.

Plan a Retirement Gift

Shopping for retirement gifts is no small affair. We’re talking about 30+ years of a life well-lived. The best retirement gifts are highly personal. If they like to golf, where’s the nearest resort? And how many nights can you afford to send them there for? If your friend or family member always wanted to travel, but never really took the plunge, maybe everyone can pool their money together for a gift card to an international airline. The truth is, there are plenty of unique retirement gift suggestions out there. And, after the toast, this is the big event, so be sure to put plenty of thought into this to-do item.

Share Memories & Other Activities

Depending on the setting, you might consider a few retirement games for your co-worker or loved one. One idea is to create a memory bank where everyone comes in, writes down one memory of their friend or family member, and, towards the end, the retiree guesses who wrote which memory. You can also have a slideshow running throughout the party with pictures and videos. Don’t be afraid of posting a giant sign with photos and asking attendees to write a sweet message. Retirement party etiquette all but calls for this sort of thing. These turn into wonderful retirement party keepsakes for your loved one that they’ll take with them wherever they go.

Retirement Party Planning for You

And there you have it! These are the highlights of a perfectly-orchestrated retirement party. Anytime you start to feel overwhelmed, just consider how long 30+ years is. That’s a lot to celebrate! If you’d like to take your retirement party planning to a stunning venue with attentive service, then we hope you’ll give us a call today. Here at RedWater Events, we have eight locations in the greater Grand Rapids, MI area. No matter your friend or loved one’s style, we have the setting that will fit them like a glove. Best of all, we’re here to take a lot of these to-dos off your plate with our audio/visual services and food and beverage services. You show us what you want and we’ll make it happen. ‍

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