Planning a Retirement Party in 6 Easy Steps

This guide to planning a retirement party from RedWater Events will help you send off your coworker into retirement in style in just six easy steps! Photo credit: Kylee Paige Photography

If you have a friend or coworker who’s about to leave the working world behind, you may have been approached about planning a retirement party for them. This is a great opportunity to honor all the work they’ve done over the last 30+ years of their professional life. It’s also a great opportunity to show them how well you know them. However, if you’re not sure where to start with planning a retirement party, there are six things you need to do before sending your coworker off to be a full-time snowbird.

How to Plan a Retirement Party: The Checklist

At a glance, a comprehensive retirement party planning checklist covers the following seven factors:
  1. Budget
  2. Guests
  3. Venue
  4. Food
  5. Decorations
  6. Gifts
  7. Activities
That doesn’t even include the setup and teardown at the event itself! While there are other things you could potentially plan to include, such as live entertainment or special appearances from guests the retiree knows, these are the fundamentals. Here are some things to consider with each of these factors during the party planning process.

1. Set Your Budget

When you’re planning a retirement party, the first thing to ask is who’s paying for it. Then, you have to determine what your budget is and how much they’re willing to pay. If your company is paying for the guest of honor’s retirement party as thanks for their years of service, ask them what you’ll have to work with—most companies typically have funds set aside for this very purpose. However, if you’re throwing the retirement party yourself or among the retiree’s circle of friends, figure out how much money you have available before you take any further steps in the retirement party planning process. This is something most people are willing to chip in to make happen, especially if they know the retiree well. Making sure you have the funds set aside ahead of time can help you make the retirement party a proper celebration, rather than just another office pizza party with half-deflated Mylar balloons.

2. Create Your Guest List

Once you know how much money you have to work with, it’s time to start pulling out a pad and pencil (if you’re old school) or a spreadsheet to prepare the guest list. Start with the people who will notice the retiree’s absence the most—their coworkers. However, the number of coworkers you invite can vary. Some guests of honor might prefer:
  • Inviting the entire office
  • Celebrating with their immediate team or department
  • Only a handful of friends and family members
This depends on the person. Some retirees might want to spend their party around the people who helped them through their most challenging projects—whether it’s coworkers, family members, or close personal friends who saw them work as hard as they did. Now is the chance for them to celebrate their accomplishments and look back on their career in style. Once you’ve established who’s coming to honor the retiree, then you can start coming up with fun ideas for a retirement party that will feel personal and special. Come up with a theme that matches their personality, and don’t be afraid to get creative.

3. Choose Your Retirement Party Venue

The right retirement party venue can set the tone for the entire party almost on its own. It also depends on the taste and preferences of the retiree. For example, if the person of the hour is an avid gardener and retiring in spring or early summer, a garden party could be a great choice. However, if they enjoy the opulence and elegance of a dining hall, it may be helpful to book a venue that can seat as many people as you’re inviting to celebrate their retirement. Others might be more inclined toward a barbecue or cookout, or a cocktail hour overlooking a lake. No matter what the case may be, all of RedWater Events’ spaces have multiple options to suit the retiree’s tastes. Here are just a few of our venue options:
  • Boatwerks Waterfront Events: With picturesque views of Lake Macatawa, Boatwerks is an ideal space for cocktail parties and other themed events to celebrate the retiree in your life.
  • Muskegon Country Club: Tucked away in the dunes above Muskegon Lake, this venue is a guaranteed hole-in-one for golf lovers with our LiveGolf Studios golf simulators.
  • Thousand Oaks Golf Club: With three bars and an award-winning wraparound deck with breathtaking views, Thousand Oaks Golf Club is an ideal retirement party venue for celebrations of all sizes.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, either. All of our stunning retirement party venues in West Michigan are ideal for celebrating all their hard work over the years.

4. Find Food and Decorations

Here’s where the budget comes into play once more. If you want to provide a full, multi-course dinner celebrating the retiree as they leave to travel the world or take up acrylic painting, that will command a relatively high price point. However, if the retiree is more of the “hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar” type of person, that will cost less while still allowing them to enjoy a top-tier venue. No matter what the menu might look like, RedWater Events offers all types of gourmet food for your retirement event. Whether you want a multi-course dinner, a selection of appetizers, or even a brunch event, our catering staff gives you one less thing to worry about on the day of the party. Even more, our staff makes it easy for you to decorate for your retirement party, set up slideshows with memories from working with the guest of honor, and make space for activities and games.

5. Choose a Gift for the Retirement Party

Shopping for the perfect retirement gift is a process just as much as it is a personal journey. After all, we’re talking about 30+ years in the working world! Their career contributions should be worth more than a fancy branded pen and some hand lotion. The gift should be personalized as much as possible to the retiree’s taste. If they like to golf, getting them a membership at one of our golf clubs may be a great option. Do they love to travel and enjoy a good glass of wine? Booking them a trip for a few days at a wine tasting in Napa Valley is another great option, especially if you and the other guests pool together your money to send them on the vacation of their dreams. In truth, the perfect retirement gift will depend entirely on who the retiree is. There are plenty of retirement gift ideas to use as inspiration, but your sendoff gift for them should feel personal and meaningful.

6. Set Up Retirement Party Games and Share Memories

Before you’re ready to kick off the big event and thank your retiree for all the service they contributed over the years, it’s ideal to come prepared with a few retirement party games. Here are some classics that we recommend:
  • Favorite memories: Bring some index cards and have your guests write about their favorite memories they have with the retiree. Or, if you want to turn it into a memento they can keep forever, have the guests write out their memories on a quilt, cork display, or anything else the retiree can bring home!
  • Know the retiree: This one requires interviewing the retiree first to make sure you have all the answers ahead of time. Set up a quiz on our overhead projector or otherwise have a questionnaire ready for the guests to fill out, then let them get to work showing how well they know their office parent. What was their first job? What was their least favorite part of their job? What was the first thing they’d always go for at the office potluck? The opportunities are endless.
  • Name that drink: If you’re taking advantage of our drink services for the retirement party, we can help you set up this fun game that lets your beer- or wine-loving guest of honor show their stuff. Simply blindfold your participants and pour four different types of wine or beer, then let the guessing game begin!
  • Roasting the retiree: This can go hand in hand with the favorite memories game. Each of the guests takes turns teasing the retiree and heckling or occasionally complimenting them, and then once everyone has had a turn taking shots at them, the retiree can fire back at everyone attending. The entire setup is meant to be in good fun, so make sure you establish the standards ahead of time and match them to the dynamics of your team. That way, everyone can have a good time and Kevin from accounting knows what types of jokes would be below the belt.
However, most of all, it’s important to incorporate the memories you’ve made with the retiree along the way into the entire party. Include photos and videos from your time together, and encourage your guests to talk about the fun, challenging, and just plain hilarious moments you’ve shared over the years.

Find Retirement Party Venues Near You

Looking to send your coworker off toward retirement in style? Find the perfect retirement party venue in Michigan and schedule a tour to see our luxurious event spaces for yourself today.

Ready to Book?

Reach out for more information on any of our venues!

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