Planning a Retirement Party

If you are planning a retirement party for a friend or coworker, it is easy to get overwhelmed.

But just try to keep focused on the purpose of the party which is to honor the retiree. When you do this the planning becomes so much easier.

Retiring is a time of celebration. So, make it a fun and festive time for everyone.


While planning your party, keep in mind for whom the retirement party is for. Ask yourself such questions as; "Does this person enjoy large parties or would they prefer an informal luncheon?"

Plan a party that the retiree will enjoy and remember.

When To Have The Party

It is a good idea to have the retirement party the day of the retirement or the following weekend – people have been known to change their mind about retiring.


Unless told otherwise always bring a card and a gift for the retiree.

Ideas for a retirement gift can be a small present that is appropriate to the retiree's hobbies or an upcoming trip. Also, a gift card to a favorite restaurant or store is always a good idea.


If you come up with a theme for your retirement party, then everything else will fall into place - from your invitations, decorations, to the food.

Some retirement party themes to use when planning a retirement party are:

  • If the retiree is planning a cruise soon after retirement, then throw a “Cruise Ship Formal Night Dinner” party.
  • If the retiree is planning a vacation to Hawaii or another tropical destination, then use this as the theme for your party.
  • If the retiree enjoys gambling, throw a casino party.
  • If the retiree has always enjoyed visiting New Orleans, have a Mardi Gras Party.
  • If the retiree enjoys a certain sport, have a tailgate party featuring their favorite team.
  • Have a “Things That Don't Work Anymore” party.

More retirement party theme ideas.


If you have chosen a theme for your retirement party, then you can make your invitations to go with this theme.

Unique and modern announcements and invitations for all of life's events. Shop now at!

Some ideas for generic invitations that are easy to create:

  • Use a time card. Print the invitation information on the back of the card.
  • Create a travel brochure invitation with the information inside.
  • Create “Do Not Disturb” signs. Put the invitation information on the back of the sign.
  • Have a caricature drawn of the retiree and use this as the invitation.
  • Make a “Boarding Pass”, if you are having a cruise ship theme party.

Get retirement poems to use on your invitations.

What To Put On Your Invitations

Order personalized retirement invitations at Mixbook.

The information to include on your retirement invitation is the same as for any other invitation - who the retirement party is for, date, time, where the party will be held, and your name and phone number.

If you need to know how many people will be attending be sure to put RSVP on your invitation.


Depending on the theme you have chosen, you can decorate around this theme.

For example,

  • For a tropical theme, decorate with grass skirts, tropical plants, sea shells, tiki torches, and plenty of leis for everyone.
  • For a sports theme, decorate around the retirees favorite sport – golf, fishing, football...etc.
  • If you are having a Mardi Gras themed retirement party, then go all out with the decorations - use plenty of beads and masks.

Be sure to hang a “Happy Retirement!!” or a “Congratulations!!” banner to display for the retiree.

Hang the banner where the retiree will see it as soon as he/she walks in.

More Decorating Ideas For Planning A Retirement Party

Other decorating ideas to use when planning a retirement party:

  • Collect photos of the retiree through the years. Scan the photos into a computer presentation program. Set the presentation up in a corner of the room to run during the party.
  • Borrow wooden rocking chairs from friends and set them up around the room.
  • Make a “year-at-a-glance” calendar with dates filled in with humorous activities for the retiree.
  • Have a sign-in board or book for guests to sign and leave “best wishes” messages.


When planning a retirement party, plan your menu around the theme of your party.

For example, if you are having a sports theme retirement party, serve hot dogs and hamburgers with chips and dips.

For a tropical theme retirement party, serve:

  • Roast pork or Hawaiian chicken skewers
  • Fresh green salad
  • Baked yams or sweet potatoes
  • Fresh tropical fruit and melons
  • Sweet Hawaiian Bread
  • Pineapple or coconut cake

Or if you are planning a retirement party for a co-worker, have a pot luck luncheon and ask the other employees to bring a favorite dish that they would normally bring to a company gathering.

This will be one last great memory for the retiree.


A traditional retirement party usually includes a cake, but nothing says it has to be a traditional sheet cake. Use your imagination and serve a cake that everyone will get a kick out of.

Get more retirement cake ideas.

More ideas for retirement cake sayings.


Sipping beverages and making toasts have long been standards at retirement parties. So, of course, you want to serve a unique punch that will have all your guests asking for more.

Serving alcohol is never required. However, if you are serving liquor or there will be children at the retirement party, be sure to also serve a non-alcoholic punch.


When planning a retirement party, play music that goes along with the theme of the party or play music that was popular during the retiree's younger days.

If you happen to know what type of music the retiree enjoys to listen to or a favorite artist, then play that at the party.

Or you can make a CD mix with songs related to working and retiring.

Some of the top songs to play at a retirement party are:

More retirement party song ideas.


Most retirement parties rely upon toasts as the main form of entertainment.

Those who usually give toasts include the retiree's boss, a couple of co-workers, spouse, child, and a close friend.

When planning a retirement party, be sure to ask people before hand if they intend to give a toast.

Everyone is different. Some people want to give a funny toast while others want to give a heartwarming tribute to the retiree.

Do whichever is the most comfortable for you and the retiree.

If you are needing some ideas, check out these articles:

  • Funny Retirement Quotes To Use In A Toast.
  • Inspirational Retirement Quotes To Use In A Toast.
  • Roast The Retiree

    Have a “Roast” in honor of the retiree.

    However, all jokes and stories told about the retiree should be in fun – never told to humiliate or embarrass.

    A Few More Ideas

    Other activities that can be played at a retirement party might include:

    1.   What will (retiree's name) do now that he/she is retired? -

    Have everyone write down what they think the retiree will do when   he/she is no longer working.

    Then read out the answers and award a prize for the most creative answer.

    2.   Name the New Hobby -

    Before the party make up sheets with the letters of the entire alphabet printed down the left side.

    If you have a lot of guests, split them into teams. Give each team one of the sheets of paper with the letters of the alphabet printed on it.

    Next to each letter, they should write an activity that the retiree can do that begins with each letter. (Examples: Archery, Bingo, Canoeing, etc.)

    Give everyone about 15 minutes to complete the task.

    When the time is up, call out one group's answers. If another group has the same answer, then cross it out.

    The most unique answer for each letter (that no one else has) gets a point. The team with the most points wins.

    Retirement Party Favors

    When planning a retirement party, don't forget to include party favors to show your appreciation to your departing guests.

    Some ideas for retirement party favors are:

    • Hand out candy bars with the retiree's name along with the beginning and ending dates of work.

    • Personalized table clocks

    A Special Gift for the Guest of Honor

    If your party is for a co-worker, have a picture made with all of the retiree's co-workers. Get the picture framed and give as a going away gift.

    Or ask each guest to write something about their personal experiences with the guest of honor. Assemble the pages into a nice keepsake book to give to the retiree.

    A retirement party should be a time for celebration and a time of reflection for the guest of honor and the guests.

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