Retirement Party Etiquette

Retirement party etiquette is similar to that for other parties and as with other parties, etiquette rules are more relaxed than in the past.

However, whether you are involved in the planning or are simply a guest, by following a few simple rules, this can be an event that everyone will enjoy and remember.


Plan The Party For The Retiree – Not For You!

The purpose of a retirement party is to honor the retiree and to celebrate new beginnings.

So, keep in mind for whom you are planning the party. Ask yourself these questions about the retiree.

  1. Does the person enjoy large, formal parties or prefer informal luncheons?
  2. Would the retiree prefer to mingle with the other guests?

Try to plan the type of party the retiree will enjoy. Keep the event focused exclusively on the retiree.

Picture of guests at retirement party.


Choose a location that is convenient for the retiree and his family members. Be sure the location fits the number of guests, type of party, and the budget.

The majority of retirement events are held either at the retiree's job location or at the home of the host/hostess.

However, a restaurant, country club, or more creative venue, such as a winery, are perfectly acceptable.

Picture of guests at outside retirement party.

When To Have The Party

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


Try to get the invitations out as early as possible, so that the guests can make plans to attend.

Allow at least two to three weeks before the party.

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Who To Invite

When deciding on the guest list, consult with the retiree - unless this is a surprise retirement party. If that is the case, check with the spouse, a close relative, or a close friend.

Usually, coworkers, close relatives, and close friends are invited to a retirement party.


Let your guests know if this is a formal or informal affair, so that they will know what to expect.

If you are planning a theme retirement party and would like the guests to dress for the theme, let them know on the invitation.

No Gifts, Please

If you do not want the guests to bring gifts, be sure to state this on the invitation. Simply writing “No Gifts, Please” is sufficient.

Picture of retirement gifts.


Retirement Gifts

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

Ideas for gifts can be a small present that is appropriate to the retiree's hobbies or to an upcoming trip.

Gift cards are always appropriate gifts to give. Purchase a gift card to a favorite restaurant or store of the retirees.

If the invitation stated “No Gifts”, it is still good manners to bring a card congratulating the retiree on his/her retirement.

More Guest Etiquette

If you are planning to attend a retirement party as a guest, below are a few other guidelines to follow:

  • If a RSVP is requested on the invitation, be sure to reply.
  • If the invitation doesn't state that you may bring a guest, then don't.
  • Send a thank you note to the host/hostess after the party.


  • Have a good time! This may be the last time that you will see some of your colleagues.
  • Offer a short speech thanking the company and thanking everyone who attended the party.
  • Don't complain about your bosses or coworkers. It is never a good idea to burn bridges.
  • Be sure to send thank you notes to the host/hostess and to the individuals who brought gifts.
  • A retirement party is a happy, as well as a sad, occasion. Enjoy your memories but look forward to your new beginnings.

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