Closing the door to a lifelong career and transitioning to passion projects, travel, and relaxation is something to celebrate. If you’re in charge of planning the retirement party for a loved one, you’re embarking on an exciting challenge. You get the opportunity to showcase their work life and attendant achievements, engage their family and friends, and create an event that’s as inspiring as your retiring loved one.

If you need guidance in planning a retirement party, we’ve got nine tips to get you started.

1. Set a Budget and Stick to It

First and foremost, you’ve got to know how much money you’re working with. The budget will help guide all of your choices, including whether you can pay for expert party planners to make your event sparkle.

Who is paying for the party? If your loved one’s company is fronting the cost, communicate with them about the budget.If you and your family/friends are pitching in to pay for the party, come up with a reasonable budget that everyone is on board with.

2. Create a Guest List and Collect Addresses

The guest list should always be one of the first items you check off your list when you begin the party planning process. It can be tedious to sit down and think of everyone to invite, but your head count will affect all of your decisions about the event (like venue, food, entertainment, etc.). Your party will look a lot different if you’re hosting a dozen people vs. 100.

Here are some people to remember for the guest list:

  • Immediate family of retiree
  • Immediate boss and co-workers
  • Former bosses
  • Close friends
  • Former co-workers
  • Extended Family
  • Board or Council members (if applicable)
  • Clients that the retiree worked closely with

Once you’ve nailed down a guest list, obtain all their addresses to make sending out invitations easy.

3. Select a Venue

Now that you’ve got the budget and guest list squared away, it’s time to choose a venue. Consider your budget and party size, and select a venue accommodating your guest list. Maybe it will take place at the office, and you’ll deck it out to make it fabulous. Your budget may allow for a beautiful country club overlooking a sparkling lake. A nice dinner at a restaurant might suffice if the guest list is small. Other options to consider:

  • The banquet room at a restaurant
  • The ballroom at a hotel
  • Someone’s residence
  • A friend’s backyard

4. Set a Date and Send out Invites

Budget, check! Final guest list, check! Perfect venue, check! Now you can send out the invitations.

The retiree’s current co-workers should know about the party via a company newsletter. Still, everyone loves receiving a formal invitation that outlines the details.

Make sure to send out invites at least a month before the party so everyone can block out their calendars. The basic information on an invitation should include the following:

  • Date and time
  • Location of party
  • Dress code
  • Any special instructions (bring a gag gift, wear a specific color, prepare a speech, or email your sentiments to be shared in a video, book, etc.)

Ensure you proofread your invites and have at least one other person look them over to ensure everything is correct. Nothing is worse than sending out a bunch of invites with the wrong date. Once they are ready, grab your guest list with addresses, stuff the envelopes, and off they go.

5. Plan the Food and Décor

Things are getting real now. You sent out the invites, and it’s time to plan the yummy food and dazzling décor. Pull up your budget and assess how much you have to spend. Don’t skimp on food; it has a big influence on the way people experience your event. Consider a variety of delicious hors d’oeuvres and creative cocktails. Buffet-style food is often an excellent option for open-house-style retirement parties with an extensive guest list.

Consider a theme for your food. Did your loved one spend a lot of time working in a certain region or interacting with people from another country? Is their family from another country? This could be reflected in your menu to personalize the event.

Next, plan your décor. Choose a theme that suits the retiree’s personality. Would they appreciate some humor? Do they love upscale gatherings? Are they known for their love of bright colors? You could do a “party through the decades” with decorations from different years. Other theme ideas include:

  • Golf-themed for the golf lover
  • A classy nautical theme for the boater
  • Casino night for the gambler
  • Hollywood-themed for the movie director
  • Sports-themed for the sports agent

6. Plan Toasts/ Tributes/Activities

It’s always a good idea to pay tribute to the guest of honor. Consider a set of toasts, a humorous roast, a memory book, a video, a slideshow, a display of their achievements, or anything else that would be a fitting tribute to their career.

7. Purchase a Thoughtful Gift

Consider giving guests the option to pay in on a group gift. An exceptional retirement gift is personal and creative. You could send your loved one on a golf trip if they are a golf enthusiast.

There may be a destination your loved one has always dreamed of traveling to, and you and all your family could chip in to send them there.

More gift ideas include:

  • Cooking classes for the culinary wizard
  • An engraved picture frame with a collage of memories from their career
  • A box full of everyone’s favorite book for the book lover
  • A Fitbit to track their exercise
  • A personalized journal
  • A luxury luggage set for the future traveler

8. Meet and Greet

Congratulations on planning a great party; now it’s time to be the host with the most. Slap on your biggest smile, meet and greet your heart out, remember names, thank everyone for coming, and make sure to keep the party flowing.

Mingle around to introduce parties who may not know each other. Watch the clock and keep everyone on schedule. Gather everyone together when it’s time for speeches, activities, and gift-giving.

9. Recruit a Cleanup Crew

All your meticulous planning and organization paid off, and the party was a hit. There were laughs, there were tears; there were jokes told, and memories shared. Unfortunately, it’s time to clean everything up. This part isn’t fun, but it won’t take long if you designate a cleaning crew ahead of time.

A retirement party should be a feel-good event with good food, good people, and thoughtful ways to honor your loved one’s life-long career. It is so lovely of you to take the role of party planner for your loved one. Follow our guide, and your party will be a hit! If you want an experienced party planner in D.C., Dallas, or Los Angeles to help you plan the retirement party of the century, give us a call today.