Reaching retirement age, no matter what age that might be, is a momentous occasion that deserves to be celebrated. Some people love to make it a quiet affair, having a nice dinner with family and some close friends. Then there are the folks who love to leave the working world with a bang, having one of the most memorable retirement parties that any can every remember. These retirement party ideas are for those who want to go out in style.
It all begins with your budget. It is impossible to fund a retirement party without some cash involved. Before reaching your retirement date, consider squirreling away some cash here and there so you’ll be able to have a party with the right level of extravagance. If you’re pulling funds from your IRA or 401k to throw your party… well, then you’re doing it wrong.
#1. Think about having a theme party. Everyone loves something in this world. It might be going fishing, watching Star Trek, or going to the casino. When someone is about to retirement, they will be able to embrace their loves a whole lot more every day. Why not celebrate that with a retirement party that is themed to the retiree’s favorite things?
Using the examples above, here are some ways that you could make that happen.
- Going fishing – you could opt for a dining room that is filled with camouflage, waders, and fishing rods and that would certainly be a fun time. Why not actually go fishing for your retirement party? Get your licenses in order, rent some boats if necessary, and get out on the water at the local fishing hole. Got some extra cash and want a more intimate setting? Try deep water fishing from a tropical island for your retirement.
- Science fiction – if your retiree has a favorite television show or movie, have people show up to the party dressed up in their favorite characters. For Star Trek, for example, you could ask everyone to show up as Spock. Create a theme that is based on their favorites story lines and you could even include a scavenger hunt that replicated the tasks of certain missions, events, or scenarios that unfolded in the show or movie.
- The Casino – casinos love to throw a good retirement party, which means you don’t have to make it to Las Vegas to have a good time. Get everyone together, organize a slot or blackjack tournament, and take advantage of the facilities for food. As an added bonus, you won’t have to pay a premium price for food at the local casino because you won’t be paying for food created by Wolfgang Puck or Gordon Ramsay.
#2. Roasts don’t have to involve slow cookers. One of the great classic retirement party ideas that is used frequently is the roast. It’s the type of party where you come to celebrate the person who is retiring with some great food, but there’s some great jokes as well. Invite everyone the retiree knows and have some close family or friends come up to say some things about the retiree that may or may not be very flattering.
“Remember that time when Joe when to step into the fishing boat, slipped, and struck his groin on the edge of the hull? I’m pretty sure he wore an ice pack in his pants for three weeks straight.”
“Mary has always been an exemplary employee. On her 5th anniversary on the job, for example, she decided not to show up for work because her Uncle Jack was in town. Uncle Jack Daniels.”
The point of throwing a roast is to not go overboard with the embarrassment. The goal isn’t to ruin a person’s reputation or make them feel like pond scum. It’s to have a mutual laugh, at the retiree’s expense, and this idea should only be used if the person who is retiring has a good sense of humor.
#3. Put together an incredible slideshow. By the time someone reaches retirement age, they have generally accumulated a lot of stuff. This doesn’t mean that the retiree is a hoarder, but it may mean that they have a great love for cats, golf memorabilia, or photo albums. If it is the latter, then creating a short video that commemorates their life in images can be a very touching way to end a career.
Many retirement parties are based off of work accomplishments, but you can mix family life with a professional life in this kind of party. Show off some of their best moments at work. Give co-workers a glimpse of their private life that many probably haven’t seen before. As an extra bonus, thanks to modern technology, you don’t even need slides for this any more. Just put together the presentation or video, hook the computer into a television, and you’re ready to go.
#4. Figure out the new hobbies of the retiree. If you have a more informal get together for a retirement party, then this idea will help everyone to have a good time. As everyone comes to the party, give them a slip of paper and ask them to write down what they think the retiree’s favorite new hobby is going to be. Some people will take this task very seriously and write down things like “golf,” “playing the piano,” or “traveling.”
There are always a few people who won’t take this task very seriously. They’ll write down things like “climbing redwood trees,” “visiting the dentist to get dentures,” or “walking naked through the middle of town.”
Have everyone turn their slips into a hat that the party organizer is going to be holding. After a meal, cake, or whatever food festivities are planned, separate the attendees of the party into two separate groups. These will become your teams. Then each team must draw a slip of paper out and act out the new hobby, much like the game of Charades. What does the winning team receive as a prize? We’ll leave that for you to decide.
#5. Are you throwing a straight-up office party? Most retirement parties at the office must fit in with the responsibilities of a normal working day, so most businesses aren’t going to be able to shut down for an entire day just to throw a party. What a business can do is declare that the day is “[Fill In Retiree’s Name] Day” and give people the chance to come up to the retiree to say goodbye. Throw a barbecue if there’s room on the grounds or take the person out to eat for lunch somewhere on the company’s dime.
Many businesses like to give retiring employees a gift to commemorate their service. Having company branded items like pens or frisbees just doesn’t make the grade for a meaningful gift, yet that’s often what a business will give someone. There’s also the classic gold watch that isn’t really made out of gold these days. Give the retiree something that they’ll actually want to use or will find meaningful, like a gift certificate for a few rounds of golf, and the retirement party will show the retiree that the business really does care about them.
#6. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great time. Do you consistently joke about someone “losing their marbles” while at work? Get a jar together and give everyone a marble. Have people randomly come up to the jar while it is in the retiree’s possession and have them place their marble in the jar throughout the day. This will let people know that their marbles have finally been “found.”
Another popular phrase that is often said is that “money doesn’t grow on trees.” If your retiree says this, then giving them an actual tree that has money tied to it can make for a great gift presentation. You don’t have to load the money tree with hundred dollar bills, although most retiree’s wouldn’t complain if that happened, to make an impression. One dollar bills work just fine. For something unique, especially in the US, get a stack of two dollar bills to tie to the tree instead.
#7. A simple “thank you” goes a long way. The gifts that are given during a retirement party are often meant as a way of giving thanks, but it is so very rare today for people to say “thank you.” Thanks is something that is often assumed, but never spoken. Some retirees don’t want a big fuss made about them. They just want to retire quietly and enjoy the rest of their life. For folks like this, the best retirement party idea is to just give them a card, give them a sincere “thank you,” maybe shake their hand, and wish them the best.
Retirement party ideas can be a frustrated topic to think about when you’re trying to plan the perfect party. Use these detailed ideas to inspire your own creativity and you will create an amazing experience that people will remember for a long, long time.