Do you have someone in your life who is retiring soon?
Want to throw them a retirement party that they’ll never forget?
If so, we’ve got some tips for you on throwing the best retirement party ever.
Picking The Perfect Theme & Decorations
Develop a concept or vision for the party.
Is it a casual affair? Is it semi-formal?
Are you thinking appetizers or a sit-down dinner? Sit down dinners will cost more to host.
Think in terms of what the retiree might like.
If the person is more casual, avoid black-tie. A picnic might just be the right style.
In selecting a theme, most retirement party concepts are developed from the personal likes, tastes and interests of the retiree one is honoring.
For example, if they are a sports fanatic, you may want to tie-in sports into your decor.
If the person’s daily lunch is soup and sandwich, you probably want to incorporate a ‘build your own sandwich’ station into the menu.
On that note, easy appetizers can be cost-effective and provide lots of variety for your guests.
Keep decorations simple.
To this end, if hosting the party at a restaurant or venue, use their linens, chairs and tables, PA system, etc.
You can always accentuate the venue with your own decorations that reflect the retiree.
Use things that you already have around the house or garage to help with your decor.
For example, old and used picture frames can be refurbished and used to incorporate photos of the retiree.
You might also want to use the picture frames as serving trays for appetizers.
I’ve thrown a few retirement parties and have learned that it’s best to really cater to the person in question.
Different people appreciate different things. Some like walking down memory lane, others don’t want to even spare a single thought for work.
Some like to let loose, some will want to keep it more conservative.
If you’re planning a party for someone, they should always be the focus.
Only do it if you know them well–otherwise, have someone who does do it.
The best themes are based on what retirees are passionate about; therefore, decide on a theme and ask yourself (or if you don’t know their close friends well):
What do they like? Do they like sports? What about music? nature? Martial arts? Woodworking? Painting? Movie?
If you don’t have any real passion, then copy their ideal retirement weather.
Autographed books-huge drawing boards and traditional autographed books are both easy to use.
No matter which one you choose, the idea is the same: allow every guest to write down information about the VIP.
In video interview-Let, the guests tell their memories and extend their best wishes to the retirees in front of the camera.
Designated speech-select a group of guests interested in giving a short speech in the name of retirees.
It’s always good for old friends to get up, share war stories, and joke happily with the guest of honor.
How Much Can You Spend?
Develop a budget.
How much can you realistically afford to spend on the retirement party, including rentals, food & beverage, decorations, etc.
One needs to conduct some research and find out how much provisions actually cost.
One should also allow a cushion and contingency amount for unexpected expenses.
The budget also will dictate how many people you can invite to the party.
Where some hosts make a mistake is under budgeting for food & beverage.
For example, they might budget $20 per guests for 200 people.
When you think about it, one might spend half of that amount at a fast food restaurant.
Again, conduct some research.
Get pricing from caterers or review options where you can stay within your budget.
If your budget is modest, think about hosting the retirement party where all guests bring a dish (potluck) representing the retiree.
It will defray costs and your guests will feel as though they are contributing to the party in celebrating the retiree.
Remember to shop early and plan ahead. Last minute planning will always costs you more.
Location, Guests, & Party Time
Since the venue can create or destroy the atmosphere, you must not choose one lightly.
If you want to make retirees feel special, you should choose an elegant, relaxing, and interesting place.
If hosting at a venue, inquire about the lunch menu if hosting a dinner.
The lunch menu typically costs less and it’s basically the same items on the dinner menu.
If contracting a caterer, design the menu around the retiree’s likes and favorites.
Limit the party time to no more than 4-hours.
Typically 2 to 4-hours is the minimum time for different types of services such as bands, DJs, etc. In addition, the longer the party, the more diminishing effect and impact it will have on guests.
You want your guests to leave the retirement party thinking great things about the retiree, not feeling as though they just read a novel like ‘War and Peace.’
Work through the timing of the program and logistics.
For example, who speaks firsts and how long are each speech?
What is the climax or crescendo?
What do you want guests to take away from the event?
It should be a powerful statement about the person being honored.
Storytelling in short form works well and will keep attendees engaged.
Enjoying life after retirement also means bidding goodbye to the people whom you’ve worked with for years.
Your professional journey has shaped a lot of your personal upbringings too, which means everyone has made their contribution to the person that you are becoming.
This is why their presence in your retirement party matters.
It only means you acknowledge their part in your growth whether it be on a professional scale, or personally.
This is something they’d be happy to attend to, too.
At The Party
Make sure you invite the retiree’s family members.
They may be able to share some memories and stories that may be unknown at the workplace.
In addition, family members play an important part in our daily lives.
Have a friend or colleague create a slide-show presentation of the retiree and have it play on a continuous loop.
A good slide-show presentation is worth the expense.
If it cannot be done well, rethink how images can be presented.
This demonstrates how much you care about the retiree.
The slide-show should be upbeat and not come off as funeral.
A retirement party would be incomplete without honoring the many accomplishments and milestones of the retiree.
While you can’t go wrong with a heartfelt speech, adding a creative slideshow or making a video that showcases the most important events in their professional journey is a great token of appreciation.
You could always reach out to close friends, family, and former co-workers of the retiree and assemble a collection of pictures and videos to use.
Instead of buying a useless gift for someone who will likely downsize their tangible items soon, give them a gift card or tickets to an event or place they love.
An example would be concert tickets to see a favorite musician or a gift card for a future cruise.
Find out what interests them by contacting close friends or family members prior to the party.
Have personalized T-shirts made for the retiree and his family.
Place a fun saying on them such as The Legend Has Retired. Invite the retiree’s family even if it’s an in-office event during the workday.
Bonus if you make it a surprise for the person retiring.
Prepare For The Worst
Conduct your due diligence and have a backup plan in case of an emergency situation.
What could possibly go wrong?
Murphy’s Law does exist, which in turn — can costs you money that you were not planning to allocate for the retirement party — as well as create an embarrassing situation for you, your guests — and the retiree.
Get everything in writing.
That may even go as far as the ‘family friend’ who is offering DJ or audio-visual services.
Without contracts, you have taken a chance that your plan will not be properly executed without leverage.
Thanks to our experts for their contributions-
- Greg Jenkins, Partner Bravo Productions
- John Medina, owner of John Medina Buys Houses
- Matthew Paxton, founder of Hypernia
- Kieren Windsor, smart home expert at Smart Home Insider
- Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO, Lawn Love
- Rene Langer, owner of Pick HVAC
- Christen Costa, CEO of Gadget Review
- Jeff Webster, operations manager at Clicksmarketing
- Andy Ha, Head of Marketing at Cloom
- Isaac Bullen, Marketing manager at Oz Party Events
- Shelley Grieshop, Totally Promotional Company
- Andy Wang, co-founder of Knives-Sensei
- Mark Wilcox, owner of Camping Forge
- Jack Shepler, founder of Ayokay