Leaving in Style: 7 Fun Retirement Party Ideas

Are you in charge of planning a retirement party but don’t know where to start?

You can expect to throw or attend a lot more retirement parties in the upcoming years. Every day, about 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, so a lot more colleagues, relatives, and friends will be hitting that magical retirement age.

Whether you’re planning a party for a friend, family member, or colleague, making the party special is important. Retirement is one of the biggest milestones in life, so you want to send the retiree out on a high note.

Making it personalized to the honoree is the best way to make the retirement party memorable and meaningful. Add personal touches and choose the party details based on what the retiree enjoys. The person’s retirement plans can also be a source of inspiration for party planning.

Check out these seven ideas for planning a retirement party that the guest of honor will love.

1. Choose a Theme

Starting with a retirement party theme makes it easier to plan. It makes it fun and lets you create fun decorations and activities related to the theme.

Focus on the retiree when choosing a theme to ensure it fits the person. If the honoree is very serious, professional, and formal, choosing a funny retirement party theme probably won’t go over well.

The guest of honor’s retirement plans can give you theme ideas. If the person plans to travel extensively, you might make it a travel theme or base it around the first planned destination. If they’re relocating, plan the party around that location.

Hobbies and interests also work well, especially if the retiree plans to spend a lot of time doing them. Golf is an example. Consider how the retiree spends time or plans to spend free time in retirement to look for theme options.

You can also go nostalgic with the theme. You might base the party on the retiree’s birth year or the year the person started working for the company.

Once you choose a theme, plan to play it up with the decorations and party details. If you go with a tropical theme because of upcoming travel plans, have everyone dress up in their best tropical clothes and decorate the venue with inflatable palm trees.

2. Host an Office Party

If you’re planning a retirement party for a colleague, hosting at the office is an easy option. You already have the space available, and everyone is already at the office, so attending is easy.

You might plan a retirement lunch for the guest of honor and other employees. You could also have the party in the break room in the afternoon.

This party option is usually shorter with fewer activities. It’s a simple recognition party for colleagues.

3. Throw an Off-Site Event

To give yourself more party options, consider hosting an off-site event. This option gives you more room if the guest list is extensive. It’s also easier to include family and friends who don’t work for the company.

If you’re hosting a party for a friend instead of a colleague, an off-site party is likely your only option.

Choose a venue for the party. You can host at home or rent an event space that’s large enough to hold everyone.

Another option is to pick a venue that has built-in entertainment. You might plan an outing to a baseball game or winery with wine tastings and musical entertainment.  

4. Plan Entertainment

Plan a few activities to help everyone have fun and to recognize the guest of honor.

Speeches are common at retirement parties. Ask a few close colleagues or friends to give a quick speech at the party. You can also open it up to other guests who want to share a memory or story about the retiree.

Videos and slideshows also work well as party entertainment. Include clips of the retiree or interviews with colleagues sharing stories about the person.

Games are also an option. One idea is to create a trivia-style game about the retiree. Questions can cover the person’s career, personal life, and retirement plans.

5. Invite Past Colleagues or Old Friends

The retirement party guest list depends largely on who’s throwing it and where it’s held. A party at the office typically includes all colleagues and perhaps family members. If you’re throwing a party for a friend or family member, you’ll likely include lots of friends and family.

No matter who you’re throwing the party for, consider tracking down old friends and colleagues. It can be fun for everyone to reminisce on the earlier days of the retiree’s career.

Another option is to invite vendors and other people who don’t work for the same company but with whom the retiree interacts regularly.

6. Create a Menu

Every good party involves food of some type. The menu for the retirement party depends largely on the timing and location.

If it’s a casual party at the office in the afternoon, light refreshments are enough. For a large-scale party in the evening, plan for a full meal or robust appetizers and snacks.

Include the retiree’s favorite foods when possible.

You might also theme the food based on the guest of honor’s interests or retirement plans. Choose foods that are popular in the place where the person plans to move after retirement. If the retiree is going to Mexico for an extended vacation to celebrate the retirement, plan the menu around that region.

7. Give a Keepsake Gift

Choose a touching gift as a reminder of the retiree’s career and of the party.

One option is to relate the gift to the person’s career. You might create a replica of an award-winning building a retiring architect designed or frame a document with significant meaning. For a retiring contractor, you might give a gold-plated hammer.

Another route is to give a gift that will come in useful during retirement. Ideas include a season pass to a local attraction, travel gear, golf items, or board games the retiree can play with the grandkids. suggests lots of creative retirement wishes you can write on cards or in an autograph book for the retiree.

Plan a Retirement Party

When planning a retirement party, think mainly about the guest of honor and what that person enjoys. Make it personal and meaningful for the retiree. Explore our articles for more interesting news and ideas.

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