The occasion of a retirement marks an enormously significant milestone in an individual’s life.
It is a time for celebration and enjoying past achievements but also about the embarkation of a whole new period and the marking of new beginnings.
Retirement can often be a time of mixed emotions as the retiring person experiences excitement at having achieved this point whilst also leaving behind something that may have had great significance in their life. In addition they may be apprehensive about what lies ahead.
All of these factors need to be considered while organizing a retirement party.
If you are unsure where to begin, here are 10 important tips that will help you plan the perfect party.
1. What does the retiring person want?
The first and foremost (and perhaps also the most important) tip is consider what the retiring person themselves wants and is comfortable with.
Some people love to be made a fuss of, pushed to the forefront and made the center of attention whilst for others this is their worst nightmare.
Make sure that what is being planned is suited to the retiree and their wishes and is not a reflection of what you yourself want as the planner.
2. Choosing the perfect venue for the party
Choosing a venue will be as dependent on budget as taste.
Some of the most successful parties are held at the home of the retiree if it can accommodate the number of guests invited or at the workplace if a suitable room is available.
If budget restrictions are not so limited then consider places that relate directly to the retiree’s interests such as golf clubs, yacht clubs or social clubs.
Restaurants, hotels and country clubs can also be a consideration and may organize room décor and/or the catering for you.
3. Surprise party or not?
Again, as mentioned in the first point, take this decision based on the nature of the person retiring. Will they appreciate being taken unawares?
A few years ago I attended the surprise party of an 80 year old lady who was so overwhelmed she spent the next five days in hospital. This is perhaps an extreme case but nevertheless illustrates the need for this type of consideration.
Surprise parties can take a great deal more planning in the effort required to keep them secret and also ensuring that any likely wishes of the retiree are incorporated without the luxury of being able to consult them on the subject.
4. Food for the retirement party
If you are holding the party at a hotel or restaurant the options will normally be fairly obvious.
Even then you will need to consider whether you wish to make the occasion a luncheon, for example, or an evening affair and the level of formality you are aiming at – buffet type food, sit down meal etc.
If you are hosting the party at home and the season is right you could consider a barbecue or picnic type option.
This will make the occasion instantly less formal.
Marquees can be hired in case of bad weather as a guest retreat or a food area.
Again, if you are on a tighter budget, consider asking each guest to bring a particular type of food contribution, for example salad, dessert or dip. This request can be included on the invite.
5. Creating an atmosphere for the party
Wherever and whatever your venue choice you will wish to create an atmosphere of celebration.
Banners, balloons and streamers alone can do this but home-made posters and banners created by grand-children, friends or other family members can be much appreciated by the retiree.
You may wish to theme your party – for example 1950s style. The decade could reflect the retiree’s birth decade or their commencement of work.
If the party is going to be held outdoors and during the evening, outside lighting and lanterns can create a wonderful atmosphere.
Additions to the décor could also be things like a photograph board collage of the retiree throughout their life or boards displaying certificates, qualifications and other significant achievements.
6. Choosing music for the party
As with so many parties, the age group and tastes of the people assembled may vary greatly.
The success of a party will often depend on how much the guests enjoy themselves in addition to whomever the party is held in honor of.
Consider interspersing the general music with nostalgic compilations that have significance for the retiree. As a general rule, start with middle of the road and gentle music and gradually build up to include more contemporary choices.
7. Retirement party speeches
No matter what other choices are made it is highly unusual not to have some kind of a speech in honor of the retiree and highlighting their accomplishments.
If the party is work hosted it is normal for the boss to make the speech. In such circumstances the speech would include the retiree’s accomplishments, a resume of their career path and work history and some references to any future plans of the retiree.
It is a good idea to decide in advance who will be delivering speeches as some people are more comfortable with public speaking than others. Various colleagues may wish to deliver their own anecdotes or these can be gathered beforehand and incorporated in other speeches if they are from more reluctant speakers.
It is also customary for the retiree to give some form of address but what form this may take will again depend on the personality of the retiree and the formality of the occasion.
8. Retirement party gifts
Many work places will organize a collection for somebody about to retire and then one large, joint gift can be purchased. Make sure that this duty is covered by at least one person if that is the plan.
In either case, individuals may still wish to purchase or make their own personalized gifts and either is completely acceptable.
If you are running short of ideas, here is our selection of 41 best gift ideas for retirees.
9. Invitations for the party
These can take many forms but are seldom as formal as say, wedding invitations.
For work organized parties, and if the party is not a surprise, an announcement is sometimes pinned to a works or office board and/or emails sent out.
However you choose to invite people ensure you include the date, the venue, the time and whether or not an RSVP is required.
You can also include maps and directions to the venue and any requests for food and drink contributions. This can also be the time for asking people to contribute memories or anecdotes
10. Unsure where to start?
If the planning has fallen to you and you are unsure where to start, a simple option is to ask colleagues or family and friends to contribute ideas for a retirement party.
This way you will come up with enough ideas to start planning the party and organizing it successfully.