How to Plan a Retirement Party

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Hard work may be its own reward, but throwing a party is much more fun. Celebrate a long-term employee's efforts with a retirement party that signifies unique contributions and special relationships. Prepare your toast, raise your glass and send your co-worker off in style.

Consider the honoree's preferences. Does he or she prefer not to be singled out? Then something low-key and elegant might be appropriate. People who love to be the center of attention are perfect candidates for a roast.

Create a budget. Nail down costs for the venue, food and drinks, and entertainment.

Come up with a theme that highlights the retiree's interests, including hobbies, activities and passions. For instance, if he or she always seemed to call in sick on opening day, organize a ball-game party with tickets, banners, music and food. Arrange for his or her grandchild's little league team to come sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Plan a roast. Meet with other co-workers and brainstorm jokes and comments on the office politics. The key to a successful roast is selecting the master of ceremonies. He or she must be comfortable working a crowd--and articulate. A roast may not be not tightly scripted, so the emcee must be adept at ad-libbing.

Keep in mind that simply offering heartfelt appreciation for someone may be the best accolade of all. Start a round of toasts where guests can tell the honoree what he or she did that changed their life.

Choose a venue, again depending on the retiree's preferences. Would he or she prefer a small or large affair, a traditional evening or an out-of-the-box celebration? Some possible locations include hotels, art galleries, restaurants, country clubs, yacht clubs, American Legion halls, a historic mansion or a casino. Take a more intimate group on a sunset cocktail cruise.

Put up decorations that highlight the guest-of-honor's life and accomplishments. Display awards, trophies and photos. Create table centerpieces, each of which focuses on one of his or her interests: golf, classic cars, music, gardening, skiing and so on.

Hire a videographer or photographer to record the festivities. Encourage guests to toast--or roast--the retiree on camera and present the video to the retiree at the evening's end. See 330 Hire a Photographer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Invite mystery guests: a former co-worker from years back or a first boss. Keep it relevant to the job.
  • Have a guest book available for guests to sign, reminisce about old times and send good wishes for the future.
  • While gifts aren't typically given, you could ask guests who want to bring one to select a gift that revolves around the theme, or ask for donations to a charity or organization close to the retiree's heart. Or include the gift in the price of the ticket.

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