Retirement is usually a highly anticipated event. It's a time of reflection for the retiree, when he can hang up his work hat to move on to another chapter in life. If you are throwing a retirement party for a friend or relative, or are simply attending a retirement party, certain etiquette guidelines will help you be respectful and courteous.
The host of the party should not expect or ask anyone to pay for her own meal. When you invite someone, you pay the bill. The only exception to this rule is if it is a company-coordinated event. If so, generally it is expected that each guest will pay for her own meal. If this is the case, and you are inviting guests outside of the company, the restaurant should be able to help word the invitation with something such as "Celebrate John Smith's retirement at the R and R restaurant at 6 p.m. on September 18. The R and R Restaurant is offering steak, pasta, and pork specials for $19.99 per person."
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Invitations should be sent out four weeks in advance and should not mention gifts, unless it says, "No gifts necessary." It shows poor taste to solicit or ask for gifts, particularly money. Therefore, no money tree or general collection fund should be set up. If guests feel inclined to bring a gift, they will.
Share in the joy for your relative as she embarks on a new journey. Celebrate with her, and remember, this is her party, so congratulate her on her job well done. Avoid discussing personal woes or negative family issues. Instead, concentrate on how happy you are for her, and how proud you are.
Bring a card, either with a gift or a gift card to her favorite restaurant or store. If you know she's planning a vacation or taking a trip soon, perhaps give her a monetary gift to contribute toward it. Dress appropriately, which would typically be in business casual wear, unless otherwise stated.
Unless directed not to, bring some sort of gift for the retiree. The value or kind of gift would depend on how well you know him. Even if the invitation requests no gifts, a card would be proper. If you have been good friends for the past 20 years, something extravagant or meaningful, but within your budget, is appropriate. It is also okay to orchestrate a larger gift that all coworkers could go in on together. This should be planned and completed long before the party.
Do not wish out loud that you were the one retiring. Do not grumble, complain or voice any job-related, or other, grievances that would detract from the celebration. Enjoy the party, and be truly happy for the retiree.