Turn in the Time Clock: It’s Time to Plan Your Retirement Party!
Let’s kick off your retirement with an epic celebration – here’s how…
By: Jessi Minneci
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the point in your life where you’re ready to throw in the towel (career-wise, at least), kick back, and relax a bit. Maybe you’ll take a vacation or two that you couldn’t fathom while you were on salary. Or perhaps you’ll make a permanent move – swapping your current home address for a quaint and scenic village. Maybe you’ll take up a new hobby. Hey, you might even decide to pick up some side jobs to keep the cash flowing extra when the regular paychecks stop coming in – whatever floats your boat.
The point is, you are about reach a huge milestone in your life – retirement. And whether you are indeed the retiree yourself, the retiree’s family, or a group of the retiree’s coworkers, you are likely beginning to plan the ever-coveted retirement party. The celebration’s about to begin and we’re here to help you with all of the planning…
Ride the wave of freedom, baby
Your retirement party plans are much like you now: F-R-E-E! Unlike some other functions, which traditionally have an appropriate time and place (such as a woman’s baby shower – usually a daytime brunch/lunch affair), a retirement party is pretty much whatever you wish to make of it:
- An afternoon luncheon
- A big gala on a Saturday evening
- A sporting/outdoor event on a Sunday afternoon
- After-work drinks and hors d’oeuvres
- Dancing on top of desks in the office
- **the above is definitely epic, but we suggest accompanying the dance party with an actually, planned celebration J
When it comes down to it, there are no defining etiquette rules when it comes to a retirement party. It can really be anything that suits the interests and personality of the retiree. After all, the greatest consideration is what the retiree wants. If you’re not one of the people throwing this bash for themselves, remember that this is not an occasion for a surprise party. You should ask the person who is retiring how he or she would like to celebrate their retirement and who they would like to have in attendance.
Remember the world is bigger than your office
Something to keep in mind while penning invites: the retiree has friends and family outside of the office. Too often, work is work and home is home – there is no mixing of the two environments. But some of the best retirement parties mix the guest list and allow both parties to come together for the occasion. This also provides a great opportunity for people to learn more about the person leaving the office.
If you’re unfamiliar with the retiree’s friends and family outside of the officer, ask him or her for a reliable contact that you can reach out to in order to coordinate and communicate between the two environments. Having this contact will also help plan the bash without having to bug the guest of honor every time one of their family members forgets to RSVP.
Serve up something delicious
Remember how we mentioned that you have freedom with the type of retirement party you throw? Well, same goes for the food that you serve up during the festivities!
- If you opt for an afternoon luncheon, whether at a venue or in the office cafeteria, you’ll want to serve up something accessible and easy. Focus on grab-and-go items for those who aren’t able to hang around, but still want to commemorate the retiree: sandwiches, wraps, salads, cookies – these items are easy whether your guests decide to sit down and reminisce on the retiree’s days on the job or give a handshake and well wishes before returning to their own cubicle, sandwich in hand.
- Hosting something a bit more exclusive? Consider holding the retirement party at a venue as opposed to the office, and on a weekend night as opposed to during the work day. When it comes to food, you have the liberty of choosing between a plated dinner or otherwise, but we think that a buffet dinner option will keep things fun and casual – especially while the retiree will most likely be making constant rounds about the room and might miss a plated dinner.
- Outdoor/sporting event seem like the best fit for your guest of honor’s personality? Pair sports and sunshine with mouth-watering treats like a pig roast, whole roasted turkeys, ribs, burgers, dogs, and more! Is your mouth watering yet?!?! Nothing says par-tay like a full-on barbeque bash.
- Hors d’oeuvres your thing? We suggest throwing a cocktail and hors d’oeuvre retirement party when the guest list will be limited to adults… oh, and don’t forget to plan a champagne toast!
Go along with the theme
When it comes to celebrating one’s retirement, you HAVE to make sure you decorate the party venue with images of the person of honor on the job. If for whatever reason there aren't many pictures available of the retiree in work settings, you can include pictures from his or her personal life. Just remember that coworkers and professional clientele will be in attendance – avoid embarrassing shots like… the retiree in a bathing suit.
If the party room has a projector and screen available, consider creating and running a slideshow as people arrive at the party. If not, display the pictures on posters or as table centerpieces.
Furthermore, amp up the fun (and total corniness) with a retirement themed playlist! Some suggestions to get your Spotify playlist going include:
- “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen
- “Working Nine to Five” by Dolly Parton
- “Hit the Road Jack,” Ray Charles
- “When I am 64” by the Beatles
- “Young at Heart” by Doris Day and Frank Sinatra
- “Vacation” by the GoGos
- “The September of my Years” by Frank Sinatra
- “End of the Line” by the Travelling Wilburys
- “Happy Trails,” Roy Rogers
- “Take This Job and Shove It,” Johnny Paycheck
Most importantly, keep in touch!
More likely than not, one of the hardest aspects of retirement will be saying good bye to coworkers, friends, and clients you see on a daily basis. Whether you are the retiree or the friend or family member planning the celebratory bash, help keep everyone in touch by:
- Providing all of the guests with the retiree’s new contact information
- Encourage the retiree to get set up on Facebook (if they are willing!) so that they can broadcast updates for friends and family
- Encourage the retiree to also “friend” their colleagues
- Include a guest sign-in book at the party where attendees can leave their name, phone number, email, etc.
Now it’s time for the real party. Sit back, relax, and enjoy that retirement, baby!!