Retirement Party Ideas: How to Celebrate In and Out of the Office
Retirement Party Ideas: How to Celebrate In and Out of the Office
February 10, 2022
Retirement is a special moment in any person’s life. Marking the milestone can help facilitate the transition, closing the book on working life and giving the retiree a happy send-off as they start a new chapter.
Retirement celebrations can be especially important if a person has been with a company for many years (or in some cases, the majority of their adult working life). In these instances, departing everyday work life can be even more emotional.
As the retiree’s employee or co-worker, you can help get their retirement off on a high note by celebrating this change and wishing them well on their next endeavor. Whether your team is in-house or remote, there are many ways you can help celebrate a retirement.
This guide provides some inspiration to get you started with party and retirement gift ideas that can be implemented in or outside the office.
Retirement Ideas for in the Office
If your team works in the office, you can plan an in-person celebration and give the retiree your well wishes face to face on their last day. These retirement party ideas cover everything from guest lists to decorations.
How to Decorate the Office
The office is usually the easiest place to host a retirement party. The retiree’s colleagues are already on-site and can easily attend at the conclusion of the workday. However, achieving a festive atmosphere in the same place where you all work — surrounded by computers, printers, copiers, and other office supplies — can be a challenge.
Try fun retirement party decorations to set the tone. If you have a break room or similar non-work area, choose this as your location. Hanging a “happy retirement” custom banner at the entrance is a great way to block off the room for the festivities area. You can also get crafty and have co-workers create handmade retirement signs — or collaborate on a retirement custom poster that everybody signs.
For decor, items that are fast and easy to set up are a good idea. This is especially important if you’re planning a surprise party and need to sneakily set the stage. Balloons, banners, streamers and tablecloths are all options.
If the guest of honor has unique hobbies or personal interests, you might opt for a party theme and decorate accordingly. For example, is the person planning to move to a beach town to retire? You might give the party a tropical theme, with paper palm trees, stuffed parrots and sun-shaped balloons. It’s a sneak peek at the happy retirement they can have to look forward to.
A good retirement party requires advanced planning. In the weeks beforehand, alert co-workers and get them involved in the preparation. For example, you could plan a potluck-style meal and have each person bring in a different item. Also, consider designing a custom retirement card and passing it around the office for people to sign. Another option is to have a book at the party that people can write well wishes in.
It’s also important to think about the retirement gift. Personalized items make great retirement gifts for men and women alike. A custom photo book with career highlights, pictures and personal messages is one possibility. If you’re having problems thinking of a fitting present, consider the individual’s interests. Do they have a favorite hobby you can support with a gift? Also consider arranging a group gift and invite co-workers to contribute if they can. You can also celebrate the retiree’s achievements and service with an award such as a custom plaque.
Also, prepare when it comes to what the actual party will entail. If you want to make the occasion truly memorable, you probably want activities beyond cutting a cake. For example, you can create a slideshow to commemorate the retiree. Have co-workers, bosses and employees share their favorite photos and put them together. Each person can then say a few words if they want.
Games can also help make for an entertaining retirement party. You could use an easel pad or whiteboard to create a personalized version of Pictionary using images related to the company and retiree, for example, or play a “caption this” contest with work-related photos. Invite everyone to write down a funny caption for each image on a slip of paper and read the funniest ones aloud.
Other retirement party games or traditions revolve around parting with symbols of the 9-to-5 culture. “Cut the tie” (cutting the retiree’s tie) and “smash the clock” are two favorites. You can get an old alarm clock and wrap it in a pillowcase or trash bag. Then, when the retiree smashes it, all the pieces are contained.
Prior to the retirement party, consider whether any external people outside the office should be sent an invitation, like close friends, a spouse or other family members. The retiree may be pleased to have all of their loved ones there for the big occasion. That said, this probably depends on how closely intertwined people’s personal and professional spheres are, which varies between offices.
If your retiree-to-be is working remotely, there are still fun ways you can gather the team to celebrate their milestone.
Virtual Retirement Party Games
You can still host a virtual retirement party via a video conferencing platform like Zoom. Make it into an interactive experience with a game like bingo. You can also create a personalized pop quiz or trivia competition with questions about the retiree. Also consider posting a virtual countdown to the party to get people excited using an online tool like Counting Down To.
If you want to get really creative (and have a smaller team), try an online escape room. The concept is the same as an in-person room in that you’re trying to “break out” of a space. In this case, you’ll be presented with brainteasers, puzzles, and other challenges you can do virtually. Popular options include The Grimm Escape, Cofundrum, and Mystery Escape Rooms.
Invite Discussion With the Retiree
If the retiree has been with the company for a long time, an informal interview-style discussion can be a great way to honor their work and inspire others. They can talk about their time with their company, from their first day to their favorite accomplishment. Other team members can ask questions and share their own memories related to the retiree.
Surprise the Retiree With a Tribute
You can adapt many of the in-person party ideas mentioned above for virtual use. For example, instead of having people sign a physical book or card, have them leave a digital message via a platform like Kudoboard (they can even upload photos). Other ideas include sharing photos via a digital slideshow (e.g., Google Slides) or creating a Tribute video montage.
Invite Guests to Make the Virtual Party Physical With Gifts
A physical gift can make for a nice memento and help make your virtual party feel more connected. With the retiree’s permission, you can provide their address to co-workers so that they can send gifts. The retiree can then open the presents during the virtual party.
From fancy sweets to a beautiful pen, there are many small yet thoughtful employee appreciation gifts that can be easily shipped. Whether shopping for retirement gifts for women or men, try to add a personal touch. For example, thoughtful teacher retirement gifts might somehow include the educator’s students — like letters from former students whose lives they touched. A tech enthusiast may like accessories like an ipad case or stylus pen. Travel buffs may appreciate gifts such as wireless earbuds, luggage, and water bottles.
A Retirement to Remember
Whether you end up throwing a virtual party or an in-person retirement celebration, there are many ways you can mark this momentous milestone and make it special. This is an opportunity to celebrate one person’s career while also bringing co-workers together — a great way to improve company culture. Taking the time to create a memorable event can benefit all involved.
About the Author
Alison Kilian has been working as a professional writer for 10 years. She now writes for internationally recognized publications and brands in the United States and Europe. Her focus areas include medical, health, wellness and general lifestyle topics.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is,” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrants the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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