Retirement is a wonderful occasion to celebrate with a work colleague. After years of dedicating their life to a profession, they now have the chance to kick back and relax a little. And perhaps check off a few items on their bucket list.
Of course, it isn’t always easy to make such a significant change in life. If you’re planning a retirement party for someone, you may feel pressure to balance sentimental farewells with excitement for the future.
The experts at Giftster have put together five incredible retirement party ideas you can use to honor your colleague and friend. Scattered throughout our party planning tips are retirement party gift ideas.
1. Set aside time for colleagues to share memories
When someone retires, they leave a legacy of wisdom and experience. Colleagues will have collections of fond memories and advice the retiree has imparted over the years. To honor the retiree, allow time for guests to share what they remember most about their time together. This retirement party gift is priceless.
It’s a good idea to let guests know in advance that they’ll have the opportunity to speak at the party. You can include this in the invitation or use word of mouth. What’s important is that everyone has time to prepare.
This is also a great opportunity for coworkers to collaborate on a short tribute performance, like a humorous song or heartfelt poem. In work environments where everyone has a strong sense of humor, a friendly roast of the retiree can complement the more sentimental moments.
2. Display an item to collect everyone’s farewells
A typical farewell is likely to be written inside a card. And while this tradition is thoughtful, paper cards usually end up in storage or in the trash. With some creativity, you can make a group retirement party gift that will last forever.
One idea is to print a large photograph of the workgroup. Provide colored pens and markers, so the guests can write their wishes and sign their names on a picture frame mat. Another creative idea is to use a container, like a recipe box or mason jar. Collect retirement wishes written on recipe cards or small pieces of cardstock.
Whichever option you choose, the retiree is sure to treasure the wishes and revisit them to read again and again.
3. Choose a theme for retirement party decorations and supplies
To turn a typical retirement party into an incredible one, think of the best theme for the party. Consider the retiree’s hobbies, (ex) profession, and goals for their retirement years. Here are a few ideas.
An avid reader
Choose a relevant slogan for your theme, like “Susan’s Next Chapter.” Write inspirational book quotes on cardstock and print covers to classic works of literature. Then, hang and display these decorations around the room. Purchase a copy of the retiree’s favorite novel and have all of the guests write farewell notes and memories in the margins of random pages.
A retiring doctor
“Prescription: Retirement” is a catchy theme for anyone retiring from the medical field. Images of stethoscopes, white lab coats, pill bottles, the red cross, bandaids, scrubs, clipboards, and hearts can grace the surface of every tablecloth, invitation, and streamer. Wish the retiree farewell with some clever diagnostic codes and send them home with a vintage medical sign.
A veteran teacher
The best way to bid farewell to a retiring teacher is with the theme “School’s Out,” including an obligatory sing-along to Alyce Cooper’s song by the same name. Provide the guest of honor with a graduation cap and gown for the celebration. For a sentimental send-off, collect retirement wishes from present and past students to share at the party.
A future world traveler
If the retiree can’t wait to travel the world, use a theme such as “Enjoy Your Next Journey.” Ask all the guests to bring travel guides to their favorite foreign cities. You can also decorate the party space with images of suitcases. This theme supports a great costume party, with everyone dressing in Hawaiian shirts. For a gift, fill a suitcase with everything the retiree will need for travel.
An aspiring gardener
Nothing adds a little clever humor to retirement like plants, flowers, and the theme “When I Grow Up.” Turn the celebration into an outdoor garden party with real plants, tea, and sandwiches. Fill watering cans with gardening supplies the retiree can immediately put to good use. Every guest can go home with a packet of seeds to plant in the retiree’s honor.
4. Invite a variety of guests
Even though retirement parties seem like work parties, you shouldn’t be exclusive with your guest list. It’s most appropriate for coworkers to honor a retiree, but anyone in the guest of honor’s life would appreciate an invitation.
Don’t forget that retirement is a monumental milestone in someone’s life, and having friends, relatives, neighbors, and past and present colleagues present for the celebration can be particularly meaningful.
This is also a work-related party where it’s appropriate to invite managers and supervisors. Just keep in mind that everyone will probably want to be on their best behavior if company higher-ups are around.
5. Encourage a wish list for retirement party gift ideas
It’s completely appropriate to give presents to the retiree at their party. After all, they are entering a new stage of life and may need items that will help them explore new hobbies or areas of the globe.
If the retiree is a little hesitant to create a gift registry for their retirement party, give them some easy ideas. Suggest that they ask for travel essentials, such as universal travel adapters for outlets, a travel pillow, and books for long flights or car rides. They can also ask for hobby-related items, like golf balls, new baking supplies, or imported tea.
Guests will appreciate contributing to an enjoyable retirement, no matter how small the gift.
Fortunately, it’s easy for anyone to create a wish list using Giftster, a free, year-round registry for any occasion, including saying farewell to your colleagues.