Planning a Kick-Ass Retirement Party: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Retirement is obviously a huge milestone for someone, and after having worked for a living for however long, and it is definitely something worth celebrating. When it comes to kicking off someone’s retirement properly, it means it’s time to throw a party. Planning a retirement party is pretty similar to planning any other form of party, although there are a few considerations that you need to make, which is why we have put together the following guide. Let’s take a look.

Retirement Party

Decide on a Budget

The first step for planning any party is coming up with a budget. This is because the budget then affects all other aspects of the party planning process. The budget needs to be realistic and manageable. If you are throwing the party for a family member, then you are likely to have more leeway with the budget than you would if you are planning it on behalf of a colleague using company funds. Remember to keep on top of the budget throughout the rest of the planning process. 

Pick a Time & Date

After you have worked out your budget, you can start to move forward with the planning. Obviously, you need to start by working out the logistics, including the time and date of the party. The best time and date to throw the party might simply be after their last day with the business – if you are throwing the party on behalf of a company – as it ensures that everyone will be there already. You can decorate the break room or even herd all of your colleagues to a local bar or restaurant after work. 

If you are throwing a party for a family member then you can choose any time, a lot of people like to choose a Saturday. They can be held during the day or in the evening; think about the guests and how far they are travelling. This will help to inform your choices. 

Choose a Venue

After having worked out the time and the date, you can then start to think about the venue. Your choice of venue is going to depend on how well you know the retiree and the circumstances around the party. Most parties organized on behalf of a business tend to have a lower budget, and therefore the venue for the party is often simply the business itself; the office or the breakroom is redecorated. 

However, if you are throwing the party for a family member and the circumstances around the party are more intimate, then you are likely going to want to mirror this in the venue. A lot of people choose to host the retirement party at home, but you could also choose to hire out a bar or a restaurant depending on the size of the party. 


The next step is to choose a theme. Now, ‘retirement party‘ is a theme in and of itself and Greenvelope has a great guide on how to make this theme more all-encompassing for the party. However, if you don’t want to choose this theme, then there are many others that you could choose from that still ties in, like the profession of the retiree or even the year that they started working, or working in that particular profession or for the company that they are retiring from. The choice of theme can also help when it comes to coming up with activities for the party. 

Compiling the Guestlist

After this, it is time to start writing a guestlist. For a company-sponsored party, the guestlist is likely to be pretty easy; it tends to be the retiree’s colleagues and bosses who are invited to attend the party. You might also want to invite their immediate family too. For a family party, the guestlist is likely to be a little different. In addition to inviting their favourite colleagues and bosses, you will also need to include friends and family and anyone who wants to celebrate this milestone in their life with them. You don’t necessarily need to send formal invitations out, but it might make it easier if you do because you can better track the responses.

The Refreshments

It is time to think about the refreshments; any good party offers its guests something to eat and drink. Self-catering is always an option, and you can make things easier by telling the guests that the party is a potluck. Most people opt for a buffet of some kind, again, because it requires the least amount of work on the day, which means that the host can enjoy the party too. Most company-sponsored parties tend to simply put on a few snacks. 

Realistically, the choice in food and refreshments will depend on where the party is being thrown. If you are throwing the party in a venue like a restaurant or a bar, then they may have policies around bringing in outside food, meaning that they will need to cater your party for you. Either way, before you get started, make sure that you have double-checked the numbers to make sure that you are going to have enough. Lastly, remember to ask if anyone has any allergies or intolerances or other dietary requirements that will need catering for too. 


At a retirement party, especially if it is a company-sponsored event, then it is customary for a manager to say a few words about the retiree. The speech tends to simply sum up the professional relationship between the two as well as the retiree’s contribution to the business as a whole. The speech doesn’t have to be particularly long. Other colleagues might also wish to share fun anecdotes. 

If the party is being held by friends or family, then someone else might want to make the speech. They will usually need to include things like their achievements throughout their professional career, as well as including a bit of a biography of any other milestones in their life and any future plans they have after retirement. Some people also like to make a slideshow of pictures from the retiree’s professional life. 

Create a Playlist 

One of the last steps that you will need to do is to come up with a playlist. If you have decided on a theme for the party, then this is likely to inform the playlist; for example, if the theme is a specific year, then it would make sense to create a playlist with songs only from that year. You could make the playlist yourself, choosing retirement-appropriate songs. All you need is a bit of imagination. 

In Summary

Planning a retirement party is no different really to planning any other form of party. Every party requires the right considerations to be made to ensure it is going to be right for the person the party is for. Obviously, the considerations in the case surround the professional life of the individual, but this changes very little in the party planning process itself. If you have been tasked with planning a retirement party, whether on behalf of a company or for a family member, then be sure to take on board the above tips. 

You can download our free retirement party guest list spreadsheet template here.

For more detailed information about writing a retirement speech, read our post The Best Welcome Speech for Retirement Party.

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