Whether you are planning a retirement party for a coworker, a departing boss or even yourself, the most important rule is that it should be an enjoyable and meaningful occasion. While it may be slightly bittersweet for the retiree after many years in the job, it is still a chance to send them off in style.
You must make this an enjoyable and memorable occasion for both the guest of honor and the entire team. Here are a few tips for organizing a retirement party:
Retirement – A Time to Celebrate
This party is an opportunity to express gratitude and to mark a life passage. Many say a retirement party is even more important than a birthday party or even an accomplishment such as college graduation. The party honors the retiree’s years of dedication, triumphs and daily achievements. You are commemorating both past accomplishments and celebrating the beginning of a new life chapter.
Perhaps you can capture the meaning of the party in a card, which you might pass around the office and your team for each person to add a personalized message. Explain, when you start to circulate it, that they should try to avoid generalities and trite expressions of camaraderie. The gesture will be much more powerful if the signers can write something individually directed to the recipient, referencing the recipient’s career and what the signers’ own relationship with the retiree means to them.
You may also want to contribute to a group gift. It is traditional for employers to present a gold watch or a clock, both of which symbolize time. However, it is not customary to give money. The collective gift may be experiential, such as an annual entrance pass, a gym membership, music lessons or a subscription to a wine club. It provides a good chance to express the retiree’s personality, likes or hobbies, or to express enthusiasm for their future retirement plans.
The general approach for the party must emphasize fun. The venue can be anywhere — a workday lunch, a Sunday sports event, a picnic, or a dinner gathering at a local bar or restaurant. Unless it is a surprise party, it is sensible to ask the retiree what type of occasion he or she would prefer, whether a big bash or a quiet intimate gathering. After you set the tone, it will be easier to think through the details.
Getting the show on the road
You were asked to organize the event — or you volunteered because you are an ace at planning. Start with a to-do list, which will likely include the following:
- Budget —Determine whether a the company is footing all or part of the bill, or if invitees may be contributing.
- Setting — Will the party be held in the office, somebody’s home or backyard, a restaurant, or as a virtual party for a far-flung group?
- Themes — While some are pretty corny, themes might range from including karaoke,a retro disco feel or bingo to a Hawaiian luau.
- Date — Keeping it as close as possible to the actual retirement date will hold more meaning for the retiree before he or she moves on to other projects in their life.
- Invitations — Send them to coworkers, boss(es), family, friends and, if possible, those with whom the retiree has long-term business relationships, such as vendors, salespeople or previous employees. Send invitations out four to six weeks ahead of the date and include an RSVP deadline. Note any special theme and dress code (e.g., casual, semiformal, formal, cocktail attire) on the invitation.
- Refreshments — Plan the menu to include some of the retiree’s favorite dishes and, of course, a custom cake.
- Music — Create a playlist. There are so many thematic songs, incliuding “When I’m 64” to “The Best Is Yet to Come.”
- Decorations — Showcase a large photo of the retiree and have guests bring meaningful pictures for a wall display. You can also run looped photos or video interviews on a monitor.
- Honors — Prepare a toast and arrange a schedule for speeches and presentations, including gifts and the cake.
- Souvenirs — Prepare party favors for guests to claim as they leave the party.
Don’t be a stranger
Another key purpose for holding a retirement party is to facilitate ongoing contact among the attendees. Prepare an autograph book for all guests to sign and provide their contact information.
Make sure someone is in charge of taking photos with a high-resolution camera. After the party, create a website or picture file to be distributed among all the attendees, too.
Instead of the usual watch, consider a new cellphone for the retiree to use to keep in touch.
How BlueStone Services Can Help
Contact us to take care of ongoing, day-to-day human resources operations. Our team will provide ongoing support for your organization’s HR responsibilities including retirement benefits & compensation, recruitment coordination, onboarding, HRIS and recordkeeping, HR compliance, talent management, and off-boarding.