Retirement is a huge milestone that’s often bittersweet. There’s excitement in the sense that new adventures are on the horizon, but there’s also a tinge of sadness and nostalgia tied to the career being left behind. A well-executed retirement party can help facilitate a smooth transitional period for the retiree, as well as coworkers, friends, and family.
Celebrate Retirement With a Party
Life is full of stages. There’s childhood, the teenage years, college, and then a career. And of all the stages in life, the average person spends the most time and energy dedicated to their careers. Some people spend as much as 40 or 50 years working, but most folks eventually reach a point where they’re ready to punch the proverbial time clock for the last time, which ushers in the final stage of life: retirement.
Retirement looks different for everyone. Some choose to spend their retirement years relaxing at home while others enjoy traveling. Some even decide to continue working part-time. But whatever the case may be, it’s nice for those individuals around the retiree to throw a retirement party.
If you’ve never thrown a retirement party before, then you may be unsure of where to start, what to do, and what not to do. Here are some helpful suggestions:
- Speak to the Retiree
“This is not an occasion for a surprise party,” says Dave Hughes, an expert in retirement lifestyle planning. “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.”
Some retirees will have lots of ideas, while others will want you to take charge. You won’t know until you ask.
- Pick a Theme
A party always feels more cohesive and well planned if there is a theme. Try to pick a theme that’s natural and spirited. A lot of retirement parties center the theme on the retiree’s hobbies and interests outside of work.
- Look Back…
A retirement party should be used as a platform for reflecting on everything that’s happened over the past three to five decades. One way you can do this is by giving a gift that celebrates everything that’s been done.
Take a police officer as an example. “An obvious way to mark retirement is to collect and present career memories. A leather photo album with pictures and press clippings, a wooden box filled with handwritten notes from colleagues, performance reviews and commendations,” DIY Awards suggests. “Or simply find a favorite quote or saying from the force and engrave it on a beautiful plaque. There’s no way to go wrong when involving memory.”
- …Then Look Forward
Remember that retirement isn’t a bookend on the person’s life – it’s merely a transition into the next stage. Having said that, a retirement party should also be focused on the future.
Try to make a portion of the party forward focused. Look at some of the things the retiree will be doing during this next stage, which fosters a sense of optimism in the midst of closure.
- Encourage Meaningful Gifts
In addition to giving your own gift (as host of the party), you should also encourage guests to bring gifts. But instead of collecting Red Lobster gift cards and gag gifts, ask guests to bring something meaningful. This could be something related to the career, or even an item that the retiree can use during retirement – such as a hobby-related gift.
For example, if the retiree plans on fishing a lot during retirement, it would be a nice gesture to collect fishing gear. If the retiree wants to learn how to sew, sewing books, yarn, and supplies would be meaningful and appreciated.
Give a Proper Send-Off
Retirement should be viewed as another phase of life that’s full of opportunities and challenges. As your friend, coworker, or loved one enters into this phase of life, give them the proper send-off with a retirement party that evokes memories of the past and sets the stage for many years of bliss, relaxation, and satisfaction. There’s no such thing as a perfect party, so don’t stress yourself out. Make it meaningful and the retiree will feel special.
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