How to Celebrate a Retirement

by Dana Maris Buckley

Items you will need

  • Invitations
  • Decorations
  • Party favors
  • Food and drink
  • Cake

A retirement celebration can be anything from a small gathering of friends and family to a big party with all of your coworkers, past and present. Whether you're getting ready to celebrate your own retirement or planning a get together for someone else, it's important to plan ahead to make the day special. Since retirement can often be bittersweet, throwing an excellent farewell gathering can be a great way to honor many years of work, and a great way to look forward to the future.


Step 1

Make a guest list so that you can determine how big the party will be and where it will be located. If you're organizing the celebration for someone else, make sure you get a complete list of family, friends, and coworkers so that no one is unintentionally left out.

Step 2

Purchase or make invitations and mail them out at least two to three weeks in advance. If there are guests with no mailing address, you can send out an online invitation as well, which will be delivered to their inbox. Be sure to include RSVP information.

Step 3

Buy decorations and party favors in advance. You can have a theme for the party depending on the location, or just choose decor based on the guest of honor's favorite colors. Streamers, balloons, and banners are a great way to make any space look festive. Party favors can be as simple as a small bag of candy.

Step 4

Make a plan for food and drinks. If the party is potluck-style, you will have to indicate it on the invitation so that guests can plan and bring a dish accordingly. If the event will be catered, you will need to call at least a week in advance to most restaurants. You can also combine the two-- by providing the main courses and asking guests to bring in their own drinks and desserts. You can include others in the fun and have a full dessert bar!

Step 5

Order the cake in advance if you are getting it from a bakery. They can personalize it with "Happy Retirement," or "Congratulations," along with the guest of honor's name. Be specific about details such as colors or spellings.

Day of the Party

Step 1

Before the party, confirm with any caterers or the bakery to make sure your orders are on time and that they will be delivered or ready for pick up. Make sure they have the right location if they are delivering.

Step 2

Have a place for guests to put gifts or cards for the guest of honor. During the party, be sure to enjoy yourself, mingle with other guests, and make sure that there are enough drinks and food to go around.

Step 3

Help clean up after the party if you're at a home or a work setting, and gather up any gifts or cards to send home with the guest of honor.


  • Prepare a guestbook for attendees to sign. You can even hire a videographer to document the event on tape.

Photo Credits

  • party cup ctreamers and party banners image by Warren Millar from

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Dana Maris Buckley has recently begun her journalism career, pursing a master's degree in specialized arts journalism from the University of Southern California. She writes for "Neon Tommy," the online news publication of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism.