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How to Plan a Retirement Party

Retirement is one of the defining moments in a person's life, which is why the occasion begs to be celebrated. If you have parents headed into the Golden Years of leisure and enjoyment, kick off the new chapter in their life by throwing a retirement party that celebrates the old and ushers in the new.

Retirement Party Tips

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep a party running smoothly. Since you're celebrating an important part of your parents' lives, it's important to remember that they're the focal point of the night.

Use our helpful tips to make sure that not only friends and family feel at home, but also making sure your parents don't have to worry about a thing! Follow these tips for a smooth evening of fun:

Invite a good mix of people; be sure to include friends from all walks of life. It's an amazing feeling to be surrounded by all your favorite people at once, and it's a rare occasion that it actually happens. Make this one of those special moments.

Make two signature cocktails for the party, and name them after your parents. You can also name the drinks after their nicknames, favorite phrases, or favorite pastime.

Serve your parents' favorite foods and dessert. If there is an interesting story behind any of the food choice, type up a piece of cardstock with the funny anecdote and fold it like a tent in front of the food dish. Guests will enjoy reading little tidbits of insight into the guest of honors favorites.

Don't let them help plan and setup (or clean up) the party - let your parents be the guests of honor and fully enjoy the evening, no matter how much they protest to help.

Invite guests to give a toast or short speech. Often others will chime in and do the same, which will give your parents a fond memory to look back on.

Popular Retirement Party Themes

The Office: Give your parents one last memory of the working life by throwing an office themed retirement party:

Invitations: Send out "memo" invitations in a typewriter font to all their friends

Dress Code: Ask guests to arrive dressed in "business casual" attire

Decor: Wrap the vases of floral arrangements in printed out emails, post-its and memos

Guest Book: Instead of a guest sign in book, have "Retirement Memo" letterhead printed up. Print out a stack to leave on a table with an "Inbox" that they can leave their memos to your parents.

Tape a piece of paper to the wall above the stack of retirement memos that reads, "Please Sign In." After the party, create a scrapbook with kind words written by their friends and family.

Food: Stack filled file folders, notebooks and books on top of each other and rest appetizer plates on the top.

Create an entire table with office stacks' of varying heights, and top each with a different plate of foods for guests to nibble on. It will make the food table visually interesting and keeps with the party's theme.

Drinks: Serve cocktails in coffee mugs instead of glasses.

The Golden Years: Celebrate your parent's entrance into the Golden Years with a gilded retirement party.

Invitations: Send out invitations printed on gold cardstock to set the theme.

Dress Code: Ask guests to come to the party in cocktail attire

Decor: Create an upscale, lavish feel for the evening with lots of candlelight throughout your home, tall candelabras, and minimal artificial light.

Guest Book: Enlarge a print of a favorite picture of your parents, and have it mounted on a non-acid gold matte. Ask guests to sign retirement well wishes on the matte around the picture, and frame it for your parents after the party. Alternately, mount the picture on a black matte and give guests a thin gold paint pen to sign their well wishes.

Food: Order edible gold flakes to top their favorite cake with (alternately, you can also use gold dragees), and have the baker write "Cheers to the Golden Years" on top in gold frosting.

Drinks: Serve this Golden Delicious cocktail made with Goldschlager, a clear cinnamon liquer with real floating flakes of gold.


1 Cup sparkling apple cider (recommended - Martinelli's)
1 Fl. Oz. Goldshlager cinnamon liqueur


Pour chilled sparkling apple cider into a highball glass.
Add Goldschlager, stir, and serve.

The Good Life: Instead of looking back at old memories (as with the office theme party), celebrate your parents' retirement by focusing on the new activities they'll fill their lives with.

Invitations: Theme the party around your parents' favorite activities - traveling, golf, boating, gardening, etc. Build the rest of the party around the theme, including invitations.

Dress Code: Depending on the activity, have your guests dress appropriately for the occasion. If it's gold, slap on your best kahkis, if traveling is the theme, cheesy tourist shirts are a MUST.

Decor: Use popular attributes from the activity as a base for centerpieces and accents. If the theme is boating, decorate using anchors and traditional naval gear.

Guest Book: Create a guestbook based off your theme where guests can write their well wishes for the retirees.

For example, a gardening themed retirement party would be well suited for a guestbook crafted from pressed flowers or leaves. Using floral tape and a silk flower mounted atop the pen, create blooming pens for guests to write wishes with. Place the pens in a small vase for an impromptu floral arrangement.

Food: Find or decorate a cake in the party's theme - golf party cakes can feature a tee set in the frosting with a real golf ball resting on top, and a frosting landscape of grass complete with a hole and flag.

Drink: Top off your cocktails with a drink topper related to the activity.


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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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