Inspiration & Ideas

Retirement party ideas & essential etiquette

Two people hugging at a retirement party.

Retirement marks the culmination of years of dedication and hard work. It's a time to reflect on career accomplishments, cherish professional and personal memories and embark on new adventures. Hosting a retirement party for a valued coworker, friend, parent or spouse is a wonderful way to honor their contributions, celebrate their achievements and send them off into a new, exciting chapter of their life with well-wishes and lots of happy memories.

While planning a retirement party can involve weeks to months of preparation, you can make things easy for yourself by following our comprehensive guide to retirement parties! From what to write on a retirement party invitation to etiquette to gifting to party activities, here’s everything you need to know about planning an unforgettable retirement celebration.

What to write on a retirement party invitation?

Invitation with "Going away party" written on it in metallic tones.

When writing a retirement party invitation, be sure to include key details about the event while conveying a celebratory tone. Depending on the type of party and the retiree you’re celebrating, your wording can range from reverential to funny. 

Here's what to include in a retirement party invitation: 

Essential retirement party details:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Venue

Optional retirement party information:

  • Dress code
  • Special instructions (ex. bringing a dish for a potluck, contributions to a group gift, directions, etc.)

The guest of honor's name and reason for the party

You're essentially announcing the retiree's farewell party, so this is where you can have some fun (or keep things formal and straightforward). More than anything else, this will set the tone of the retirement party, so you'll want to put some thought into it. Here are a few examples to get you started!

Casual, funny retirement party invitation messages:

  • The Legend (AKA, Dan) is retiring! 
  • No more 9–5 for Amy!
  • The time has come to wish Scott a Happy Retirement!
  • Steve's entered the No Work Zone
  • Eat, drink & be retired (Sam's going to do all 3)
  • Sip, sip, hooray, it's time to celebrate Christina's last day!

Formal retirement party invitation messages:

  • You're cordially invited to Brian Anderson's retirement party
  • Please join us for Taylor Kim's retirement luncheon
  • The pleasure of your company is requested at Maggie Johnson's retirement dinner party

Short and simple retirement party invitation messages:

  • Jonathan's retirement party
  • Carrie's farewell party
  • Chris' going away party

Once you’re ready to send invitations for the retirement party, Evite’s collection of retirement party invitations is ready to help you make party planning a breeze (we even track the RSVPs for you so you can focus on more important things, like who keeps microwaving fish in the office kitchen).

When should you send retirement party invitations?

For most retirement parties, you should send the invitations at least 2–3 weeks before the party. If you’re hosting a more formal retirement party, you may want to consider sending invitations a month before the event to ensure everyone can make it.

How long should a retirement party last?

How long a retirement party really depends on the retiree's wishes, type of party and venue. If you're throwing a farewell brunch, lunch or happy hour, 2–3 hours is perfect. If you're hosting a dinner at a restaurant or banquet hall, at least 4 hours is recommended. If you're hosting a more intimate evening party with close friends at someone's home, it could go on all night!

Who should you invite to a retirement party?

Deciding who to invite to a retirement party depends on a variety of factors. First and foremost, consider the retiree's preferences. Do they want a colleagues-only lunch, a dinner with their coworkers and family or more of a celebration with their family and friends? The location, scale of the event and the overall atmosphere you want to create are all important elements to consider. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine who to invite:

Immediate family: Start with the retiree's immediate family members, including their spouse, children, parents and siblings.

Close friends and colleagues: This may include longtime friends, mentors and colleagues with whom the retiree has built strong relationships and been a source of positive guidance in their career and life.

Current and former coworkers: If the retirement party is being held during office hours, or hosted by the company, inviting their coworkers is an obvious must. If it's outside of office hours though, consider inviting both past and current coworkers if they're close to the guest of honor.

Professional network: If the retiree has a professional network outside of their workplace, such as business partners, clients or industry contacts, you may want to invite them as well depending on your guest of honor's wishes.

Community and social groups: If the retiree you're honoring is actively involved in a community group, social club, hobby group or volunteering organization, consider inviting members of those groups as well (chances are, they'll be seeing even more of the guest of honor soon!).

Ultimately, it's the retiree's preferences and desires for the event that matter the most. Some retirees may prefer a small, intimate gathering with close family and friends, while others may enjoy a larger celebration with a broader network of acquaintances. Tailor the guest list to reflect their wishes, and everyone is bound to have a wonderful time toasting the guest of honor!

What to write on a retirement card?

Image of a retirement card featuring "Cheers to your retirement" written on it over a martini.

Where there’s a retirement party, there’s a retirement card! Whether you’ve shared years of lunch breaks with the retiree, benefited from their wisdom or admire their dedication to their work, telling them how much they’re appreciated and how you’ll miss them will make their send-off even more meaningful and special to them.

Here are some retirement card messages to consider including in your note:

Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement! Wishing you endless days of relaxation (golf), fun (golf) and time with your family (time to get them into golf!).

Your hard work and dedication are an inspiration to us all. May your retirement be filled with new adventures, good health and happy memories.

Cheers to a new chapter in your life! Enjoy the freedom and embrace every moment of it.

Thank you for your years of service and commitment. Your dedication will always be remembered and cherished—you truly helped to make this company what it is today!

Just want to say best wishes on your retirement! May the next phase of your life be as fulfilling and rewarding as your career has been.

If anyone deserves a retirement filled with laughter, love and relaxation, it's you! Happy retirement!

Congratulations on leaving the 9–5 behind! May your retirement be everything you've dreamed of and more.

It may be goodbye to deadlines and meetings, but not to our friendship. Can't wait to catch up on the weekends!

Thank you for imparting your knowledge to me and helping me to further my own career. Your wisdom and guidance have been invaluable, and I hope to be half the mentor you are someday!

Your years of hard work and achievements have made a difference in so many lives. Enjoy your retirement to the fullest!

Now that you have an idea of what to write in a retirement card, check out Evite’s collection of retirement eCards. Not only can you personalize your favorite one with a thoughtful message to the retiree, but you can send or schedule them via text or email (and even include an eGift card if you wish!). 

Are you supposed to bring a gift to a retirement party?

As with any celebration that marks a major milestone in someone’s life, the answer to this varies. In general, it’s considerate though not required to give the guest of honor a gift to commemorate their years of hard work and celebrate the next chapter of their lives. 

Remember—it isn’t the amount spent that matters with a retirement gift, it’s the thought. If you’re giving a retiring coworker a group gift, a $5–20 contribution per person is considered to be an appropriate amount. If you’re giving a solo gift to a coworker, a gift valued at $10–20 is perfect. 

When choosing a retirement gift, find something that aligns with the retiree’s interests (or something they can use while pursuing new interests in their retirement!). Golf, mixology, hiking equipment, travel accessories, books and gardening tools are all popular options. Need more ideas? Check out our editor-curated retirement gift ideas Amazon shop!

What should you wear to a retirement party?

What to wear to a retirement party really depends on the location and tone of the party. Often, the host of the retirement party will include any dress code information with the party invitation. Otherwise, if you’re attending a formal dinner party for the retiree, opt for formalwear. If it’s a retirement lunch with coworkers, business casual or your usual office wear is appropriate. And of course, if there’s a theme like a luau or decade throwback, dress to match!

What are some good ways to celebrate someone's retirement?

When deciding upon what kind of retirement party to have, first, ask the retiree themselves! It’s a party for them, after all, and likely the only retirement party they’ll ever have unless they’re a famous musician. After that, consider the budget, time of year and who will be in attendance.

Some top retirement party ideas include:

Lunch party: This is perfect for a casual office-organized going away party.

Dinner party: A classic option that can be formal or casual, hosted by the company or by the retiree’s family, and the guest list can include colleagues, family, friends or all of the above.

Beach getaway: This is more for a smaller group of family and friends, but what a delightful way to kick off a relaxing retirement.

Backyard party BBQ: Casual and suitable for family, friends and colleagues to attend, this is a wonderful summer retirement party option.


Wine tasting: If the retiree lives near a vineyard, treating them to a beautiful, intimate wine tasting and dinner might be just what they desire.

Karaoke: If you’re looking to throw a more energetic, all-night party, hitting up a karaoke bar (preferably one with private rooms) is always a fun option, especially since the guest of honor won’t have to show up next Monday to face the music after a rousing-but-off-key performance.

Potluck: Another great casual in-office party option (though it can also be a great in-home party), if what the retiree will miss most about the office is the tech guy’s homemade chili, this is a winner.

What are the most popular and unique retirement party themes?

Are themes required for a retirement party? Nope. But are they fun? Oh, yes! If the retiree loves a good themed party, consider going in that direction for their retirement party. 

Some top retirement party themes include:

Nostalgia/throwback: ’70s, ’80s and ’90s themes are always popular, but choosing the decade the retiree was born in or started working during is a good way to personalize it.

Gatsby (AKA The Roaring Twenties): If you’re going ALL out for their retirement party, you can’t go wrong with a Gatsby party.

Golf: If they’re into golf, this is a no-brainer, of course.

Luau: If it’s a summer retirement party, a luau theme is sure to please everyone (who wouldn’t like to toast to the retiree with a delicious piña colada?).

The Office / Office Space: Yes, we’re finally in an era when folks who love and relate to both The Office and Office Space are starting to retire. If they love either of these icons, create a fun retirement party around it!

Bon voyage: Is “Travel more” on their retirement to-do list? Encourage them to make it happen with a travel-themed party featuring international appetizers and decor from their favorite destinations.

Taco-bout a great employee: Throw a retirement fiesta complete with a taco bar and fun southwestern decor!

Where should you host a retirement party?

When choosing a venue for a retirement party, it’s important to consider guest list size and what the tone of the party will be.

Some popular retirement party venues include:

  • The office
  • A restaurant (try to find one with a private dining area)
  • The retiree’s home
  • Someone's backyard
  • A banquet hall
  • A non-local destination (if celebrating with a small group)

What activities should you have at a retirement party?

Last, but not least, plan on offering some entertainment and interactive activities at the retirement party. It can be something as simple and meaningful as a display of the retiree’s achievements and photos or as epic as a live band. At the end of the event when the retiree is leaving behind not just a party, but a major part of their life, you’ll want them to leave happy, appreciated, fulfilled and enthused for the next chapter.

Some popular retirement party activities include:

  • Memory sharing (table of achievements, slideshow, guest book, photos of the retiree, etc.)
  • Photo booth
  • Retiree trivia
  • Live music or DJ
  • Dancing
  • Speeches and toasts
  • Cake cutting

Now that you’re ready to plan the best retirement party ever, check out Evite’s range of retirement party invitations! For retirement parties, we recommend sending one of our Premium invitations—they come with envelopes, backgrounds, liners and stamps, all expertly curated by our designers to save you time and make you look like an absolute party-planning pro! Here’s wishing the retiree in your life a very happy retirement!

Animated invitation featuring donuts with "Donut forget us, Nick!" written on it.

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