Retirement Party Ideas and Themes for 2020

When a retiree finishes their career it’s important to celebrate everything they’ve achieved. That might be with a party at the office with coworkers or through a family get-together. Either way, we’ve provided creative and simple retirement party ideas below that will help you plan the perfect party, from the invitations to the decor.

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How to Plan a Retirement Party

Before the decorations or cake, create a guest list to kick off your retirement party planning. Prepare for a larger guest list, as the retiree likely met plenty of people along the way in their career. The guest list will likely consist of a combination of past and current associates, friends, and family. When you’re ready to start planning, follow the steps below.

  1. Create Your Guest List: Don’t try to guess which co-workers the retiree has a close relationship with. Instead, sit down with the guest of honor and find out who they’d like to invite. This is the easiest way to make sure that your guest list is right for them. Decorations, themes, and how formal or informal the party turns out often depends on who’s on the guest list.
  2. Pick a Theme: A theme influences everything from decor to food, so make sure you pick one that you love. For inspiration, check out our theme ideas below.
  3. Set a Date and Location: Make sure you have a handle on where you’re hosting the party, as well as when. Pick a venue with enough space for the guest list, and consider times that work best for them. For example, if most of the guest list is retired, hosting a weekday event might not be a problem. However, if the guests are all still working, it might be easier to opt for a weekend.
  4. Choose Party Invitations: When sending out retirement party invitations, you should be as detailed as possible and consider your theme when planning your retirement invitation wording. These cards should tell the who, what, when, and where of the party. If you host a formal retirement party, you should send elegant invitations with dress code information. If you organizing a picnic or BBQ, you should send party invitations with BBQ graphics or wording.elegant retirement party invitation
  5. Retirement Party Invitation Wording: All retirement party invitations should specify if the invitation includes a plus one. Invitations should also note the number of years that the retiree has worked. This helps your guests write their cards for the honoree. You can also add a gifting description that includes the option of donating to the retiree’s favorite charity if the retiree doesn’t want gifts. Always be sure to keep extra invitations around just in case the guest list grows as you continue planning. Then make sure you send out the cards within plenty of time. For more information check out our resource on what to include in party invitations.
  6. Collect the Supplies: Between cake, decorations, seating, and more, you have plenty of supplies to get together. It’s key to make a checklist of everything you need at the beginning of your planning. This way, you don’t forget anything in the end.

Retirement Party Themes

A retirement party theme should reflect on a person’s career and life. You can focus on how the retiree chose their career path or you can focus on their future plans. However, try to keep the theme specific. Themes and decorations should feel central to the retiree’s career motivations, family, and network.

Career Type:

Often times, the retiree’s career makes for the perfect theme when it comes to décor and food. For example, a teacher’s party can consist of everything from chalkboard décor and apple-inspired centerpieces. For dessert, think schoolbook cookies and an A+ cake.

Hire Year:

Add a hilarious element to the guest of honor’s retirement by hosting a party based on the year that they began their career. You can choose decorations based on the era and have guests dress up. Remind the retiree of their early beginnings by using framed canvas prints to create a gallery wall or timeline of old to new photos. Be sure to include current photographs of the retiree and their family.


Turn your own backyard or a venue space into a mini-vacation for the retiree. This is a popular idea inspired by a Luau party theme. As the retiree transitions into rest and relaxation, you can give them a head-start by turning their party into a tropical paradise. Everything from cocktails to decorations to luau party invitations complete this theme.

Look to the Future:

Does the retiree have future plans to move or travel? If so, pull inspiration from their next chapter to close out this chapter. If the retiree is moving, you can decorate the retirement party space based on their future location. Serve food and appetizers that their new city is famous for. Combine this theme with going away party ideas to turn the honoree’s party into a farewell celebration.

A couple dances at a retirement party

Favorite Hobby:

Escape work-oriented themes and focus on the retiree’s favorite thing to do. Whether they love to golf or enjoy painting, you can tailor your theme to the retiree’s hobbies. Plus, this theme leaves plenty of room for gift exchange ideas. Choose party invitations, decorations, party favors, and desserts that creatively symbolize the retiree’s hobby.

Office Retirement Party Ideas

The key to hosting a retirement party for another employee at your company is making the most of the office space. Base office decorations and party game ideas around personal details that show effort and attention. Brainstorm what’s most memorable about your co-worker and find creative ways to show them how special they are. Let them know how much you appreciate their commitment to work. You can also highlight one of their hobbies.

When it comes to food for an office party, you should always choose the employee’s favorites. Make sure to buy a custom cake that ties into their role at the company. Before cutting the cake, plan a heartfelt toast for the retiree where the boss or close co-workers say a few words. Also, try to host your retirement party in the early afternoon to accommodate employees who have to leave early.

Retirement Party Favor Ideas

This special occasion deserves memorable party favors. Sending guests off with a small photo gift gives thanks to those who supported the retiree’s career over the years. Retirement party favors don’t have to be big, but should leave a lasting impression. Check out the ideas below for inspiration.

  • Chocolate with custom packaging
  • Custom mint tins
  • Photo magnets
  • Personalized playing cards
  • Personalized key chain
  • Bottle stoppers
  • Bottle openers
  • Small personalized mirror
  • Custom pint glass

Retirement parties are fun and joyous occasions. Remember that you don’t have to break the bank in order to throw the perfect retirement party. Feel free to coordinate with another celebration, like a Christmas party or summer beach bash. Between celebrating the guest of honor and sharing memories, you can make your retirement party ideas come to life. Just remember, small gestures go a long way.