I’m not sure if saying goodbye to your career is bitter or sweet, but I’m pretty sure no one can turn down a sweet retirement party, right? Especially if it’s spiffed up with some modern retirement party ideas like the ones on this list!
It’s not like you have much of a choice.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, reaching retirement age is something to be celebrated. It signifies starting a new chapter in your life. You know, a chapter without any small talk with colleagues and endless hours in traffic. Retirement means that you can finally do the things you’ve always wanted to but didn’t quite have the time to get around to.
While most retirement party ideas are outdated, there’s nothing stopping you from reinventing the wheel and doing a complete switch-up. Nowadays, people are generally younger or healthier when they retire, so there’s no better time than now to start exploring retirement party ideas that are far from the norm.
Retirement party ideas for modern retirees
Dressing up and hosting a themed retirement party is a great idea (if you’re from 3 or 4 generations ago). Nowadays, there’s a lot more you can do with a retirement party. It shouldn’t be boring – it’s a celebration!
Here’s my take on it
A modern retirement party doesn’t have to be a once-off experience, it could be a series of celebrations over a couple of days or weeks. You can embrace the extra time that the person will now have and commit yourselves to get together more often in the future.
1. Games night
I don’t know about you, but I quite enjoy a good board game. It keeps the mind active, no matter how old you are. But for a retirement party, it can be anything. You could decide based on the retiree’s interests. For example, Dungeons and Dragons for the actors, video games for the nerds, trivia for the smart, dodgeball for the athletic… You get the point.
2. Night out on the town
It almost seems like when foodies retire, they forget how to cook and end up spending half of their time (and money) at really cool restaurants and eateries. If you want to stretch the retirement party festivities over an extended period, then explore fancy dining spots or bars on a regular basis. Whatever you decide on, you can make it a recurring “event.”
3. Season tickets
Get a set of 2 season tickets to your favorite team so that your retired friend has an easy way to drag you all in. You can even take it a step further and get everyone to pitch in for a set of season tickets. The Toronto Bluejays have season tickets for $1,600 each – which can be a good deal for a big group of sports nuts!
Get away from things
If you want to use the retirement party and festivities to take a much-needed break, then there’s a lot you could do to get away from things. This is especially true if the retiree’s been “locked up” in the bustling city for pretty much all their working life.
4. Go camping
I’ll admit, camping isn’t for everybody. But, if the outdoors and nature are your thing, then this is a pretty good retirement party idea. Explore some hidden gems that you could go to and plan some activities for when you get there.
Yes, that last part is VERY important! The last thing you want to do is get to the camping site and then spend the rest of your time there just staring at each other. Doesn’t sound like much of a fun retirement party to me…
5. Destination trip
Okay, so say camping isn’t quite your thing and you all prefer convenience at your fingertips, the ocean nearby, etc., then plan a destination trip. You know how back in the day a retirement party meant dressing up and mentally transporting yourself to a certain era or destination?
Yeah, this is a bit like that – just without the tacky outfits and you actually get to physically go to the destination!
Just have a good time
That’s what a retirement party should be about, right? Just getting some close mates and loved ones together and enjoying yourselves. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an extravagant do (mostly because you might want to save that money to do some SERIOUS traveling in your retirement 😉).
6. Scavenger hunt
This one’s sure to bring out the kid in you. Now, depending on whether the retiree had a good relationship with their boss or colleagues, you could place one of them at the final location of the game. Talk about the ultimate plot twist.
7. Fireworks display
What’s a celebration without a few fireworks, huh? Nothing but a boring gathering of close friends.
People use fireworks for really big milestones, most notably the start of a new year. A milestone that’s just as important is reaching retirement age, so you could plan a fireworks display to honor the retiree. Personalize it. Include elements in the display that will resonate with him. Use their favorite color/s. Whatever you do, just have fun with it.
An oldie but a goodie. This is a classic retirement party game that I’m sure even your grandparents played – but you can make it work. The key to modernizing a retirement party game is by adding in new and exciting elements.
When it comes to bingo, you could change it so that the items being called out or narrated are stories like, “A time at work where he was super embarrassed!” You could also keep it within the theme by linking it to work-related stories (not their dating history, please).
9. Play “What’s in the Box?”
Some people don’t really like surprises, but I bet they’ll love this one. This is a cool game for all to enjoy.
Get all the guests to contribute a gift and put them all in a massive box. Then, the retiree must come blindfolded into the room. The goal here is for them to deep dive into the box and pick up one gift at a time, and then try and guess what it is.
Upon revelation, they can try to figure out who the gift is from. The fun part about this game is you can get really creative with the gifts – from sentimental to downright stupid! Anything goes.
10. Set up a themed photo booth
Let’s move away from the selfies for a bit and create new memories while closing off an important chapter in the retiree’s life. Give everybody a chance to take a picture with the retiree in the themed photo booth and have a professional photographer capture it.
You could decide to dress up, take group photos, etc. To freeze these special moments in time beyond the retirement party celebration, you could have the pictures enlarged and put on to a canvas to hang up for lasting memories.
Personalize the retirement party experience
I’m no events guru or anything, but even I can tell you that the trick to planning the ultimate and most unforgettable retirement party is personalizing the experience for the retiree. If you know they enjoy sports, it would be kind of stupid to then plan a retirement party at a dance studio, would it?
11. Tick off a budget list item
Throughout the years, a lot of people keep a bucket list and tick things off along the way. But it’s not unusual for someone to have items that they haven’t ticked off. If you can get your hands on the retiree’s bucket list, great! Figure out what they still have to do and then plan the best retirement party they could ever imagine based on that.
12. Play a personalized trivia game
Before you get carried away, this is not a way to reveal the retiree’s deepest, darkest secrets. Instead, think of this as a way to reminisce on some sentimental moments or highlights from both their personal and work experiences.
An example of this would be asking a question like, “How much did [insert retiree’s name here] earn at his/her first job?”
Believe me when I say, it won’t end there. Before you know it, that question and answer will spark so many hilarious stories about that particular period in time. Chances are, they were really strapped for cash at that time and lived in a dingy little apartment, eating nothing but noodles or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day (yikes)!
13. Live concert or performances of decade-themed playlists
You can have a lot of fun with this one. It’s a bit like karaoke, but with a lot more direction and thought behind it. You could all curate decade-themed playlists to perform to, based on the retiree’s most-played songs from each decade to evoke a nostalgic feeling.
If you’re well connected and can pull a few strings, you could get the retiree’s favorite artist from their childhood to perform – if they’re still in a condition to because the last thing you want to do is drag someone from their hospital bed just to sing for your newly-retired friend! Don’t do it, that would be insensitive.
14. Do a flashmob
Next up is something that was irritatingly popular in the late 2000s – a flashmob. The good thing is that just about anybody and everybody can participate and it’s not about who the best dancer is. When it comes to a flashmob, it’s the perfect time to let loose. Undo your tie, throw away your suit blazer – whatever you want to do.
Nobody’s going to judge you. Promise.
In all that coordinated movement, you could hold up posters of sentimental pictures or moments from the retiree’s past to make it more personal.
15. Messages from blasts from the past
If you’ve planned everything well ahead, you could reach out to people that the retiree worked with and had a good relationship with in past years to create a special slideshow for a viewing party of some sort.
Fortunately for you, there are several ways to find those people. All you need is a name and surname, and you have everything you need to stalk them on social media and then get them to record a short clip about the retiree. Gather all of those up and create a little montage.
16. Roast the retiree
This is a relatively new concept that’s even spawned TV shows, so you can now add it to the ever-growing list of retirement party ideas. Basically, this is a fun time with those closest to the retiree where you get to put them in the hot seat and give everybody a chance to “roast” them.
Roasting someone just means poking fun at them in a playful and teasing way. No malice allowed!
It’s a really cool way to throw jabs at the retiree’s weird habits or personality traits. The most important thing here is to remember that everything that’s being said and done is in jest! It’s about having fun, so nobody should take anything to heart otherwise the whole night will be ruined (bleh).
17. Host a sports tournament in the retiree’s honor
There’s something empowering and ego-boosting about having a sports tournament named after you – even if it’s just for a short period. Think about it, something like The Leif Kristjansen Golf Tournament has a nice ring to it, or whatever sport the retiree is into. You could also dress up accordingly and have an actual sports day in their honor.
Now, whether you want to let the tournament’s namesake win and be the overall winner of the day is entirely up to you…
BONUS! Don’t host a retirement party if the retiree doesn’t want one – just give them money!
Here’s a thought, if you know that the retiree really doesn’t want a retirement party, then don’t arrange one! Personalizing the retirement experience means tailoring the celebration to the retiree’s wants… even if it means not having one at all.
Although, that doesn’t mean you should just let them wander off into retirement without even acknowledging it. Instead of a retirement celebration, you could get close friends and family to chip in and present them with cash, a travel voucher, or anything along those lines that you know they’d enjoy. After all, with so much time on your hands when you retire, one can never have too much money to travel or discover and explore new hobbies.