Retirement party decoration ideas, themes, fun activities and creative gifts
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Inexpensive Yet Fun Retirement Party Ideas
Help! I am looking for inexpensive ideas for my boss' retirement party. I've got the food and restaurant covered by the company. My problem is finding cheap and funny things to do to make his retirement party memorable. I plan to make a memory album for him with photos, etc. However, the only thing that comes to mind for fun is gag gifts, which are expensive and get thrown away afterwards, so I don't want to ask people to do this. However, I want fun, fun, fun for adults! All the websites I find are for kid's parties. Do you have any ideas to make a retirement party for work a memorable event?
Give the Retirement Party a Theme
When my parents retired, we gave a party with the theme of "things that don't work anymore." Guests all brought gifts that were broken and could not be repaired. Among other things, they received a broken VCR, watch and even an old hot water heater!
Before cutting the cake, we held a ceremony where we wrapped an alarm clock in a bag and had them smash it because they no longer had to get up and go to work. All who attended had fun and we have some great memories.
Use Party to Highlight the Retiree's Interests
I was involved in the planning of a retirement party for someone who had worked 35 years at the company. These were some of the best ideas of our event.
Collect photographs from the working environment from day one to present. Try to have about 100 or more photos. Scan the photos into a PowerPoint presentation and set the presentation on "loop." Set this up in a corner of the room and just let it run all night. We even got some family photos from his wife and put those in the presentation too. People will migrate over to the slide presentation the whole evening long. We also copied the presentation onto a CD and gave it to our retiree. It was his favorite gift.
For table decorations, we gave each table a theme. Our retiree was a civil engineer, a boy scout leader, a photographer, a father, a husband, an antique car buff, an Army veteran, and a collector of hats. We used each of these parts of his life as a theme for each of the tables. At each of the tables, we provided a short description of the reason these items were here and how they applied to the retiree's life. The result was magical and impressive. For example, at the Civil Engineer table, we placed blueprints, hardhat, drawing tools, boots, etc. Our retiree's wife was very helpful and let us scrounge through their house for decor items. The tables created quite a sensation among all the guests, and since we borrowed the items, it was free!
Put Together a Video
At one of the retirement parties that I attended, the people throwing the party had announced to all the employees that they would be making a video about the retiree. Folks were asked to do "skits" or other types of tributes (roasts, etc.), and appointments were scheduled. At the party, they showed the video, and then the retiree got to take the video home. It was a huge hit for everyone.
For All the Lost Marbles…
A few years ago, my office manager retired. The party organizers put a large glass jar on her table, and gave each staff member a marble. Sometime during the meal, each of us went to her table and dropped the marble into the jar. This was to represent all the marbles she had lost in the last 30 years in our office. It was fun and simple and each person wished her well as the marbles went into the jar.
Create a Mini-Quiz
Consider creating a mini-quiz that partygoers can take, with a small prize (can of nuts, candle, etc.) going to the winner. We did this for my mom, and everyone loved it. Questions can include things like "How many bosses has (name of retiree) worked for in his/her years with the company?" (with a bonus credit for naming them all), "Name three of the positions that (name of retiree) has held with the company," "How many employees were at the company when (name of retiree) started working here?", etc. You can even include questions about hobbies or special collections that some of the partygoers might know about. (For example, everyone knew my mom loved bingo.)
The trick is to have enough questions that everyone will know so they can have fun participating, but still have one or two questions that will be stumpers for most people. This ensures you don't have as many winners as you have party guests.
I just made a list of the questions and read them aloud, while partygoers wrote their answers on small pieces of paper I provided.
Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
When I retired, rather than present the usual "roast," the staff planned a game of "who wants to be a millionaire." The entertainment leader asked some qualifying questions in order to get a contestant. Since he wanted his co-conspirator for the game to get selected, there were a couple of questions thrown in that only that person would know.
So when Mike qualified to be the game player, he advanced to the front of the room and was asked a variety of fun questions, which gently spoofed my personality and my job over the 20 years we had worked together. For me, the questions included ones like "In the 20 years Bev has worked here, how many different hair styles has she had?" The correct answer to this multiple-choice question was 0. There were probably 8 questions in all and it was really humorous and good-natured.
And, if you're making a photo/memory album, how about transferring some or all of that information to a PowerPoint demonstration so that the whole gang can see it?
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Present a Retirement Money Tree
I have an inexpensive fun retirement party gift idea that actually uses real money! When my dad retired, his friends made him a money tree. They took a branch that had many smaller branches on it and "planted" it in a pretty pot. They then took one, five and ten dollar bills and folded them into bows and leaves. They then attached the bows and leaves to the branch. As the grand finale to his party, they presented him with a "money tree." My dad retired years ago and I still remember that money tree.
Take the Next Step:
- Plan a buffet. It can help you stay on budget.
- Don't get overwhelmed with the party planning. Use these tips to plan and host a stress-free party that both you and the guests will enjoy.
- Need a theme? Steal one of these great 50th birthday party ideas that are also well-suited for a retirement bash.
- Find information geared specifically for Baby Boomers in The Dollar Stretcher section dedicated to your financial issues. If you're over 50 your financial needs are different. And so are your questions.
- Subscribe to After 50 Finances. You've learned how to work smarter, not harder. This weekly newsletter is dedicated to people just like you. Subscribers get a FREE copy of our After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist, a list of everything you need to do to be ready for retirement.
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