Office Retirement Party Ideas

Overhead view friends toasting
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When the time comes for a beloved co-worker to retire you want to send them out in style. Every office has different traditions and guidelines for retirement parties, but the idea of showing gratitude is consistent across the board.  The two most popular approaches are to have either a formal retirement luncheon or a small and lighter gathering. In the end, it is probably best to pitch a couple of ideas to the retiree just to make sure they approve. You can still make the event a surprise by withholding the date and location of the party.

Here are a few ideas for making a retirement party fun and engaging:

Coworker Stories

If you have a close-knit group, then it should be easy to find volunteers to share their favorite memories of the honoree. You can create a “roast format” where each person tells a funny story, or keep things more formal with appreciation stories. Either way, your retiree will be touched by the impact they had with their coworkers.

Picture Slides

It might be a chore to gather 20 to 40 photos of the honoree, but the smiles and laughs will make it all worthwhile. It is fun to look back at the younger days of friends and how the world around you has changed. Newer employees will also gain a sense of company history through the images. Don’t forget to look through the company archives if you run short on pictures. You might be able to find old brochures or advertisements that bring back good memories.


There are several game ideas you can add to the party itinerary to keep things moving. Make a slideshow trivia game with images of pop culture references that date back to when the retiree was first hired.  Attendees can try to guess what each picture is and win prizes. Another fun guessing game involves reading quotes, sayings, or stories about the guest of honor and asking coworkers to name the who, what, and where of each one.

Video Collaborations

With this, you set up a video camera in a private area weeks before the party and ask coworkers to record a 2-minute farewell message to the retiree. Take the raw footage to a video editor and have them add title screens, background music, and transitions as needed. The video can be played after the luncheon or during dessert. The best part is that the honoree gets to take home the DVD as a keepsake.

Invite Old Friends

Because occasions like this are designed to look back on an individual’s career, it makes sense to invite former employees who were with them in the beginning. Think back to all the people who worked closely with the retiree. Did they have a favorite secretary, manager, or subordinate who can join in the celebration? Spouses and children might also be applicable if the family is close to the company.

Retirement Gifts

The best way to handle retirement gifts is to have everyone donate to a general fund so that you can afford to buy something memorable. There are endless choices for what to give, but it really should be a leisure gift. Clocks and desk ornaments are okay, but the better choice is something they will use during retirement. For those who can’t resist a gag gift, make it small and don’t let it be a substitute for your share of the group gift.

Most people would prefer a fun office party over a formal retirement celebration. The latter can end up more like a funeral if the situation isn’t balanced well. And while retirement is an achievement, many retirees would rather deflect the spotlight away from growing older and on to something more entertaining.​​