10 Retirement Party Ideas for the Best Send Off

Everything you need to plan an epic retirement party, plus free printables

Retirement itself is a huge milestone worthy of celebration, of course. It’s also an opportunity to recognize achievements and share good wishes for the future. Whether you’re throwing a retirement party for a colleague, friend, or family member, it’s important to give the occasion its due. That’s why we’ve rounded up 10 retirement party ideas to give the retiree in your life the best send-off ever.

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1) Start with a theme for the party

Whether you’re throwing a retirement party for a valued colleague or a birthday party for a nine-year-old, the theme will determine many choices down the road. So it’s important that you settle on a theme early because it may affect food, décor, and even the venue.

Start by brainstorming with people closest to the retiree to get ideas about what kind of things the guest of honor likes. Their favorite sports team, color, or time of year are all great jumping-off points. In regards to the party theme, you can also consider the personal style of the retiree or a special inside joke.

Sometimes a super-personal theme may not be possible or appropriate. In that case, when in doubt, you should always stick to a classy and professional theme, for example, simple black and white or a black, white, and gold color scheme paired with an elegant font. While a more broad theme may seem impersonal, personalized retirement party ideas will make it feel special.

2) Do the heavy retirement party planning early

Once you have a theme picked out, it’s absolutely imperative that you create a guest list and a budget. Then you can pick a place to gather. How many people are attending and how much money you have to spend will definitely affect venue and food choices.

Getting these big decisions out of the way early on makes retirement party planning easier in two ways. Firstly, you will need to double down on getting organized if it’s going to be a big party. Secondly, regardless of how big the party is, if you get the big stuff settled early, it will be easier to communicate details with attendees.

Remember that just because it’s a party, it’s “not all fun and games,” as they say. Party planning often has a lot of moving parts, so you should treat it like any other important project. One of our favorite retirement party ideas is to create a binder to organize and manage all the event details. It doesn’t have to be complicated; indeed, Avery 1-inch binders are great for party planning and can be reused around the office after the party is done.

Watch a video that walks you through our Mail Merge tool for automatically applying addresses to address labels.

3) Create and print personalized invitations

After you have a guest list finalized and the big questions settled, it’s time to send invitations. Nowadays, it’s easy to send an e-vite, but a traditional invitation just feels more special and classy. Fortunately, with Avery products and free tools, it’s incredibly easy to create and print personalized invitation cards and address labels right from your desktop.

First of all, you can print Avery cards and labels on standard desktop and office printers. Simply match the type of card or label you want to use to the type of printer you have. (Check out this article for a deeper dive on why matching printable products to your printer is important.) Secondly, our free design software, Avery Design and Print Online (ADPO), has many benefits. Two really great ones are the free predesigned templates you can customize and our Mail Merge tool, which allows you to quickly import an address list from Excel or a Google Sheet.

Get started customizing free Avery templates in ADPO by clicking the “Customize” button for any of the retirement party ideas below. If you’ve never made your own custom cards before, this article with tips for DIY custom cards covers everything you need to know.

Print this invitation design yourself on our note cards for inkjet printers (8315) or laser printers (5315).

Or, click “Let Us Print for You” when you’re done customizing to order custom-printed note cards.

Print this design yourself on Avery 5160 address labels for laser printers or 8160 address labels for inkjet printers.

Or, click “Let Us Print for You” when you’re done customizing to order custom-printed address labels.

4) Decide on a menu or party food

When deciding on what to serve at a retirement party, start with the basics. For example, should it be a sit-down dinner, buffet, or potluck? Once you’ve determined that, you can choose a cuisine style based on the retiree’s preferences or what will satisfy the most guests.

Throwing a potluck retirement party? Check out our article full of ideas and free printables for office potlucks. 

For large parties, it’s a good idea to automatically include vegan and gluten-free options, especially since vegan food also works for vegetarians and guests who keep kosher. For smaller parties, you may want to reach out to guests about specific food allergies and/or dietary restrictions.

One of our favorite retirement party ideas is to provide a menu card for guests. While custom menu cards elevate place settings for a sit-down dinner, they also serve a practical purpose. Even for buffet-style catering, a menu card is a quick and easy way to communicate to guests what type of food is available. That way, they can make adjustments as necessary based on needs and personal preferences.

Print this menu card design yourself on our postcards for inkjet printers (8387) or for laser printers (5689).

Or, click “Let Us Print for You” when you’re done customizing to order custom-printed postcards.

5) Retirement décor for your table

Simple, small touches can really make your retirement party stand out. For this reason, we love using retirement décor on guest tables. Whether you’re serving a sit-down dinner or a buffet, personalized place cards instantly elevate the table. For a formal event, you can also personalize champagne or wine bottle labels. On the other hand, for a casual retirement party, you can personalize water bottles.

Print this design yourself on 2″ x 3-1/2″ tent cards for laser and inkjet printers (5302).

Or, click “Let Us Print for You” when you’re done customizing to order custom-printed tent cards.

Print this wine bottle design yourself on 4-3/4″ x 3-1/2″ arched labels available in a package (22826) or by the sheet (94600).

Or, click “Let Us Print for You” when you’re done customizing to order custom-printed wine bottle labels.

Print this water bottle design yourself on 1-1/4″ x 9-3/4″ waterproof labels available in a package (22845) or by the sheet (94262).

Or, click “Let Us Print for You” when you’re done customizing to order custom-printed water bottle labels.

6) Retirement party tent cards

Large tent cards are a great retirement party idea for setting guests at ease and providing clear directions. Using tent cards to label different tables and areas lets everyone know where to go and keeps everything flowing smoothly. For a retirement party, the guest of honor table and a table or area for gifts are must-haves. If you’re serving food buffet-style, large tent cards are perfect for labeling dishes and buffet sections.

Print this design yourself on 2-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ large tent cards for laser and inkjet printers (5305).

Or, click “Let Us Print for You” when you’re done customizing to order custom-printed tent cards.

7) How to personalize retirement gifts

Tags and labels make it easy to create themed or personalized gifts. In fact, we have some great office-appropriate gift ideas in our article about employee gifts. We’ve also got an article that will walk you through how to create and print personalized gift tags, step by step. While the articles mentioned above go into great detail, here are the basic things you need to know about personalizing retirement gifts. To begin with, if you already have a gift, adding a personalized gift tag is really all you need to do.

If you’re putting together a gift basket or box, the first thing to do is shop for items. Group small things the retiree will love together. For example, a neck pillow, portable phone charger, travel journal, and other like items can easily become a travel-themed gift box. Or, coffee beans, a mug, and brewing accessories for a coffee lover. In each scenario, you could add matching themed labels to all the items, finish with a themed tag, and voilà!

Print this gift tag design yourself on Avery 22802 rectangle tags using either a laser or inkjet printer.

Or, click “Let Us Print for You” when you’re done customizing to order custom-printed hang tags.

8) Bingo retirement party game

Retirement party games are a great idea because they give guests something to do and encourage mingling. Icebreaker name tags, a photo booth, and personalized trivia games are some good examples of retirement party games and activities to get people talking. Another one is retirement bingo, which is fun and easy to play as well as easy to set up.

First, open our retirement party bingo card template by clicking “customize” below. We’ve already filled in the squares for you, but you can edit the text to add your own words or phrases that describe various guests in attendance. Print the cards and hand them out to guests at the party, along with marker tokens or permanent markers for writing on the card. Encourage guests to mingle and try to talk to the people described in the bingo squares.

Once a guest has talked to someone else who meets the criteria, they can mark off that square. The first guest to get five boxes across, down, or diagonally wins! You can continue to play until there are multiple winners or someone “blacks out” their card by crossing out all squares.

Print this retirement bingo card design yourself on our postcards for inkjet printers (8387) or laser printers (5689).

Or, click “Let Us Print for You” when you’re done customizing to order custom-printed postcards.

9) Retirement party jar of well wishes

A “wish jar” is a thoughtful retirement party idea that’s simple to put together but high-impact for creating memories. At its most basic, all you need is a jar, blank cards or slips of paper to write on, and something to write with. However, there are several ways you can personalize the wish jar for your party and make it feel more special.

First, create a custom jar using clear sticker paper. Click “customize” to edit the template below, or upload your own design in Avery Design and Print Online. Then, you can, of course, trim the sticker close to the text or design with scissors or use a craft cutting machine. However, glossy clear labels seem to “disappear” on clear glass, so you don’t really need to trim the labels too closely. Finally, smooth the clear label on a clear glass jar and you’re all set.

Instead of cutting paper slips, elevate your wish jar with blank business cards that guests can write on. Or, create and print your own custom wish cards like we’ve done in our example below. After the party, send the retiree home with the jar full of wishes or put them in a binder using these sheet protectors that fit business cards perfectly.

10) Retirement party favors and goody bags

Last, but not least, everyone loves party favors or a goody bag. One of our favorite ideas for a retirement party is to use labels to personalize individually wrapped chocolates. Chocolate is an elegant, timeless treat because it feels rich and decadent. We used 2-inch round labels for the individually wrapped chocolate squares shown below. However, the same labels are also extremely versatile for most party favor and goodie bag needs. In fact, we often call 2-inch round labels the “MVP” of custom party décor because you can use them in so many different ways.

For example, 2-inch round labels are the perfect size for most candle lids, jam jars, candy bags, or to use as seals on larger bags filled with goodies and treats. We created our retirement party chocolates using 2-inch round glossy white labels in a package. However, you can also shop for blank 2-inch round labels by the sheet, not to mention in many different materials. Check out all your material options on our shop-by-material page. Then choose your desired quantity and add it to your cart.

Pro Tip: If you've never printed labels before, here is an excellent article that will walk you through it.

Print this design on glossy white 2-inch round labels sold by the package (22807) or sold by the sheet (94501).

Or, click “Let Us Print for You” when you’re done customizing to order custom-printed round labels.

Plan the best retirement party with free printables and Avery tools

Whether it’s a colleague, friend, or family member that’s retiring, a retirement party is a big deal and worthy of celebration. Luckily, Avery printable products paired with free Avery templates and design tools make it easy to create a send-off that’s as unique as the retiree that you’re celebrating.

Start by picking a theme for the party. Then, do all the most important planning up front, for instance, finalizing the guest list and budget. Once you’ve settled on the main details, you can send out invitations. Send traditional invitations by mail if you want the event to feel more classy and special. Take it a step further by personalizing the invitations and quickly applying your address list to address labels using Avery Design and Print Online software.

Next, focus on the menu and/or party food. Create a menu card and tent cards for buffet tables to easily communicate to guests what type of food is available. Add to your retirement party décor with personalized place cards on the tables, themed labels for wine and water bottles, and large tent cards on important tables.

After you’ve covered all the basics, add details that will make the retirement party feel luxurious and expensive, even if everything is DIY. For example, retirement gifts, goodie bags, and other party favors can be personalized with labels and tags. Finally, keep guests engaged and encourage mingling with a bingo retirement party game and a jar for writing wishes for the retiree.

At the end of the day, a retirement party is a celebration as well as an opportunity to recognize achievements and simply share good wishes for the retiree’s future.

What is your favorite retirement party idea? What would you want most at your own party? Shout it out in the comments, and don’t forget to share your retirement party projects on Instagram using the hashtag #averyproducts.

Author: JoJo Mrgich

JoAnn (JoJo) Mrgich is a copywriter and SEO content writer who began her copywriting career in 2011. A musical theater major at the time, JoJo began writing blog articles, product descriptions, and other online content for a dancewear brand. Since then, she has gone on to write in a variety of fields, from essential oils and natural beauty to fashion and swimwear, finally landing at Avery, which she affectionately calls her "forever home." At Avery, JoJo writes content for the Avery blog, covering everything from organization to party planning, as well as contributing to other online content for avery.com. She is also a technical and content writer for Avery Industrial, where she writes in-depth articles that span a wide variety of topics, from safety compliance to 5S lean practices. In her personal life, JoJo is a big fan of fantasy and science-fiction works such as Lord of the Rings and Star Trek (especially the original series). She also loves going to Disneyland and runs a non-profit social organization of 600 members that brings fans of "nerd culture" together for meet-ups and events in Southern California.