How Do I Plan A Retirement Party Checklist? Complete Checklist

Are you planning a Retirement Party soon, and looking for a retirement party checklist to make your life easier? You’ve come to the right place! 

The Retirement Party Checklist 

1 – 2 months in advance: 

  • Set A Budget
  • Create A Guest List
  • Pick A Date & Time 
  • Book A Venue
  • Choose A Theme
  • Send Out Invitations
  • Book Entertainment

2 – 3 Weeks: 

  • Plan Party Food
  • Book Rentals
  • Order A Retirement Cake
  • Arrange Flowers
  • Pick Out A Retirement Gift
  • Order Party Favors, Decorations
  • Create A To-Do List For The Last Week
  • Recruit Help If Needed

1 Week:

  • Solidify Guest List
  • Shop For Groceries and Supplies
  • Create A Music Playlist
  • Prepare Party Food That Can Be Freezed

1-3 Days:

  • Prepare Party Food
  • Clean Location
  • Pick up Rentals & Booked Entertainment
  • Decorate The Location
  • Arrange Furniture
  • Confirm With Vendors and Helpers
  • Do Last Minute Shopping
  • Wash Servin Pieces and Utensils
  • Pick Up Flowers
  • Stock the Bar

Day of The Party:

  • Finish Decorating
  • Finish and Heat Food
  • Final Cleaning Check
  • Do A Sound Check 
  • Place Table, Chairs and Trash Cans

30 Minutes Before:

  • Start Music
  • Light Party Lights
  • Set Out Food and Drinks

At The Party:

  • Relax and Have Fun
  • Honor The Retiree
  • Capture The Party

1 – 2 Weeks After:

  • Send Out Thank You Notes
  • Send Party Video/ Photos

As you can see, it is a long checklist. Planning a Retirement Party takes some time. It is important to start early so that you’ve enough time to arrange everything, with the right preparation and the use of a complete checklist, it gets a lot easier.

In this article, I’ll go more in-depth for each preparation stage for the retirement party. I’ll share the most important tips, and I’ll recommend related articles on this website that can be helpful with planning a retirement party. 

1 – 2 months In Advance Of The Retirement Party 

Yes! Your retirement date and the party is getting closer each day. And when you’re getting around 2 months before the actual date of your retirement party, it is time to start with the most important preparations. 

Set A Budget For The Party

The cost of a retirement party depends on many factors. To make sure the retirement party doesn’t become too expensive and suck up all your (retirement) savings, it is essential to set a budget. 

A retirement party can be as expensive as you want. The average costs vary between $5 and $140 per person. Factors that influence the budget are the amount of people on your guest list, venue, decorations, food & drinks, entertainment, and other things you might arrange for the party. 

When you’re organizing the retirement party for the retiree, this phase is one of the most important. You must know the budget you can work with, so make sure to talk this through with the (upcoming) retiree, your company or figure out what you want to spend personally on this party. 

Recommended Article: How Much Does A Retirement Party Cost?

Create A Guest List

Retirement is a life celebration and creating a guest list can be difficult. In general, because it’s a life celebration the guest list is usually a combination of close coworkers, family and friends of the retiree. But it all depends what kind of retirement party you’re planning: at work or at home? In private or corporate?

When you’re the retiree, I recommend you to first make a list of everyone you can think of that you want to invite for your retirement party. This way, you’ll make sure that you won’t forget about anyone important to you. You can invite everyone you want, so make a list of your (recent) coworkers, friends, and family. However, when you’ve made sure to set the right budget, it is easier to set a maximum on the people you can invite. 

When you’re hosting the retirement party for the retiree you want to make sure you don’t forget anyone. And that’s why it can be helpful to ask the retiree or a close family member to check the guest list. In my article in the link below I will go more in-depth about who to invite to a retirement party.

Recommended Article: Who To Invite To A Retirement Party?

Pick A Date & Time 

Budget? Check! Guest List? Check! But there are a few other essential things you need to arrange. How about picking a date and time for your retirement party. Perhaps one of the most important steps in the preparation process.  

It is important to make sure that the date for your retirement party is close to the actual retirement date. The further away you’ll plan from the actual retirement date, the less likely people are fully engaged with the party. It is also much more fun for the retiree to plan the retirement party close to the actual retirement date. 

Recommended Article: When To Throw A Retirement Party? | A Party Guide

Book A Venue

The location of your retirement party is an important factor that helps make your retirement party a memorable and unique party. 

Choosing a venue or location for your retirement party is #4 on this retirement party checklist on purpose. Knowing your budget, your guest list, and retirement party date is essential for choosing the right venue for your retirement party. 

You probably get the idea, when the cost for a specific location is outside your budget, you can look for something else. Or maybe it isn’t available at your specific date.

You must make a shortlist of several locations so that if one isn’t available, you can always switch to something else. 

Recommended Article: 40 Great Venue Ideas For A Retirement Party

Choose A Theme For The Retirement Party

Next up on this retirement party checklist is choosing a theme for the party. And you know what? You can go all crazy if you want (if it fits your budget, though). You only throw this party once, so you better make sure it has a theme you really like! 

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a superhero theme during your retirement party, or you want to organize a roast or a flashmob for the retiree. Or let the guests dress up as the retiree. It is all possible. Read my recommended article below for more fun theme ideas and other amazing ideas to create an awesome retirement party.

Recommended Article: 30 Ideas To Make A Retirement Party Extra Special

Send Out Invitations

When sending out the invitations, the invitation must contain all the information regarding the retirement party. 

You can make the invitation in the style of the retirement party theme, but make sure that it contains at least information like; 

  • Date, time and location of the party
  • Dress code, 
  • Gift ideas or gift registry,
  • Ask for dietary restrictions, 
  • Rsvp date,
  • Other related information guest might need to know about.

To make sure as much guests attend the party you want to send out invitation at least 3-4 weeks in advance.

Book Entertainment

When the budget allows it, you might want to have some entertainment during your retirement party. You can think of a music act as a live band or DJ. Or maybe you want to have a dance group. As long as it fits within your budget, you can book everything you want. 

It is important to book the entertainment act(s) a few weeks or months in advance, so you’ll know for sure if they’re available.

Other entertainment ideas can be a renting a photo or video booth. Or organizing a fun workshop, wine tasting or a party game. The more guests are engaged, the better the party.

2 – 3 Weeks Before The Retirement Party

You’re getting closer to the actual retirement date, and your retirement party. You probably get more and more excited every day. When you’re planning your retirement party yourself, you’ve might have some busy weeks ahead. 

If you have someone that organizes the retirement party for you, make sure to check-in on the status now and then. I would recommend planning like a meeting once a week, depending on the size of the party. So you can talk everything through, and the party planner can do the work without getting disturbed all the time. 

There are a few essentials things that need to be arranged during these weeks; 

Plan Party Food

By now, most people will have replied on the rsvp request, and when applicable, they also send dietary restrictions. With this information, it is easier to start planning for the party food. 

When you have a caterer, it is important to send all the information that’s related to food to them. If you plan to make everything yourself, this is the time where you make your grocery lists and start preparing for shopping. 

Book Rentals

You might need some extra chairs, tables, serving dishes, etc. If so, book them during this period at your local party rental. Google “Party Rentals near me” for companies that can rent you party essentials. Or buy necessary party essentials on Amazon.

Order A Retirement Cake

What is a good party without a cake? I think it is something similar everywhere in the world. When we have to celebrate something, there’s almost always a cake, or some pastries served. Without cake, it’s just a meeting 😉

The fun part is that you can go all the way with creating your own cake, and when you’re not into baking, it is easy to hire a caterer that makes a cake for you and saves a lot of time. 

A good retirement cake comes with a saying that reflects the plans of the retiree, are you keen on some new ideas? Check out the recommended article; What To Say On A Retirement Cake? 93+ Retirement Cake Saying Ideas

Other important things that need to be arranged when you’re 2 – 3 weeks before the party date are; 

Pick Out A Retirement Gift

When you’re organizing a retirement party for the retiree you also want give an amazing retirement gift at the party. You can do this personally as a host or with all the guests.

The best retirement gift is a gift that matches the retiree’s plans, hobbies and dreams for retirement. A gift they can enjoy in retirement or need for their retirement plans or a thoughtful gift to keep as a memory.

For example travel gear for a retiree with travel plans, hobby gear for someone with a particular hobby, a Craft Beer Gift Box for a beer lover, a Wine Gift Box for a wine lover, a Coffee Gift Box for a coffee lover, etc are all great retirement gift ideas.

Retirement Gift Idea For Him

The BroBasket is a great retirement gift for him. You can create an amazing (custom) gift basket with his favorite alcohol and snacks. From Whiskey, Vodka, Tequila, Scotch, Gin, Rum to (craft) Beer, and engraved gifts. Check out all the BroBaskets and boozeless Gift Baskets

Get men a gift they really want - Their Favorite Booze!

Retirement Gift Idea For Her

A Wine Gift Box from The California Wine Club can be a perfect retirement gift for her. You can gift a Wine Box or a monthly subscription with delicious and handcrafted award-winning wines from (small) family wineries.

And if she doesn’t like wine, check out these Retirement Gift Baskets.

Retirement Gift For Yourself

When you’re the one retiring, you might want to give yourself a great gift for this life achievement. Perhaps your retirement party is the gift for yourself, but I want to encourage you to get yourself another retirement gift. And to have something to retire to is the best retirement gift out there.

This can be a bucket list experience you want to give yourself, an Kindle E-reader for unlimited reading in retirement or something to do in retirement.

And one of the coolest gifts is the gift of Masterclass.

MasterClass is an online education platform with the world’s most successful and famous teachers: Gordon Ramsey, Christina Aguilera, Usher, Hans Zimmer, Stephen Curry, Carlos Santana, Jimmy Chin, Serena Williams, Dan Brown, etc. 

They offer online classes (for any skill level) taught by the best in the world: from cooking, acting, writing, poker, music, sports to science, and so much more.

You can gift yourself one single Masterclass or an All-Access Pass to all the masterclasses on the platform. This way you have something fun, exciting and interesting to look forward to in retirement. Check out all the Masterclasses available;

1 Week Before The Retirement Party

Your retirement party is getting closer every day!

As an (upcoming) retiree, you’re probably very excited about your retirement party. Did you already think of what to wear to your retirement party? You probably have, and if not, I would recommend reading my article How To Dress For A Retirement Party? In that article, I share some helpful dress code tips. 

In the last week before your retirement party, there are some important tasks on the retirement party checklist.

Solidify Guest List

When there are still people that didn’t respond to the RVSP request, you might want to remember them. It is essential to know how many people you can expect, and also if there are some new dietary restrictions you need to know of. 

When you hired a party planner, this is, of course, a task for them. 

Shop For Groceries and Supplies

Obviously, it is time to do the last-minute shopping for decorations, food, extra’s.

Create A Music Playlist

Where’s the fun without music? When you hired a DJ or someone for the music, you don’t have to worry about this. But if you decided to arrange it yourself, it is probably time to think about a fun music playlist for the party.  Check out the article below for great playlist ideas and some amazing food and drink station ideas.

Recommended Article: How To Celebrate A Retirement Party At Home

Prepare Party Food That Can Be Freezed

When you’re arranging all the food yourself, it is the ideal time to prepare food that you can freeze. It saves you a lot of time in the last days before the party, knowing that much food is already prepared. You only need to remember to unfreeze it at the day of the party. 

1-3 Days Before The Retirement Party

The last days before the retirement party is all about getting the last things done, these important things must be on your checklist:

  • Prepare Party Food
  • Clean Location
  • Pick up Rentals & Booked Entertainment
  • Decorate The Location
  • Arrange Furniture
  • Confirm With Vendors and Helpers
  • Do Last Minute Shopping
  • Wash Servin Pieces and Utensils
  • Pick Up Flowers
  • Stock the Bar

Day of The Retirement Party

Finally, the day of your retirement party has arrived! During this day that are a few last-minute preparations that need to be done.

The important things that are on the retirement checklist for this day are; 

  • Finish Decorating
  • Finish and Heat Food
  • Final Cleaning Check
  • Do A Sound Check 
  • Place Table, Chairs and Trash Cans

30 Minutes Before The Party Start: 

At The Party

It is time to have some fun! Let’s get this party started! 

Are there still some things on the retirement party checklist? Of course! 

  • Relax and Have Fun
  • Honor The Retiree

There are probably some people close to the retiree, think of colleagues, friends or family, that want to honor the retiree. If so, you can help them with some speech ideas. A helpful article that I wrote and that helps to prepare for a retirement speech is 13 Tips For An Amazing Retirement Speech

  • Capture The Party

Of course, you already arranged everything to capture the retirement party. This can be a professional photographer, videographer, you next door neighbor or renting a photo or video booth. But another great way, next to the (professional) photographer, is to let the guests capture the party. 

It is easy to give some disposable cameras or polaroid cameras to the guests when to arrive and let them take fun pictures during the party. These pictures will create unique party memories! And you can collect them in put them in a scrapbook to give as extra retirement gift later.

1 – 2 Weeks After The Retirement Party

After the party you can let guests know you and the retiree enjoyed the party. And it’s a great opportunity for you to let the guests know as well. You want this retirement party to be remembered for a long time and you can achieve that by sending a thank you note, card, video, photo etc.

You can thank the guest for attending the party with a small gesture or an extra present that they can keep. Also, as the retiree this is an opportunity for you to stay in touch with people in retirement. And here are some ideas:

  • Send Thank You Cards
  • Email After Party Video (of collected videos from guests or videographer)
  • Email After Party Photo Slide Show (of collected photos from guests or photographer)
  • Give scrapbook to retiree with collected party photos

I really hope you will have a great retirement party. And that my article helped you prepare for your retirement party in the best way possible.

I wrote many articles about retirement celebration that might be helpful for you to read as well:

Kirsten Veldman

Since 2017, my husband and I have been location-independent retirees. With hundreds of articles written, I'm passionate about helping other retirees!

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