Retirement Party Etiquette: All Rules & Questions Answered!


When it comes to retirement parties many people have a lot of questions. Perhaps you wonder as well, what are the rules? And what is the proper etiquette for a retirement party? Well, no need to look further because I have the answers to ALL your retirement party questions. Let’s dive in!

Who Should Throw A Retirement Party?

Anyone is allowed to throw a retirement party. Usually, co-workers, friends, or family members throw a retirement party together or separately. At big companies, the boss, manager, or human recourses throw a retirement party. In private circles, a spouse or a friend usually throws a retirement party. Also, the retiree can throw a retirement party for themselves. Although it’s not mandatory, in some cases, it can be expected.

Read more: 30 Ideas To Make A Retirement Party Extra Special

When Should You Throw A Retirement Party?

In general, you throw a retirement party close to the actual retirement date. Preferably in the last week or day of work or within the first two weeks of retirement. For an office retirement party, it’s best to throw a party during office hours or at the end of an office day. For a mix of guests (co-workers, family, and friends) it is best to throw a retirement party on the weekends. Anyday of the week is perfect for a retirees-only party.

Who Typically Throws A Retirement Party?

Typically an office retirement party is thrown by the boss, manager, human resources, or co-workers. A retirement party in private circles is thrown by the retiree, their spouse, best friend, children, or close family member. Often there are multiple retirement parties planned but for different groups of guests: at work with co-workers, and at home with friends and family.

Read more: 15 Steps To Plan A Memorable Retirement Party For Your Boss

Is It Okay To Throw Your Own Retirement Party?

It’s normal for a retiree to throw their own retirement party. Retirement is a milestone in life that is celebrated with a party as much as big birthdays and anniversaries. Therefore it’s very much acceptable for a retiree to want to celebrate this important event in life. Often other people throw a (surprise) retirement party for the retiree, but it’s okay for a retiree to throw their own (separate) retirement party.

Should You Have A Retirement Party?

You should have a retirement party when you want to celebrate this milestone in life with other people. Although, it’s not mandatory to have a retirement party, sometimes it can be expected. You should not have a retirement party when it doesn’t feel like a moment of celebration, or you don’t want to celebrate retirement with a party. Retirement can also be celebrated without a party.

Read more: Retirement Party Checklist

Who Should Pay For A Retirement Party?

As a general rule, the one who throws the retirement party pays for the retirement party. In some cases, other people contribute to a (surprise) retirement party or organize a retirement party as part of a gift for the retiree. And in some cases, it can be expected that each guest pays for their own meal. If this is the case meal suggestions and pricing will be mentioned in the invitation.

How Long Should A Retirement Party Last?

A retirement party generally lasts between 2-4 hours. The type of party usually determines the duration. A daytime retirement party such as an office party with cake, a luncheon, or a cocktail party should last for 2 hours. For a nighttime retirement party, such as dinners or dancing, 4 hours is usually appropriate. Also, the etiquette can vary by region. A previous similar party can be used as a guideline.

How Important Is A Retirement Party?

A retirement party is important for many people because retirement is often considered the most important milestone in life. It’s more special than birthdays or anniversaries because it’s a one-time event in life that takes decades of hard work and dedication. A retirement party is in many cases an important way to celebrate this major accomplishment. Some people don’t want a party, they prefer to celebrate their retirement differently.

Is It Wrong To Not Want A Retirement Party?

It is not wrong to not want a retirement party. Many people don’t like to be the center of attention and therefore don’t want a retirement party and that is OK. A retiree has every right to turn down a retirement party because it’s their achievement, so their call. In some cases, a suggestion to just have coffee and cake can make both parties happy. It creates an opportunity for people to say goodbye, without making it too big of a deal.

Read more: 15 Ways To Celebrate Retirement Without a Party

Should You Pay For Your Own Retirement Party?

As a general rule, the host of the retirement party pays for the retirement party. If a company, co-workers, or friends throw a retirement party, they pay for the retirement party. If your spouse or yourself throws the retirement party, you might pay the bill. In some cases, guests are asked to pay for their own meals or drinks. Then it’s mentioned in the invitation.

How Do I Decline A Retirement Party?

You decline a retirement party, by saying the following words kindly and firmly:
– “No, thank you for the kind offer, I prefer to depart quietly.”
– “That is a very kind offer, but I truly don’t want a retirement party”.

“No thanks. I prefer to celebrate my retirement differently”.
Repeat yourself as often as necessary.

How Do You Ask For Contributions To A Retirement Party?

You ask for contributions to a retirement party by saying: “(Name Retiree) is retiring soon and we’re planning a retirement party. Would you like to contribute to the party? Suggested donation is $5 to cover the costs of a cake, decorations and drinks”. It’s important to be specific about the amount you need, what it covers and that it’s not an obligation.

Are You Supposed To Give Gifts At A Retirement Party?

It is proper etiquette to give a retirement gift at a retirement party. Unless the invitation mentioned not to bring gifts. In that case, a retirement card with wishes for a happy retirement is sufficient.

Read more: Top 5 Best Retirement Gifts

What Kind Of Gift Do You Give For Retirement?

You gift these kinds of gifts for retirement:
– Memorable keepsake (e.g. award, photobook)
– To enjoy in retirement (e.g. online classes, craft beer)
– Funny gift (mug, t-shirt, hat)
– Personalized gift (engraved watch, grill set, handmade painting)
– Gift that matches interests or plans in retirement (golf club, travel book)

What Happens At A Retirement Party?

Generally, at retirement parties, guests congratulate the retiree, wish ‘Happy Retirement’, give a retirement gift, and honor the retiree with a speech, or another tribute such as a video, toast, quiz, game, dance, song, etc. The most basic retirement party includes having cake and coffee. At other retirement parties, people have brunch, lunch, dinner, dancing, activity, or a cocktail hour.

What Flowers Are Appropriate For Retirement?

The perfect retirement flowers are the retiree’s favorite combination of flowers. Or festive and colorful arrangements with flowers such as roses, dahlias, tulips, mums, orchids, daisies, anemones, lilies, sunflowers, or mixed bouquets of (seasonal) flowers.

Find the perfect bouquet of flowers at Global Rose.

What Do You Serve At A Retirement Party?

At retirement parties, you serve retirement cake and coffee/ or a glass of champagne to do a toast. And depending on the time, type, and theme of the party you can serve breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. You can also serve cocktails, appetizers, and themed mini-buffets such as a taco bar, pasta station, charcuterie bar.

Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my husband Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. In the last couple of years, I wrote over 100+ articles about retirement and did extensive research to help people prepare, enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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