What To Take To A Retirement Party? A Guide for Guests


You’re going to a retirement party, and you’re not sure what to bring? Well, here is everything you need to know about what to take to a retirement party. 

It’s best not to go empty-handed to a retirement party. It’s a nice gesture to bring a gift unless it’s mentioned not to on the invitation. Then, a card with best wishes is sufficient. When you don’t know the retiree well, or you’re charged to pay for food and drinks, then you don’t need to bring a gift. Instead, bring a card with best wishes or give a group gift. 

So, what kind of gift should you bring to the retirement party, and what to write in the retirement card? I will give you all the answers in this article.

What To Take To A Retirement Party

Retirement parties are a celebration of life because retiring is a major milestone in a person’s life. A retiree is closing one chapter and moving to a new chapter in their life. For them, it’s a significant life change. 

And when you’re invited to a retirement party, that means they want to celebrate this with you. So, it’s a nice gesture to take something with you to acknowledge this and celebrate this accomplishment in their life. 

What to bring to the party depends on the type of retirement party and how well you know the retiree.

And because retirement parties are in different shapes and sizes, I describe the most common retirement parties and explain what to bring, below. This way, you can check which retirement party invitation applies to you.

Invited To A Big Corporate Retirement Party

Are you invited to a big corporate retirement party? Then probably your manager, boss, a person of the board of directors or someone else important within the company is retiring. And everyone in the company or company location is invited. Usually, these parties are sponsored by the company. Or you’re charged to pay for your food and drinks for yourself or an additional guest.  

Perhaps, the company is planning a party for the retiree but also uses this occasion to invite some big clients to strengthen the business relationship. It’s like a retirement party, business event, and company party wrapped into one. And what to bring to a retirement party like this depends on how well you know the person.

1) When you DON’T know the retiree (well)

When you’re invited to a big corporate retirement party, and you don’t know the retiree (well), then a retirement card with best wishes is more than enough. If you don’t want to go empty-handed, you can always bring a bottle of wine with a best wishes note attached.

Most of the time, the company is giving the retiree a big retirement gift. Or coworkers are collecting money to give a group gift to the retiree. You’re not obligated to contribute, but it can be a nice gesture. 

And the amount of money is totally dependable on how well you know the person, the average salary within the organization, and how much money you’re willing to give. Anywhere from $5 to $25 can be asked to contribute to a group gift. In the end, it’s your personal choice of how much money to give.

Not sure what to write in a retirement card? Here are a couple of examples:

  • Congratulations on your retirement. Thanks for all the great memories. Your contributions to the company will never be forgotten. Happy retirement!
  • Wishing you the most exciting and stress-free retirement ever.
  • Congratulations on your new-found freedom. Make sure you use your time with all the things you always wanted to do. Enjoy your retirement!

For more examples of best wishes for a retirement card, check out these articles:

2) When you know the retiree (well)

When you’re invited to a retirement party from a coworker, you know well it’s always nice to take a retirement gift to the party along with a card with best wishes. It will be very much appreciated.

And the best retirement gifts are gifts that match the retiree’s personality, plans, or hobbies in retirement. So, you can give a gift that is related to their career, a gift they can keep as a memory, or a gift that they can enjoy during retirement. And because you know the retiree, you probably know what he or she likes and what plans they have for retirement. This way, it’s easier to pick out a retirement gift. 

For example, if the retiree is planning to travel in retirement, then a nice travel-related gift will be very much appreciated. 

I’ve spent many hours researching the best retirement gifts to help you out. And I’ve listed all sorts of different retirement gifts in the articles below. From traditional retirement gifts, funny and gag retirement gifts, personalized gifts, gift baskets, hobby to travel-related gifts. 

You for sure will find a great retirement gift to bring to the retirement party that fits your budget in these articles:

Invited To A Small Corporate Retirement Party

Are you invited to a small corporate retirement party? Then probably a (close) coworker or someone from the same department is retiring. The retirement party can be a small gathering at the office with only people from the same department. Or it’s a retirement party at a different venue organized by the small company you’re working at.

Either way, it’s best to take a retirement gift to the retirement party. And this can be as small or extravagant as you want. And will depend on the relationship you have with the retiree.

You can give a small retirement gift as a nice gesture to a coworker you don’t work with daily. Or give a group gift together with other coworkers from the department. But you can give a bigger, more extravagant or more personal gift to a coworker you’re close with. And if you’re not sure what to give? Check out The 51 Best Retirement Gifts For a Coworker.

Along with the retirement gift, you can write something personal in the retirement card to wish the retiree all the best for retirement. And for examples and ideas, you can read my article: What To Write In A Retirement Card. But here are some examples to get you started:

  • Wishing you much joy and happiness as you begin a new chapter in your life!
  • In the many years, you have been in the office, you have made an undeniable positive difference. Congratulations on your retirement—it won’t be the same here without you!
  • Congratulations on your retirement. May you live your best life from here on out!

Invited To Retirement Party Of A Friend or Family Member

When your friend or family member is retiring, then it’s always best to bring a retirement gift along with a retirement card with personal wishes. Unless your friend or family member specifically asked not to bring any gifts. Then only a card with best wishes will do. 

Or you can always suggest buying a bigger retirement gift collectively with other friends or family members because you feel the retiree deserves it. Make sure to check with their spouse or best friend if the guest of honor will appreciate such a gift. 

To help you out, I’ve researched the best retirement gifts out there. The retirement gifts are categorized in traditional, gift baskets, personalized, travel, books, outdoor, electronics, hobby, and funny in this article below:

If you know the retiree well and you want to do a bit extra to celebrate their retirement. Then you can read this helpful article: 30 Ideas To Make A Retirement Party Extra Special. Make sure you to discuss with the host if your input is welcome.

Do you need inspiration on what to write in a retirement card? Here are a couple of examples:

  • When ‘I’m too old for this shit’ becomes your daily mantra, you know it’s time to retire. I hope you enjoy all the adventures you have ahead of you. Happy Retirement!
  • Retirement is not the end of the road; it’s the beginning of the open high way! Congratulations, and enjoy your retirement road trip!
  • For the dedication and hard work, you deserve the best retirement ever. Enjoy this journey of your life. Cherish every moment, and have fun!

Or check out more examples of what to write in a retirement card for a friend or family member.

How To Dress For A Retirement Party

What to wear to a retirement party can be confusing and frustrating, because you don’t want to be overdressed or underdressed. You want to make sure you dress appropriately for the occasion. 

So, how to dress for the retirement party you’re invited to depends on the type of retirement party. For a corporate retirement party, you should dress up more formal. But for a backyard BBQ party, you can wear something more casual. 

Most of the time, the dress code is mentioned in the invitation. But when it’s not mentioned on the invitation, you can ask the host what the dress code is, or what they expect from you to wear. 

Still unsure of what to wear? I’ve written a whole article about how to dress for a retirement party. Including the guidelines of the different types of dress codes and what they really mean, because they can be very confusing. To learn more about what to wear, you can read: How To Dress For A Retirement Party.

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Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my boyfriend Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. With my articles, I want to help people enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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