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5 Expert Tips for Throwing the Ultimate Retirement Party

Keep these in mind when planning a get-together for your favorite retiree.

For most of us, retirement is something to look forward to. It offers time to relax and enjoy your days after years in the workforce—perhaps spending time with your grandchildren or just hitting the pickleball court more often. But when you're about to retire, it's also essential to recognize that it's a major transition, and one that should be celebrated. That's why retirement parties are so important.

"Life is made of all of these moments which we use to mark time, and it's important to celebrate these big moments," Genevieve Dreizen, chief operating officer of Fresh Starts Registry and modern etiquette expert, tells Best Life. "A retirement is a big deal and should be appropriately commemorated. You are worthy of celebration and your community will want to honor this major moment with you!"

So, if you're planning to host a retirement party for a loved one (or even for yourself), you'll want to ensure that it's an event everyone will remember fondly. Read on for five expert tips for throwing the ultimate retirement party.

RELATED: 8 Affirmations to Feel Ridiculously Happy Every Day in Retirement.

Think about what a "true celebration" is for your guest of honor.

retirement party at office
Capuski / iStock

When you're throwing a retirement party, you should start by considering the likes and dislikes of the retiree you're celebrating in order to make it a true celebration for them.

"'True celebration' is a very individuated term—what it means from person to person can vary greatly," Dreizen says.

She adds that you should keep in mind what the guest of honor prefers when it comes to parties, and whether they're more of an introvert or extrovert.

"Most importantly, tap into what your loved one likes—don't overwhelm an introvert with a large surprise party," Dreizen explains. "For them a small dinner might feel more like the celebration they desire."

RELATED: The 6 Best Small Towns to Retire In.

Create a retirement-themed playlist.

turning music volume up
Aleksandr Pobedimskiy / Shutterstock

You want people to enjoy themselves at your party, so you'll want the mood to be upbeat, lively, and inviting. This is sometimes a challenge to achieve, but a good playlist is key to facilitating a positive atmosphere.

"Music often helps bring a celebratory vibe and close the gaps of the social awkwardness that plagues events," Dreizen says. "You want your guests and honoree to feel welcomed, comfortable, and at ease."

Consider asking the guest of honor what their favorite party music is, and use that as inspiration for your playlist. If the party is a surprise and you're on your own in terms of music, retirement calculator and planning website NewRetirement suggests creating a "fun retirement themed playlist" with songs like "9 to 5," "My Generation," and anything by Jimmy Buffett.

RELATED: 5 Biggest Retirement Regrets Everyone Experiences.

Consider the retiree's dietary requirements.

food spread at retirement party
Mike Naulls / Shutterstock

Any good party obviously needs some sustenance, so make sure that you consider what kind of food and drinks you'll need, as well as how much to prepare.

"I think any celebration needs something yummy to eat, and most of the menu should match the honoree's dietary requirements," Dreizen says. "We want them to be able to relax and enjoy!"

She adds that there should be "someplace comfortable to mingle" while sipping your champagne or snacking on hors d'oeuvres.

In terms of drinks, she recommends keeping them flowing, "even if they're just juice and soda!"

Celebrate the retiree's work—or the fact that it's over.

paris themed decorations for retirement party
TobinCStudio / Shutterstock

Retirement parties are also a great opportunity to introduce a theme, as long as you're thinking about what the retiree would gravitate toward.

"You want to make sure to celebrate the honoree in particular," Dreizen shares. "If they loved the company they're retiring from, use that as a basis for some simple decor (table clothes, streamers, balloons). If the mood is more 'thank God that's over,' focus on the retiree's hobbies or future."

She adds, "If they're into quilting, get some fun beautiful napkins and go mish-mash with the colors. If they'll be spending their retirement days traveling, maybe go for an international theme."

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Make sure you schedule the speeches ahead of time.

toasting at a retirement party – Yuri A / Shutterstock

Your invite list should have a good mix of people, including family, friends, and soon-to-be former coworkers of the retiree. From this list, you'll want to make sure that there are a few people who'll be up for giving a speech (a traditional part of any retirement party).

As the host, you should say a few words, but NewRetirement also suggests asking a former boss or a close friend to speak on your retiree's accomplishments, particularly throughout their career.

If your guest list is small enough, you might want everyone to say something brief about the guest of honor. If you do decide to go this route, include a note on the invitation so that everyone can come prepared.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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