If you’ve volunteered to put together a retirement party for a coworker or relative, you’re probably anxious to make it a great party, but if you don’t want to spend a fortune on it, you may feel like you have to compromise on the quality.
With some creative thinking, you can come up with lots of little ways to make the retirement party special and inexpensive (but not cheap!). And chances are good that taking this kind of creative approach will mean you end up with a more personal, unique party.
Take a Different Approach to Decorations
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When planning a party, decorations tend to take up a large portion of the budget. If you are able to make your own decorations or reuse other things as decorations, you will be able to slash your party budget significantly. If crafting isn’t your forte, PartyCheap.com has many retirement party decorations at discount prices.
One idea is to come up with a theme for the retirement party. Once you’ve settled on a theme, go through your own things and ask others to bring items relevant to the theme that you can use as decorations. Ideas might include:
- Golf/Retirement Hobbies: Use hobby-related items that you, the retiree, or friends already have that are related to the hobby. For example, a golf-themed party could feature golf bags and golf clubs repurposed as decorations. Cut small triangles from white construction or computer paper and tape or glue them to toothpicks. Decorate cupcakes with green icing and add a flag toothpick to each one.
- Office Supply/Work-Related: Consider the retiree’s profession and their tools of the trade. Ask other coworkers to lend you items that could work as decorations. For example, coworkers of a retiring doctor might be willing to lend you stethoscopes or anatomy models.
- Use Photos and Other Mementos: If you can get access to photos of the retiree, on- or off-the-job, make copies of them to place at tables, on the walls, etc. Or make a slideshow to project on a loop throughout the party. Guests will enjoy looking at the photos, but will also enjoy not having to sit through a whole slideshow! Be sure to have the slideshow ready on a USB to give to the retiree.
Once you’ve settled on a theme, try to make whatever decorations you can on your own. If you are crafty, you can make lots of nice decorations just using some construction paper. For example, you could cut out little people shapes from blue or black paper to represent work suits. Add details in other colors: a white front for the shirt, a little black tie, etc.
If you are going to buy any decorations or have any made, be sure to check for sales or coupons. For example, use eSigns coupon codes to print up banners and party signs.
When Planning Gifts, Choose Thoughtful Over Expensive
The best gifts are usually those that mean something special to the recipient. When thinking about giving a gift to the retiree, think about what they loved about their profession and what their favorite parts of the job were. Plan gifts that will remind the retiree of what they loved about work (but don’t be afraid to throw in some jokes about the things they’ll be happy to leave!)
- Mementos for Managers: If the retiree was a people person and was well-liked by their employees and coworkers, ask guests for work photos and family members or friends for other photos and make a photo album. Then ask employees and coworkers to fill it up with warm messages and good memories.
- Ask Guests to Contribute: If it makes sense to give the retiree something expensive, make it a shared gift from many of the guests. For example, it’s popular to give retirees inscribed watches. If the retiree has expressed an interest in that kind of gift, distribute the cost. It will be even more of a special gift when it comes from the whole office.
Ask Guests for Help Planning Entertainment
Depending on the preferences of the retiree, it might be appropriate to organize a roast or speeches. Be sure to ask the retiree and guests beforehand so they have time to prepare! Other ideas for entertainment might include:
- Plan a Quiz or “Game Show”: Ask contestants questions about the retiree, their career, their workplace, their industry, etc. Make sure some of the questions are serious (“How many different hospitals has Mary worked at in her career?”) and some are fun or silly (“Mary frequently ate the same thing for lunch. What was her typical order?”).
- Purchase a Pre-made Game: There are a lot of retirement party games and kits available on Amazon, many for very reasonable prices.
- Have a Potluck: Ask guests to bring a dish to share with them. To reduce the cost further, host the party outside of a meal time, so that snacks and appetizers are more than sufficient.
Just as with saving money on a wedding, the best way to save when planning a retirement party is to distribute the effort, so make sure you are keeping other guests, the retiree, and their family and friends involved in the planning effort. This will make things easier and cheaper for you, and will add to the fun as when a party is low-stress, planning one can be a fun thing to do among friends. It’s also a great way to make sure the retiree ends up with the exact type of party they would like.