Retirement Party Planning: Part Two

In part one of our retirement party planning guide we covered some of the basic steps you need to follow - creating invitations, decorating the room and deciding on the type of party to have. In this article we'll cover the human aspects of planning a retirement party, including making speeches and giving gifts.

Giving the Retirement Speech

Consult with your co-workers and choose the most appropriate person for the farewell speech. It could be any number of people - the person's direct boss, the company owner, a co-worker who the retiree was particularly close to.

If you are chosen to give the speech, give it careful though, as this will be one of the central points of the retirement party. As with invitations, it's important to consider what kind of person the retiree is and to pitch your speech accordingly. Remember, this isn't about you - this is about them. So while you may relish this chance to let your untapped comedy genius shine through, make sure that you do so in a way that will please the retiree.

The roast is a time honoured tradition, but it's easy to get it wrong - go too far and you'll end up spoiling the night and looking like a goose to boot. It's a good idea to consult with your other co-workers, both to gather ideas and to filter out anything that might cause deep offence. Pool your insults and friendly barbs, but also make sure that you sweeten this with real affection and some nice memories from your time together as co-workers.

Do some research and find out as much as possible about the retiree. It's a good idea to include some career highlights in the speech, to show everyone in the room just how broad the person's accomplishments are. Find out what their proudest moment was and give them the chance to relive that glory again. But at the same time, try to keep it brief - three minutes is good, and make sure you don't exceed five, or you'll have everyone falling asleep in their chairs. 

Asking the Retiree to Speak

Many retirees love the chance to speak at their own party - but don't assume that's the case every time. Make sure you ask the retiree whether they would like to make a speech at the party or not - don't put them on the spot at the last minute. Some people detest public speaking, and you're likely to spoil the party for them if that's the case. If you're throwing a surprise party, grab the retiree for a second after the excitement has worn off and ask them if they feel comfortable talking in front of everyone.

Asking Others to Speak

There may be more than one person who wants to speak at the party. This is fine, but everyone should work together to make sure the speeches don't overlap and don't go on for too long. If more than one person will be speaking, try to keep each one very succinct, down to two minutes or less.

Organising Gifts

Gifts for retirees should look to the future and suggest new adventures. Some good ideas could include luggage for travel, a stationary set for writing, a guide book to a destination the person has always wanted to see or, if you're feeling especially generous, an air ticket. Everyone at the party should be able to throw in a little - higher-paid members of staff may want to contribute a little more. Make sure what you're asking is reasonable, as chipping in for a gift can be a considerable impost on junior members of staff in particular.

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