How to design a dinner retirement celebration program

Written by kay miranda
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How to design a dinner retirement celebration program
Make sure the toast and roast are appropriate. (let"s party! image by HannaSigel from

Being the person in charge of a retirement party may seem overwhelming. You are charged with the task of commemorating a lifetime of dedication and work while helping send the honoree into a new phase of life. To ease your burden, realise that there are many ways to design a retirement dinner program that incorporates the past, present and future of this person. You can go with a traditional dinner or adopt a theme for the evening to make things more festive.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Gather information about the retiree. This includes a biography, family history and work history. Also include hobbies, special interests, travel or charities the retiree is involved with. Talk to family, friends and the retiree to get the facts, anecdotes and stories that make this person unique.

  2. 2

    Decide on a budget. If the party is being thrown by an employer or professional organisation, inquire about the budget. Determine if people will also pay for their own dinner or subsidise the budget. If you are responsible for the money, decide how much you can afford to spend. Outline the budget based on location, food, drinks, entertainment and favours.

  3. 3

    Set a date for the party. Plan a day and time that you know most people can attend, especially the retirees, his immediate family and closest friends.

  4. 4

    Find a location that meets your budget and can accommodate the number of people you expect. Secure the location as soon as possible with a deposit.

  5. 5

    Choose a theme for the retirement dinner. This will often be contingent on the retiree's interests. If she is moving to Hawaii, plan a luau. Ideas for themes are limited only to your imagination and budget: golf, travel, artistic themes can be inexpensively achieved with table decorations and centrepieces. The retiree's hobbies are a great place to start when picking out a theme.

  6. 6

    Secure the entertainment. Choose a live band, deejay, magician, comedian or other entertainer.

  7. 7

    Prerecord a roast if you are going to do this. Check with the retiree to make sure he is good-humoured about the idea. Prerecording it on video will allow him to review it ahead of time, making sure it is appropriate for his friends, family and colleagues to see. It will also allow him to have a souvenir of the event to view when he wants.

  8. 8

    Allot enough time at the beginning of the evening to give people a chance to socialise and catch up. Retirement parties are often reunions of long lost friends and families. Give everyone enough time to catch up to create a loving and supportive atmosphere.

  9. 9

    Have guests sign in when they enter and a videographer recording a well-wishing message from each guest.

  10. 10

    Do the roast and/or toast prior to dinner. This ensures the largest audience and is a good way to settle everyone for dinner.

  11. 11

    Leave the entertainment for last. Dancing, games and live entertainment keep people at the party and having fun while waiting for an opportunity to spend a few minutes with the retiree.

Tips and warnings

  • There is no right or wrong way to design a retirement program. Just remember that even a fun and lighthearted retirement program should always be respectful to the retiree and all in attendance.

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