Asking for money on a party invitation is a tricky situation because while some say it isn't proper, others believe that it's entirely appropriate. With recent retirees, money is more appropriate than gag gifts because the money goes toward celebrating their golden years. When asking for money on a retirement party invitation, it's important to use clear wording that explains why money is a better choice than a purchased item.
Write a note on each invitation, asking guests to call or contact you for gift suggestions. When guests call, inform them that the retiree would prefer money rather than gifts. This is the socially acceptable way to ask for money and falls under etiquette guidelines.
Request gift cards, as opposed to traditional cash or gifts. Ask for gift cards from a local bookstore for a reader, or from a home improvement store if the retiree plans on doing work around the house. Guests might feel more comfortable giving money in this way.
Create a website with information on the retirement party and direct guests to that site. Add a "suggested gifts" section to the site that includes money and gift cards, with links to specific stores. This is a more polite way to let guests know you want money, without asking for it directly.
Jot down a handwritten note on the invitation, asking for money in a polite way. "In lieu of gifts, John Doe prefers you make a donation to his retirement years. A money box/tree/wishing well will be available at the party."
Add information on why the retiree wants money, which makes your guests feel more comfortable with giving cash. For example, "Jane Doe is finally ready to tackle her bathroom renovations. In lieu of a gift, she'd like your help to make it happen."
Use a wishing well as a party decoration, with a sign on the top that says "Good Wishes to You" or something similar. As soon as guests enter the party, they'll know where to deposit their cards and money.