How to Throw a Great Retirement Party in 2023

Congratulations to all 2023 retirees! Though the past few years may look different for retirement parties, there are still lots of ways to celebrate a retiree this year and party it up! Whether you're looking for ways to make a virtual retirement party special or themes for retirement party decorations, we’ve put together a list of fun retirement party ideas specific to 2023 — there’s something for everyone to make their retiree’s celebration fun and meaningful.

1. Start a retirement group card to share

A retirement group card is something your retiree will cherish long after their retirement party is over. Yes, we’re a little biased here—but there’s no better way to kick off a retirement party than by sharing a thoughtful card with your retiree! 

Kudoboard helps you create a retirement card entirely online for the person you want to celebrate, so if you aren’t able to see your retiree in person, this is a perfect way to collect and send well wishes that they can look over from the comfort of their home and at-home retirement party. With so many people having to stay indoors and social distance due to COVID,  Kudoboard is an excellent way to safely and thoughtfully send messages to your retiree. You can add photos from your time at the office with your retiree, send your retiree a video message, and include a written message to them with your Kudoboard retirement card. Kudoboard can help you say congratulations and kickoff an in-person or entirely online retirement party.

As retirement is such a momentous event, we also recommend printing and shipping a print of the Kudoboard to your retiree so they can have a unique retirement gift. Kudoboard also makes it easy to order a print of the board in poster or book format. If you need inspiration as you get a Kudoboard started for your retiree, check out this example of a retirement Kudoboard.

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2. Organize a retirement parade

A safe, unique, and memorable way to celebrate your retiree is with a retirement parade! Just because we might have to social distance right now doesn’t mean your retire can’t have a great retirement party right on their own front yard! A really special retirement party idea for 2023 is to organize friends, colleagues, and loved ones to come through your retiree's neighborhood in their cars, on their bikes, or on foot. As people pass by to honk their horns, shout congratulations, wave Happy Retirement signs, and more.

If you're organizing a retirement parade party you can always ask people to adorn their cars, bikes, or themselves with retirement party decorations — think balloons on cars, happy retirement banners, and party blowers.

The more people that can join a retirement parade the better! The best thing about a retirement parade is that it is as much fun for those participating as it is for the retiree that’s being celebrated. Your retiree can sit on their lawn or porch while they see some of their favorite people come through to celebrate them. At the end of the parade, you can have a dessert delivered to your retiree, which will surely be the icing on the cake for an already memorable retirement party.

3. Play virtual party games

Jackbox TV designs online games made to play with a group. If your retiree’s favorite hobby is playing games, this could be the perfect option for their retirement party. Jackbox games allow the game host to share their computer screen to display the company’s creative and simple games.

Players use their mobile phones to submit answers or draw images depending on the game played.  People can still chat while playing games as they are meant to be engaging and interactive, so you will have plenty of opportunities to send happy retirement wishes, present a gift to your retiree, and your retiree can have a slice of their retirement cake to boot. With five games per party pack, you are sure to find a retirement party game that your retiree will love. These games will liven up any retirement celebration.

4. Have a golf retirement party

If your retiree loves playing golf, organizing an 18-hole retirement party is the perfect way for them to celebrate. What’s great about this option right now is that people can remain socially distanced if they desire. The full 18-holes can take a few hours, so there will have plenty of time to have fun, discuss future plans, and give retirement messages to your retiree.

5. Throw a gala-themed retirement party

A black tie retirement party is such a fun idea—and you can do it in-person or virtually! If you’re a part of your retiring loved one’s work team, you, the rest of your remote work team, and your retiree can have a ball by dressing up for a home retirement party. Of all the retirement party ideas we're talking about here, this one might be the best for breaking out of the routine. For a while now, lots of people haven’t had the opportunity to dress up. An at-home retirement party with loved ones can be the perfect occasion to dress formally and be over the top. You can even purchase some props and decorations like a podium so your retiree can give their retirement speech with a proper sense of ceremony. 

The benefit of an at-home retirement party is that you can easily invite people to attend virtually by setting up a video call for people to see, and be a part of the celebration. If you have a computer or two at home, you could even put computer screens on chairs to mimic the feeling of people outside of your team attending your gala-themed retirement party. 

6. Throw a virtual surprise retirement party

Hosting an online party can be a wonderful way for folks to say congratulations to a new retiree. An online surprise party involves a bit of pretense and the help of a retiree’s colleague or close friend — but if you put in the effort,  there will be lots of smiles. A virtual retirement party is a perfect opportunity to let your coworker know what an honor it’s been to work with them, tell your close friends how much they mean to you, let your retiree discuss their future plans, and so much more! If you’re unsure of how to structure your online party, a fun idea is to first have everyone go around and tell a favorite story or a favorite memory they have of your retiree.

There are a couple of ways to arrange an online surprise party. A good way for a colleague to arrange a surprise party is to set up what looks like a standard work meeting in the retiree’s last week — ask all other colleagues to arrive at the video call 10 or 15 mins before your retiree is set to arrive at the meeting. This will give everyone enough time to get settled and get ready to surprise your retiree. Once your retiree arrives, they’ll be thrilled to see their colleagues wishing them a happy retirement, and happy they can spend this work meeting having fun with their co-workers.

If you’re a loved one who wants to set up a virtual surprise party for your retiree, a good pretense is to set up a call to discuss a shared interest, discuss retirement plans, or just set up a call to catch up. Your loved one is going to be all smiles when they see all their friends and family at their surprise retirement party. If you’re organizing a virtual retirement party for your loved one, be sure to allow invitees to have the ability to share their screen in case anyone has a photo of their retiring loved one they want to share.

7. Retirement gift delivery to arrive in time for their home retirement party

A party isn’t complete without some gifts. Luckily there are lots of options for fun, thoughtful, and unique gifts that can be delivered directly to your retiree. You can see a list of our favorite 2023 retirement gifts ideas right here on our blog.  From our favorite bathrobe, board game, and cookbook, there’s something for everyone to choose from on our list, or get an idea for another gift that will suit your retiree.

If you love decorating, don’t forget to decorate the gift box for your retiree with happy retirement messages or include a card with your retirement wishes.

8. Host a cookies-and-hot-chocolate retirement open house!

If your retiree has a sweet tooth, this is an excellent option to get people together while your retiree enjoys their favorite treats. You can make different doughs ahead of time and bake them fresh as people join the party so there’s a variety of fresh cookies to try. Cookies and hot chocolate are excellent outdoors, so if you want to have a picnic in your backyard, these items are sure to warm up your retiree and their party guests.

9. Everyone sends retirement cards on the same day (mailbox eruption)

Sending a letter to your retiree is a perfect way to send your wishes to them as they enter retirement. But what’s better than one letter to your retiree? Lots more! Remember that scene in Harry Potter where the letters come bursting out of the chimney? Imagine that, but in a mailbox, and with slightly less magic. But when we think of retirement party ideas, we think -- why not get it started early with delivery before the party even starts?

If you’re able to coordinate your retiree’s colleagues and loved ones to send out a letter to arrive on the same day, it's sure to create a memorable mail day. A written letter or retirement greeting card is a wonderful gift that your retiree is sure to love. The nice thing about sending a physical letter is that your retiree can hold onto it to read later and look back on it anytime they want as well. 

10. Go to a drive-in theater

If your retiree is a film lover that can’t wait to spend their upcoming free time watching all the movies they hadn’t seen before, a retirement party at the local drive-in theater is a perfect way to kick off their retirement and for them to celebrate.

You can find drive-in theaters all over the country and world, with a mix of new and old movies usually screening within the same week. Drive-ins are a great place to get together right now as people can remain socially distanced, while still enjoying an activity together. A nice surprise for your retiree during this retirement party could also be to send some of their favorite snacks to their car so they enjoy some of their favorite foods while watching the movie. 

You could also get all the party-goers on a group chat so you can all let your inner film critic out during the movie, sharing your thoughts even while socially distanced!

11. An online movie party

Another option for a retiree that loves movies is to get people together to watch a movie together entirely from the comfort of their own homes. Teleparty lets you watch movies together with your friends and synchronizes your watching experience so when one person pauses the movie to get a snack it will pause for everyone.

The best part of Teleparty is that there is a chat function on the side of your browser so you can all chat together as you watch the movie. If your retiree loves giving their movie commentary à la Mystery Science Theater 3000, a Teleparty is a great choice. After the movie is over everyone can send their retirement wishes to your retiree or you can hop in a Zoom room to discuss the movie and say congrats.

12. Potluck retirement party

The perfect party for a retiring foodie could be a potluck party with some of their favorite foods. People can drop off food for your retiree, or everyone can dig in and enjoy a meal together outside or inside. When organizing a potluck make sure to track what everyone is bringing via an email thread or Google Sheet so there aren’t repeat dishes or nothing but desserts.

If people are unsure of what your retiree likes, the organizer can also assign people different dishes to bring to the potluck. A retirement potluck is a wonderful way to get people together, enjoy some good food, and celebrate this milestone together.

13. Surprise decorate their yard

If you’re able to secretly decorate your retiree’s yard with happy retirement signs, retirement messages, balloons, and other party decorations, it’s sure to delight them when they see their lawn full of retirement messages from colleagues and loved ones.

This is a retirement celebration idea that works best in good weather. What you can do to pull off a surprise yard decoration is have one person invite your retiree out to lunch while the rest of the decoration team gets to work and begins adorning your retiree's front yard. When it comes to decorating a yard more for a person’s retirement, the bigger the better. You’ll want to include lots of balloons, plenty of signs with messages, streamers, and more. If you want you can set up a table with gifts as well. 

13. Have an outdoor BBQ retirement party

If your retiree loves BBQ, hosting an outdoor party in their backyard or at the local park is a memorable and safe way to celebrate. People can take turns grabbing food from a table to make sure social distancing rules are being followed. If you want, you can even make this event BYOBBQ (bring your own barbecue) if you prefer everyone be in charge of their own cooking and meals. 

If you’re feeling like a party game is in the works, then set out unlabeled dishes of several different BBQ sauces, and let people vote on which one is their favorite. At the end of the party, reveal the winner! A retirement BBQ party is bound to be something your retiree will relish.

14. Have an outdoor winery or brewery retirement party

With many breweries and wineries having outdoor spaces available, hosting a party outdoors at a brewery or winery is a great choice for the retiring wine or beer aficionado. Lots of breweries and wineries offer reservations for outdoor tables as well, so you can reserve a spot, and decorate a table with balloons and signs before your retiree arrives and give them a proper send-off.

15. Have a paint night retirement party

If you are looking for a fun and unique retirement party, a paint night celebration could be the best choice for you. A paint night can be held in person or entirely. All you need is a blank canvas, your favorite beverage, and plenty of paint. 

You can theme the paint night too! Our favorite theme is to ask participants to paint something related to their retiree — for example, someone could paint a picture of Frenchmen Street in New Orleans, and tell the story about the time they traveled to New Orleans together to eat at their favorite gumbo restaurant. There’s no telling what kind of wonderful stories and images will come from everyone’s canvas. 

And of course, if you feel the need for a little more guidance, you can always tune in to an old episode of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross! Not only will you have an expert teaching you, but it will likely bring back memories of your retiree’s younger days!

16. Send your retiree happy retirement video montage, and include a celebrity cameo

A unique way to kick off a retirement this year is with video messages put together as one video montage or video retirement card. You can send a message to a colleague or loved one easily by recording a message on your phone or computer. If you're unsure of what to say in your recording you can see a list of different things you can say on our blog. Once all videos are gathered you can clip them all together using an application like iMovie or Adobe premiere. There are also services like clipchamp that can help you put together your video montage. 

The surprise at the end of the video messages can be a happy retirement video message from a celebrity! Cameo allows you to reach out to a celebrity to purchase a personalized video message for your retiree. There are a host of celebrities that can send a video message to your retiree. From sports stars, actors, musicians, and more, you are bound to find a celebrity your retiree admires and would love a video message from. 

17. Have a costume retirement party!

If your retiree’s favorite holiday is Halloween, they will love a retirement costume party. With a retirement costume party, you can apply a fun theme as well to bring some humor to the retirement party. For example, you could have attendees dress up as your retiree through the years, or if your retiree can’t wait to spend their newfound time fishing everyone can come wearing waders and a fishing hat. 

No matter how you decide to celebrate a retirement this year, the best practice is to have fun and enjoy the party! You can make a makeshift photo booth with cardboard boxes and a polaroid camera for their retirement party, ask people to drop off a thoughtful gift, or just have an online party where you can talk to your favorite retiree about all the wonderful plans they have for their retirement. 

Your retiree will love the effort you put into their retirement party, seeing their colleagues and loved ones, and being celebrated. Kudoboard is happy to help celebrate your 2023 retiree  — create a retirement ecard for your retiree today!

Julio Gonzalez

Julio Gonzalez is a Kudoboard team member who enjoys assisting customers and delighting friends and family with personalized gift and Kudoboards. He shares his favorite tips for milestone celebrations on the Kudoboard blog.