How To Say 'Farewell' To Your Coworkers

 

Office Farewell Parties
Office farewell parties vary depending on the resources and culture of the office, and the length of service and level of the departing employee. Regardless of how elaborate or informal your get-together is, it should send a message that the organization appreciates the contributions the employee made, and include individual touches to reflect the personality of your honoree, as well.   

Planning Basics
Before you plan your get-together, check with your coworker. A shy person may feel uncomfortable with a lot of attention, or there may be hard feelings associated with the departure. Do not plan a surprise party. As the departure time nears, your coworker will be busy trying to wrap up loose ends. You do not want to plan an event only to discover that your honoree will not attend.

Remember that you are honoring a team member, and the farewell party should be a team effort. Ideally, volunteers from your office will help you plan and set up the party.  

Invitations
E-mail invitations usually work best. Once you have a date for your event, send a "save the date" notice. This alerts your office that an event is coming, but you do not yet have a formal plan. Once you finalize your plans, send a second e-mail with the date, time, location, type of party, and any additional instructions for guests. Send a reminder e-mail shortly before your event. You do not have to limit your invitee list to those in your office. If your coworker regularly works with outsiders, invite them, as well.

Gifts

Decide if the office will give the honoree a single goodbye gift, or if individuals should choose whether or not to give one on their own. If your office is giving a single gift, you may need to gather contributions from your coworkers. Do some investigating to get appropriate gift ideas. A greeting card with everyone's signatures and well-wishes makes a nice companion to a group gift.  

You might also consider assembling a book of letters. When you send your invitations, request that invitees provide a personal note to your departing coworker. Compile their submissions in a scrapbook. Encourage letter-writers to use decorative stationery or note cards to make the messages more personal.

Speakers
If you want attendees say a few words about your honoree, arrange that beforehand. You do not want to embarrass your coworker by offering people the opportunity to speak, and hoping someone will volunteer.

Photographs
Assign an official photographer for your event. E-mail the photos to your honoree and guests, or post them in the employee section of your company website.

Organization
Have a schedule in mind for your party. While food can be served in an informal manner, speakers and gift presentations should be done when the majority of invitees are present.    

Food
Refreshments for your office party could include a single cake, a dessert buffet, a pot-luck dinner, or even a catered meal. If you have a variety of food, provide healthy choices for those on restricted diets. Ensure that you have enough refrigerator space and a microwave (or other food warmers) to allow you to store food safely and serve it at the right temperature. 

If your organization is not able to fund the event, encourage coworkers to contribute items. Keep tabs on what you need, and what people agree to provide. Remember that your needs are not limited to food. You will need beverages, ice, cups, plates, cutlery, serving pieces, napkins, etc.

Decorations

Your office may have a stockpile of decorations from past events. Look for banners, tablecloths and other items in a storage closet. If you want a theme party to reflect a particular interest of your honoree, you can create your theme without too much extra expense. For example, if you have a beach-themed party, check with your coworkers to see if they can bring in shells, sand pails, beach towels, etc. to enhance the atmosphere. Label such contributions with lenders' names to ensure they are returned to the owner.

Dollar stores have a variety of inexpensive party supplies including banners, disposable table covers and balloons. Balloons make ideal decorations because they are economical, fun, and take up space. Limit your balloons to one or two colors for a more sophisticated look. Use coordinated curling ribbon to bundle balloons together. 

Food Set Up
When setting up your room, keep food away from the main traffic area. If you have a variety of foods, arrange hot and cold foods on different sides of the table. Place beverages, entrees, side dishes and sweets in their own groups. You can make the table more attractive by placing items of different heights under the tablecloth to create pedestals. Dishes in the back should be higher than those in front. Ensure that your dishes will be stable while multiple people serve themselves from them. Put some decorations in between dishes, or use clear Christmas lights on the table to add visual interest. Be sure that your decorations do not interfere with your guests' ability to reach the food.   

Clean Up
Have aluminum foil handy to send excess food home with your guests. Remember to give your honoree first choice of any leftovers. Store anything left behind in the office fridge for the next day. Return borrowed decorations to their owners. Remove other decorations and store any you can reuse at the next event. Wipe down tables and return chairs to their original locations. Launder and store cloth table covers.   

Success!
A successful going away party should leave your coworker feeling that his or her time in the office made a difference, and the departure matters to the organization. Your fellow coworkers should feel satisfied that the department properly expressed its regard, and, if they left, their absence would be just as keenly felt. While you may feel sad that your coworker is leaving, a successful farewell party provides a positive experience for all involved.    

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