Retirement Party Etiquette

Whether you are involved in retirement party planning, or are simply invited, there are a few simple rules of retirement party etiquette to help things run more smoothly.

If you are the one throwing the party, it is important to get your invitations out in a timely manner. Four weeks is generally enough time to allow your guests to make their plans. Decide beforehand if you would like people to bring gifts. If you do not, write "no gifts please" somewhere on the invitation. If gifts are appropriate, there is no need to state anything. Your guests can assume they are accepted.

Dress style should be somewhere in the invitation as well. Stating whether the affair is formal, informal, or casual will help your guests know what to expect. In your retirement party planning, it is as important to consider the comfort of your guests as much as honoring the retiree. Do not put your guests on the spot by handing around a microphone for accolades unless you are sure everyone is willing to be in the spotlight. If you are unsure, pick two or three key people to speak or toast and then open the floor for anyone who would like to say something. Collecting a general contribution or setting up a money tree at the party itself is considered poor etiquette and may be uncomfortable for guests who were not planning on providing a gift, or had already gotten one. A group gift may be given, but it should be planned out before the party.

If you are invited to a retirement party, good manners go beyond just showing up on time. If an RSVP is requested in the invitation, be sure to reply promptly. If the invitation doesn't specifically state that you may bring a guest, then don't plan on it. If gifts are accepted, you should choose the gift based on how close you are to the retiree. If the invitation asks that no gifts be given, it is still good manners to bring a card congratulating the retiree.

Always keep in mind what the party is about, and who. Do not try to steal the limelight or upstage the guest of honor in any way. This is a happy time for the retiree, so be careful not to use the party as an opportunity to air personal job grievances or openly wish you were retiring yourself. Be respectful and mindful of the happiness of the occasion.

It is appropriate to write a small note of thanks to the host/hostess within two weeks after the party. Thank them for inviting you and compliment them on some feature of the party. Whether you enjoyed yourself or not, retirement party planning isn't easy and it's polite to recognize the work that went into it and acknowledge the honor of being invited.

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Whether you are involved in retirement party planning, or are simply invited, there are a few simple rules of retirement party etiquette to help things run more smoothly.

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