This summer we gave my mom a well-earned retirement party for her over 40 years of service in the area of social services. Here are some tips I used to plan a beautiful, fun and heart-warming event that was both cost effective and completely DIY.
I rented a room in a local senior center to host our event. It was a bright, airy space large enough to accommodate 60 guests and was furnished with chairs and tables, both long and round. The rental price was super affordable at $125 for the day and the empty room gave me a blank canvas to create my own retirement party theme and design.
Table Arrangement & Decor
We hosted a small, intimate guest list of my mother’s closest family, friends and co-workers so I chose to arrange several long tables in a U shape that allowed my mother to sit in the center. We added two distinctive floral arrangements to her tables with the happy retirement sign sitting beneath her to showcase her as the guest of honor.
The table decor was a big hit with the guests. Everyone wanted to know where I bought all the items for the decor and my answer was online! Like most of us, I am too busy to run around from store to store. I was relieved to find a great selection of affordable party merchandise from the comfort of my own home where I ordered the linen tablecloths, gold table runners, chair covers, chair sashes and the beautiful tall glass vases.
We arranged the room with a buffet table in the center in the back of the room with a separate table for beverages on one side and a decorated and dedicated cake table on the other.
The room decorations included this wonderful backdrop that looks intimidating but was actually very simple and quick to assemble. I purchased the white and gold sheer curtains separately and the hubby hung them on the backdrop and centered it perfectly behind our buffet food table.
The bouquet of balloons are from a supermarket. I went to a typical party store first but when I compared pricing, our regular supermarket had a bouquet of 12 large helium filled white, gold and black balloons for only $9.99 each so I purchased 2 and placed them on both sides of the room.
Another big hit at the party was the photo booth and prop station. I found this funny retirement party prop kit with sayings like “Easy Street” and “No Work Zone” along with silly glasses, mustaches and ties and we arranged everything on a table next to a gold backdrop that we added to a wall. I bought a little chalkboard and wrote “grab a prop & take a shot.” Our guests took pictures all party long and even took some of the props home.
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I chose these tall glass “Eiffel Tower” vases for the tables to give them a more elegant feel but I did not have a budget for a florist so I improvised with flowers from Costco and my local supermarket. Costco had 2 dozen multi-colored roses for around $16! And I found that the vases were so graceful and eye-catching that with the addition of white and yellow roses, baby’s breath and some carnations we had ready-made centerpieces that provided a wow factor without breaking the bank.
Here we are now, entertain us!
For the speeches and games portion, you can’t have a retirement party without doing a “how well do you know” the guest of honor game. My version featured about 10 questions with 3 multiple choice answers, only one of which was correct. It was so much fun stumping the guests although there were certain family members and old friends that it was nearly impossible to stump. I threw in a few trick questions and for each question my mom provided the correct answer.
For instance, questions would read:
“What was her first job? (a) camp counselor (b) assistant (3) waitress.”
“Where did she take her first cruise? (a) Bahamas (b) Alaska (c) Mexico”
It was hilarious listening to the responses and reasoning for the answers.
I also gave a speech highlighting my mother’s work history and work ethic and had my six year old read a poem that thanked her for being a great grandmother.
And I made up a game or tribute of sorts in which I instructed the guests to write down one word that described my mom and then I had each guest say their word and explain why they chose the word. I wanted the event to be interactive but without putting people on the spot to give speeches. This is a fantastic way to get people involved in an easy going manner by simply thinking of one word and then elaborating. Everyone spoke about their word without hesitation and my mom was overwhelmed with their stories which were funny, touching and loving. If you have a guest list on the smaller side, this is a must do.
That’s my greatest hits list of my top ideas for an amazing, budget-friendly retirement party. Happy Planning!