Tips for Organizing a
Farewell Party at Work

party gorilla boss

Or...How to Have Fun with Your Workmates (!)

All you need for an office farewell party is a bit of goodwill and the approval of the person leaving.
These goodbye party events will have varying degrees of formality, and the company may have a structure for this depending on the length of service. For example, office presentation and then a bar-tab for drinks after work, if the leaving person spent some years there.

morning tea

The person leaving would also have a preference for the type of get-together e.g. low key such as morning tea, or more elaborate like an organised dinner.

There should always be some kind of presentation at the workplace - everyone is already there, it is a more appropriate setting, and people are better-behaved!

Office farewell party planning:

Often the person organising the going away party is the closest workmate, and it may be your turn to organise something one day.

Remember, it is only a send-off of a work colleague (not a wedding), so don't go overboard, especially not out of your own pocket.
If you are good friends at work you will see that person again.
So keep it simple.
All you need to do is:

work farewell reminder
  • send an email with the event details, and
  • a reminder email closer to the date/time, then
  • organise the office to sign the farewell card.

Include all workplace members for a truly positive going away party.
This is not the time for office politics, and making assumptions about whether people should or could attend can make office relationships difficult afterward.

lone figure

On the same note, don't get in people faces to attend, sign etc. - everyone has their own reasons for non-attendance or non-effort.
It is up to the individual to choose how they voluntarily represent themselves.

Are you having a dinner with a leaving speech? Click for farewell dinner presentation tips.

Workplace farewell party ideas, pranks and games:

If you wish, you can make the party more elaborate - click for office party themes.

Other ideas to liven up the office send-off include:

  • decorating the office of the person leaving - not by moving in your own stuff by the way (at least wait for them to walk out the door before you do that)!  If you only make one decoration, the most return for your effort would be one very, very large banner outside their office or over their workstation, saying something like "Bye [Name of person]!" This would announce to colleagues where to go to leave their best wishes.
  • providing a sign at the front door letting people know that there is about to be an escapee on the loose - include a photo of the person leaving on the poster.
  • footprints on the floor from the building entrance to the person's desk directing people where to say goodbye (a good office ice-breaker).
  • send out a general email alerting people to go to the particular desk where there is something "free" - only to find that it is the person leaving who will soon be enjoying "free"dom.  Maybe put lollipops on the desk so colleagues are not disappointed.

These touches can make a workday really fun.
Remember it is a work event - wherever it is - so keep it clean and good-natured!

More ideas:

farewell ideas figures
  • singing / operatic telegram (get someone else to do the farewell speech!)
  • an award presentation for something truly obscure (best knotted tie / best array of hair styles for senior widget engineer at the company in 2008!)
  • a draw for who gets to keep the leaver's pot plant
  • official handing over (abdication ceremony), or rigged "cosmic lotto" of the difficult clients / on-call mobile phone / in tray full of paper.  The cosmic lotto is just a draw of colleague's names.  We say "cosmic" to mean fate or karma :)
  • a ritual, such as throwing shoes in, or tying string around, a tree - usually for outdoorsy-type workplaces.

  • Exit procedures:

    Most workplaces would have official procedures for "employee exit", which may include an escort to the carpark to ensure the employee is off the premises, ensuring that the employee hands over their company identification card or swipe-entry card, ensuring that any company tools or equipment are returned.  These official procedures, especially if it is an unliked manager that carries them out, can feel awkward and be a real downer after a nice workplace farewell party.  The impersonal exit procedures can be a cold shock after the goodwill shown earlier.  

    This is best mitigated by everyone leaving at the same time - hopefully the person leaving is completing a full day at work, or is leaving at lunch time, so can leave at the same time as other people - with everyone going straight to the next place to have lunch or drinks after work with said leaver.  That way, everybody is escorting the leaver and the nice goodwill vibe is carried onward to the bar or cafe.

    If the person leaving has chosen a less popular exit time, hopefully there are one or two people who can "help with the boxes" (show the leaver out) with the manager, and hopefully the banter will make the procedure less awkward.  The manager could help with the boxes and parade through the building pretending to leave and that the leaver is escorting the manager instead, just for a laugh.

    If nobody can "help with the boxes" during the walk to the carpark, maybe the leaver's car can have flyers, placed under the windscreen wipers, wishing the person well and to enjoy the drive to freedom (and sorry for the awkward exit procedure!).

    Of course, none of this is may be necessary if the person leaving is moving to another branch location for the company.  There may be  no need for an escort or handing in the identification card.  Then the actual exit is much less awkward, less official and more casual.

    What else do you need to organise?

    Can we help you   

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