Farewell Party Ideas

Throw the perfect going away celebration

A farewell party can be a thoughtful and fun way to help a friend, coworker or loved one say goodbye when moving away. An event like this shouldn’t be a ton of work. At U-Pack, we love to celebrate moving, so we’ve taken the stress and guesswork out of planning so you can easily throw a great party. Take a look at the steps for planning a goodbye party, and then use our awesome ideas for themes, games, food and gifts to host a memorable event.

Group having a farewell party for a friend.


How to plan a farewell party

 You don’t have to be too extravagant or expensive with your party planning. Instead, focus on creating a gathering that makes the guest of honor feel special. Here are the seven steps for planning a farewell party:

1. Choose a date, time and venue

Ideally, you’ll set a date at least a month in advance so that everyone can save the date. Choose a day and time that makes sense for the person moving away and a majority of the guests. The venue can be as simple as your home or backyard, a restaurant’s party room or a meeting room at work. Many rec centers and community buildings have spaces available to rent at reasonable prices. If you’re concerned about large group gatherings indoors, find an outdoor space like a pavilion or a park.

2. Create the guest list

If the party isn’t a surprise, we recommend talking to the person moving away to find out who they would like to attend. But if you want to make the event a surprise, think about their closest friends and family. And don’t forget about groups they belong to, like volunteer organizations or sports teams that might attend to wish them well on their move.

3. Send out invitations

Invites can be as formal or simple as you want. You could print and mail paper invitations, but an online invitation (email, social media event or text) works fine for a casual affair. For a work party, an email or flyer in the break room can be an easy way to let the company or team know about the gathering so they can block off their calendars.

4. Choose a farewell party theme

The theme of the going away party sets the mood and helps direct choices around the rest of the party planning, like food and games. While you might feel sad that your friend is moving, keep the theme of the party lighthearted with these fun farewell party ideas.

Theme ideas for…

A student moving away

Whether it’s a high schooler headed off to college or a college grad starting their new life, these ideas will make for an exciting event.

  • A bright future: Think neons (or even blacklight!) for this party. Use the brightest décor you can find, invite guests to dress in vivid clothing and serve food in rainbow colors. Give out sunglasses as party favors or use glow sticks if you go the blacklight route.
  • Later tater: This is a laid-back party theme for a guy or anyone with a great sense of humor. To celebrate your student, serve a potato bar, either with baked potatoes and toppings or different types of fries and dips. Set up an area where guests can write messages on actual potatoes that you can mail later, one at a time. Yes, you can, in fact, send a potato in the mail with proper labeling and postage. It will be hilarious when they open their campus or apartment mailbox and find a potato inside.
  • One smart cookie: The theme of this party lends itself to lots of sweets! You can set out various cookies with different types of milk (white, chocolate, strawberry, almond, etc.) for guests to enjoy. You could also have a cookie decorating station with frosting or ask guests to bring their favorite cookie recipe to share with the graduate.

Coworker farewell

Whether someone is retiring or moving away, it’s always nice to send them off with a little work party.

  • Miss you a “latte”: For this party, decorate like it’s your favorite coffee shop and set up a drink station with different syrups and creamers. You could even have someone play barista and whip up frozen lattes on the spot!
  • Donut forget us: If your office loves donuts, this is the perfect going-away party theme. Bring in a couple of dozen pastries and enjoy one last breakfast together.
  • Great escape: If you can get everyone out of the office for a while, you can go on a team-building trip to an escape room to celebrate your coworker’s “great escape” from the office.
  • A virtual goodbye: If your team is working remotely, you can still have a fun farewell party. Enlist the help of a virtual party planning service that can host games like trivia or even a cooking class for the group. Or have an outgoing coworker play emcee and host everyone in a game like Pictionary or Heads Up.

Friend or loved one going away

For a family member or friend who is leaving, pick the theme that best fits their personality.

  • Desserting us: Throw a sweet party with lots of delicious desserts. You can serve a buffet of bite-sized treats like cookies, brownies, cake pops, and mini pies and decorate it to look like a bakery. You could even ask guests to wear an apron to the party and have an ice cream sundae bar so everyone can help themselves.
  • Happy trails: This is a fun theme if someone moves to the south or likes a costume party. Ask guests to dress in western attire and decorate with paisley and cowboy hats. Serve southern BBQ and send them on their way “until we meet again,” in the words of Roy Rogers.
  • Packing party: This is the easiest one to decorate for since you can stack up boxes around the venue. Ask guests to either bring moving supplies as gifts (you can never have too much packing tape!) or enlist their help in packing boxes for the move. Serve the classic moving day food — pizza.
  • Bon voyage: For someone headed to the coast, this nautical farewell party theme is perfect. Decorate with buoys, ropes and anchors and serve seafood.

5. Pick going away party games and entertainment

While guests will visit and mingle, it’s a great idea to have some sort of activity planned for when the energy dips. You can avoid a lull in the party with a fun game or project. If you want to let your friend explore the city one last time, take the group on a fun scavenger hunt. There are many ideas online or even group scavenger hunt apps you can download to compete in teams while traveling around the neighborhood or town. If the party is virtual, Jackbox Games is a great way for everyone to play together, even if they’re apart. You could also play Name that Tune with these moving away songs. You could split the guests up into tables to play in teams or play individually.

6. Make a plan for food

If the going away party isn’t happening at mealtime, then finger foods or small treats will be great, but don’t leave people hungry if the party happens during breakfast, lunch or dinner time. Once you’ve picked your theme and set a menu, you can decide whether you want to make the food, have it catered or ask guests to bring dishes for a potluck. Don’t forget to have plenty of plates, napkins, utensils and drinks on hand as well.

7. Set up a thoughtful gift

Farewell gifts are an excellent way for the entire group to show their thoughtfulness. You could encourage guests to write a personal letter, which could be gathered into a scrapbook for the guest of honor by setting out stationery and pens. Or print off one of these goodbye quotes and have everyone sign it, then frame it. You could also ask guests to contribute to a fund so you can buy a gift card together. Gift cards for furniture stores, home improvement stores, food delivery services or gas stations can go a long way during a move.

Share your farewell party ideas with us!

We would love to see how you take these moving away party themes and host the perfect event. Share your ideas in the comments or send us photos on Facebook. We love to see how you customize these ideas to fit your student, coworker, friend or family member.