Farewell Party Ideas

How to make your farewell party memorable

Farewell parties are a great way to recall happy memories and create new ones to cherish. Whether sending someone off for a college graduation, a military deployment, or an exciting new career opportunity, these gatherings pack plenty of potential for fun. Sure, the actual goodbye process can be emotional, but the party is a perfect opportunity to let loose, hang out with friends and family, and have a great time. If you’re planning a special goodbye, use this resource to gather ideas that will help leave a lasting impression!

Group having a farewell party for a friend.


Going away party planning tips

Planning a farewell party can be almost as much fun as the party itself — it just takes a little time, organization, creativity and teamwork to pull everything together. Get set up for success by following these five tips:

  • Keep it simple. It’s a time to celebrate! Keep the party a low-pressure, casual event, so things stay light and loose. While you can plan games, music and food, avoid making it too involved. Give the guest of honor time to enjoy his or her friends and make memories together.
  • Make a guest list. Determine if you want a big blowout, or limit it to just a few close friends and family. It could be the last time everyone gets together for a while, so make the guest list count! 
  • Allow plenty of time for invitations. Confirm your guest of honor’s move date, and talk with them about the best time for the party (if it isn’t a surprise). If you’re hosting your own party, choose a date that doesn’t conflict with packing preparations. Then, give everyone at least a few weeks’ notice by sending invitations online or through the mail. Be sure to include important information: date, time, location, RSVP info, dress code (is there a theme to dress up for?), and if it’s a surprise. 
  • Reserve a location. If it’s an off-site venue, book as early as possible. Find out the location’s rules or restrictions (if decorations can be displayed or taped to the walls, if outside food is allowed, etc.)
  • Find people to help. Talk to friends, family members or others close to the guest of honor and ask them to help with party planning. Give everyone a task to make the process more efficient.

Pick a farewell party theme

The theme can set the table for how the rest of the party planning will go, so make it a good one! To get started, here are a few things to think about:  What’s their style? Any favorite foods? Do they like a particular sports team? Are they into sci-fi books or movies? Are they into travel? Fitting the party’s theme around the guest of honor’s passions is a gesture that goes a long way in making a memorable goodbye.

As you brainstorm party themes, consider catering the event around the occasion for the move. For example, are they a graduating high school senior heading to college, a member of the military leaving for assignment, or a friend or co-worker leaving for new opportunities?

Farewell party themes can lend themselves to unique food, fun outfits for the guests, or impressive décor. Small touches, like the plates and napkins, can be matched to the party motif, too. Put on your party planning hat, identify a theme and set the stage for making memories with one of these ideas:

A destination-themed party. If the guest of honor is moving to a city famous for its cuisine, fashion or culture, center the theme on that. For example, if they’re moving to Chicago, prepare or order Chicago-style hot dogs and pizza, and decorate with images of famous Chicago landmarks like Wrigley Field, the Navy Pier or Cloud Gate (The Bean). If they’re going to New Orleans, why not enjoy some Cajun food at a Mardi Gras-themed costume party? A theme creates a fun, light-hearted environment that will make for a sweet send-off.

A packing party. This is a great way to bond while helping your friend prepare for their move! These can be scaled-down affairs with just a few friends and family members. Just grab beverages and a couple of pizzas, or some burgers or tacos, turn on a fun music mix, and get to work!

A military send-off. If the guest of honor is an active service military member heading off on assignment, send them away with a military-themed party! Decorate the walls with flags and emblems of their respective military branch. Have their favorite food on hand, and get everyone to help create care packages filled with things they might need. It’s a great time to show them love and support, and thank them for their service!

A more laid-back farewell. Maybe your guest doesn’t want a big to-do with a theme or a lot of hoopla. No problem! You can be festive without much flair by having everyone show up wearing the guest of honor’s favorite color, or simply host a dinner party. Have a cookout, order takeout, or throw a potluck — guests can bring their favorite dish or something they make that the guest of honor likes.

Choose the entertainment

No going away party would be complete without entertainment. The theme may help you figure out the decorations, props and other theme-related entertainment, but you may still need ideas on party games or music.

Here are a few fun going away party activities to consider:

  • Roast and toast. Does the guest of honor have a sense of humor? Have a comedy-style roast at their expense (keep it civil)! If guests aren’t comfortable with a roast, give everyone a few minutes to write down their favorite memories or a piece of wisdom, and let them each take time to salute the guest of honor.
  • Musical chairs. Whether you’re young or young at heart, musical chairs is an old favorite and always a fun way to get everyone into a festive, competitive mood! You know the rules: Arrange some chairs — one fewer than the number of people playing the game — facing outward in a circle. Music plays and participants walk around in unison. When the music stops, everyone hurries to sit in a chair. Remove one chair after each round. The participant who is left without a chair is eliminated from the game. The rounds continue until you have a winner!
  • Karaoke. Let the competition continue with a karaoke contest! You’ve seen the singing competitions on TV — bring it to life! Divide up your group between competitors who want to sing and those who would rather judge. Have the singers select the song of their choice and sing it in front of the judges to determine a winner. It doesn’t have to be a competition, though. Karaoke is fun by itself. It’s a great way to get a lot of laughs and keep everyone in a light and spirited mood. 
  • Memory game. Test your memory with this fun party game! Here’s how it works: Before the party, buy a fun prize that you can give to the winner. Then, take a moving box and fill it with household items (some ordinary, some unique) that would get packed during a move. Set it on a table and give every guest 30 seconds to look inside (you can decide whether or not they’re allowed to touch the items). After everyone has had a chance to peek inside the box, have them try and recall every piece. The person who writes down the most items wins the prize! (Some ideas for your moving box: shoes, toiletries, silverware, books, figurines, scissors, a canned good, remote control, etc.)
  • Photo booth. Set up a photo booth! Gather some fun props (hats, boas, sunglasses), hang a backdrop (a table cloth or sheet works!) and start snapping! You could appoint someone to act as the photographer, provide a selfie stick, or use a tripod and a self-timer. Make sure the guest of honor gets copies of the photos afterward so they’ll have keepsakes to remember everyone.

Choose some music. Music at a farewell party is a must. It might be something that’s playing in the background or something more personal, with everyone collaborating to put their favorite songs onto one big party playlist. Either way, music is something that can set the mood for a happy goodbye! You can create a personal playlist or get inspired by our list of songs about saying goodbye.

Consider a parting gift

Giving something nice to the guest of honor adds an especially thoughtful touch — either from the group or individual gifts. Consider something practical for their new home or something more sentimental.

At a minimum, consider getting a card for everyone to sign. Need an inspirational quote to write in the card? Check out this post about goodbye quotes to help you come up with the perfect words for the occasion.

Give a farewell speech

Finally, consider preparing remarks for a farewell speech. Moving parties are an excellent time to offer parting wisdom, advice or love. Ask around beforehand to see who wants to deliver a farewell toast. It doesn’t have to be lengthy. It can be funny, poignant or just something from the heart. You might even ask the guest of honor if they want to say a few words at the party before the group departs.

Share your going away party ideas with us!

We hope these tips help you plan an unforgettable going away party to wish your friends and loved ones well on their new adventures. Do you have any other tips or ideas on how to plan a grand farewell party? Leave us a comment below and let us know!