How to plan a farewell party when you can’t gather
A going away celebration can help take some of the emotional heaviness out of saying goodbye, but because of current health guidelines, a huge get-together may not be possible. No worries — there are still ways to make a farewell party happen! Take the party online, host a drive-by or plan an outdoor get-together when you want to wish friends or family well on their move. Hosting friends or family these days may involve a little more thought to keep everyone safe and healthy, but it’s definitely worth it.
Note: As you decide which type of farewell gathering is best for the health and safety of your guests, we recommend following the CDC’s considerations for social gatherings. Along with understanding the risks involved, it includes tips for minimizing spread at your event.
Tips for keeping things stress-free and safe
Along with following your area’s health guidelines (and social distancing instructions from the CDC), here are some important things to keep in mind as you start the party prep:
- Send out the details. Every good party starts with an invite. Send everyone the date, time and location (or link to the virtual party) plenty of time beforehand — especially if they need to download an app for an online meet-up or decorate their car.
- Decorate as much as possible. Just because people won’t be up close and personal doesn’t mean the party space can’t feel festive. If it’s an online party, consider sending décor to the guest of honor's home so they can bring the cheer to their space. For outdoor gatherings or drive-by parties, focus on simple decorations that pack a visual punch from far away, like a balloon arch, yard signs or a banner.
- Keep it simple. What matters here is making the guest of honor feel special and loved before they move. Since health guidelines need to be top of mind, don't stress about creating a Pinterest-worthy party.
- Keep track of the guests. If there’s any in-person interaction, make sure you have names and contact info for all party-goers.
Three party ideas that let you socially distance
While booking a venue and organizing a potluck may be out of the question, you can still plan a memorable farewell party with these ideas:
Host a virtual farewell party (not another boring Zoom meeting)
Hosting an online party is the safest and easiest option because it keeps everyone separate in their own homes. However, you definitely want it to feel like a party and NOT a work meeting. Here are some ways to bring the fun to your guests online:
- Dress it up. There are lots of themes to choose from here. If the guest of honor is moving somewhere unique, ask everyone to dress to that (like a Mardi Gras parade theme for people moving to New Orleans, or beach wear for someone moving to the coast). Or, how about asking everyone to dress country-western with a "Happy Trails To You" party theme.
- Play games. Charades or Pictionary are easy to play even if you're not in person. Text or email each participant their secret word ahead of time (bonus if they’re themed around moving or the guest of honor), then take turns acting them out.
- Host a dinner party. Invite guests to join you for a virtual dinner — everyone provides their own food and drinks. Bonus points for coordinating a menu so everyone’s eating the same thing!
- Plan a group slideshow. Take turns sharing the screen and showing your favorite photos and memories with the guest of honor.
- Watch a movie together. Netflix Party allows you to synchronize a video and group chat together while you watch.
Take the party mobile
A great way to keep a safe distance is to keep guests in their cars. Drive-by parties can go two different ways: host a parade for the guest of honor or ask people to drop by during a set time.
For a drive-by farewell parade, plan a time and meetup spot near the guest of honor's home. Ask partygoers to decorate their cars with balloons or car chalk, roll down their windows, and slowly drive the parade route. Just make sure the person moving will be outside, then honk, yell or pass gifts to them out the window.
For a drive-by drop-in party, set up a festive spot in the guest of honor's yard where they can stay for a couple of hours. Ask friends to drop by for a visit (from the comfort of their car). One super fun idea is to ask guests to prepare a carpool karaoke song (use our going away song playlist for inspiration) and perform it for the guest of honor.
Celebrate together outside
The key to keeping these types of parties safe is space and self-service. Skip the hugs, ask guests to wear masks, and make hand sanitizer available. Request that everyone brings a lawn chair (or set chairs up spaced out) and ask guests to bring their own food.
Or for the ultimate party, consider hiring a food truck to serve guests! Whether it's a BYOPicnic or BYOTakeout, the goal here is to mingle from a safe distance. As far as activities go, show a movie on a projector screen or host an art party where each guest has their own supplies and canvas. Or BINGO is a great no-contact game to play with a crowd.
Moving away gift ideas
Even during a pandemic, farewell gifts are a great way to show you care. Instead of encouraging guests to go out and shop, here are two easy (but still meaningful) alternatives:
- Goodbye notes. Encourage guests to write a personal letter to say goodbye. These could be gathered beforehand and given to the guest of honor during the party or sent over email. Need help knowing what to say? Use our goodbye quotes for creative inspiration!
- Gift cards. Some ideas include furniture stores, home improvement stores, food delivery services or even gas stations. Gift cards can go a long way during a move, and they can easily be purchased online and emailed.
Help us create even more going away party ideas
We hope these tips help you plan an unforgettable going away party. If you’ve thrown a goodbye party that went over big, we’d love to hear your ideas! Leave a comment below and let us know worked for you!
More articles you might like...