Guide to Planning a Retirement Party on Long Island

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If I'd known that retirement was going to be this good I'd have done it the day after I left school !!! -Mickey White

Retirements are a great time for close family, friends and colleagues to gather and celebrate the retiree's accomplishments, past and future. It's also a fun time for the honoree to take a look back at what brought them to where they are today, and for them to look forward to what life will hold for them during retirement. As the party planner, it is your duty to find the perfect space that reflects the retiree, the guests and the occasion. Answer the questions below to find the perfect location for your retirement party.

  • Is there a specific geographic area you would like to restrict your search to?
  • Knowing what region you do or don't want your retirement party to be located in can easily help rule out several hundred catering halls. Of course the more specific your desired geographic area, the fewer options you have to work with. This fact may be very welcome to some overwhelmed party planners, but may seem frustrating to others who look forward to being given a variety of catering hall options. A good compromise is to first limit your geographic area to a very specific area. If you are not pleased with the choices of catering halls in that region, then slowly expand your search to the surrounding areas until you are happy with the number of choices being offered, as well as with the distance. If the retiree has always wished to visit a particular area, then perhaps that is your answer.

  • Is there a specific type of catering hall (i.e. hotel, vineyard, restaurant, etc.) you would like to restrict your search to?
  • Limiting your catering hall search to the type of catering hall is another way to quickly narrow down your top choices. Knowing exactly the type of catering hall you would like to use can help organize your event quickly and efficiently. However, being flexible with the type of catering hall you choose can often result in a unique event that impresses all of your guests, including yourself! You may want to consider the personality, likes and dislikes of the retiree. If the retiree has always been interested in history, then perhaps a perfect location for their retirement party would be at a historical mansion.

  • What is the date of your retirement party?
  • This may be an obvious "to do", but it is nevertheless an important factor in selecting the perfect catering hall for your family reunion. Just like selecting airline tickets, the more flexible you are the more likely it is to get better rates, options and availability. To keep the momentum, you should probably select a date close to the actual date of retirement, or maybe just before the retiree's potential big trip or something of the sort.

  • How formal an affair do you want your retirement party to be?
  • The level of formality of your retirement party doesn't necessarily equate to the level of pricing of the catering hall. Instead, it can help you to select an appropriate type of hall if given the choice. The level of formality of the retirement party should reflect the actual retiree. If the retiree's personality is less formal, then maybe a very formal affair is not the ideal choice. Perhaps a retirement party at a restaurant or an outdoor space would be more ideal. On the other hand, if the retiree enjoys formal affairs and the retirement party guest list will include several ex colleagues, then maybe a more formal affair at a hotel ballroom would better suit your needs.

  • Is there a specific theme you would like to portray?
  • Selecting a theme for your retirement party could really enhance the overall experience for the guests of honor as well as for everyone else. If the retiree hopes to spend his retirement days sailing a boat, then perhaps finding a location on or close to the docks would be a great idea!

  • How many people will you be hosting at the retirement party?
  • The number of anticipated guests will undoubtedly help limit your catering hall choices, especially if it's a large number. This is true in terms amount of space and the pricing per plate of food. Depending on your budget, this could be the determining factor of where your event should be located at. If you are expecting a large turnout, then perhaps you should set your sights on larger hotel type of catering halls or maybe even an outdoor location, depending on the weather.

  • Will you be requiring onsite food catering?
  • Most of the catering halls we showcase on our website include food catering. However, some do not and will require additional cost and planning in order to provide quality food for your guests. Additionally, if the catering hall of your wishes allows onsite food catering, but not the type of food that you wish to feature, then you may be able to work out a deal with the catering hall's management in order to bring in your choice of food.

  • How much do you expect to spend per plate?
  • As mentioned earlier, where your retirement party is located will largely - if not completely - depend upon how much you are able and/or willing to spend per plate. If you are especially interested in a specific catering hall, but the cost per plate is higher than you were expecting, you may need to rethink that catering hall. This may hold especially true if obligations persuade you to not cut down on the number of people that you invite to the retirement party! One way to cut down on the cost per plate is to offer buffet services rather than table service. You may also wish to consider offering drinks and hors d'oeuvres exclusively. If this option appeals to you, consider the timing of your event, and make sure that it does not clash with mealtimes.

  • Will you be requiring a Kosher, Vegetarian or Vegan menus?
  • Many catering halls do offer Kosher, Vegetarian or Vegan menus. If this is a must for your event, make sure your catering hall choice has this option.

  • Will you be requiring a full service bar or food stations/carving stations for a cocktail hour?
  • Most catering halls (especially hotels and large halls) will offer this service in a customized party package. If the catering hall of your choice does not offer this service in a package be sure to inquire about the additional costs and how it may or may not affect the overall scheduling of your event. It might be a fun idea to have a special drink named after the retiree.

  • Will you be requiring a catering hall that provides party favors?
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, these days many catering halls automatically offer you a selection of party favors to choose from in order to streamline your party planning. However, most of the party favors offered at these catering halls are geared towards wedding parties. If you are not happy with the selection of party favors that are offered, or if you would like to present your guests with additional favors, check to see if the catering hall of your choice has any suggestions. Also keep in mind how you would like to disseminate the party favors at your retirement party. Would you like the favors arranged as part of each person's place setting (if applicable), or would you rather offer the favors upon their arrival or departure? This can largely affect the flow of the event, and even the overall presentation of the reunion.

  • Would you prefer a location with attached or nearby accommodations for out of town guests?
  • If your answer to this question is yes, then you should highly consider hotels as your choice of catering hall. However, pay special attention to non hotel catering halls that are in close proximity to other hotel accommodations. Most halls should have this information ready at hand. Another option you may want to consider is hiring services that can help transport family members or close friends from wherever they are staying to your desired retirement party site.

  • Will you be requiring a party planner?
  • If you book your party at a catering hall, chances are you will be provided with an in-house party planner that can help ensure that your event goes smoothly. If you are not provided with one, but you are still interested in having a party planner, keep in mind that Long Island party planners have a wide range of rates, involvement and expertise. The catering hall of your choice could also assist you in finding a party planner who has been involved with past events at that location.

  • Would simultaneous events at your location be acceptable?
  • This is an important, yet often overlooked, factor to keep in mind when booking your dinner function. Neighboring events could distract from a calm celebration or compete with a high energy celebration. On the other hand, catering halls that offer simultaneous events could help keep your costs low and could even fuel the party spirit. In any case, as the party planner, you should be aware as to what types of events may be going on simultaneously to ensure that your retirement party guests are comfortable.

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