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  • Writer's pictureMonica Montanari

Jim's Great Escape Retirement Party

No party that I have a hand in can ever be simple. That would be too easy. So, obviously, when one of the partners at my law firm retired this year, it was the perfect excuse to show him how much I care and to throw the most adorable retirement party of all time.

You worked your entire life for this day; shouldn't it at least get the attention that an 8-year-old's birthday party gets?

Maybe it's just that by the time you're ready to retire, you're just over it. Maybe you just want to have a lunch, call it a day, and get back in bed. I don't know. I can only imagine. I can't wait to retire. But alas, that day is far off for me, so I took on the responsibility of planning the party's sweet details to make it something we could be proud of.

But with all of the Coronavirus closures this year, we weren't even sure we were going to get to make the idea a reality after all. Luckily, we found a beautiful restaurant nearby that had outdoor seating, social distancing, and the perfect lakeside atmosphere for Jim's retirement party.

Where to start?



Retirement is an occasion that needs to be classy, elegant, but also fun and relevant to the guest of honor. My boss is a big adventurer: he's always traveling somewhere new or climbing mountains. And since we work in aviation law, there was no theme more appropriate for him than an adventure/travel theme. I went through a list of possible themes related to the two and finally decided on "Jim's Great Escape". Explains the theme, fits the occasion, and leaves room for lots of jokes.


Duh. Have you read any of my event blogs? I always need a banner. At least one. They point out the guest of honor, the theme, and are such an easy way to decorate a space. For this banner, I cut out templates like these in order to actually get some consistency. I used the same templates, just a bit smaller, and layered an antique parchment photo graphic underneath the letters, so that I could make this banner one that actually looks professionally done. This time, I used foam glue dots to stick the smaller pennant on top of the larger one, adding some dimension to the look. I don't do twine. It's messy, I hate the texture, and I don't think it looks that nice. So instead, I always use a twine-colored yarn with a natural texture to fill in and provide better support and less mess.

The inspiration:

The Creative Coach Monica:


Retirement is a great excuse for fun novelty gifts and/or thoughtful gestures. So we decided to mix the two up.

The gift basket itself ended up being this darling travel-print suitcase box that we found at Michael's. But then I faced the dilemma of whether to use it as a display piece of decor or as a gift basket. Instead, I opted for both.

I know it sounds confusing. What I decided to do was to lay the "suitcase" out on the dessert/decor table with some of the gifts visible, while hiding the big gift for its presentation later in the event.

The inspiration:

The Creative Coach Monica:


I really wouldn't even have mentioned these tiny things except for that they were kind of the star of the entire thing. Randomly, these came into my head as a cute idea, and I searched Etsy for the perfect set. Only then did I realize that instead of paying $5, I could just buy a paper punch from Amazon for, like, $8.00, and make them match the materials I used for the handouts and the banner. Such a cute, cheap, and simple way to dress up each of the tables- and every single person commented on how cute they were and how they couldn't believe I had made them myself.

The inspiration:

The Creative Coach Monica:


Seeing as we were already going to be served dessert as part of the restaurant's menu, I first thought about making one of my famous cakes. But knowing how much I would have to do already, how much time and effort it would take to make the cake, and what a nightmare cutting it would be, I decided to go with something far more simple and way better. I have no idea why I didn't think of it in the first place.


I have this dear friend who happens to spend most of her time at the same rink I do, and since her job calmed down with the corona situation, she's had more time to indulge in her amazing talent: cookies! Seriously, check out her Instagram (@_totallyiced_) to see some of her creations. They're absolutely mind-blowing, and I can't tell you enough how excited I am that she's so talented, so close, and a part of my very own ice community!


These were actually an afterthought, inspired by an email from the restaurant's event coordinator.

I was terrified about the thought of having to venture into floral design. It just hasn't been my favorite thing I've ever seen when I've done it before. So this time, I did my homework. You might have noticed my previous post about my 5-Minute Crash Course for Easy DIY Floral Arrangements. I used the information straight from that post to create three sweet little floral arrangements- and using three cheap types of flowers from the local grocery store, I was able to get it all done for $20 and some change. Talk about creativity saving me money!

The inspiration:

The Creative Coach Monica:


I don't know about other offices or how this one has been throughout the decades, but when we all get together, it seems like there is suddenly nothing to talk about. Plus, there are so many amazing activities you can tie in to a retirement party. I couldn't resist.

I'm a weirdo who actually prefers to do the majority of their graphic design in Microsoft Word. Don't ask me why, just be impressed.

What's that Word?

Because my boss is notorious for his horrible handwriting, I figured I'd give everyone else the chance to try out my job for a minute, by compiling his most illegible scribbling and making them guess what he was writing. If you're loving the template for some reason, let me know and I'll send it to you.


Jim requested there be an agenda- but it's actually a nice thought. It's good to have an agenda, especially at a longer event, to let people know how much longer they're going to have to sit through things.

Postcards to Jim

These ones turned out super cute specifically because I picked stamps from places that are dear to Jim such as his college town, his hometown, and his childhood home. I used my favorite prompts from other retirement "wishes" handouts that I've seen, compiled my favorites, and got them onto this cute template I created. If you're in love with it, just comment below or email me and I'll send you the template!

"Where in The World Is..." Bingo

To go along with the travel theme, I put together a list of every country and then every state that my boss had visited most recently. With about 20 guests, it was imperative that I find an online generator that could provide me with more than 8 unique bingo cards. Otherwise it was going to be a pretty short game. Luckily, I found My Free Bingo Cards, which will make up to 30 free variations of a bingo card for you, so no two people have the same card. Cutest idea for any party ever.


There were, as always, countless details that went into making this event one to remember. To write about each and every one would take me forever- so if you're interested in every little step it took to make some specific thing, comment below or shoot me an email. Otherwise, enjoy the cuteness below.

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