15 Creative Going Away Party Ideas to Help You Plan

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A going-away party is a chance to celebrate a new chapter in someone’s life. While saying goodbye is never easy, this is also an exciting time to embrace adventure and change.

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If you want to wish someone well before they hit the road, you’ll want to make this moment count. Because they’re likely busy planning their big life change, take over the arrangements for this event yourself. Consider it a going-away gift! 

While you could have a few friends and family get together to celebrate, throwing a memorable event makes this time even more special. Whether they’re heading to college or retiring from the office, these 15 creative going-away party ideas help you plan the best celebration. It’s time to say ‘bon voyage’ in style!

Ideas for a Someone Going Away to College

Going away to college is a huge transition. This is commonly seen as the biggest transition from childhood into the “real world” of adulthood. For friends and family, this type of celebration is typically bittersweet. These ideas set the student up for success while strengthening bonds at home. 

1. College themed

To get into school spirit, make the college-of-choice the theme. This is especially easy if the grad is heading to a big state school or a university with a strong athletics program.

It’s easy to find a lot of decorations relating to the school’s colors and mascot, so get into the spirit of cheering on the new team. 

2. Childhood highlights reel

Because going away to college marks the end of one’s childhood, use this time to share some of your favorite moments from years past. Create a slideshow of photos, have guests tell stories, and enjoy some of the sweeter things from childhood. It’s important to live it up while you can! 

3. Packing party

A lot of college students have to pack quite a bit. They’re officially moving out for the first time, and this is a big adjustment.

Having guests bring something the grad can use at college, and joining together to pack everything up is a big help for the family. 

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Ideas for Someone Moving Far Away

If your loved one is jetting off somewhere far away, show them you care with a special going-away party just for them. Moving, whether it’s for family, work, or just a change of scenery, is always difficult. These party ideas prove that distance really does make the heart grow fonder. 

4. Designation-themed party

Bring the destination to the party with a fun theme. If the guest of honor is moving to another big city or another part of the world, evoke all types of things inspired by that spot. This is a fun way to build excitement for the big move. 

5. Make a guest book or album

Because moving is hard, make sure to include a guest book or DIY photo album. Encourage all the guests to sign the book or bring a photo.

This is a powerful keepsake not only for saving memories of the event but for the person leaving town. They’ll look back on this gift with love and fondness for years to come. 

6. Host a fundraiser

Let’s face it—moving is expensive. If your loved one is moving across the country, going backpacking, or volunteering overseas, they might be in need of some extra funds for their trip.

Creating a fundraiser with your friends and families helps everyone chip in towards the cause. 

Ideas for Someone Going to the Military

Relocation is common in the military. Sometimes individuals or families are only given short notice before they have to pack up and move. Throwing a party in their honor shows them that their impact and service won’t be forgotten within their community. 

7. Classic barbeque

There are few things more American than a classic barbeque cookout. Celebrate national pride before a military relocation with an outdoor barbeque.

Invite friends, family, and the neighborhood. Decorate with flags and other patriotic symbols. It’s like a mini Fourth of July celebration!

8. Potluck feast 

If your loved one is going away for Basic Training, one of the biggest adjustments is the food. Things like pizza, burgers, and other fun foods aren’t available during training.

In addition, there isn’t much variety, and the food is notoriously bland. Let your loved one live it up one last time with a delicious potluck! Have all the guests bring their favorite dish and let everyone dig in. Yum! 

9. Care package

When one’s in the military, it’s easy to miss the smaller things in life. The small luxuries like razors, candies, coffee, and nice socks are hard to come by.

Having everyone together to put together care packages is a thoughtful way to bond and connect. Hold onto the packages and send them to your loved one every month, giving them a small taste of home.

Ideas for a Boss or Colleague Leaving a Job

Saying goodbye to a job isn’t always easy, especially if someone is retiring from their career for good. Making this send-off special is a great way to mark someone’s legacy. 

10. Retirement party

If your boss or colleague is retiring, celebrate their career achievements with a big party. Invite the company or their department, put together some retirement bucket list ideas, and share in the fun.

This is a huge milestone. Having the whole company together to honor an individual’s legacy is an amazing end to a long career. 

11. Award ceremony

The hit TV show The Office infamously hosted the annual “Dundie Awards” for workers, so why not have a ceremony of your own?

Gift small “awards” to teammates and the guest of honor, keeping the tone light and humorous. Have coworkers make awards for each other, opening up the floor for complements and fun. 

12. Surprise party

Throwing a surprise going-away party at work isn’t just a surprise for the person who’s leaving. It’s also a pleasant surprise for the whole team!

Who doesn’t love taking a break during the workday? Pretend everyone’s going to a meeting or lunch and then have it be a surprise party! 

Last-Minute Going Away Party Ideas

Sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to prepare before someone goes away. A last-minute family emergency, job, or life change could leave someone scrambling to get their things in order.

These last-minute going-away party ideas are perfect for every time crunch. 

13. Virtual party

If you don’t get to say goodbye in person, that doesn’t mean you can’t still throw a great party. Hosting a virtual party lets everyone catch up together wherever they are.

Schedule time with friends and family, send invites just like an in-person party, and start the chat. You can even play virtual games, share photos, and play music! 

14. How well do you know them?

This type of party doesn’t take much planning. Invite close friends and family, get some takeout, and host a mini “how well do you know them?” game.

Ask questions about the guest of honor’s favorite food, last vacation, and hobbies. The person who gets the most right is the winner! This is a fun, simple way to come together. 

15. Karaoke party

Last but not least, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to put together a fun karaoke party. All you need is a list of goodbye songs, a speaker, and maybe some wine or beer to get the fun started.

No decorations necessary, just a bunch of people singing together and enjoying each other's company. It’s these small moments that stick with us most when we’re apart. 

Enjoy Your Time Spent Together

These ideas above prove it’s really the thought that counts. You don’t have to plan anything extravagant or over-the-top to have a great going-away party. It’s all about spending time with the ones you care about and making sure they feel valued. Whether it’s a senior citizen retiring from the office or your friend moving across the country, take some time to celebrate this new chapter of their life. 

Since you don’t always have a lot of time to plan the perfect going-away party, less really is more. When they’re no longer near, you’ll cherish the memories of this party. Your smiles and laughter will be remembered most of all, not the decorations and food. While those details might be important, they’re not everything. Don’t be afraid to keep things simple! If you’re together, you’re going to have a great time. 

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