Here’s the ultimate list of going away party ideas.
Because, sadly, it’s inevitable… people go away.
The move away, change jobs, get deployed, go to college, buy a new house, want to be closer to grandbabies, or need to take care of an elderly family member.
When people you care about move away, you can do one of two things:
- Cry into your beverage, or
- Throw them a going away party to let them know how much they’ll be missed.
We’re not trying to tell you what to do. But we definitely recommend option #2. You can always do #1 later.
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So before you ruin a perfectly good beverage, let’s dive into the best farewell party ideas.
- Party Themes
- Games & Activities
- Ideas for Coworkers
- More Going Away Party Ideas:
- How to Plan a Going Away Party
- Farewell Quotes
- Gift Etiquette
- Gift Ideas
Going Away Party Themes
1. Murder Mystery Diner
Because nothing says I Love You and I’ll Miss You like staging a murder, right?! Add a little cheesy suspense into the atmosphere and be sure to take lots of selfies to remember all the fun by.
- 80’s Mall Murder Madness from Broadway Mysteries
- Murder at Mardi Gras from University Games
- The Marked Man from Bloodhound Mysteries
- Happily Never After Fairytale Murder Mystery from Bespoke Murder Mystery
- 1920’s Speakeasy Murder Mystery Party Game from Murders Incorporated
2. Picnic Party
Whether it’s warm outside or chilly, a picnic is always a good idea. It can be in your own backyard, at a park, or at a winery (most don’t mind if you bring in your own food, but call first to check).
Picnics can be as fancy or as simple as you like. The good flatware and a bottle of champagne isn’t amiss, but easy sandwiches and cold beer is good too! Make sure to bring everything from cheery tablecloths to candles or lanterns, drinks and desserts to chairs and napkins.
Picnics are great for small, personal groups up to mid-sized gatherings.
3. Luau Party
Everyone loves a good luau, right? How can you not, with the delicious food and party atmosphere?! Luaus are fabulous for a big crowd, so if the person who is going away is the social type, this is just the ticket.
The best luaus have roast pig plus tons of other foods, a beachside feel, and plenty of music. If a beach just isn’t in your ‘hood, lakes and rivers work in a pinch, or simply utilize a pool.
Have lots of towels and sunscreen, and don’t forget to serve drinks (both alcohol and non-alcoholic) in large, plastic glasses with umbrellas.
4. Casino Night
Casino nights are a fun way to socialize and still have something to do with your hands! (Introverts unite.)
Simply provide a few different tables and plenty of new packs of cards. You can place bets with real money, or use Peanut M&Ms, Skittles, or Hershey’s Kisses.
Of course, casinos are known for their yummy cocktails and snacks, so be sure to provide those as well, or go all out with a ritzy buffet. You can hire real, certified dealers, or learn the ins and outs of basic games yourself.
While Poker is always a favorite, some people like the simpler and faster games, like Black Jack.
You can almost always find casino type décor at the dollar stores, or print up your own. And don’t forget some fun casino style music for the background: Elvis or Sinatra are always good options.
5. Don’t Be Blue
Nothing blue allowed! Nobody can wear blue or bring a blue gift. To keep a color theme, we recommend everyone only wear bright, happy yellow. Sure, it’s silly, but how fun will the selfies be when everyone matches?
Colorful cake and snacks, bright yellow lemonade with crazy straws, and upbeat music will keep the guests happily telling stories and getting to know one another, instead of being sad to see their friend go.
6. Backyard Campfire
If your backyard is spacious and has a firepit, you simply cannot go wrong with a backyard campfire.
Provide plenty of seating and blankets, some music (or have the musical among you bring their guitars and singing voices), some warm beverages like hot spiced cider, cocoa, or hot buttered rum, and of course plenty of things to roast over the flames.
- Classic S’mores: graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars
- Classy S’mores: brie cheese, dark chocolate, and crackers
- Angel food cake with whipped cream and fruit (just grill the cake wedges…. not the whipped cream. Obviously.)
- Hot dogs or German sausages
- Kebabs with veggies and meat (already cooked meats like sausages are best as it’s difficult to tell in the dark when everything is fully cooked!)
- Mini grilled cheese sammies
- Fruit, like peaches and pineapple are delicious grilled!
- Muffins or chunks of bread (don’t forget the butter)
7. Slumber Party
Be silly and have one last, big slumber party between the gals! Have fun watching The Notebook, drinking wine, painting your nails, and talking about the boys.
Or if those things don’t float you and your gal’s boats, watch sports, drink whiskey, cook a meal together, and THEN talk about the boys.
Make sure there’s plenty of floor space for air mattresses, tons of pillows, and extra blankets.
8. Holiday Party
Perfect theme idea if they’re leaving near a big holiday like Christmas, Halloween, July 4th... you get the idea!
Decorating is easy-peasy when you have a dollar store or party store, and don’t forget the cake. Passing out souvenirs to remember the night by is fun too: simple Christmas tree ornaments, Halloween candy, or bunny ears at Easter are fun to take home.
Related: Halloween Party Guide
9. Wild West
Channel your inner child by throwing a wild west party. Get as cheesy as you like with bolo ties, oversized cowboy hats, spurs, and stick on mustaches. Provide prizes for game winners, a country music playlist, maybe even see about renting a mechanical bull!
Of course the food is key with this one: consider baked beans, BBQ chicken or ribs, corn on the cob, cornbread, cowboy caviar salad, and lots of cold lemonade. All set out on a large table with hay bales for seats.
10. Packing Party
For a large move, help your friends pack up their stuff in record time with a packing party! Not only will everyone get to hang out one last time, but it’ll be a big help to the person moving.
Many hands make light work, after all! This is one gift that is quite literally priceless.
Keep it easy on you and on them by ordering plenty of pizzas halfway through the day (no plates or forks needed cuz you packed them already).
11. Cocktail Party
For a classy farewell, have a cocktail party! Make sure your guests know to dress swanky, maybe with a black and white theme, or just their Sunday best. Smooth music in the background, plus plenty of cocktails on the menu, will add atmosphere, as will finger foods on trays set around the house.
You can hire a bartender or learn a few drinks yourself. Make sure the liquor cabinet is stocked and the bar cart is clean and ready to go!
12. Toga Party
White and gold as far as the eye can see! Along with the invites, you can point your guests in the right direction to make their own togas out of white bedsheets (or provide the sheets yourself at the party and have a station set up for them to make their own).
Toga parties are traditionally for the college age crowd (hint: excessive drinking), but they can be fun for any age.
13. Wine & Cheese
Charcuterie boards are all the rage and for good reason: they’re delicious and look gorgeous! Provide lots of trays filled with different cheeses, cured meats, fresh berries and apples, pickled snacks, and of course, crackers.
Then, naturally, comes the wine! Local varieties are great if you can, but as long as there are plenty of reds and whites, everyone will be happy.
It might be a nice touch to let the guests go home with their wine glass as a souvenir. After all, it’s not like the guest of honor will want to pack them.
14. Roaring 20s Party
I mean, hey, we’re in the 20s now anyway… okay, not the Gadsby-era 1920s, but still. Go back 100 years and have your guests dress up flapper style for the ladies and dapper as ever for the men. This means gloves and hats and pearls and sophistication!
Jazz music, art deco, prohibition, and speakeasies were all the rage in the 1920s, so try to include these as well. And don’t forget the crime! Bonnie and Clyde, crime bosses, and police are fun alternative costumes.
Having a password to get into the party is a fun way to incorporate some history, as they used to require them at illegal speakeasies.
15. Garden Party
Talk about posh! A garden party in the summer is a perfect way to send off your friend in style. Encourage dressing up for the guests, swirly dresses and large sun hats for the ladies, maybe linen pants and button downs for the men. Whether it’s your own garden, or you rent one, you can’t beat Mother Nature’s décor!
Cold, crisp white wine is the perfect choice for a garden party, or champagne, or maybe a lovely lavender cocktail option. And don’t forget the finger foods (nothing too messy).
If you want to go the British style route for your garden party, consider lots of pots of tea (and possibly an iced version), tiny cucumber sandwiches, and sweet little desserts like petit fours.
16. Back Yard Movie Night
A projector and a white sheet are the basis for this fun night! Projectors can be borrowed from a friend, or rented out for a night inexpensively (although you might have so much fun you’ll want to just buy one so you can host this again).
Plenty of popcorn and nachos are a must, as is a fully stocked soda area, and lots of candy bars.
Have plenty of chairs and blankets and pillows and bug spray on hand. As far as the movie, well, it should really be the guest of honor’s pick, right?! But if they can’t decide, everyone loves The Princess Bride, Raider’s of the Lost Ark, E.T., or a classic Hitchcock film.
17. Bucket List Party
Spend the day or night completing everything on their (abbreviated) bucket list! Never had a chance to go to that fancy restaurant? Go do it! How about that retro arcade or axe-throwing venue they’ve been eyeing? Done.
Don’t forget to take plenty of photos!
18. Destination Theme
This theme is perfect for those moving far away! Celebrate their farewell with the popular food and decorations based on where they are moving to. Whether it’s Texas (the wild, wild west), or a tropical location, you can provide the right foods and decorations, drinks and prizes.
Just be sure to promise to come visit the “real” place as soon as you can when the party is over.
19. Ugly Sweater Party
They’re always fun in the Christmas season, but really you can throw an ugly sweater party at any time of year! And it doesn’t have to be sweaters: it could be an Ugly Swimsuit Party, an Ugly Shoe Party, an Ugly Tee Shirt Party, or even an Ugly Hat Party.
Naturally, there needs to be plenty of goofy prizes for winners of all the games you’re going to play (or simply for the best, um, we mean, worst dressed).
20. Heroes vs Villains
This is fun and easy – everyone dresses up as their favorite superhero or villain! All games and themes can revolve around heroes and villains activities such as rope pull, eating contests, and even volleyball games.
You can make it specific to fairy tales, Disney, Marvel, Greek mythology, Lord of the Rings fantasy type, or just let guests be as creative as possible.
Related: The Cosplay Gift Guide
Going Away Party Games & Activities
Now that you have some ideas for the party theme, let’s talk about stuff you and all the partygoers can actually do. We’re talking about going away party games and farewell activities. Here are the best.
21. Large Group Game
Board games are so fun at parties, and they make great ice breakers too! This Off Topic game is the perfect addition to your party table.
22. Roast and Toast
AKA: a roast party. Make sure you keep a tissue box near by for the tears from laughter. Make sure guests know to A. keep it clean, or B. be as salty as they like.
The guests provide the roasts, but you supply the toasts with plenty of beverages on hand. Cheers!
23. Paint and Sip
Drink and paint then compare your paintings together to see who paints the best (and worst) sunsets, trees, dogs… you get the idea! You can hire a professional to teach you all to paint the same landscape, or you can just all be creative and spontaneous.
It might be nice to have one canvas set aside for every guest to add a little something to, and then have your guest of honor take it home with them.
24. Camping Trip
Take one last camping trip together as group. Don’t forget to take plenty of photos and burn plenty of marshmallows.
Make sure to collect RSVPs, book a few spots at your favorite location, and pack some games. Rafting together, fishing, or just lounging in the sun catching up, are the best perks of camping.
A pot luck style dinner and breakfast is an easy, no hassle, way to eat together. Don’t forget the salt and pepper, hot pads, and boxed wine!
25. Photo Booth
DIY with your own frame with custom frames and selfie props or rent a machine through Selfie Booth. Either way, this is a great way to create memorable moments.
26. Admit or Drink
For close friends who love some adult beverages, this game is perfect! Much laughter (and possibly a headache or two) will come out of playing this one. You’ll have inside jokes for days, months, years, when you play this together.
27. Memory Jar
Have a place for a jar and note cards where people can write their favorite memories of the person leaving. They will be swept away with tears and laughter when reading them later!
28. Guess Who
Everyone writes down a personal memory they share with the person leaving. That person then has to read the memory aloud and try to guess who wrote it. It’s kind of a board game that is entirely based around your guest of honor.
29. Karaoke Night
Head out to different karaoke bars and sing your heart out! Or if staying in sounds more fun, rent a karaoke machine for your house. Be sure to film as much as possible, and take lots of pictures!
Prizes for best song, worst singing voice, and most magical dance moves please.
30. Bye, Felicia! Card Game
Whether you have this one amidst a bunch of other board game options, or just this particular one, Bye Felicia will be a hit! Make memories by laughing your tushes off.
You can always cry over your friend leaving later.
Going Away Party Ideas for Coworkers
Let’s get creative at the office! You can always just do boring old balloons and a cake in the break room. But if you want to level up your game, these ideas really take the cake.
31. Day of Golf
Have their last day be relaxing with a round of gold on the company. Check the weather forecast first, of course, and if possible, join up with some champagne to toast your friend at the end.
32. Game Night
Set up different games around the office for people to play such as connect four, human checkers, & questionnaire games! You can rotate every half hour or so, or just let the guests find their sweet spot.
33. Food Trucks
Pick a location where at least a few different ones are parked. Have fun ordering from them all and have a picnic style goodbye party!
34. Escape Room
See how smart your friends and coworkers really are by trying to escape together unscathed! Even if you fail, it’s sure to be a blast.
35. Old Fashion Potluck Lunch
Whether it’s held at the office or at your house, just have your coworkers bring their favorite dish. Provide lots of napkins and be prepared to share recipes!
36. In Office Casino Night
Pretty self explanatory! Top off the extravagant night by letting the coworker leaving decide what organization to donate the money gathered from the night.
37. Scavenger Hunt
This one is a bit adventurous! You can spread items through the office, outdoors, or around the city… just make sure they can come back in time to clock out!
38. One Last Happy Hour
At the ol’ watering hole… make sure to toast your friend and don’t let them try to pay for themselves!
39. Come & Go Breakfast
Easy and thoughtful. Set up a common area with food and snacks so people can come in, grab food, then say their goodbyes to the person leaving. Food that doesn’t need to stay hot or cold are going to be best: muffins, danishes, donuts, fruits, and bagels are always good choices.
40. Memory Balloons
Fill their office with balloons! Each balloon has a memory of the person written by someone else in the office. Fun and a keepsake!
More Farewell Party Ideas
Here are some more party ideas, tailored specifically for close friends, military service members on deployment, off-to-college students, and “virtual” party activities and themes.
5 Going Away Party Ideas for Friends
Restaurant Reservation. Get dressed up and enjoy your last evening together at a relaxing restaurant in your own private room.
Ballgame. Take them out on an unforgettable night with friends to see their favorite sports team play.
Classic BBQ Party. Nothing more classic than BBQ and friends! Make sure to have plenty of meat and drinks on hand, and chairs to surround the fire pit so the party can go late into the night.
One Big Gift. Have everyone chip in to get your leaving friend one large gift.
Spa Day. Fill the day with nothing but relaxation. Spas, pampering, mimosas… yes please!
5 Going Away Party Ideas for Military
Red, White, and Blue. Have everything and everyone dressed up in red, white, and blue!
Signed Blanket. Everyone sign a blanket with an inspirational message.
Military Themed Food. Think, Chocolate Bombs (chocolate balls), Rescue Rope (Twizzlers), Camo colored cookies, Sticks of Dynamite (pretzel sticks), Fruit Grenades (fruit bowl), and Patriotic Punch (red fruit punch). Yes, it’s corny, but with fun labels everyone will get a kick out of it!
Instant Photo Album. Create an instant photo album that they can bring with them using this Fujifilm Instax Mini Camera and photo album.
Paint the Town Red. Help them enjoy their last night in town by doing everything they love one more time. Such as amusement parks, bars, clubs, restaurants, bakeries, movie theaters, bowling, or ice skating!
Related: Letter Ideas to Send to Your Military Boyfriend
5 College Going Away Party Ideas
College/University Theme. Decorate everything in the colors and theme of the college they are attending.
Childhood Highlights. Hang childhood photos/memorabilia all around so everyone can see just how much they’ve grown/accomplished. Each wall can host a different age range.
Sign the Globe. Have everyone sign their name and leave an inspiration message on a world globe.
School Themed Buffet. Such as Honor Rolls (sandwich wraps), Book Worms (gummy worms), Pop Quizzes (popcorn bar), One Smart Cookie (cookie plates), Diplomas (taquitos), Roommates (chips & salsa).
Donation Station. Have a corner set up for people to donate life necessities for college students! They’ll appreciate getting toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, dish soap, towels, bed sheets, notebooks, pens, folders, staples, and gift cards.
5 Virtual Farewell Party Ideas
Game It Up. Play online games such as Virtual Escape Rooms or Coworker Feud.
Memories. Have everyone give their favorite memory of the person leaving. Since they’ll probably be streaming from home, they can dig around for photos and keepsakes that related – like a grown-up version of Show & Tell!
Slide Show. Show a montage of photos and videos of shared memories with your leaving friend, all set to their favorite tunes.
Virtual Potluck. Share a virtual lunch or dinner date together. Have everyone make a special recipe from meals they’ve cooked together, or take out from favorite restaurants where many great memories were made.
Watch Party. Host an online movie night marathon. Everyone can get wine and tissues for a night of romance, or choose a super-cheesy film and comment over it à la Mystery Science Theater 3000.
How to Plan a Going Away Party
Decide Your Budget. You don’t have to spend a lot, but you can if you want to! Most people aim for a balance between spending where it counts (good food!), DIY where you can (come up with your own party games, or decorations), and hit the dollar store for the rest.
Pick a Date/Time. Really, the only important opinion is yours (the party planner) and theirs (the guest of honor). But you’ll want to coordinate to figure out what works best for most guests. Typical times are Friday nights, Saturday afternoons or evenings, and Sunday afternoons.
Make a Guest List. Remember you want THEIR friends and families, not just yours. Reach out to others to see who else should be invited.
Create a Theme. If you’ve made it this far and haven’t picked out your theme, then let’s trying it again: Here are the best going away party themes!
Pick a Venue. Your house is ideal – they are probably in the throes of packing. For a small, intimate gathering, you can often simply reserve a few tables or a back room at a restaurant. For larger gatherings, rent a venue. This could be a vineyard, brewery, event center, community center, hotel, park, historic building, farm, or a friend’s house. The office (for coworkers) and your church (for fellow church members) may also be options.
Send Invites. A must! Be firm about RSVPs unless you love twice as many people showing up as you expect. Here are some lovely going away party invitations.
Plan the Menu. Food really can make or break the party. Whether you choose upscale catering or have everyone bring a dish a potluck it, you will want to make sure to provide a solid entrée: pizza, burgers or steak on the grill, etc., plus plenty of drinks and lots of finger foods. One easy (and more affordable) way is to take care of the burgers and drinks yourself, then ask everyone to bring a side or dessert.
Plan Entertainment & Games. Again, see above.
Make a Party Supply List. Here’s something to get you started:
- Decorations (balloons, streamers, a sign or banner, etc)
- Plates, cups, napkins, cutlery
- Cake or other dessert
- Party game supplies
Signature Keepsake. Pick a keepsake item for people to sign. This could be a guest book or personalized sign, a book, a card, a poster, or anything.
Select Music. Curate a playlist with special and meaningful songs, or keep it simple and just hit a “party” or “backyard chill” playlist on your favorite music streaming service.
Write a Toast. Everyone needs to raise a glass to the guest of honor. Write out a few thoughts beforehand, and make sure everyone has a beverage (and that you have enough to last through the party and into toasting time!).
Here are some quotes and toasts for inspiration as you think of what to say in your toast.
- Good day, good health, good cheer, good night!
- May the best of happiness, honor, and fortune be with you always.
- The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift because it’s the present.
- May your joys be as deep as the ocean, and your misfortunes as light as its foam.
- Here’s to the nights we’ll never remember with our friends, who we’ll never forget.
- Here’s to friends and family who know us well, but love us just the same.
Best Farewell Quotes
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. – Seneca
This is the beginning of anything you want.
Bye Felicia! – Friday (film)
How Lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. – Winnie-the-Pooh
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart. – Mahatma Gandhi
May your joys be as deep as the ocean, and your misfortunes as light as its foam.
For every goodbye, God also provides a hello. – Donna Gable Hatch
Goodbyes are not forever, are not the end; it simply means I’ll miss you until we meet again.
There are far better things ahead than we ever leave behind. – C.S. Lewis
More: 100 Best Saying Goodbye Quotes
Should You Bring a Gift to a Going Away Party?
Even if it’s as simple as a bottle of wine or a handwritten card, showing up empty-handed is in bad taste.
So definitely bring a gift. It can be a little something: flowers, a dessert, a bottle of wine, any little thing that shows you care and will miss them.
5 Thoughtful Moving Away Gifts
Or your gift can be something really cool, unique, and thoughtful. Here are some of our favorite farewell gift ideas.
1. Custom Engraved House Portrait
Whether it’s the house they’re leaving or the one they’re moving to, this beautiful alder wood plaque will amaze them!
More like this: 21 Best Housewarming Gifts
2. I Miss You Already
It won’t take up much room in their moving box and when they unpack it and light this pretty candle, they’ll think of you in their new home.
3. Personalized Travel Journal
This personalized journal is a farewell gift with that extra-special touch. The custom laser etching on the leatherette cover means that you’ve taken the time to truly appreciate your friend.
It will be the perfect way for them to record their thoughts and experiences as their new adventure unfolds!
4. DIY Care Package
Moving takes a lot of time and money! Give them a hand by filling up a box with helpful moving items such as paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, fast food gift cards, or cleaners.
5. Personalized Doormat
Guests will feel welcome even before they enter the home, with a personalized doormat!
Read Next: 50+ Unforgettable Moving Away Gift Ideas