In your invitations, let all of your guests know that you will be paying tribute to your guest of honor before he/she moves. Send out a card with the invitation that says “I will miss “John” when he moves because…”. Ask each guest to complete the card, and share why they have appreciated having “John” close by and why they will miss him after he has moved away. Ask them to think of funny and heartwarming stories to share at your party. Request that they bring the completed card on the special day. At a specified time, possibly before you eat, have each person read the message they have prepared. Videotape each guest as they deliver the message to your guest of honor, and then present him/her with the videotape as a memento of the party. He/she will be moved by the gesture, and you will have created a priceless treasure. As an alternative to videotaping the messages, you can collect the cards after they are read and compile them into a scrapbook. You could add a photo of each person/family to their message, and the photo album would serve as a lovely goodbye gift.
Plan a “This is your life” or “Spotlight” segment during the party. Gather old family videos, photo albums, school pictures, artwork, trophies, etc., and take the time to “chronicle” the life of your guest of honor. Use gossamer to decorate a special chair for him/her to sit in.
A nice touch for the evening would be to set up a photo backdrop area – either a balloon arch, or a metallic curtain – so that the guest of honor can have his picture taken with either individuals or groupings of his choice. If you don’t like the idea of having guests come with a prepared message, you could also use this area to set up a video camera, and ask guests to stop by at some point during the evening, and record a more spontaneous message. Have each guest start by saying “I WILL MISS YOU BECAUSE…”. Throughout the evening you will create a touching tribute, filled with warm memories, funny stories, and the smiling faces of those who came to say goodbye.
An open house format would be a terrific choice for this type of party. The food need not be complicated or costly. One clever visitor to our site hosted a “Deserting Us” going away party…and served a buffet of “desserts”!
Tell us your Going Away Party ideas!