Career Advice

8 Things to Be Mindful of at Office Farewells

min read
Vera Chan

At office farewells, it can be a time to let loose and relax. For the employee leaving, they have the chance to enjoy their time with their co-workers. Before hunting for your next role, this is a great time to wax nostalgia with colleagues. Reminisce on the good times and exchange farewells before departing. You never know when your paths may next cross.

As an attendee, there is also some office etiquette to take into account. This can also apply to office parties in general, such as Christmas and New Years. Take note.


When you are invited to a farewell party or gathering, it is polite to respond within 48 hours. Even if you can't make it, make sure to respond. The polite thing to do would be to attend, unless you have a legitimate reason. You don't have to divulge, but it is good manners to let the organiser or employee that is leaving know. Unless it is a surprise because it can be a waste of money.

2. Show Up

Being fashionably late is not something you can do at an office party. Yes, there could be pressing deadlines or fire-fighting scenarios to fix problems. But otherwise, turn-up on time. You should also try to stick it out without looking bored and leave when everyone else leaves. Stay out of courtesy and try to mingle and be present.

3. Food

Food can be tricky. There are lots of people with food allergies and this can be hard to cater for. Even if the employee leaving doesn't have any, the organiser will need to think of the attendees. To avoid running into any issues and having a hard time, a farewell party does not have to revolve around food. Or take the safer route and go vegan or vegetarian. A mix of options is also balanced. Alternatively, take a poll on Slack or on internal company communication platforms.

4. Arriving & Leaving

When you arrive, scan the room. Say hi to the person on either side of you, but make sure to make the rounds. Mix with everybody and don't just sit in a corner or be a wallflower. Shake hands or hug where appropriate depending on the relationships you've built. Whatever you do, do not do a French exit.

5. Be Positive

Choose lighthearted topics to converse over and drink responsibly. Avoid a loose tongue if you know you have a tendency to slip or err on the side of negativity. This should be a happy event, even if the employee leaving is a star employee and will be sorely missed. Don't speak badly about others at this time or gossip. 

6. Speakers

If the farewell involves speakers, the organiser should choose an uplifting employee. A positive speech and words of encouragement will be well remembered. As the employee who is leaving, show gratitude. Supporting co-workers can do the same by raising their glass.

7. Gifts

Should you give a gift? You can be thoughtful with a practical gift. Or if you are close to the departing employee, you can give them something more personal. If they like stationery, you can gift them with a handy notebook. Safe options are those that also don't necessarily involve food. To elaborate on point 3, movie tickets or shopping coupons could be a safer bet.

8. Show Up the Next Day

Don't embarrass yourself and show up to work the next day. Calling in a sick day will easily be read through by everyone if it's the day after an office party. To avoid people from drinking too much and being hungover, hold the gathering on a weekday. This will also save costs and keep employees on their toes.  

At the end of the day, it pays to be respectful and professional. So long as you leave something for everybody to smile about and don't hog the food or drinks, the farewell will be a hit.

Are you in between jobs and not moving onto the next role straight away? Discover 6 Productive Things to Do on Your Day Off.

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