Work parties do not have to be dull and boring affairs. While they may get that rap, for the most part, people can and do have fun with the people that they work with - usually anyway. But if you have a retirement or a promotion to celebrate there are tons of ways to make it a memorable affair, not something to dread and feel like you're only there because you have to be.
If you are the one tasked with putting the work party together think of it as you would any other party and you'll start on the right track. If you have a theme in mind that's also a great way to start as you have lots of options. Take a casino theme for example. You can choose for guests to do a buy in for chips and then donate the money to a charity. This works well if it's a retirement party and you can let the retiree choose the charity. On the other hand you can have the guests pay for chips and at the end cash them in just like a real casino. And never fear, a casino party is easy once you hire the games. Choose the ones you like best or do a full set of games, the choice if yours. Some companies will even let you 'rent' dealers and other 'casino' types to keep the fun running smoothly.
Of course it does not have to be a casino theme to be fun. There are tea parties, outside barbeques, games days, and parties that are based around drinking wine and painting a unique masterpiece.
Another interesting idea for a work party is to have it open to families and a picnic or barbeque format with face painters, clowns, science shows or a magician to occupy the kids while the adults play volleyball or have a game of soccer or horseshoes nearby. There are plenty of food trucks to rent for the day, and add a bouncy house or two and you've got a party that they'll be talking about for a long time to come.
In short, work parties do not have to happen in your boardroom with stuffy speches and stale cake. They can be as fun as hanging out with your family or friends, and really, is not that what work people are? Extended family and for the most part, friends? So quit the regular and go for the fun!