What is a Good Retirement Gift?

Table Of Contents

    So you just got the word that Jane in business development has retired and the company has scheduled a party to see her off into retirement. Or your buddy Jeff in quality control is calling it quits at the end of the month after a couple of decades at the firm and some of the guys and ladies want to get together and do something special to celebrate his retirement.

    Aside from the party, a co-worker, friend, or family member’s retirement is a special time when you might wish to mark the event with a gift of some sort. One day it will be you who is celebrated and you will probably appreciate the same.

    To provide a little help, we are going to cover proper etiquette, some general expectations, guidelines for what might be considered appropriate, how much you should spend, how you can go about figuring out what the retiree might like, and gift ideas broke out by some common categories.


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    No doubt retirement is a big event for any person. To honor their moving on to the next stage, it’s natural for companies to hold parties commending such a milestone for one of their own, or a group of friends and co-workers getting together to see off someone they care about. Both are pretty typical occurrences.

    Thankfully so, as the person being honored has paid their dues, put in the time, meaningfully contributed, and hopefully made the company (and their workspace and co-workers) all the better due to their efforts and very presence over the years of their employment.

    So, it makes sense to want to mark the occasion. Frankly, though, many of us don’t actually know what the protocol or good form is regarding how to celebrate the retirement of a co-worker, friend or even family member.

    Proper Etiquette

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    Before we get ahead of ourselves, it probably makes sense to determine who might want to think about providing a gift.

    In some instances, a group within an office or division might decide to take up a collection to provide a group gift or a gift card for the retiree. Contributing a small amount by each person adds up and can make for a meaning full gift.

    Even if you don’t know the person at all this can be a nice gesture. And some might consider it creating good karma to do so – you too will be retiring someday and might appreciate the same kind act on the part of another doing so for you.

    If you do know the person, especially if you see them regularly and consider them a decent colleague, or even a friend, while there is no rule, it is certainly proper etiquette to provide a personal card and a gift. What to say and what to gift are entirely different matters, but at least you know it’s good form to do something.

    For a company, providing a card and gift is a no-brainer – it’s expected. For smaller companies, it should probably be very personalized. A founder, president, or someone of high rank should consider making a presentation.

    Or they might have a person designated that handles issues of this sort, but it should be made clear that the top dog or upper management recognizes the retiree’s contributions and/or achievements and wish that person all the best in future endeavors.

    In a larger corporation, it’s unlikely something will come from the top, but there should be recognition of some sort (gift and card, party, etc.) from the division level or at least the office/building level management.

    Beyond the Gold Watch

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    We all see the shows and movies where the retiree gets called into the breakroom or an office and everyone piles in (at least from their floor or the group they work in) and there’s some cake and a gold watch or a plaque that is presented. And some kind words from a boss (maybe even someone from upper management if a larger corporation), as well as short words of thanks and good luck from colleagues.

    Let’s face it…the gold watch is something few get anymore…

    Then there are the gag gifts – those surrounding old age (once saw a person receive a bottle of prunes), sets of golf balls, miniature rocking chairs, and more.

    While they bring a bit of levity and laughter to the occasion, you should probably use the old rule of asking yourself if you would necessarily appreciate such gifts.

    And, even if you are a bit of a jokester and might appreciate such gifts, that doesn’t mean the person retiring will. They might not appreciate the miniature wheelchair or walker as a retirement gift.

    Oh, btw – avoid regifting the toaster, tie, sweater, cheap pen set, or paperweight altogether. Beyond tacky, it can really backfire on you and cause heartburn you don’t want to deal with thereafter…including obtaining a bit of a cheapo reputation.

    Gifting Help

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    The last thing before we jump into some gift ideas, there are a couple of issues to cover that should make this easier.

    How Much

    First up, what amount to spend is entirely up to you. It really is the thought and kind gesture expressed in a card and gift that will matter.

    Certainly, the closer you are the more you might want to spend, but no need to break the bank doing so. Providing a personalized golf bag could set you back hundreds easily (maybe more), which obviously depends on you, your relationship with the person retiring, and your budget.

    Hey, Elvis used to give those around him Cadillacs and similar types of gifts. For the rest of us, it’s what makes sense to you – you shouldn’t feel guilty or compelled to overspend. Spend what you can or want to and feel good about it.

    What and What Not

    Don’t overcomplicate or make this tougher than it has to be. The best way to do so is to ask.

    The first person to ask might indeed be the retiree. If you know about retirement in advance, it makes sense to figure out hobbies and interests from the person. If you know, then gift ideas should be easy.

    If not, you can actually ask them. It can be done innocently and innocuously without clueing them into what you are doing.

    Simple questions as to what some of their plans are once they retire should provide some solid leads on what to get them.

    There’s also asking other coworkers whom they tend to hang out with. Such a source can provide ideas of what to consider…and sometimes more importantly, what not to give.

    Last thing to think about. We all have health issues of some sort, especially as we advance in age. Diabetes, allergies, heart, and others. A box full of expensive chocolates might very well be appreciated, but if they contain peanuts and the retiree has a peanut allergy, that can be a serious problem on a couple of levels and ruin your honest attempt to get them something nice.

    The same can hold true for anything from religion, sports, politics, etc. Yes, that can make It tough. Safe and middle roads can help to avoid issues. This is another reason to do a little recon.

    20 Gift Ideas

    Here we go, 20 gift ideas that might just hit the mark for the retiree you are hoping to gift with something they will enjoy and appreciate. They are split into major categories to make selecting the right gift easier.


    1. Personalized travel bag – a great gift as long as you have a feel for what they like. They can be economical, but can also range considerably and get expensive.
    2. Personalized bag tags – much less expensive than a nice travel bag, but practical if they do travel. Being personalized adds a nice touch…something many people might not do for themselves.
    3. Personalized travel journal – if they like to write or journal, a personalized leather travel journal is definitely a gift they might like. You can add a note inside the front or back cover to make it that special.
    4. Airline gift cards – if you happen to know their favorite airlines, then a gift card is thoughtful and goes toward something they will enjoy at a future date while traveling.
    5. Priority Pass membership – if you’ve done much time traveling you know it can be frustrating and exhausting, especially when flying. Being able to pop into a travel lounge to relax and have something to eat or drink, or just get away from the crowd, can be just the ticket needed. Priority Pass works with travel lounges at more than 1,300 VIP lounges around the world.
    6. National Geographic’s “50 States 5000 Ideas” book highlights the best travel experiences in every state. Perfect for the retiree that wants to get out and experience the best the U.S. has to offer.

    Beer and Wine Lovers

    1. Assorted and/or personalized wine or beer bottle labels – definitely unique and pretty cool to display in the home. Even more so when entertaining.
    2. Wine or beer club membership – a monthly or yearly membership can be a great gift and gives the retiree the ability to order what they like, or better yet, get adventurous and try new beers or wines.
    3. Personalized wine or beer glasses – a very nice touch for those who like the experience of enjoying their favorite wine or beer. For such people, the glass is almost as important as the beverage. Even more so when they are enjoying themselves with their spouse, neighbors, or friends.
    4. Beer or Winemaking lessons – this one can be a little tricky, as not everyone will enjoy or even want to participate in classes. But for a retiree who likes to roll up their sleeves and do things, learning to craft some vino or beer can be a great experience they might not necessarily think of for themselves.


    1. Food box subscription – there are all types out there and most offer different levels in terms of prices and available subscription plans. It can be a nice one-off or a once-a-month box for a year, and everything in between. For those who like good meals and who like to be involved in the process, this is a great gift, especially if they like to entertain or even prefer intimate meals with a spouse or loved one.
    2. Restaurant gift card – As long as you know a type of food or a specific restaurant you like or a place that is the talk of the town, it’s hard to go wrong with a gift such as this.
    3. Cooking class – for those who enjoy cooking, culinary classes are something they can appreciate now and put to use for many years to come. It’s even better if they can enjoy it with a family member or friend.

    Sports Fans

    1. Signed collectibles – if the retiree is a sport(s) but they might definitely appreciate sports memorabilia of this nature. It can be one sport or a number. There are services online that offer a gift (for example – a signed hockey puck) or a set of authenticated signed balls, shirts, and other memorabilia. While it is a very unique gift idea, it can get pricy, especially the rarer item or a well-known sports star signing the item(s).
    2. Game tickets – a sports fan will almost certainly appreciate a set of tickets to see their favorite team or sporting event. Be it hockey, college or professional football, baseball, basketball, etc., receiving a set of tickets will be a memorable gift.
    3. Personalized jersey – no matter what their favorite sport is, getting an authentic jersey with their name on it will excite just about any fan. Just be sure to get them the right team…the wrong team would be beyond embarrassing and awkward…yikes!

    Gadget Enthusiasts

    1. Wireless TV headphones – this is a different kind of gift, but for couples that tend to spend time in one room doing their own thing, it can help maintain peace and harmony in the household. One person can watch their favorite shows or movies, while the other person in the room can do whatever they or want and not be inconvenienced by a loud TV.
    2. Heated ice scraper – if the person retiring lives in a cold area, they will thank you every time they have to go out and try to clear ice from their windows.
    3. Digital picture frame – a Wi-Fi-enabled digital picture frame can hold and display countless images and comes with all types of options in terms of what’s displayed, the ability to auto-rotate images, etc.
    4. Language translator – these handy gadgets can generally translate at least 30 languages in real-time, making it easy to speak and interact both locally and when traveling.


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    When it comes to a retirement gift for a co-worker, friend, or family member, it’s often the thought you put into it that will matter most to the retiree. Keep in mind that they probably have most of the things they want, especially when it comes to practical items.

    Personalizing just about any gift can make all the difference, as can taking the time to learn their likes and hobbies so you can find something unique – this will give you a high degree of confidence they will appreciate what you give them.

    Ultimately the key is taking just a bit of time and effort in advance to investigate what will fit the bill for that special day for the retiree.

    That same effort in terms of taking the time to investigate and learn regarding your own retirement is a gift you should absolutely do for yourself if you haven’t already. No matter your age or career stage, getting serious now can be critical to your future, including the day you retire.

    We can help you when it comes to financial decisions and retirement planning, ensuring you are as ready as you can be when your time comes to walk out the door for the rest of your life.

    Even if you have a portfolio already, we can review it with you and help you optimize it to meet your future needs and goals so you have peace of mind during your retirement years.

    If you’re ready to take the next step and talk to a team of retirement planners who put your interests first, Schedule a call today!

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