At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What are Some Good Retirement Gift Ideas?

Lauren Romano
Lauren Romano

Good retirement gift ideas celebrate the recipient's accomplishments while also acknowledging his or her relationship to the giver. Traditionally, a company might give a gold watch or a special plaque to a retiring employee to commemorate his or her service, but co-workers or family members may want to give something that acknowledges their personal relationship. The best gifts are often those that take into account how well the giver knows the recipient, what the retiree plans to do after leaving the job, and any hobbies, sports, or other activities that he or she likes to participate in.

Ideas for Co-Workers

Garden supplies can make great retirement gifts.
Garden supplies can make great retirement gifts.

The best retirement gift ideas for departing co-workers often focus on work accomplishments, and they may also relate to how much the retiree is going to be missed. Scrapbooks or photo albums of office happenings are a popular idea. Gathering pictures and mementos from office life does not usually take much time, but can be a meaningful reminder of collected experiences and career high points.

Send a retired couple on a second honeymoon.
Send a retired couple on a second honeymoon.

Gift cards can also be a good idea, particularly when given from a group. It can be difficult to personalize presents from entire departments or staffs if not everyone involved knew the retiree particularly well. Honoring a person's contributions with a gift certificate to a nearby restaurant, local store, or popular shop can be a meaningful way to recognize years of work even for those people who didn't interact with the retiree very much.

A group might pool its money and buy a retiree a gift card.
A group might pool its money and buy a retiree a gift card.

Special workplace friendships usually warrant more personalized recognition. Taking a colleague out for a nice lunch before his or her retirement or, better yet, arranging a lunch date after the departure, can be a good way to show that the friendship is stronger than just workplace proximity. Life changes dramatically for most retirees once they stop coming into the office, and sometimes the best gift is just knowing that a friendship will survive that shift.

Ideas for Bosses, Superiors, and Teachers

A handmade quilt is a lovely gift for a woman who is retiring.
A handmade quilt is a lovely gift for a woman who is retiring.

It's a good idea to recognize the retirement of a boss or teacher, and often a card thanking the retiree for his or her leadership is enough. Gifts can do more to show the person that he or she will be missed, however, especially since it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to teach and manage others. Pampering a boss or old teacher can be a great way of conveying thanks while encouraging the retiree to celebrate his or her accomplishments. Gift certificates for golf courses, luxury resorts, and spas give the person time to reflect back on his or her achievements in a relaxed and comfortable setting.

A photo album of office happenings can make a good retirement gift.
A photo album of office happenings can make a good retirement gift.

Presents that are tailored to the recipient's particular interests are another way of adding a personal touch. If a retiring teacher is planning to travel, for instance, luggage tags made by students can be a meaningful keepsake. Upgrading a boss and his wife to business class on a celebratory trip can be a nice gesture, and gifts like digital cameras and video recorders may also be appropriate.

Ideas for Parents

Adult children are often stumped when it comes to the best ways to honor their parents' retirement, but things that parents can enjoy together are often some of the best retirement gift ideas. Enrolling a parent in a wine-of-the-month club, for instance, can be a great way to encourage evenings of relaxed conversation and reminiscing. Parents who enjoy yard work or gardening may also enjoy new tools, gloves, and seedlings. A trip to the nursery to jump-start a long talked about landscaping project can also be very meaningful.

Children with the financial means might consider sending their parents on a cruise or a long trip. A location with special significance, like the site of their honeymoon or the destination of the first family vacation, can bring back fond memories. Journeys to new and exotic places can also excite the spirit of adventure in retired parents, reminding them that, even though they are no longer working, they are not too old for fun.

Ideas for Family and Close Friends

The best retirement gift ideas for spouses, siblings, and close friends are usually those that say something about the retiree personally. Gifts focused on relaxation and fun are usually the best because the last thing most retired friends want to do is think about how old they are getting. A gift of cooking classes, dance instruction, painting lessons, or other skills-based courses can be a great way to celebrate a loved one while focusing on the many opportunities ahead. Joining the recipient can add an element of camaraderie and friendship.

In most any scenario, the best retirement gift ideas are usually those that come from the heart. They don't need to be expensive or extravagant to be meaningful. Sometimes, a well-worded card or a promise of time spent together is better than trinkets or mementos. The main goal of any retirement gift should be to celebrate the recipient: where she has been, what she has done, and who she is today.

Discussion Comments


Often it's the simple things that'll make a memorable gift. A good quality cigar can show that appreciation.


My aunt retired a few years ago and her company gave her a glass sundial that sits on her windowsill and makes rainbows in her family room when the sun shines. It has her company's logo on it and a date line for her birthday. I thought it was a very classy gesture to honor her nearly 40 years of service.


Retirement is such a huge milestone in someone's life. The goal in purchasing the ideal gift is that it is something memorable.

I have just purchased the book "Bobby's Retirement Humor" for my uncle because he is a strong sense of humor and loves dogs. He was feeling a little down about retiring that he appreciated the light humor to lift his spirits.

In purchasing or creating a retirement gift, it's the thought that counts.


For retirement, there is no better gift than the Just5 cell phone. If the person picks to continue his independence, this phone will help him live the way he wants without much trouble. This phone has PERS features that can allow them to contact help in just a press of a button through the automatic dials and alarm. Plus, the phone is very easy to use and comes very affordable for you.


To piggy back on the scrapbook idea a little bit- we recently attended a retirement party for one of my husband's law firm partners and they had commissioned a executive tribute book through Relive Stories. I know my husband was interviewed (over the phone), as well as the other partners, and the end result was an actual leather bound book, filled with stories and pictures about his time with the firm.

My husband's secretary came up with the idea after having a similar book commissioned for her mothers 75th birthday.


Whether you knew the future retiree in passing or know him/her over random coffee conversations, it is often appropriate to give one a retirement gift.


How about a weather station? Some web sites show various handmade quality heritage weather stations that can be personalised right on the front fascia. Therefore lasting as a lifelong reminder and something that is undoubtedly looked at every day.

Within a company, many times we struggled to find the most appropriate gift for our valued employees. The engraved weather stations were the perfect solution and well received.


I like these ideas too! I agree it's important to stick to a theme idea specific to the individuals interests. An amazing "forever" gift I think is a hand painted guest book platter personalized in the retiree's theme idea and then all guests sign it! Went over great at my uncle's retirement!


Excellent article, gave me a lot of good ideas.

I think the scrapbooking is an especially great idea, as it is inexpensive yet very sentimental. I used to do the scrapbooks for a lot of my family members, but it can get pretty expensive and time consuming. There are online sites where you can invite people from anywhere to contribute online and then have the book bound and shipped to you.

I'm not sure if there's anything else that could top it. Things like a massage, dinner, or a monetary gifts are great, but not on their own in my opinion - as they aren't a "forever" gift.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Garden supplies can make great retirement gifts.
      By: Michael Flippo
      Garden supplies can make great retirement gifts.
    • Send a retired couple on a second honeymoon.
      By: Hugo Félix
      Send a retired couple on a second honeymoon.
    • A group might pool its money and buy a retiree a gift card.
      By: Pixel Embargo
      A group might pool its money and buy a retiree a gift card.
    • A handmade quilt is a lovely gift for a woman who is retiring.
      By: Catherine Jones
      A handmade quilt is a lovely gift for a woman who is retiring.
    • A photo album of office happenings can make a good retirement gift.
      By: SilviuFlorin
      A photo album of office happenings can make a good retirement gift.