11 retirement gifts they'll actually appreciate
We asked real people what gifts they would appreciate at their retirement party. According to their responses, these are the best retirement gifts.
Why you can't trust most gift guides
The 11 best retirement gifts
You can’t trust most retirement gift guides on the internet.
Most of them are filled with the same nonsense — cigar boxes, golf balls, and dish towels with inspiring quotes. And don’t even think about getting them a gift card!
Thankfully, that isn’t the case on the Fraction blog. We speak with retirees almost daily, and we know their likes, dislikes, and what matters most to them. For this guide, we asked real people what gifts they would appreciate at their retirement party.
According to their responses, these are the best retirement gifts:
1. An address book
You can stop reading here because this is the perfect gift. When someone retires, many coworkers fail to reconnect with them since they no longer work face-to-face. To combat this all-too-common pattern, you should consider giving an address book as a farewell gift with all your coworkers’ information to help the retiree stay in touch.
“Reestablishing contact can be a tricky feat; however, it can be much simpler if the retiree has their former colleagues' information within arm’s reach instead of having to track it down. Not to mention, this gesture sends the message that coworkers actually care about keeping in touch and want to keep the lines of communication open even after finishing that retirement party cake.”
Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding
2. National park pass
Even if the retiree isn’t much of the outdoors type, a national park pass could be the excuse they need to go out exploring in their next chapter. Both Canada and the US have their version of this pass, and you can give them the adventure of a lifetime for the same price as a couple of nice bottles of wine. A visit to a national park is a great way to spend time with the grandkids.
“When I retire, I intend on spending more leisure time traveling and enjoying nature while staying active. I would appreciate a U.S. Park Pass, which can gain you entrance into federal parks across America. Having this pass would incentivize me to go to the federal parks more and get the most out of my time off.”
Kristine Thorndyke, Test Prep Nerds
3. Fitness tracking device
One gift that the soon-to-be retiree in your life may appreciate is a new fitness tracking device. This gift may nicely complement their new lifestyle, especially if they’re someone who’s planning to use their time to take care of themselves and their health.
“Keeping up with my fitness and health in retirement would be a number one priority and having any sort of fitness tracker like a Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin, etc. would be excellent for tracking fitness goals, heart rate, quality of sleep, and health recommendations on the spot! It can also perform everyday helpful tasks like give the time, play music on the go, and calendar planning and notifications for your retirement life.”
Chris Hunter, ServiceTitan
4. Something to remind them of the early days
For this retirement gift idea, you may have to dig around to learn about their early days at your company or working in the industry. Try striking up a conversation with them a few weeks before the big day to gather intel. Perhaps they remember a work trip or a special dinner they had. If your efforts prove fruitless, the conversation could open up more ideas on what to get them!
“When I'm close to retirement, I feel that a small gesture to remind me of the "early days" would be something I'd really cherish. When you first start a company, the hard work that goes into it is immeasurable. However, when you look back on those times, there's nothing quite like the energy that comes with starting a new venture, and then sitting back to watch it grow.”
Ryan Rottman, OSDB Sports
5. Something to complement their retirement hobby
People who retire don’t fully retire. Often they’ll do freelance consulting work, or embrace a new hobby. Either way, they will have more free time on their hands. Otherwise, what’s the point of retiring? Do some digging to find out what’s on their plan for retirement, and we’re sure you’ll find a great gift that will nicely complement this new chapter.
“They’ll spend more time doing what they love – golfing, fishing, kayaking, traveling, woodworking, gardening, etc. Get them something they will use whenever they’re doing something they love. It can be a putter, a fishing rod, a kayak paddle, etc. Get them a gift they will use and appreciate. It's a small, but meaningful gesture.”
Chris Riley, USA Rx
6. A day at the spa
Now, this might not be the most unique retirement gift, but a day at the spa is a bestseller for a reason! Pull up Google Maps, and look at what spas are highly rated in their vicinity. Bonus points if you get them a spa day for two, so they can enjoy the experience with a loved one.
“Getting whisked away to a spa on my first day of retirement sounds like a dreamy way to celebrate and relax. Getting pampered and receiving beauty treatments is a healthy way to celebrate oneself. A nice spa day at home is also a getaway all its own too.”
Gigi Ji, KOKOLU
7. Commissioned art
A commissioned piece of art could be the perfect retirement gift for the artsy type in your office or life. There are plenty of artists on Etsy and Upwork who can turn your concept for art into a reality. Forget the retirement t-shirt or wine tumbler, and get them something unique they’ll cherish forever. Conversely, if they have a sense of humor, a piece of art could make for a great gag gift.
“A portrait or oil painting, for example, captures the essence of self at retirement better than a t-shirt or plaque would. You want to celebrate your accomplishments at retirement. A thoughtful piece of art does so and becomes a family treasure throughout time.”
Sasha Ramani, MPOWER Financing
8. Quality time
Quality time is so underrated. Especially in the workplace, it’s one of the best gifts you could give to kickoff a happy retirement. Often, workplaces can be so hectic that retirees won’t get a chance to connect with their peers before heading off to their next phase in life. A dinner to celebrate their retirement or a day on the green may seem like a small gesture, but it's a great one.
“After I’m retired, I want to spend more time with those I love, and going out to dinner to celebrate the end of an era and welcome in a new one would mean so much. It's the best way I can think of to honor the past and bring in the future.”
Karim Hachem, Sunshine79
Scrapbooks are a fantastic keepsake to remind the retiree of the great things they did while still working. Depending on the person receiving the gift, the scrapbook can be very detailed or simple. As a starting point, try incorporating mementos, such as tickets to a company event, a note from their desk, or an award the retiree earned during their tenure.
“A great retirement gift from coworkers would be a scrapbook of photos from office events and me with various coworkers, along with thanking you or personal notes from clients, and personal notes from coworkers. That is a thoughtful gift that takes some time to put together that I would appreciate.”
Jessica Tasios, Ora Dental
10. A personalized retirement gift
We’ve already touched on hobby gifts and commissioned art. Creating or commissioning a personalized gift often sits at the intersection of these two gifts. To the recipient, it says you know them well enough to know their interests and shows you care enough to go out of your way to do something truly unique. For example, if they like travel photography, ask a local craftsperson to create a custom camera strap to document their next chapter. If they’re a home cook, consider a monogrammed cutting board. The thought, time, and effort spent selecting a gift are much more precious than its monetary value.
“A personalized present, rather than a generic gift, would help me to feel valued, cared for, and respected. In my case, it would be something photography or travel related as I am passionate about these two topics. When I retire, I plan to spend more time exploring the world and documenting my journey, so a gift that would support this would be perfect.”
Mario Cacciottolo, SBO
11. A new experience
Instead of gifting a set of wine glasses or a watch case, consider giving a unique experience. After all, retirement is all about exploring new paths and experiences. Whether it’s a trip abroad or a day out at the local museum, gifting an experience will leave a lasting impression.
“I believe experiences are what make life memorable. Many retirees have travel plans so a gift that promotes that travel would be not only amazing but also unique since most buy products. Find out where the retiree has plans to travel and think of fun experiences they can have there. For example, if they are going to Mexico, buy them a cave tour or something similar. Experiences keep the retired young!”
Mike Schafer, The Schafer Law Office
Disclaimer: Information in this article is general in nature and not meant to be taken as financial advice, legal advice or any other sort of professional guidance. While information in this article is intended to be accurate at the time of publishing, the complexity and evolving nature of these subjects can mean that information is incorrect or out of date, or it may not apply to your jurisdiction. Please consult with a qualified professional to discuss your specific situation and confirm any information.