8 Retirement Gift Ideas

How to honor a retiring coworker's accomplishments

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As the oldest baby boomers begin to retire, you may want to honor some of these retiring colleagues with a retirement gift. U.S. News asked a cross section of business etiquette experts how to appropriately recognize a coworker’s retirement. Here are eight gift ideas to get you started.

Hobby gifts. Find out if your coworker plans to spend their new-found free time on the golf course, gardening, painting, or reading great books and get them a gift that furthers the hobby. Check in with a spouse, significant other, or close friend to get advice about a co-worker’s post-retirement plans and ask for his or her input on gift ideas.

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Scrapbooks or photo albums. The most meaningful retirement gifts are often photos or a scrapbook recognizing what the retiree accomplished during his or her working years. Also consider a framed photograph of the building you work in for the retiree’s home office, suggests Peggy Post, director of The Emily Post Institute and co-author of The Etiquette Advantage in Business.

Travel gifts. Many retirees finally have the time to travel. Beverly Langford, author of The Etiquette Edge: The Unspoken Rules for Business Success, recommends travel accessories such as luggage tags or a travel alarm clock for coworkers you know will be globe-trotting in retirement. But she cautions, “I wouldn’t just assume they will travel when they retire if they haven’t done that before.”

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Experiences. Retirement doesn’t mean you have to discontinue a relationship with your former coworker. Set up a time to take them out to lunch, meet up for coffee, or get tickets to see a movie or show together. “If it’s a really close friend, sometimes the gift could be the gift of an experience,” says  Post.

Gift cards. “A lot of people who are retiring are thinking about downsizing and they don’t need more things,” says Jeanette Martin, an associate professor at the University of Mississippi School of Business and coauthor of Global Business Etiquette: A Guide to International Communication and Customs. “They don’t need a trophy. They need something they can use up such as a gas card, gift certificate, or dinner out at a restaurant.”

Charitable donations. Retirement gifts don’t have to be lavish. Leah Ingram, author of Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less, suggests making a nominal donation to a charity the retiree supports and sending a personal note.

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Wine and spirits. Some wines and liquors become better as they age, which makes them the ideal retirement gift for someone who enjoys this type of indulgence. Langford says fine wines and brandies or liquor containers make excellent retirement gifts.

Hand-written notes. Send a retiring coworker a hand-written card letting them know how much you enjoyed working with them. “I think it is nice to send flowers and a note of appreciation,” says Lillian Chaney, coauthor of The Essential Guide to Business Etiquette. If you’re giving a joint gift, collect remembrance letters from colleagues into a single book.

Also, check out these 8 Tips for Choosing Retirement Gifts. Please tell us about the retirement gifts you’ve given or received below.