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How to Give a Retirement Gift That’s Meaningful

Retirement gifts can be very meaninful if selected thoughtfully.

Credit: Adobe

By Joe Casey

At some point in your career, you’ll be faced with choosing a retirement gift for your boss or one of your employees. Or maybe you’ll want to  come up with some gift ideas for retiring co-worker. Many people assume they’ll be able to find the perfect gift, only to discover that it’s quite a unique challenge. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind the next time you’re looking for a retirement gift, including some of our top retirement gift ideas.


1. What Are The Best Options for Retirement Gifts?


First and foremost, it’s important to remember that retirement gifts mark an important milestone in a person’s life and career. Not only does retirement denote the end of a person’s career, but it also sends them off into an entirely new stage of life. It’s best to generate retirement gift ideas that honor both of these life stages, while also providing value.


There’s no denying the fact that retirement is a major life transition. After years of dedicating a significant portion of their lie, time, and energy to a career,  now they are free to spend their time however they choose. It’s important to empathize with the multitude of feelings and emotions that this transition can bring about in a person.


While it may seem like having the freedom to retire is carefree and easy, that’s not always the case. In fact, retirement is one of the top 10 most stressful experiences in life. Many people contend with the reality of losing their identity and status in retirement. Others struggle with redefining their life’s purpose after their career. In any case, the right retirement gift serves to acknowledge a person’s work and send them off on a positive note.


2. Why a Thoughtful Gift is More Meaningful Than a Token Gesture


In many cases, experiences are better gifts than things. Sure, certain objects are an appropriate way to commemorate the retirement day, but the enjoyment a person gets from objects is limited. Experiences, on the other hand, are one of the best retirement gifts.


Gifting someone an experience such as tickets to a special show, a weekend getaway, or a vacation is sure to bring joy. The right experience gives the retiree a chance to connect with their new phase of life in a positive way. An experiential gift also provides lasting memories and opportunities for new, novel adventures. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to provide the right experience for someone, either. All it takes is some forethought and planning.


3. Best Retirement Gifts for Women


Of course, everyone is different. But there are some special considerations to keep in mind when you’re looking at retirement gifts ideas for women. There’s never one perfect gift that will fit every person, so it’s a good idea to take the person’s behaviors and preferences into account when shopping.

Themed gift baskets or packages that contribute to a particular theme are always effective. If a woman wants to pursue gardening and horticulture in retirement, then you could gift her some essentials to help her get started. The best gifts are those that encourage new activities in the free time that retirement brings. This way, your gift continues to provide enrichment and value.

Experience-based gifts are also great retirement gift ideas for women. Try gifting a weekend getaway including spa visits or unique shopping opportunities. A monthly subscription to a book club is excellent for passionate readers who are about to have more free time in retirement. Jewelry and clothing are great too, but again, always cater to the taste of the individual rather than getting something generic.


4. Best Retirement Gifts for Men


It’s true that shopping for men can be difficult sometimes. Coming up with interesting awesome retirement gift ideas for men doesn’t have to be hard, though. When you know retirement is coming up for a man, keep an ear out, and pay attention to what he says about his interests and passions. Getting a man something practical is almost always the best approach.

Stylish clothing gifts aren’t restricted to women. In fact, lots of men will appreciate a thoughtful gift that adds to their wardrobe in a unique way. Think of items that are timeless and classic here.

If a man is interested in outdoor activities, then you could get him something that brings value and encourages that activity. Giving a man the tools he needs to start on a new hobby is an excellent idea. Try a beer brewing kit for the fledgling brewmaster, or a new pair of binoculars for someone interested in bird watching. As with all retirement gifts, the best retirement gifts for men require you to consider the hobbies and interests that make a person unique.


5. Choose a Thoughtful Gift That’s Memorable


If you can, try to avoid getting a generic gift. It’s always much better to do your homework on the person retiring. You don’t have to learn about every one of their hobbies, but learning some basics of what interests them helps. What’s special to them? What do they like and dislike? If you don’t know the person that well, try talking to some of their closest co-workers. If appropriate, you can also reach out and speak to their family members.


Avoid gag gifts. Gag gifts are cheap and don’t convey a sense of authenticity. If you absolutely must play some sort of joke, couple it with something genuine and authentic. But in the majority of cases, it’s best to avoid gag gifts of any kind. Often times they can backfire, and the negative consequences are not worth any sort of small humorous effect you might produce.


6. Present It Well


The presentation of your gift matters. Don’t just think about the retirement gift itself. Think through how you’ll present the gift. If you’re giving the gift in a public setting, then know your audience. Play to the room while also doing all that you can to honor the retiree. Think about the venue in advance so you can navigate any peculiar considerations. Design your key messages to reiterate a sense of honor, appreciation, and gratitude for the retiree.

Finding the right retirement gifts is not always easy but if you follow these simple tips, you’ll be that much closer to showing the new retiree in your life just how much they matter.

Joe Casey is a former senior HR executive at Merrill Lynch who’s in his second career as a retirement coach at Retirement Wisdom. He holds a Masters in Gerontology from the University of Southern California and works with people to help them design what’s next after their primary career.  He hosts The Retirement Wisdom Podcast talking with thought leaders and retirees pursuing interesting Second Acts who share the lessons they’ve learned that can help you in your journey.


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