Ideas for Retirement Gifts

A Guide to Retirement Gift Ideas is compensated when you click on the provider links listed on this page. This compensation does not impact our ratings or reviews.

Retirement is a milestone that should be celebrated properly. Many people mark this momentous event with a party to signal the end of one chapter in their life and the beginning of another.

When you go to any party, it’s always nice to bring along a little gift for the guest of honor; a retirement party is no different. But what do you give? If you’re stumped, take a look at these retirement gift ideas for some inspiration.

FYI: While retirement is a time of celebration, it's essential to have a retirement plan in place to fully enjoy and thrive in your retirement years. Read our guide to retirement planning so you can make the most of your post-working years.

Retirement Gift

Traditional Gifts

If you’re looking to go the classic and traditional route, it doesn’t get much better than a gold pocket watch. This is a classic gift because it symbolizes the time the person has spent working. The passage of time is not only literal but figurative. If you don’t want to go with a pocket watch, then a standard watch or clock can also carry the same significance.

Fun Fact: The Pew Research Center's analysis of the most recent official labor force data reports that due to the coronavirus pandemic, 66.9 percent of 65- to 75-year-olds retired in 2021, compared with 64 percent in 2019.1 With this steady increase comes an increase in retirement parties!

The idea behind gifting gold watches dates back to the 1940s when the price of gold was roughly $34 per ounce. Today, the average price of gold hovers around $1,600 per ounce, which is not entirely ideal or within reason for many folks.2 While beautiful and significant, the traditional gold watch is certainly a classic but is not the only option for those on a budget.

Memento Gifts

Oftentimes, when people retire, it is from a profession that they worked in for many years or even decades, which is why a memento related to that field makes a wonderful retirement gift. While there are an array of options, a memento gift can be:

  • A plaque recognizing their years of service or any major accomplishment
  • A special pen that was used for office work
  • A specific book that carries meaning for that individual, especially for teachers
  • A special item from their years of service, which can be bronzed or put in a shadow box for display

Tool Tip: If you or a loved one is shopping for a retirement gift, check out Business Insider's list of the 17 best options.

Hobby-Related Gifts

When people retire, they will likely have more time for their hobbies, making hobby-oriented gifts an excellent idea. Options for these types of gifts include:

  1. A fishing pole
  2. Running shoes
  3. Knitting or craft supplies
  4. Books or a gift card to a bookstore
  5. Golf clubs
  6. Tennis lessons or equipment
  7. Cooking lessons or equipment

Travel-Related Gifts

Travel is on the retirement itinerary for many people. Retirement gives people time to travel that they may have never had before. If you know this to be the case, buy a gift that can be used on their journey. Travel-related gifts include:

  • Beach bag with beach items (suntan lotion, hat, sandals, towel, etc.)
  • Luggage
  • Guide books for a particular destination
  • Special clothing for the trip

Tool Tip: If you or a loved one is looking to expand your traveling horizons, check out our guide to the best travel insurance options for seniors.

Tickets to a Special Event

If you know the person you’re buying a gift for enjoys going to the theater or other performances, buying tickets to a special event is always a nice idea. It gives the recipient something to look forward to during their newly acquired free time. Many people like to purchase these gifts if they enjoy giving experiences rather than regular presents.

Personalized Gifts

Getting personal with retirement gifts is a great way to show you care about someone. For example, nothing is more personal than creating a customized gift with the recipient's name on it. Whether it is a scotch glass with their initials or framed photo that is engraved, a personalized gift is always a good call. Photo books and memory books also make good personalized gifts.

Vintage Wine or Cigars

As the saying goes, just like a fine wine (or cigar), we get better with age! However, this gift works only if you know the person particularly likes either wine or cigars. There are many cigar and wine aficionados who would absolutely love either of these gifts. Depending on what item you choose, this gift can be costly, so consider splitting the cost with some friends.

Gift Cards

When all else fails, you can never go wrong with a gift card. While some may say it’s impersonal, it’s a practical gift that will get used in a way that the recipient needs. This is also a gift that can be given by multiple people to increase the value of the gift card. For example, if 10 people in the office each contribute $20, you can give a sizable $200 gift card to your favorite retiree. Not too shabby!

In Conclusion

When it comes to retirement gift ideas, remember it’s always the thought that counts. Many people are so excited to actually be retiring that they consider that the best gift of all. Everything else is a bonus!

Written By

Jeff Hoyt

Editor in Chief

Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt