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Retirement Gifts: It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Retirement gift ideas for a valued colleague

30.11.-0001 The baby boomers have come and almost gone. Many of them have reached retirement age in recent years and many more are counting down their last few years, months or even days in the workplace. One could have expected the price of gold to have gone up, bearing in mind how the gold watch has become the ubiquitous retirement gift.

But let’s be honest – if you’ve worked with the same colleagues for a number of years, wouldn’t you hope they could come up with a more imaginative and personal retirement present than a time piece plated in a precious metal? Of course, there could be an ironic message behind it if you were consistently late for work in which case you probably deserve a gold watch, but otherwise you could be justified in feeling a touch let down.

Remember this if you’re looking for retirement gift ideas for a valued colleague. Don’t take the easy option – here are some tips for choosing a retirement present that will make them feel appreciated.

Group Together

When a colleague is due to retire it makes sense to have a monetary collection amongst the staff so that everyone can contribute to a joint gift. This means everyone can donate the same amount of money, no individual feels under pressure to buy an expensive present and the whole workforce can give their retiring colleague a substantial gift to remember.

Get Personal

A gift full of good memories

Assuming the retiree has enjoyed their time working at the organisation give them a gift full of good memories. You could put together a framed photo collage of their work colleagues or compile a photo book in which the fellow staffers can write messages and recall successful or funny moments. If you have the time, put together a spoof newspaper front page which can then be framed. Personal and thoughtful retirement gifts such as these can mean more than an expensive present.


Hobbies or outside interests can be a good source of inspiration for retirement gift ideas. Does your retiring colleague enjoy a leisure activity such as golf, angling or sailing? Or is there anything they like to collect? You could give a present they could use for their past time or could add to their collection. If they enjoy music or theatre, you could buy them tickets to a concert or a show. If they love cooking, how about a cookery course now that they’ll have time on their hands? If they enjoy gardening, give them a garden ornament or an ornate shrub.

The Afterlife

Help them on their way

What is your colleague planning to do after their retirement? Some people want to travel, some hope to set up their own business, some plan to start up a new hobby and some may even be planning to move to a new part of the country. You could give them a retirement gift or selection of gifts to help them on their way such as a pack of travel essentials or a subscription to a magazine related to their new hobby or business.

Make it an Experience

Why not give them an experience to remember

Instead of giving your retiring colleague a lavish gift covered in shiny gold wrapping paper, why not give them an experience to remember? There are plenty of experiences to choose from ranging from wine tasting or pampering to cookery classes, balloon flights, driving racing cars or West End shows. Hopefully you will know your colleague well enough to know which experience he or she would enjoy. If you’re not sure you could ask their spouse, partner or children. If you’re still stuck for inspiration, how about a champagne afternoon tea to celebrate their retirement?

Charitable Donation

If your colleague is someone who gives regularly to charity and loves helping less fortunate people, you could make a donation to their favourite charity on their behalf. Send the collection envelope around the workplace stating that all cash contributed will be given to charity and you’ll probably find it comes back full to the brim.

Be Sensitive

When you’re choosing a retirement gift and writing messages in a card or book, make sure you’re sensitive to the circumstances surrounding their departure. If they’re lucky they will have chosen the time for their retirement and will be financially secure enough to enjoy some leisure time. However, many people who retire have to take on a part-time job to ensure there’s enough cash coming in. Others will have been forced into retirement by ill health, redundancies in the workplace or even the business being forced to shut down. Avoid words such as “congratulations” or “condolences” – instead emphasise how much you have enjoyed working with them.

The key to choosing an appropriate retirement present is taking the time to think about your colleague. Take into account their plans post-retirement, what they like to do in their spare time and their achievements during their working life and you shouldn’t go far wrong. You may still come back to the gold watch, but make it a last resort!

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