Retirement Gift Guide

retirement gifts

Every year millions of people retire. However, the pace of Baby Boomers retiring has drastically accelerated. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, in the third quarter of 2020, about 28.6 million Baby Boomers reported that they had retired. This was 3.2 million more individuals than in 2019 — which COVID most likely impacted.

In the coming years, this trend will continue. After all, by 2030, all Baby Boomers will be age 65 or older. That means there’s definitely a strong probability that you know someone, such as a family member or work colleague, who is close to retirement or will be in the very near future.

As such, it’s not too soon to think about how you’re going to help them celebrate this momentous occasion. You could throw them a retirement party or, if you’re close to them, treat them to a weeklong getaway. But, what if you still want to get them a little something else? You know, like a keepsake that wishes that well in all their future endeavors or a final farewell?

Retirement Gift Guide

Well, you’re in luck. There are more than enough gift ideas for you to purchase. And, we’re going to help you narrow down your options with the following retirement gift guide.

Classic and Traditional Retirement Gifts

When you think about the quintessential retirement gift you probably envision a gold watch. “Apparently, the tradition of giving gold watches originated back to the 1940s and The Pepsi Co,” writes Robert Laura in a Forbes article. “The concept of ‘you gave us your time, now we are giving you ours,’ made sense when people stayed with a company for three or four decades and the price of gold was about $34 an ounce.”

“Today, the average length of job tenure is roughly five years, and the price of gold hovers near $1,600 an ounce, a pricey change that would either put more companies out of business or see more watches end up in a pawn shop,” he adds. Besides. Electronics and active retirees have helped pushed “the gold watch to extinction.”

At the same time, watches can still make for a classic retirement gift. They can have sentimental value or be worn for stylish reasons. Also, not everyone is glued to their phones, so a watch can be convenient — especially when you’re no longer following a daily routine.

If you know that the retiree will wear and enjoy a timepiece, then stick with this traditional retirement gift. Moreover, there is a wide price range when it comes to watches. There are affordable options from Timex or Fossil to more expensive offerings from Invicta to the luxury of a Rolex.

Whatever watch you go with, I would recommend getting it engraved to personalize it.

Timepiece ideas beyond the gold watch.

You could also put a spin on this gift idea. For example, instead of a classic wristwatch, you could gift them a smartwatch. Here are a few good examples:

  • Apple Watch SE
  • Fossil Spot
  • Fitbit Versa Lite
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Another option, if you want to go with the passage of time theme, would be a desk or walk clock. You can go with something straightforward, like a personalized rectangular desk clock, to novel wall clocks like the Day of the Week Clock or Whatever Clock. And, if they have a morbid sense of humor, there’s also the Tikker “Death” Watch.

Industry, Commemorative, and Sentimental Retirement Gifts

Was the retiree proud of what they did for a living? If so, why give them something that was related to their career?

For example, if they were in the automotive industry, you could gift them a model or replica of a vehicle they designed or worked on. If they were in construction, they could receive an engraved toolbox. For educators, you could frame art, notes, and photos from students. Or, a framed map of the territory that a salesperson’s territory.

For your colleagues, you present them with a plaque or trophy that highlights milestones like years of service or accomplishments. You could also go on Shutterfly and create a photo book that looks back at their career.

You could also use platforms like Magisto to create a slideshow or tribute video that helps the reminisce or chronicle their time at work. If you’re throwing a retirement party, this would be the perfect time to unveil this memorable send-off.

Also, you could have them record a training video sharing tips and tricks for new hires. Even though they’re no longer coming into work, their presence and legacy will continue for years to come.

And, if you want to get really sentimental, your could also offer them the following:

  • Bronze a workplace item. For instance, if they were a plumber, you could bronze their wrench.
  • Repurpose or frame their uniform.
  • Take a photo and have all of their co-workers sign it.
  • Present them with a jar of farewell messages.
  • Hire an artist to create an original piece of artwork, maybe pull a Pam Beasly and have them paint a portrait of their workplace.

Retirement Gifts That Encourage Relaxation and Self-Care

According to a 2017 study published in the journal of Health and Economics, economists from the University of Amsterdam found that retiring early can lengthen your life.

“The Dutch study echoes those from other countries,” wrote Austin Frakt in The New York Times.

“An analysis in the United States found about seven years of retirement can be as good for health as reducing the chance of getting a serious disease (like diabetes or heart conditions) by 20 percent,” Frakt added. “Positive health effects of retirement have also been found by studies using data from Israel, England, Germany, and other European countries.”

Why? Because work can be stressful. And, because you have more time available, you can finally attend to your self-care.

However, it can be difficult for some to turn that “always-on” switch off. After all, it can be difficult to adjust to no longer having a regular schedule or “purpose.”

And, even more, concerning, according to the CDC, it’s “estimated that 20% of people age 55 years or older experience some type of mental health concern. The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder.)”

To address both of these issues, consider gifts that can help them alleviate stress, relax, and tap into their emotional side, such as;

  • Mindfulness cards
  • Yoga mat
  • Essential oil diffuser
  • Retirement coloring book
  • Hammock
  • Wellness log
  • Finger labyrinth
  • Pocket spa set
  • Back, neck, and/or foot massager
  • A gift certificate to a spa.
  • Gift a subscription to apps like Calm.

Retirement Gifts That Keep Them Mentally and Physically Sharp

Piggybacking from the previous point, working full-time often keeps you physically and mentally in shape.

“We have found that work stimulates cognitive development to the extent that work is engaging and also challenging,” Jacquelyn James, co-director of the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, told The Washington Post.

“I think we used to think that doing crossword puzzles was the best way to keep our cognitive ability alive and developing and I think we’re seeing that it takes more than that,” added James. “It’s much more important to do things that challenge the mind, like learning a new language, or learning new technology.”

What’s more, it gives you a sense of purpose. Which, if you weren’t aware, has positive health outcomes, including better sleep, fewer strokes and heart attacks, and a lower risk of dementia, disability, and premature death. Also, prioritizing your health is good for your finances.

With that in mind, focus on gifts that can keep them active. Some ideas would be:

  • A gift certificate or membership to a gym or health club.
  • Exercise equipment like a bike (either traditional or stationary) or the Activbody Activ5 Fitness System.
  • A new pet like a cat or dog.
  • Pay for them to attend a class, webinar, or workshop on how to become a consultant.

And, of course, retirement gifts that inspire new or existing hobbies, such as:

  • Gardening toolset.
  • A new set of golf clubs or fishing poles.
  • Food delivery subscriptions so that they can try out new recipes.
  • Art painting set.
  • 3D wood puzzle or 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
  • Lego ship in a bottle.
  • Binoculars, a camera, and a field guide for bird watching.
  • A gift card to a craft or sporting goods store.
  • Cooking, language, music, or tennis lessons.

Books About Aging and Retirement

Another proven way to bolster physical and mental health? Reading.

Studies have found that reading can strengthen the brain, increase empathy, reduce stress, alleviate depressive symptoms, and may even help you live longer.

With that in mind, a book makes the perfect retirement gift.

If you know the individual, then purchase them a book from their favorite author or genre. You could also consider ones that have special significance. For instance, a first edition copy that’s related to their work or industry.

If you’re uncertain about what to get them, sign them up for a book of the month club. Or, chose one geared specifically for retirement, like;

  • How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie J Zelinski
  • The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Elissa Epel
  • How to Make Your Money Last by Jane Bryant Quinn
  • The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50 by Jonathan Rauch
  • The Retiring Mind: How to Make the Psychological Transition to Retirement by Robert Delamontagne
  • 65 Things to Do When You Retire – More Than 65 Notable Achievers on How to Make the Most of the Rest of Your Life by Mark Evan Chimsky
  • What You Don’t Know About Retirement: A Funny Retirement Quiz by Bill Dodds
  • The End of Old Age: Living a Longer, More Purposeful Life by Marc E. Agronin
  • Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement by Nancy Collamer
  • You’re Only Old Once! by Dr. Seuss

Traveling Companions

According to the AARP, Boomers are avid travelers. In 2019, they planned on taking 4-5 leisure trips throughout the year. Obviously, COVID and budgeting concerns squashed most of these plans. However, it does prove that retirees at least have the desire to hit the open road.

As such, you probably can’t go wrong with anything that’s travel-related, like:

  • New luggage and/or luggage tags.
  • National Geographics “50 States, 5,000 Ideas.”
  • America the Beautiful Passes.
  • Universal travel adapter.
  • Digital camera.
  • Wireless headphones.
  • Mini cork globe.
  • Scratch off maps.

If their travel plans are on hold, you can still get them excited about their eventual trip. Maybe you could send them wine from the region where they’ll be traveling. You could also send them local travel guides and maps.

Just note traveling doesn’t always have to involve hopping on a plane and going halfway across the world. You could encourage them to explore their area with museum memberships or gift certificates to restaurants. If they plan on visiting family, you could also hook them up with a gas gift card so that they don’t have to be concerned with filling up the tank.

But, if you have the funds, you could also splurge for them to take a trip. You foot the bill for a second bill or book their plane ticket to see the grandkids.

Retirement Gifts That Will Make Them Laugh

“And keep a sense of humor. It doesn’t mean you have to tell jokes. If you can’t think of anything else, when you’re my age, take off your clothes and walk in front of a mirror. I guarantee you’ll get a laugh.” — Art Linkletter

You don’t want to be offensive, demeaning, or tactless. But, if you know that the retiree’s sense of humor and believe that they’ll get a chuckle, there are plenty of gifts that make light of their new-found status.

  • Retired business cards
  • A walking cane
  • Magnifying glasses
  • A collection of funny recollections of inside jokes
  • IRA Piggybank
  • Life Alert or similar service or device
  • “Retired Under News Management” shirt or coffee mug
  • Sassy retirement apron
  • Custom bobblehead
  • Over the hill decision maker
  • Potty golf
  • Senior citizen award.

The Best Retirement Gift of All? Keep in Touch

“The emotional impact of loneliness in retirement is obvious – feelings of being isolated and misunderstood, with social interactions that lack meaning,” writes Chris Taylor for Reuters. “But loneliness turns out to have financial ramifications as well.”

Most prominently, healthcare costs.

“People who feel lonely are less healthy,” said Dr. Doug Nemecek, Cigna’s chief medical officer for behavioral health. “There are many studies linking loneliness to worsening heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, and substance abuse. In fact, healthwise, loneliness is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”

With that in mind, the best gift may simply be keeping in touch with them and planning something fun. In addition to combating loneliness, it’s been found that experiences, and not material items, are the secret the happiness.

Some Best Retirement Gifts include:

  • Purchasing tickets for you and them to attend a sporting event, concert, movie, or play.
  • A monthly luncheon — if this is with a colleague, then this may even be tax-deductible.
  • A coffee or restaurant gift card with a date to meet.
  • Inviting them to continue attending work retreats or office parties.
  • Asking them to be a special guest for an upcoming meeting.
  • Registration for a class or workshop.
  • Virtual family game nights, like on every Friday evening.
  • If you’re taking your children to the playground or amusement park, invite them to tag along.
  • Membership to a retirement group or club. Most are free. However, ElderTreks, for example, cost over $6,000 for a 17-day trip to Greece.
  • If the retiree is your parent, plan a time for you to sit down with them and discuss their retirement plan. If they do not have one, schedule an appointment with a financial advisor.

Final words of advice.

While retirement can certainly be scary, it can also be awesome. And, finding the perfect retirement gift can make this possible.

It may be tempting to go with a gag or cliche gift. But, ideally, it should either come from the heart or be tailored to the recipient’s interests. After all, they will, hopefully, retire once. So, make this occasion as memorable as possible!