Choosing a retirement gift for a friend, colleague, or family member deserves careful planning. This occasion marks one of the most significant transitions in a person’s life and celebrating that change helps a retiree process their past and the coming future. Be aware, though—not every retiree is the same. They come from scores of industries, ranging from medicine to manufacturing, and have different degrees of passion for their field. Also, some may simply be less ready for retirement than the next person. Take the nuances of the person you’re celebrating into account and follow this guide to retirement gift ideas for everyone to steer you towards a great gift.
Gifts for a Retiring Pastor
First, your pastor. It’s possible your retiring pastor enjoyed years—perhaps even their entire ministry—leading your church. He or she put on many hats, including leader, counselor, visionary, servant, and more, and endured an at-times thankless job. There’s a great spiritual and emotional burden to pastoring a church, though there are many blessings as well. Remember this as you pick out a gift—a thoughtless gift doesn’t square with the effort they put into their years there. Consider first a high-quality pastor appreciation plaque, perhaps emblazoned with a piece of scripture that reflects their service to God. Similarly, you can connect with a professional calligrapher who can beautifully write out your pastor’s favorite psalm or other Bible passage. These would each be touching and enduring reminders of their time at the church. Alternatively, if you know your pastor will either continue to preach in some capacity or would enjoy these, look into gifting Bible commentaries. These are invaluable tools for digging deeper into the contextual meaning of biblical texts and learning more about faith.
For a Retiring Public Servant
Retiring public servants—be they police officers, firefighters, post office workers, or others—also deserve a good send-off. No matter how they supported the government during their career, they undoubtedly had an idea for their own business at some point. While a gag gift about escaping the clutches of the government is funny at the time, a class to get them started on their dream provides a lasting impact. For your aspiring chef, enroll them in a cooking course online or at your local community college. Or, if your public servant has always looked to the sky, wondering what it would be like to soar with the birds, get them started with obtaining a pilot’s license. Otherwise, a distinguished plaque fits a distinguished servant. For example, retirement plaques for police officers are concrete tokens of their years of grueling shifts that did a lot of good. A plaque is great for postal workers and other public servants without readily recognizable titles, and may even mean more to them if they don’t ordinarily get a lot of credit.
For a Retiring Engineer
Engineers employ the laws of physics to create towering structures, build bridges that cross previously uncrossable terrain, and craft inconspicuous water systems that make life easier for millions. In many cases, their work makes an incredible impact that we cannot easily thank them for. Here’s a start: buy them those books about engineering they didn’t have time to dig into before. But, if they’re sick of thinking about work, come from another angle. Get them science fiction novels that create worlds of complex and awe-inspiring technology that they’ll appreciate. Otherwise, get them a gift that’ll harken to their work. A temperature-sensitive mug that reveals a hidden design when they get their mug full of hot coffee, perhaps. Also, to occupy their time and exercise their brain once they’re off the job, get them a book of Sudoku puzzles. Really, anything to keep their curious and puzzle-loving minds happy would do.
For a Retiring Doctor
For a retiring doctor, a signed picture with the team members they worked with throughout the years would mean so much. There’s an undeniable bond between surgeons and their assistants as they go about carefully addressing patient ailments. Procedures are sensitive things, and so much is at stake—going through that with others brings a doctor closer to her or his colleagues. That’s why a personal touch from each of them would mean a lot. For non-surgeons, these gifts are still meaningful, but you could also go another route. Appeal to the patients they formed years-long relationships with and create a compilation video of them giving their thanks. For example, a thank you video for a retiring obstetrician filled with many of the children they brought into the world is a precious reminder of their work’s impact.
For a Retiring Businessperson
A retiring businessman or woman likely spent long hours dealing with clients, working beyond when they wanted to at times. The perfect gifts focus their attention on the time they’ll have away from the grind of the office to relax. Shower them with beach accessories for their countless trips to warm climates in retirement, complete with a cooler, a durable umbrella for shade, and a great summer novel. To spice up their time away from the daily rhythm of the office, consider getting them a year’s subscription for a root beer of the month club or something similar.
For a Retiring Tradesperson
Someone working in a trade—carpentry, landscaping, plumbing, welding, and others—often gets into their line of the work because they don’t mind working with their hands. If that sounds like the tradesperson you’re buying a gift for, get them tools for their own personal building projects. That could mean anything from a specialty saw to a whittling knife for a woodworker. Get in touch with their loved ones to see if there’s something they really want.
For a Retiring Counselor
Counseling takes many forms—mental health counseling, life coaching, spiritual direction, and so on. These people, who get into the messy details of other’s struggles to help them, deserve a rest more than anyone. If you know them well enough and see a need, consider offering to pay for their own counseling sessions after they retire. Because counseling is a heavy load to carry, they may benefit from some retrospective counseling with another person to properly process their years on the job. If not, there are other thoughtful options. For one, find a piece of art that you think would speak to them and perhaps reflect their or their clients’ experiences. Working through longstanding issues with someone is an impossibly complex process, and the emotions of that phenomenon may only be truly conveyed through art.
Though that isn’t a list of retirement gifts for absolutely everyone (there are countless more professions we could shed light on), these cover many different types of hardworking people who gave decades of their efforts to very different and impactful jobs.