How to Pick a Retirement Gift for a Parent

Three Methods:Giving a Sentimental GiftGiving an ExperienceGiving a Retirement Hobby Gift

Your parent's retirement is a great excuse to get him or her a gift. You can follow the more traditional path and get your parent something like a plaque commemorating the years of work, you can buy your parent the experience of a lifetime, or you can buy your parent an item he or she wants to use for years to come. Whatever you choose, a little brainstorming and a few ideas are all it will take to pick out a great retirement gift for your parent.

Method 1
Giving a Sentimental Gift

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    Think about shared memories. Sometimes the best gift is a heartfelt one. If you choose a sentimental or commemorative gift it doesn't necessarily have to be the most practical. If you have shared memories or experiences, a gift that hearkens to it will be much appreciated.
    • This will often be a recurring experience. For instance, a yearly family vacation to the same place.
    • It can also commemorate a specific, one-time experience, like a high school graduation trip that you went on with them.
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    Think about your parent's career. Oftentimes, a gift that commemorates their career can have a sentimental touch too.[1] For instance, if you parent was a pilot, a high-end model of the primary aircraft that they flew during their career might be a good gift.[2]
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    Pick out a sentimental or commemorative item.[3] Whether you choose to go with a gift of sentiment between the two of you or has sentiment that relates to their career, they will appreciate the personal touch.
    • One option is to pick out a commemorative item, such as a plaque or a framed photo that those at the retirement party can sign.[4]
    • Designing a gift that commemorates the time he or she spent at the company can be a nice touch.[5]
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    Add a note or card. Even though your gift is sentimental, words expressing your feelings are important too. Express how much they mean to you in the card, and perhaps add an anecdote about how they were a role model and taught you the importance of working hard.

Method 2
Giving an Experience

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    Think about what they enjoy doing. Perhaps your parent enjoys wine tours. Buying them a tour pass for a high-end winery might be something they really enjoy. If they love live music, buy them tickets to their favorite band.
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    Think about what they haven't done, but want to. Sometimes a parent might have a lifelong dream, such as a trip to Rome, a cruise, or visiting the Grand Canyon. Oftentimes either career or children get in the way of these dreams. If you know of something they've always wanted to do, now is the perfect time to make it happen.
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    Select an experience.[6] Whether as simple as a trip to a weekend bed and breakfast or as exotic plane tickets to Europe, there are plenty of experiences that you can give, depending on their interests.[7] They might not have a physical gift, but the memories will last forever.
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    Organize a charitable event. If you run out of other idea and your parent has a social or civic cause they are devoted to, you could organize a charitable event or volunteer day in their name. If all else fails and the scheduling for an actual experience doesn't work out, you could also consider sending a donation in their name. [8]

Method 3
Giving a Retirement Hobby Gift

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    Think about your parent's hobbies. If your parent enjoys a hobby, they may appreciate a gift for their hobby.[9] Sewing, fishing, car repair, fitness, golf, the list goes on.[10] If they had a favorite hobby, odds are that in retirement they will have far more time to enjoy it. Consider getting them set for retirement with some hobby equipment that they have always wanted.
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    Choose tools or equipment. This option will often go along with the brainstorming you did on their hobby. New golf clubs or high end fishing rods, new sewing software, garage gym or yoga studio equipment, or even a new laptop. [11] Buying something centered around their interests is both thoughtful and practical
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    Buy a gift card. When all else fails, you can go with the old and reliable choice - a gift card.[12] If you buy it for a specific store, be sure that they frequent that store often. Prepaid Visa cards or Amazon cards are a good choice if you want their spending choices to be flexible.
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    Add a personal note. No matter what you get them, you'll want to add another personal touch by getting them a card as well. Express how much they mean to you in the card, and try to add an anecdote about how they were a role model and taught you the importance of working hard.


  • Set a budget. You'll need to set a realistic budget for this.[13]
  • If you feel like you don't have enough money to spend on the gift, consider going in for a gift with another family member, ideally a sibling.[14]
  • Ask your parent what they want. If you are lost, just ask. More often than not they'll get you started in the right direction.
  1. Ask friends and family for ideas. If you are out of ideas you can also recruit other family and friends. Sometimes they may have an idea that you haven't though of.


  • Make sure you parent is available before buying tickets for a specific event or date. Checking with their partner is often a good idea.

Article Info

Categories: Retirement