RECOGNITION BEST PRACTICES

Hundreds of hotels have shared stories about how they're recognizing Team Members and build engagement. Read their stories and get inspired.

Retiree Recognition Ideas

Choose from 50+ recognition ideas and gift suggestions to thank your retiring Team Members for their service and dedication. To get started, select a desired price range.

Low- or No-Cost Ideas ($0 US – $50 US)

1. Remember When.
Ask each Team Member in the department or hotel to write down a special memory about the recipient. Compile, print, and post for all to see. Print an extra copy for the retiree to keep.

2. Make Some Plans.
What does your retiring Team Member plan to do after retirement? At the retirement party, offer some fun suggestions for the retiree, spotlighting positive attributes about that person. For example:

  • Mary would be a wonderful teacher because she’s so great at mentoring others.
  • Sam would make a great hot-air balloon pilot because she likes to go above and beyond.
  • Jose should be an electrician, since he’s so good at lighting up a room.
  • Margaret should take up rock climbing because she never lets an obstacle get in her way.
  • Jane should write a book because she’s so creative and has tons of great stories.

3. Photographic Memory.
Whether your retiree plans to travel or spend time with family, they’re going to take plenty of pictures. Purchase a special photo album. Include your own page of special pictures and memories from the retiree’s career at the front, and leave the rest blank for the retiree to fill in with future memories.

4. Parting Wisdom.
Don’t know what you’ll do without your retiree? Have a department lunch where your retiree is the guest of honor. Be sure to share some of their biggest and best accomplishments throughout the years!

5. Like You Never Left.
When Team Members retire, invite past retirees for a get-together. Celebrate your newest retiree and share words of advice from the past retirees!

6. Stay In Touch.
Stay in touch by giving your retiree a standing invitation to special Team Member events, such as annual banquets. Set up a VIP section for your retirees and change the name to VIPTM (Very Important Past Team Members). Take time to acknowledge their contributions.

7. Keep 'Em Cozy.
Go to cafepress.com or zazzle.com and customize a mug with your retiree’s name and years of service. Make it extra special by adding a care package with packets of coffee, tea, or cocoa. They’ll think of you with each cup!

8. Etched in Our Memories.
Engrave a picture frame with your retiree’s name, years of service, and a note of thanks. Add a picture of your team. Search online for engravers in your area.

9. Memory Lane.
Put together a slideshow or PowerPoint presentation to show at the Team Member’s retirement party. Include memorable anecdotes, quotes from other Team Members, and pictures throughout the years. Take photos during the party and add them to your presentation afterward. Give your retiree a copy of the slideshow.

10. In Your Honor.
Name places at your hotel in honor of past retirees. Make it job-specific. For example, you could name an area of the breakfast lounge after a retiring hostess (e.g. the Susan Baker Waffle Station). Engrave a small plaque and post it to let everyone know.

11. A Few of Your Favorite Things.
Plan a secret lunch and find out your retiree’s favorite dishes and snacks (consider asking their family or spouse for input). Cater in the food or have Team Members pitch in and make it a potluck.

12. POP! Goes the Recognition.
Buy a tank of helium and balloons. On slips of paper, have Team Members write brief notes sharing a memory or thanks. Fold the slips, put them inside the balloons, and inflate the balloons. Have your retiree pop them one by one at the party for a heartfelt surprise!

13. Hall of Fame.
Create a Retiree Hall of Fame. In a public or team area, post pictures of your retired Team Members along with their names, departments, and years of service.

14. Trusted Advice.
During your retiree’s last few weeks, interview them and ask them to share their favorite work stories and advice. Type these up, and take them to an office supply store to have them printed and bound. Create a hotel copy, and/or pass the booklets out to Team Members at the retirement party. Your retiree will feel great knowing their legacy lives on!

15. Something to Write Home About.
Mail a heartfelt handwritten letter to your retiree’s spouse or family, and share how proud you are of your retiree. Include specific memories and accomplishments of that Team Member.

16. Retire Their Number.
When great athletes retire, their jersey and number often retires with them. Create a jersey for your retiring Team Member with their name and their years of service as the number. If the retiree has a favorite sports team, consider using that jersey. If budget allows, order two jerseys: one for your Team Member to take home, and one to hang in a Retiree Hall of Fame.

17. Service Soundtrack.
Create a compilation of fun or meaningful work-appropriate songs. Try to include one for each year of service. Give a copy to your retiree as a “Soundtrack of Service.”

18. Sparkling Send-Off!
Ask each Team Member to write a brief, heartfelt speech, and have everyone toast your retiree with sparkling cider. Consider recording these so your retiree can watch them again later.

19. Community Unity.
Is your retiree deeply involved in the community? Make a donation or volunteer time at his or her favorite charity. Make it a team effort, and organize a volunteer day in honor of the retiree.

20. All in the Family.
Your Team Member’s family has supported them throughout their career, so make sure they’re part of the festivities. Invite your retiree’s family to the party. Make it a surprise for the retiree!

21. A Word to the Wise.
Share a quote about wisdom, age, or experience with your retiring Team Member. Find great quotes at Brainy Quote or Psychology Today.

22. Group Gifts.
Create a meaningful care package for your retiree. Ask every department to contribute something different.

23. Online Send-Off.
When your retiree’s permission, post a heartfelt thanks and farewell on your hotel’s Facebook or Twitter. Be sure to exclude last names and contact information.

24. Time to Flyer.
Download a retirement flyer to let your team (and possibly guests) know about your Team Member’s upcoming retirement. Include the date and time of the retirement party, plus a thanks for years of service.

25. Retiree Trophy.
Create a trophy from items your retiree used every day, such as a wrench, dustpan, or front desk bell. Spray paint these items gold, or take them to a trophy shop to learn about more options.

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$50 US – $100 US Ideas

26. It All Adds Up.
For a retirement celebration, use your retiree’s years of service as a party theme. So if they have served 13 years, order a pizza with 13 toppings, serve 13 kinds of snacks, and give a card with 13 different compliments. Get creative!

27. Pack Your Bags!
Get a small piece of luggage and ask Team Members to help fill it with things your retiree will “need.” Think sunglasses, inexpensive gift cards, kind notes, or an address book (already filled out with Team Members’ names and numbers).

28. How Time Flies.
A golden pocket watch is a classic retirement gift, but now your retiree is off the clock. Try something different based on the retiree’s hobbies or preferences. They’ll be glad you went to the extra effort to get to know them.

29. Lobby for Hobbies.
Now that your retiree will have more free time, give them a gift that will help them expand their enjoyment of current hobbies. For example, a BBQ aficionado might enjoy a recipe book or a new set of grill accessories, or a golfer might enjoy a new driver.

30. Retirement Fun Pack.
Starting a brand-new chapter of life can be daunting. Take the pressure off by giving your retiree a Retirement Fun Pack, stuffed with food and treats. Include something unique based on what you know about the retiree, like a gift certificate for ballroom dancing lessons to a wanna-be dancer.

31. Until Next Time!
On your retiree’s last day, treat them as you would a treasured guest, with little surprises during the day, such as a robe, their favorite coffee, a voucher for lunch, or movie tickets.

32. Kidding Around.
They may be retiring, but you can make your retiree feel like a kid again. Organize an ice cream or pizza party, and let Team Members find their inner kid with confetti, Silly String, and games that encourage Team Members to remember the “old days.” Your retiree definitely won’t forget it!

33. All in the Family.
If your retiree plans to spend more time with kids and grandkids, get them something to help enjoy the time even more. Create a care package with board games, art supplies, or other age-appropriate activities the kids (and adults) will enjoy.

34. Support System.
To make your retiree's final days on the job extra special, ask their spouse or families for input. Use their knowledge to get meaningful going-away gifts, such as gift cards to a favorite restaurant, new luggage if they plan to travel, or golf clubs for a golf fanatic.

35. Recognition Subscription.
Get your retiree a subscription to a magazine, based on his or her hobbies or preferred reading choices. This way, the retiree will think about you every month.

36. Get Your Hands Dirty.
Many retirees love gardening. Give your retiree a head start by getting them an array of tools or a special plant from your local nursery. Include a note that says, “We can’t wait to watch you blossom in retirement!”

37. Stamp of Recognition.
If your Team Member plans to travel, buy them a quality, monogrammed passport holder. They’ll think of you each time it’s stamped!

38. Collectors’ Edition
Does your retiring Team Member have an all-time favorite TV show or movie franchise? Give them the star treatment by buying the Special Collectors’ set and a movie poster.

39. For All to See.
There’s no pride quite like seeing your name engraved on a plaque. Go to an engraver or trophy store and have a special plaque made just for your Team Member. If budget allows, get two: one for the hotel and one for your Team Member to take home.

40. Get Some Goodies.
Gift baskets are the perfect way to indulge your retiree’s favorites—and introduce them to something new! Customize the perfect gift basket for your retiree and stuff it with chocolate, golf gear, or anything you can imagine!

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$100 US – $200 US Ideas

41. Night On the Town.
Plan a special dinner for the team at your retiree’s favorite restaurant. Ask your Team Member’s spouse or family for input, and invite them along.

42. Work Out the Kinks.
Your Team Member probably built up some stress over the years, so buy them a massage to work out the kinks. Buy certificates to the local spa, or present your Team Member with a massaging chair pad.

43. Make it Snappy.
Buy a digital camera and memory card to take pictures at the retirement party. After copying the pictures to your computer, give the camera—full of party pictures—to your retiring Team Member. Suggest a picture-hosting website so they can share new adventures.

44. Pack Up Your Troubles.
If your Team Member plans to see more of the world, buy them a set of luggage. Have it monogrammed and include small surprises, such as heartwarming notes tucked in the pockets.

45. Thanks for the Time.
Your retiring Team Member may have plenty of time, but they’ll still need to check their watch. Buy a nice watch from a jewelry store for your Team Member. You can even engrave it with their name, years of service, and a short line of heartwarming thanks.

46. For the Team Player.
Do you have a sports fanatic on your team? Surprise them with two tickets to a big game and include a note that says, “Thanks for always being a team player.”

47. Coffee for One.
Your Team Member may have brewed plenty of coffee in their career, but now it’s all about them. Buy them a single-serving coffee machine so they can fix their own special cup any time they want.

48. Gift Giving.
What do you get the Team Member who has everything? Anything they want! Give a “gift card bouquet”—a stack of generous gift cards to their favorite stores or restaurants. Ask the Team Member’s family for input and card ideas.

49. Big Kids.
For the retiree who’s just a big kid, buy them an active gaming console, such as a Nintendo WiiU or a PlayStation. It’ll keep them up and moving—and it’s something the whole family can do!

50. Golden Oldies.
Keep a little groove in your Team Member’s step with an iPod touch or another MP3 player. Program a playlist with everyone’s favorite work-appropriate song and use it as a DJ at the retirement party. Afterwards, give it to your retiree.

51. Should Have, Wood Have.
Put a spin on engraving and get your retiree a beautiful handmade bowl. They can use the bowl for anything from food to conversation pieces. Engrave the bottom with the Team Member’s name, years of service, and a note of thanks.

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$200 US+ Ideas

52. Read Them Like a Book.
If your Team Member enjoys reading, help them do even more of it with a new Amazon Kindle or Nook. If they already have one, give them a gift card to purchase more titles.

53. Gizmos and Gadgets.
Everyone’s got a little techie in them. Help keep your retiree organized and entertained with a new tablet. Program it with Team Members’ contact information so your Team Member can keep in touch.

54. Cozy Up.
There’s nothing better than wrapping up in a cashmere blanket. Give your Team Member some warm fuzzies by presenting them with a monogrammed cashmere blanket.

55. Happy Trails!
Even if your retiree isn’t exactly sure what retirement will hold for them, keep them on track with a Garmin GPS device. They can use it on vacations or trips to see the family!

56. Peace and Quiet.
Your retiring Team Member has more than earned some peace and quiet. Make sure they get it with a pair of noise-canceling headphones. They can cancel out anything, from noisy yard work to people in the neighborhood. Ahhh!

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