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My mom is retiring this month after a long career in social work, and all I want is to kick-start this new phase of her life with something fun and thoughtful. But my initial look-around turned up a lot of the same, and it wasn’t pretty—cellophane-wrapped gift baskets, bad wall art, and commemorative mugs. If I did end up seeing something worthwhile, it didn’t have the sheen of style. 

After another dead end, I started saving everything I’d like to give my mom (or dad, if he’d ever take a break) once she transitioned away from a full-time job. Here’s everything that made the cut. 

Best Retirement Gifts for Cooking

I wouldn’t call my mom a chef, and she’d agree with me, but what she doesn’t lack is a detailed, meticulous persistence in craft (she is an accomplished basket maker and sewing wiz). I want to upgrade her kitchen so we can cook and bake more elaborately together. I’d stock her cabinets with a cheerful new Dutch oven, beautiful chef-designed knives, and an easy-to-operate ice cream maker. I’d pick up a few resources for her, like this set of classic cookbooks, and sign her up for a few MasterClasses with pros. Finally, I’d add more wineglasses to her collection so she can enjoy bottles that have been aging in her cellar.

Best Retirement Gifts for Gardening

My mom loves nature and is primed to get more seriously into gardening as her time frees up. I’d outfit her with a little portable stool that comes with storage, a big flouncy hat for sun protection (but also to look cute), and the sweetest watering can for patio plants. Maybe I’d throw in a blackberry bush for good measure. Oh, and an elegant ikebana vase for her to experiment with arrangements. 

Best Retirement Gifts for Traveling

My parents are traveling more than they ever have, and it’s thrilling to see them head to new places. My mom is a committed carry-on person, so I’d upgrade her to an Away suitcase—nicer than entry level but not something to worry about getting a little wear. A new passport cover and luggage tag are universal, as is a great pair of on-trend walking shoes. Over-the-ear wireless headphones and a fob that will let her use them on a plane? Yes to that. She can make her own packing cubes, but she needs something cute to put her beauty products in.

Best Retirement Gifts for Wellness

I want my mom to do more just for herself; she’s always giving to others. To send her on that path, I’d wrap up new sheets, a waffle robe, and fancy bath products. Plus I’d add in an overnight manicure lotion (it’s refillable!), a good-looking weight set, and a little recovery tool from Therabody. 

Best Group Gifts for Retirement

My dad’s retirement isn’t too far behind, and he’s the kind of person who insists he doesn’t need a thing. But I’m willing to bet that if a group went in on something, he wouldn’t refuse it. My ideas: an extremely compact yet premium camera, attractive binoculars, or an outdoor pizza oven we could use together. A book subscription and mix of framed photos are also contenders, as is a solar-powered bird feeder with a camera that syncs directly to your phone.