9 Unexpected Retirement Gift Ideas To Warm A Mom’s Heart

Best Retirement Gifts For Moms:

9 Gift Ideas To Warm A Mother’s Heart

a mom looking over the ocean during sunset


Help! My mom is finally retiring after 4 decades of hard work. I really want to get her the perfect retirement gift to celebrate this milestone occasion, but I have no clue where to start!

Don’t worry, you came to the right place!

Retirement is a huge accomplishment, and for most women, it is something they have worked towards since the beginning of their career. It is also a great opportunity for loved ones to give gifts that honor the occasion and demonstrate their love.

But finding that perfect retirement gift for your mom isn’t going to be easy. Sure, you have been buying her gifts your entire life. But seeing the importance of this once-in-a-lifetime occasion, it needs to be the one gift to rule them all…

The best retirement gifts for moms are those thoughtful items that help her transition into her new life by pushing her to try new activities (traveling, hobbies, …), keep her body & mind healthy (exercise, reading & writing, …), or that guide her through the red tape of retirement (administration & financial preparation). However, also the classic retirements gifts such as personalized jewelry or sentimental keepsakes are well appreciated by moms. Finally, your mom will also need you. Retirement is still a very scary moment for any woman, but spending quality time with her children and grandchildren will give her the support she needs.

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By: Jess, Updated 10/01/2021

The fact that you’re reading this article already shows you are up for the challenge and you are committed to finding the perfect gift.

Great job! And your efforts will not go unrewarded, as in the rest of this guide I have gathered 9 great gifts ideas that will warm your mother’s heart and give her the best possible retirement she could have ever wished for.

How do I find the perfect retirement gift for my mom?

mom and dad sitting on a camping chair next to a true watching the sunset


Help Her to Meet New People and Try New Things

Perhaps the biggest fear that women face when they are about to retire is the thought of being all by themselves and having nothing to do all day.

Now, at this stage you might be thinking: “Nah, that is over exaggerating. My mom can just go out and meet new people and try new things, right?”


First of all, after so many years of following a certain daily routine, it is very difficult for a person to completely break with it and start from scratch.

Secondly, also don’t forget that your mom is already a bit older now. The world has changed and many things and new technologies seem incomprehensible and scary to her.

But you can help her take those first steps!

That’s right! Often, all it takes is just a little nudge to get your mom to try new activities after her retirement. And these can lead to many new acquaintances and friends.

There are a couple of great retirement gifts for mom that will do exactly this:

1. Sign her up for a new hobby or class

Has your mom been talking for years about wanting to learn a new skill or hobby?

Whether it is painting, dancing, or learning a new language, now that she is retired she’s out of excuses for not giving it a go.

But again, if you’d just leave it up to her, chances are high she’ll postpone taking action.

Some moms are a bit scared about that first class and learning something new after all those years, some just don’t know how to find the right class for them (remember that most of the baby boomers are still not so proficient in using the internet).

Enter the opportunity for a great gift.

Signing your mom up for that class she’s been talking about for years is a great retirement gift idea. You’ll take away any remaining barriers or reasons for her not to give it a try.

PRO TIP : Sign up together and spend extra quality time with her! If the chosen hobby really isn’t your thing, try to join your mom for her first lesson or class. Even if it’s just dropping her off and picking her up. She will appreciate the support for her ‘first day of school’, as well as the fact that you’re just spending time with her.

Looking for some inspiration on classes?

Here are 3 all-time retirement gift favorites.

  • Learning a new language: whether it is Spanish, French, or Italian, a person is never too old to learn a new language. So sign your mom up for a class in her neighborhood. Do note, however, that it is a bit more difficult for older people to remember things, so finding a class specifically targeted at retired people might even be better.
  • Alternatively (or in parallel), you can give your mom an online class which she can take from the comfort of her home.  I recommend the Udemy platform as it has a very easy user interface with big icons, as well as a variety of great courses and content.
  • Dancing: it might be difficult to get dad on board for this one, but our research has shown that moms do love retirement gifts that get them dancing again. Instead of the class itself, you can also give your mom some brand new dancing shoes or outfits. This online store has a nice selection of both.
  • Arts & crafts: From painting, sculpting and scrapbooking to photographing, knitting or sewing — art is one of the best activities retired moms can practice. So sign her up for a course!
  • An interesting site you might want to check out is Annie’s. This platform offers free and paying online classes for a wide range of crafts. On top, they probably offer the biggest assortment of crafts related materials I have ever seen. From crochet patterns and alpaca yarn to fabric helpers and tracing aids, you’ll find it all.

In our next topic, we’ll talk about some more great hobby starter kit gift ideas for your mom’s retirement.

people dancing in a cirlce


2. Buy her a hobby starter kit

Perhaps your mom is not ready yet to commit to an official class, or perhaps you think she would be more happy with an activity she can do at home.

That’s perfectly fine. In this case, you can give her one or more retirement gifts that allow her to get a first taste of a potential new hobby.

Here are are some of my personal favorite starter kits:

  • Painting: with this super deluxe starter kit, your mom will have all the tools at hand to make her very first masterpiece.
  • Gardening: enabling your mom to spend time in the garden offers many advantages. The fresh air and the exercise will do her good, and she can choose herself to care for just a few flowers and plants or take on bigger gardening projects. Also, moms do love to take care of people and things, so it’s a great way to make her feel needed again.
  • One of the best retirement gifts for moms that enable gardening is this tool organizer. It is made to fit a standard bucket and keeps all your mom’s gardening tools in one place. This way she can also limit the number of times she has to bend over to pick them up.
  • Wine tasting: another hobby that is very popular among retired women is wine tasting. Some women just like the concept of trying out new wines, others aspire to become a true “sommelier”.
  • In case you think your mom might be interested in this area, a great retirement gift could be this essential guide to wines. It’s renowned for being the best introductory book on wine, explaining in a very logical and understandable way the differences between wines and how to correctly pair them with food.
Bucket Boss Gardening tool organizer

Bucket Boss Tool Organizer

Deluxe Painting Starter Kit

Deluxe painting starter kit

Wine Folly : A essential guide to wines book

Essential guide to wine

3. Give her a voucher to try new activities

Besides taking on a new hobby, you can also push your mom to just try a unique experience.

From a romantic balloon trip to an adventurous skydive, she will always look back at her retirement with a big smile if you mark it with the memory of a once-in-a-life experience.

If you know exactly which activity you want to surprise your mom with, you could try to find a good deal on sites like Groupon or alternatively visit an experience platform which gathers different vendors from all over the country.

If you’re just sure she likes something adventurous or food related, you can give her a Gift box and let her decide on the exact activity herself.


romantic balloon cruise


Enable Your Mom to Travel

Did your mom ever mention that “one day” she will finally take that trip to Paris or Rome?

There probably isn’t a better moment to follow through on that dream than right after her retirement.

Not only doesn’t she have excuses like work anymore, but realistically she also won’t get any fitter as the years pass, so there is no point in delaying a big trip.

When it comes to linking your mom’s retirement gift to travel, you have 3 options:

1. Book the trip for her

The transition into retirement is quite chaotic. There is a lot of red tape to manage on top of having to emotionally process all the changes to one’s daily life. But planning a trip does require some time and effort…

So this is where you come with your thoughtful retirement gift for mom: by already planning the trip for her, you don’t just take away the organizational hassle, you also give her a fully arranged break away from the chaos. She literally just has to pack and get on that plane.

As a tip, use websites such as Flightscanner when you’re looking for flights. It allows you to very easily spot the best deals in and around the time period of choosing.

PRO TIP : Collude with your dad to find the right dates and get all the information you might need for the booking (f.e. passport number).

A passport with an airline ticket indicating retired dads should travel more

2. Gift air miles so she can choose herself

You are confident your mom would love a big trip as her retirement gift, but you’re unsure about the exact destination or timing?

My personal favorite to use for this is Skyhour as their miles are redeemable with more than 350 different airlines. This gives your mom maximum flexibility.

Northern Lights


3. Get her a Travel-Related Gift

Maybe gifting your mom a full trip for her retirement is outside your budget? Or perhaps your parents already planned a big celebratory vacation?

In these cases, you can also give your mother a travel-related gift.

A travel book that has proven to be a very successful retirement gift for moms is Lonely Planet’s ultimate “The Travel Book: A Journey To Every Country In The World“. If mom hasn’t chosen her destination yet, this book will be a great source of inspiration.

Or perhaps your she has already been to many places in the world and you want to spice things up? What about National Geographic’s “Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places”?

Besides a travel book there, there are obviously many other travel related gifts that would make a great retirement gift for a mom. For more inspiration I recommend you to read my other article where I gathered my top 20 list of useful travel items in 2022

Cover of the book destinations of a lifetime from National geographic

Destinations of a lifetime


Look For a Gift That Will Keep Her Mind Busy

Giving your mother a gift that will keep her mind busy isn’t just a great idea to keep her from getting bored or lonely.

The brain, just like any other organ or muscle in the body, needs regular exercise to stay healthy and in shape.

So by giving her something to enrich and train the mind, you are actually helping her to keep her brain sharp for years to come.

Let me give you 4 concrete mind-enriching retirement gift ideas for your mom:

1. Learning new things

Learning a new skill is a fantastic way to exercise your brain at any age. We already talked about learning a new language in our first gift idea for retired moms, but challenging the mind to learn any new skill will basically do the trick.

As a golden tip, check out Futurelearn. This site gives access to hundreds of both short as in-depth online courses, with topics ranging from internet & technology to business & history.

With a yearly one-off subscription, your mother will have access to them all, allowing her to get more knowledgeable in a range of areas, and choosing herself where she wants to deep dive even more.

To top it off, she can even get specific online degrees to make it official!

older women taking an online class at home on a laptop sitting at a desk


2. Brain training & games

Another fun way to keep the mind fit is by doing brain training exercises & games. It will not only sharpen the memory, reasoning skills, and focus, but it’s also just a fun way to pass the time.

If you’re looking for a concrete retirement gift idea, I would really recommend Brainfitlife. It’s a site that offers a range of scientifically proven brain games, as well a lot of interesting relating content and assessments. 

Or if you prefer a more old school paper version, you could also opt for an interesting book with brain puzzles for older adults, which can top off with this classic bestseller of daily brain games.

7 pillars of brain health

7 Pillars of Brain Health by Brain Fit Life

3. Cooking

Wait, you’re telling me that eating can help keep the mind fit?

That’s right!

From using your memory in recalling recipes to measuring & counting, as well as using fine motor skills in chopping & stirring, your brain is very active and stimulating neural pathway connections for all of them.

If you want to surprise your mom with a thoughtful retirement gift that gets her cooking her favorite dishes, check out this list of top gifts for a foodie.

the art of french cooking


4. Taking care of a pet

Right of the bat, giving someone a pet just because you think puppies are cute is not ok. Too many creatures have ended up abandoned because they were once gifts that were not thought through.

That being said, I do want to make a case that (thoroughly) considering a pet for your mom is still a good idea as a retirement gift.

You see, your mom will have all that time on her hands now, and as I mentioned before “being alone with nothing to do” is something many soon-to-retire women fear.

This is where a pet can actually fill a void while finding the best possible care in the world. By having a living creature depend on her, your mom will feel needed on top of creating a new bond and friendship.

It is even scientifically proven that taking care of pets increases the levels of serotonin in the brain (the feel-happy hormone) while lowering overall stress levels.

Now, you can choose to go for a new pet, but perhaps you can help out a poor abandoned little guy find a new home.

Connecting more than 17,000 animal shelters & rescues, Adoptapet is the place where you can find your mom a new best friend while giving that friend a forever-home at last.   

Adopt a Pet Near you


Find a Gift That Will Keep Her Fit and Healthy

Now that your mom & dad finally have the time to do all those things they always talked about, you will want to make sure they are also physically able to do so and enjoy every second of it for as long as possible.

That is why giving your mother a retirement gift that will help her keep her healthy and in shape is a great & thoughtful idea.

Here are 4 retirement gift ideas that will help your mom keep her body healthy & fit:

1. A Gym Membership

Every day is a good day to start going to the gym, no matter how old you are!

Besides keeping healthy and in shape, a gym membership will force your mom to go out and be among people. Who knows, she might just make some new friends along the way.

It is, however, perhaps a good idea to arrange a personal trainer as well, if only for the first few times.

As your mom is getting a bit older, she does need to be careful with her joints and especially her back. That is why asking for an expert to make her a tailored schedule is a good idea.

In case you think your mom would appreciate a gym membership as a retirement gift, then you might want to check out 24hourfitness.

They have been running top notch gyms across the country for more than 30 years. Just select one of their locations near your mom’s and you can set up the membership in just a few clicks.

Watch Out: you know your mom best. Although many women appreciate and welcome a gym membership to kick off their retirement in good health, you don’t want your mom to misinterpret the gift as a hint she needs to lose weight.

In case of doubt, a fun gym class with friends, or a more beauty related gift (see next points) might be a safer bet.

women exercising during a fitness class

2. Sign her up for a class

An alternative and perhaps even more fun way to give fitness related retirement gifts is by signing your mom up for a fun class.

Whether it is a spinning class or Zumba, most classes offer sessions specifically targeted at retired adults. This way she cannot bail out by claiming she won’t be able to keep up with the rest.

Pro Tip: Get in touch with her friends and get them to join the class as well. Your mom will love the fact that she doesn’t have to go by herself, and with her friends there it is bound to be loads of fun!

Not sure which class is the right one for your mother? Then let me present to you the perfect solution: classpass!

This company has made agreements with countless gyms and studios, allowing holders of a class pass to join different classes in different gyms.

This way your mom can try out different ones to find the one she really loves!

3. Exercise-related gifts

Maybe your mom already has a gym membership, or perhaps you think she’s more into doing her own thing.

In this case, you can still give her a thoughtful retirement gift that will enable her to keep in shape.

Perhaps the most popular physical activity among retired women is walking. This because it’s still a great exercise for the body, but without the strain on joints and muscles that comes with running.

On top, many retired ladies love to do walking in groups, and the slower pace allows them to chat away as they go about it. A winning combo!

If you’re interested in learning more about walking related retirement gifts for moms, we actually made a separate top 15 of walking gifts. However, our favorite is definitely this foot massager.

For those women who prefer to exercise in the comfort of their own homes, a great yet slightly more pricy retirement gift is a home training device.

There are three types of devices that are particularly popular among retired women:

  • Stair master: this all-time classic offers an exercise that mimics taking stairs. The settings can be adjusted ranging from very easy & nearly no resistance to very hard. You can go for a simple version, or the crème de la crème fully automated machine.
  • Elliptical training machine: These machines combine the stepping activity of the previous machine with upper body movement.
  • Dual action training bike: With this training device you can also train the legs and upper body simultaneously, but this while being seated.
stairmaster sm3

Stairmaster SM3

Simpfree Elliptical Machine

Simpfree Elliptical Machine

Dual Action Training Bike

Dual Action Training Bike

Finally, in case your mom is a bit tech savvy, you can also go for the Fitbit.

With this nifty device, she can track her heartbeat and many other stats during a workout. This while wearing an absolutely dashing accessory.    

Fitbit Purple limited edtion US

Fitbit Purple Limited Edition

4. Beauty & skincare gifts

After all those years of working very hard, your mother also deserves some proper pampering.

By giving her a nice beauty or skincare gift basket, she will be able to turn her house into her own little spa and come out looking radiant and completely rejuvenated. 

If you want to go truly exclusive, you can go for this extravagant facial mask, or perhaps the infamous Revitalize & Glow Skincare set by Estée Lauder.

forever young essence gift set

Forever Young Facial Mask

Estée Lauder revitalize & glow gift set

Revitalize & Glow gift set by Estée Lauder

Want to go even bigger? Then arrange a full day at the spa, including a professional massage and several treatments. With Spafinder you can find great deals for countless spas and beauty salons near your mom’s.

Alternatively, you can purchase a gift card and let her choose one or more pampering sessions herself.

Want more concrete beauty related retirement gifts ideas for mom? Then definitely also check out our posts on top beauty gift sets and pamper & relaxation gifts for her.


Cup of japanese thee on white sheets in relaxing environment


You Can’t Go Wrong With a Classic Retirement Gift

We cannot have a post about the best retirement gifts for moms without mentioning the all-time classics.

Most of them are perhaps more traditional and even a bit stereotype, but a retiring mother will love them nonetheless! 

From engraved jewelry to a personalized journal, we will cover it all in the next section:

1. Engraved Jewelry

Yep, I know it sounds unoriginal, but our research actually showed that many women absolutely loved receiving a nice piece of jewelry engraved with a personal message for their retirement.

First of all, you can probably not go wrong with a nice watch. But do check her current jewelry box to make sure you get one that fits her style.

If you’d like to add an engraving, this can be done at most jewelry stores. Mention it upfront to the salesperson so he or she can help you pick out those models that have enough space on the back.

But, nice watches are very expensive, no?

Not necessarily. Sure, you can spend several thousand dollars on a watch, but there are equally beautiful alternatives in lower prices ranges.

Here are 3 beautiful & popular watches in each price range:

Tribeca Mesh Strap Watch

Tribeca Mesh Strap Watch

Michele Deco Sports Watch

Michele Deco Sports Watch

Longines Diamond Watch

Longines Diamond Watch

Besides watches, necklaces also make great retirement gifts for mom. When it comes to engraved necklaces, the most popular ones are lockets.

This because you can play with initials on the outside and secret messages or photos on the inside.

14k golden locket necklace shown on a v-neck white top

A touching inscription can also be added to the back of a more traditional necklace. This stunning crystal and diamond necklace by David Yurman is a great example.

david yurman diamond necklace

David Yurman diamond necklace


2. Personalized gifts

Your mom’s retirement is a milestone event that deserves to be remembered with a personalized item or keepsake.

You can go very broad in this category. But besides your traditional photo frames, you can also go a bit more creative.

A great example is this beautiful music box, which you can personalize with your own message and photo.

Another more unique personalized retirement gift for your mom could be this engraved clock.

In this top 20 of personalized retirement gifts for moms, you can find more concrete gift ideas.

personalized music keepsake box for your mom

Personalized music keepsake box

Framed retirement clock

Personalized framed retirement clock

3. A Sentimental Journal

Another classic retirement gift for mom is a journal in which she can write down her life’s story.

There is no discussion about this one, if you’re going down this route you will want the journal used in the Disney classic “Up”. It made people cry in the movie and it will do so again during your mom’s retirement party!

4. A Commemorative plaque

Although a commemorative plaque is indeed a classic retirement gift, I would actually advise against it, as many women see it as something of a “tombstone”.

Actually, a more creative and much more appreciated route is to take an object of significance and have it gilded or bronzed and engraved.

Bronzed computer mouse

any meaningful item could be bronzed


Make Her Laugh With a Funny Retirement Gift

Retirement and the tension building up to the big day is a very stressful experience for your mom, so bringing some humor and laughter to the room is more than welcome.

That is why we definitely have to cover funny retirement gifts.

We got so many reactions and requests for more tips regarding this topic, that we actually decided to create a separate post about it, ranking our 20 favorite funny retirement gifts for women.

But if I need to choose and single out only 3 of them, here they are:

  • Retirement survival kit: this hilarious retirement gift includes a day-of-the-week pill box, a magnifying glass for her aging eyes, and a spinner to help her make decisions

  • Funny Wine Tumbler: time to sit back and relax while enjoying some nice wine from a hysterical wine tumbler.

  • Retirement ribbon: time to make it official and let the whole world know who’s retiring today with this funny ribbon.

Although funny retirements are a great way to make mom and everyone else the room laugh, you might also want to make sure you have a “real” gift as well.

Perhaps team up with your siblings to buy her one bigger gift, while adding a personal gag gift on top separately. This way she’ll always have both a humorous as a touching memory of her retirement party. 


Help Her With Administration & Financial Preparation

Before your mom will be able to properly enjoy her retirement, there is a lot of red tape that needs to be squared.

Offer to help her take care of all this paperwork, or go one step further and hire experts or specialists.

But besides making sure all the official paperwork is in order, there is another matter that requires attention: financial planning.

The reality is that your mom will now need to live for several decades without a professional income.

Sure, she might have a 401k and she put some money under the mattress to complement her pension, but without proper financial planning, it might not be enough.

Again, you can help her yourself or turn to professional help. But perhaps already a great first step is getting your mom thinking about financial planning post-retirement with the help of some good books.

Here are 3 absolute best sellers on the topic: 


Strengthen the Bond with Her Grandchildren

If you have kids of your own, one of the best retirement gifts you can ever give your own mother is to find ways to let her spend even more quality time with her grandchildren.

Especially if you live in another state, you can bet your ass your mom would be thrilled with the idea of spending her now abundant time bonding with her grandkids.

My favorite retirement gift ideas for a grandmother: 

1. Board Games Gift Basket

Pull together a gift basket with some all-time favorite board games such as Uno, Jenga, Apples to Apples, and the family edition of trivial pursuit. Grandma and the grandkids will have hours of fun playing these classics.

Pro tip: add a little card saying that the grandkids are coming to stay with her for a few days and the perfect gift is complete.

play jenga with your grandkids

2. Let her share her wisdom

Kids love hearing stories as well as doing things together with grandma.

So a great retirement gift you could give your mom is to help her impart her wisdom & skills to the kids.

Is your mom, for example, a talented painter? Then what about giving her this super cute painting starter kit for kids.

She’ll love it!

Painting starter kit for kids

3. Tickets to an event

You’ve seen Frozen like a million times and the kids refuse to “let it go” when it comes to the next musical or show?

Enter the opportunity for a great retirement gift for your mom!

Give her tickets to take the kids to a special event or show. She’ll love the quality time with the grandkids, and of course, the kids will be thrilled to go.

Check out Superstar for the best deals on event tickets nationwide. They also have a very clear calendar to find out which events are happening near you.

Frozen musical for kids

Frozen musical for kids

4. Take a family trip

It’s probably been a while since you left home and started your own family.

Your mom is undoubtedly very proud of you, but she probably does miss having you around. Not to mention she’d love to spend some time with her grandkids.

Kick off her retirement with a memory she’ll cherish for years, a family trip. Go back to that family cabin you used to go as a kid yourself, and have a great time with the 3 generations in your family.

A family on holiday enjoying the sunset

take a 3-generation family trip

#TIP 9

Be There for Her & Take Up the Role as Change Agent

Your mom is about to end a 30 to 40-year career. After all these years of dedication and routine, it won’t be easy for her to start a completely new life from one day to the other. It probably terrifies her at some level.

This is where you can really be there for her. As we mentioned already in the previous gift ideas, you can play a crucial role in helping her find new activities while keeping her body & mind healthy.

But perhaps the one thing that your mom will appreciate the most, is if you just spend more time with her during this emotional transition period.

Call her every week and try to visit her at least once a month. Sure, you might not live in the same states and traveling will be a hassle, but trust me, it would mean the world to your mom.

Your mom did everything for you and therefore will always be one of the most important people if your life, right? So if there is ever a time to repay the favor, do it now during this milestone event in her life!

“Life didn’t come with a manual, it came with a mother”. Check out this 2-minute video below to see why my last tip is so important.

As the French would say: “Et Voila!”, there you have it!

I hope these 9 retirement gift ideas helped you find the perfect gift for your mom, and you’re now fully set to give her a memorable start of her new life.

One thing is for sure, she’ll definitely be moved by all your efforts to make her retirement day special. She’s very lucky to have such a great son or daughter!

Remember, for more inspiration don’t forget to check out our posts on funny retirement gifts for mom and personalized retirement gifts for women.  


Personalized Retirement Gifts For Women

Personalized Retirement Gifts For Women

Funny Retirement Gifts For Women

Funny Retirement Gifts For Women

Top 30 Retirement Gifts for Men

Top 30 Retirement Gifts For Men