Love is a verb. It requires action. Love, the noun, is a byproduct of Love, the verb. What is a gift, and what is the purpose of giving one? To me, it is an action that displays to someone else they matter to me. It is also an attempt to uplift someone else’s life.
“My friend, you are the sugar that makes the pie of my life so sweet!” Sometimes, nothing says that quite as well as an unexpected gift from a friend. Whether that friend is one’s spouse or partner, close friend or relative, or just a person in need of an act of kindness, an unexpected gift lets someone know they are a special consideration in your life. For recent retirees, receiving a gift can mean the world! Below are 8 wonderful gift ideas for recent retirees.
The Gift of Physical Rejuvenation
There is nothing quite as relaxing as several hours spent at a spa, mineral springs, or natural hot springs. Spending time in a steam room cleanses the body and mind. As the room fills with heat and steam and, hopefully, some therapeutic oil aroma of eucalyptus or mint of some variety, we have the opportunity to regain equanimity. We are afforded quiet and relaxing minutes in a room without external distractions. Along with the steam room, many spas have a dry sauna and hot tub available for their customers to enjoy.
Russian spas, usually known as a banya, have the added benefits of the unique Slavic traditions, customs and rituals. In the dry heat room, one will be treated to a birch broom, known in Russian as a “venik.” The device is a collection of small birch tree branches banded together, soaked in hot water to soften them, and used in a specific manner on one’s skin. The branches are waved through the air, to bring down the heat, and then brought down on one’s body. Using a venik in a hot room is experiential, and highly recommended. Great for circulation, cleansing and detoxifying one’s body.
Pricing in a banya starts at about $125 for an hour and a quarter, and it goes up from there. It is a gift of total pampering, relaxation, rejuvenation and massage. You are pretty much guaranteed that your friend will emerge smiling and content as can be. In many areas of our country, mineral springs and natural hot springs are available, and the cost to use them is considerably lower. But if your budget allows, treat yourself and your special someone to time in a banya. It is quite the experience!
A Surprise Gift for Those Who Like to Travel
Imagine saying this to your gift recipient: “I need you to pack a suitcase for a trip we are going to take. And I’m not telling you where we are going!” This presumes, of course, that you are well-acquainted with the recipient of your gift. You will need to know what climates and surroundings they most enjoy. They will figure out where you are going by the time you arrive at the airport or train station, but for a short while you will both enjoy the excitement of the unknown destination.
It may be that your surprise travel excursion is on a more local level. Perhaps booking a weekend at a lodge in the mountains near you, or someplace within a drive of just a few hours. A weekend away from the city, away from the computer and phones, away from the daily distractions and annoyances which too often impede the growth of whatever friendship or other relationship in which you are engaged. “My friend, pack a bag. We are going away for the weekend, and I’m not telling you where, but you’ll love it!” Again, if you are awake to the needs, wants and desires of the other, you will know where to take them.
If you choose to give the gift of travel but would prefer the recipient to be able to go alone, or choose another travel companion, then we recommend purchasing travel gift certificates from any one of the major airlines. A free or discounted flight is always appreciated! You can also purchase travel cards for lodging too. Choose from trusted companies such as Airbnb or Hotels.com.
The Gift of Remembering the Past
Odds are that once we are in our 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or older, we have all the stuff that we want. But sometimes, there is nothing like getting a present of merchandise representing something from our past. A movie or band we enjoy. I am a bassist, growing up on classical, swing, big band, folk music and rock-n-roll. Some years ago, a family member sent me two boxed sets of Grateful Dead CDs. I enjoy them to this day, often putting one of the disks in my boom box, tuning up my bass guitar and playing along with the band. Most bands have web sites where their merchandise can be purchased. Think of the music your recipient enjoys, and order them something, be it CDs, old vinyl records, or a shirt, hat, or jacket.
Here in Denver, Twist and Shout is a record store well worth exploring, but you can find records stores in nearly every city across nation. There are also old vintage stores in nearly every city where you can find movies or trinkets from the past. Nostalgia is a very comforting gift, and you do not need to spend more than $25 to create that experience for a friend who has recently retired.
The Gift of Learning a New Hobby
Does your gift recipient have an unfulfilled, and perhaps long dormant, desire to learn a new hobby or skill? Perhaps it is to play a musical instrument, or learn photography, or rebuild a car engine? One of the biggest challenges for someone who has spent the last handful of decades building their career, is that when they finally retire there is often a void left that needs to be fulfilled. It is difficult to recreate the structure that work provides, however by learning one, two or even three new hobbies, it helps refocus your energy on the things you love!
If it is gardening, then get your loved one or friend a pair of trimmers, or a gift certificate to Home Depot. If it is learning a musical instrument, then most major cities have reputable music stores, such as Guitar Center, where one can buy new and used gear. I have also found that pawn shops frequently have excellent selections to choose from. Find out what your gift recipient is passionate about and give them the gift that keeps on giving… a hobby.
The Gift of Reading
Like myself, several of my friends, family and acquaintances are avid readers. Whatever their preferred genre, they would all be pleased with receiving a quality book to read. One way to make the gift extra-special would be to purchase an autographed copy for them. And if the author personalized the inscription and autograph, that would increase the thoughtfulness of your gift. Many of us authors would, I am certain, be glad to accommodate such a request. I know that I would. Some of the more famous authors might be a challenge to contact, but with persistence, and a few extra bucks, it can probably be accomplished. There are also web sites which specialize in rare, collectible and out-of-print books. We are lucky to live in an age where an internet search can help us find them easily.
The Gifts of Gadgets
Many people these days are, of course, enthralled with gadgets and electronic devices. There are a plethora of them available, and major box stores which specialize in these will have all that your recipient could desire. Although these stores all have online sites which you can order from, you might consider picking one up and gift-wrapping it yourself. There is a big difference between receiving a gift shipped from a store, and being handed a gift by someone who really cares about you. I suggest, and prefer, the latter.
Gadgets are fun and tend to keep us feeling young. Several gadgets we recommend for the recent retiree are electronic picture frames, ambient LED outdoor speakers, emergency phone charger key chains, and heated neck and should massages pads. Most gadgets can be purchased for under $50!
Gifts from the Heart
Lastly, perhaps you are acquainted with someone who has not done something special, or bought something new for themselves, in quite some time. Maybe that person has been focused on the care of a family member. Or perhaps that person has been too busy working and providing for others, to treat themselves to something nice. Maybe that person just cannot afford the expenditure right now. It is conceivable that you know people who are, during these days of social distancing, unable to get out and shop for themselves.
I have two dear friends in this last category, and they allow me to bring them some homemade chicken soup, chocolates, fruit and a few other items they enjoy but cannot procure for themselves. I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service to them.
If you know the person well at all, and if you are awake to the needs of them or others, it will not be hard to come up with some meaningful gift for them. Some homemade bread, soup or other dish that you make yourself. Perhaps their lawn needs mowing and weeding. Maybe their trees are long overdue for getting trimmed. When is the last time you saw them in new clothes? Is their house in need of a good cleaning, or paint or repair? Has it been a long time since they went out for an evening? Those are all pregnant opportunities to give the best kind of gift – a gift from the heart. Your recent retiree friend will appreciate it!
Love is the active concern for another’s well-being.
Extravagant or simple, or somewhere in between, it does not matter. If the gift comes from your heart, it is priceless.
Aaron Ainbinder is the author of “Just Before the Stroke of Seven” which is available on Amazon.