16 Fun, Practical or Cheap Nurse Retirement Gift Ideas


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Nurses are special people. They work tirelessly in an often thankless job. They don’t get the respect or the pay that doctors get, even though they are putting in the most face time with patients. They advocate for their patients. And they provide comfort and relief to people with illnesses and injuries. They deserve a lot more appreciation than they get.

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If you know a nurse that’s retiring, you may want to get them a gift to celebrate this milestone. Because nurses spend their whole careers caring for others. It’s only right that they receive care in their new phase of life. Here are some of our favorite retirement gifts for nurses. 

Practical Gift Ideas for a Retiring Nurse

Gifts that serve a practical purpose will be appreciated. They likely will be more appreciated than something that is just nice to look at. These gift ideas can help the nurse in your life transition into enjoying their retirement. 

1. E-book reader

Nurses are busy and work long shifts. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for leisure activities like reading. Now that the nurse in your life has retired, they can catch up on all the books they haven’t read.

An e-book reader is great because it keeps hundreds of books in one place. And many libraries allow patrons to check out e-books for free. So you don’t need to buy any extra subscriptions or tools. You can also include a gift card to buy e-books that aren’t available at the library. 

2. Nice coffee machine

Most medical professionals start their day with a strong cup of coffee. Just because your nurse friend has retired, it doesn’t mean they’re ready to give up their vice.

Get them a nice coffee machine so they can enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee at home. You can sweeten the deal by throwing in a personalized coffee mug and nice coffee beans, too. 

3. Retirement books for nurses

Retirement is a huge change, especially when coming from a fast-paced career. Several books have been written about how to adjust to retirement.

There are even books specifically for nurses who are retiring! This practical gift can help your loved one adjust to their new lifestyle. 

4. Snack basket

Food is always a great way to express your appreciation for someone. It’s nice to spoil people you care about with nourishing food or decadent indulgences.

Or maybe a combination of both! You can order an upscale fruit basket or high-end chocolates. You can also put together a basket full of your loved one’s favorite snacks.

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Fun Gift Ideas for a Retiring Nurse

The best part about retiring is having the time to explore new things. These gift ideas are more experience-based. They hopefully will encourage your loved one to have some fun. Retirement is about enjoying yourself. These gifts can kick start that fun.  

5. Travel guide

Most people dream of exploring the world when they retire. A travel book makes a great retirement gift for a nurse with an adventurous spirit or an extensive travel bucket list.

If they have a particular area of the world they’re interested in, get a guide specific to that region. If not, more general travel guides exist. This gift should get your loved one in the mood for adventure.   

6. Spa gift certificate

Nurses don’t have a lot of time for self-care. Retirement is the perfect time to encourage a little more self-indulgence. Get the nurse in your life a spa gift certificate. If several people can chip in, you can get one large enough to sample several services.

Enable your loved one to indulge in a facial, massage, pedicure, or whatever else they might want to sample. 

7. Gift certificate for classes

Many nurses have hobbies or interests they’ve never had the time or energy to explore. Get a gift certificate for the nurse in your life that will allow them to explore those interests. Local community colleges and art studios offer classes for adults in a variety of subjects.

Things like cooking, art, and music can be explored. Now that they have the time, you can help them explore their hobbies or find a new one to pursue. 

8. Concert or event tickets

Nurses don’t work a 9-5 job. Hospital nurses, in particular, often have to work overnights and weekends. This doesn’t leave them a lot of opportunities to attend concerts or theatrical productions.

If there’s a band your loved one is a big fan of, get them tickets for an upcoming concert. They’ll be excited to go without having to worry about rescheduling shifts or waking up early the next day. You can also pick up tickets to a play, musical, or other stage show. This kind of gift will become a cherished memory.   

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Inexpensive Gift Ideas for a Retiring Nurse

Don’t have a big shopping budget? That’s okay. You can still get a thoughtful gift for the nurse in your life without breaking the bank. Check out these gift ideas that are considerate but don’t break the bank. 

9. Scented candles

Scented candles are a great go-to gift for anyone who needs a little relaxation. Certain aromas can have therapeutic qualities.

Lavender has calming properties that can relieve stress and tension. Citrus scents are energizing and promote focus. Jasmine can help reduce anxiety. Select scents you know your loved one will gravitate towards. 

10. Potted plant

When people celebrate a milestone, flowers are a popular gift. While this is a thoughtful gesture, it’s ephemeral. Flowers die after a few days, leaving the recipient without a long-term memento. A potted plant carries the same meaning as a bouquet but it will last for much longer.

You could get useful plants, like a collection of potted herbs that can be used for cooking. You can also get a low-maintenance plant if the nurse you know is lacking a green thumb. Succulents are a good choice for that purpose. They make a pretty display but need very little care.    

11. Bathrobe and slippers

Nurses typically have to wear very utilitarian garb. Scrubs and sensible shoes are usually the order of the day. Treat your loved one to something comfortable and indulgent.

A thick, soft bathrobe is a delightfully decadent thing to slip on for a lazy morning. Pair it with some warm, fuzzy socks and give the recipient some comfort.     

12. Vintage medical poster prints 

Sometimes it can be difficult for medical professionals to transition into retirement. They’re so used to being steeped in medical culture, it can be jarring to no longer be surrounded by it.

Vintage medical-themed poster prints can honor their career and help them transition to retirement. Consider prints of stethoscopes and other medical equipment to bring a sense of whimsy to a home office.   

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DIY or Personalized Gifts for a Retiring Nurse

It’s nice to spoil our friends and loved ones with extravagant gifts when they hit a milestone like their retirement.

But more than that, recipients enjoy getting gifts that are thoughtful and heartfelt. Making a gift by hand shows that you care enough about the recipient to spend some time on them. Personalized specialty gifts also let people know you care enough to pay attention to their interests. 

13. Scrapbook

If you have a nurse coworker who is retiring, you can get the whole office in on a sweet going-away gift. Ask the other nurses, administrative staff, and even some patients to contribute pictures and notes to you. Use them to put together a scrapbook.

It will be a keepsake to commemorate your nurse’s time in the office. More importantly, it will let them know how much they are appreciated. 

14. Handmade bath and body items

Can’t swing a spa gift certificate? Give your nurse an at-home spa experience with handmade bath items. It’s easy to make bath salts, body scrubs, and even bath bombs at home. These ingredients largely overlap, so you could make all three. You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Epsom salt
  • Sea salt
  • Citric acid
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking soda
  • Coconut oil
  • Essential oils
  • Food-safe coloring
  • Mason jars

Most of these ingredients can be picked up at your local grocery store. Although you may need to go online for citric acid. There are plenty of easy-to-follow recipes online.

Once you’ve mixed everything together package it up in mason jars. These are thoughtful gifts that just need a little time and care to make. 

15. Jewelry

Many nurses aren’t able to wear jewelry when they’re working. Now that the nurse in your life has retired, they may want to start wearing jewelry on a day-to-day basis. You can get a gift that’s casual enough for everyday wear that gives a nod to their former profession.

Get a bracelet with charms that cater to the interests of the recipient. Be sure to include a Rod of Asclepius charm. The Rod of Aesclepius is an ancient Greek symbol used as a symbol of medicine. 

16. Vintage tea party set

After working a long medical career, your loved one may look forward to taking some time to unwind. Tea is a soothing drink, and it’s easy to find interesting varieties in local stores. You can also visit thrift stores to collect special teacups and saucers.

Mismatched cups and saucers can make for a fun and quirky start to a collection.   

Retirement Gift Ideas for Nurses

Nursing is rewarding but challenging work. Retirement opens the doors for nurses to explore new interests. Or they might just savor some relaxation. A thoughtful gift at any price point is a great way to show how happy you are to usher a retiree into the next stage of their life. 

If you're looking for more ideas, check out our full list of gift ideas for nurses.


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