12 Retirement Memory Book Ideas for Coworkers & Loved Ones

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Are you looking for the perfect retirement gift for your coworker or your loved one? Instead of giving them a kitschy t-shirt that says “retired and loving it” or a set of golf clubs that they’ll intend to use but never actually, why not create a retirement memory book? 

Jump ahead to these sections:

A retirement memory book is a collection of photos and other memorabilia that is presented in book form. You can create the book in a variety of ways.

You could use a photo book website to create a retirement memory book. One benefit of utilizing one of these websites is that the book you create will be professionally printed and bound. The disadvantage of using one of these sites is that people are unable to add items to the book at the last minute.

Perhaps you are crafty, and you like the idea of creating a DIY scrapbook retirement memory book. These are highly customizable and last-minute items can be added easily, but they tend to take up more room than a sleek, professionally printed book.

Regardless of the method you choose, here are some ideas for items to include.

Tip: Growing older and retiring means watching your friends and family members grow older, too. And that often means coping with loss and grief. If you know a retiree who's facing a loss, our post-loss checklist may be able to help.

Memory Book Ideas for a Retired Coworker

It can be a lot of work planning the retirement of a special coworker. Hopefully, the retiree will give you months to prepare for the celebration. Besides researching retirement party ideas, you may also need to book a venue and hire entertainment.

You should get started as soon as possible on your coworker’s memory book. It’s going to take longer than you think. Let us help you get started by giving you ideas on what to add.

1. Photographs

Most of the time, when someone is creating a memory book for a graduation, vacation, or wedding, the sheer number of photos makes them challenging to choose. This may not be true when you are planning a retirement memory book. 

In most industries, taking photos at work is somewhat of an anomaly. After all, people staring at a computer screen or talking on the phone do not make the most exciting photos. If the individual serves the public, customers and clients would think it odd to have a photo taken with a company employee.

As soon as you have an inkling that an individual may be retiring soon, make an effort to start taking more photos. Actually, if you have a position in the company that requires you to plan retirement parties, make it a goal to take a few pictures now and then. You will appreciate having them when you need to celebrate a special coworker.

If you are really in a bind, you may look at the social media accounts for the retiree and others in the office. Learn how to print photos from Instagram and Facebook. The pictures may not be from the actual workplace, but they will do in a pinch.

2. Letters from the retiree’s current coworkers and boss

Send out an email to everyone in your organization asking for messages for the person who is retiring. Because many people do not have much practice writing personal letters, you may want to give them ideas about what to write.

  • What is your favorite memory of Bob?
  • What advice did Ruth give you on your first day?
  • What were your first impressions of Chris? Did they end up being true?
  • Name three adjectives to describe Walter. 
  • How has Patricia helped you at work?

Give the people in your office a deadline and send a reminder a couple of days before it is due. 

3. Letters from past coworkers, customers, clients, and vendors

Very few people work in a bubble. Most of the time, a person interacts with dozens of people at work daily. 

Make a list of the individuals that the retiree worked closely with over the years. Also, think about the long-term customers or clients that may have become friends. Consider the cleaning crew and the coffee shop employees that he or she may have interacted with every day at work. 

Reach out to this circle of people to see if they would like to write a note to honor the retiree. 

4. Items that will remind the retiree of inside jokes

Hopefully, you work in an environment that is full of good humor. If so, you’ve probably enjoyed laughing together throughout the years.

Many work environments have their share of inside jokes. Use artwork, photographs, or phrases that will remind your retiring coworker about the fun that they’ll be missing.

Memory Book Ideas for a Retiring Parent or Family Member

If your parent or another family member will be retiring soon, you may decide to take it upon yourself to plan a party and create a retirement memory book. Since you probably have had little interaction with your parent’s coworkers, this may prove a unique challenge.

Reach out to a coworker for help collecting the first four items from this list. Give yourself plenty of time to get this done and to collect the following information.

5. Historical items from the company

Has your parent been with the same company for decades? Chances are that there have been many changes throughout the years. Look for examples of the company’s logo, uniform, marketing materials, letterhead, and business cards. Scatter these images throughout your memory book. If you are creating a memory box instead of a book, place some of those pieces in the box.

You may need to be creative with this, and special knowledge of your parent’s industry may help you with this part of the collection. 

6. A timeline of your parent’s workplace clothes

You may have a hard time obtaining photos of your mom or dad at work, but you can surely find pictures of them throughout the years. Try to find photos of your parents in their typical workday clothes throughout the decades. 

You and your siblings will love seeing your mom’s big shoulder pads and poofy hair from the 1980s. Your dad’s skinny knit ties and permed hair deserve special attention as well. 

7. Now vs. then

If your parent has been working since the 1970s or 1980s, they’ve seen plenty of changes throughout that time. Even if you aren’t able to find examples of those changes from the specific workplace or industry, you can compare the past to the present in other ways.

Create a collage for your retirement memory book comparing the prices, styles, movies, and music from their first year on the job to the current year. 

Sure, this section of the memory book might make your parents feel old, but it may also help your mom or dad reminisce about their favorite pop culture items from the past. 

8. A map

Did your parent travel for work? If so, include a state, country, or world map to show all the locations they had been to throughout the years. 

If you are trying to keep the retirement memory book a surprise, you may ask your non-retiring parent for a list of places. 

Retirement Memory Book Ideas for a Spouse or Partner

Retiring is indeed a life-changing event. Celebrate this milestone by creating a retirement memory book for your spouse. 

While other people’s retirement books may be more reflective, yours may look to the future. Here are some ideas of things to include. 

9. Retirement bucket list

You and your spouse may have been dreaming of retirement for years. If so, you probably have tossed around ideas of things you would like to do “someday.”

Make the list official by creating a retirement bucket list that you include in the memory book.

10. Honey-do list

Perhaps you still have a few years before you can retire, but you would like your spouse to get a jump start on some of the projects that you’ve been putting off for years.

Create a honey-do list. Of course, this list should be more tongue-in-cheek than a genuine list of chores.

11. Retirement quotes

While everyone else may think that your spouse is looking forward to retirement, you may know the real story. Some people are worried about being bored or feeling useless after retirement, and your spouse may be one of those individuals.

Encourage your partner with positive quotes or stories about retirement. Remind your partner that they are entering a new, exciting stage of life. 

12. Love letter

Are you looking forward to reconnecting with your spouse now that the kids are gone and work is complete?

Write a heartfelt love letter to your partner or spouse. Sometimes retired couples struggle spending so much time together, so it would be nice to tell your husband or wife that you are looking forward to it.

What to Do with Your Retirement Memory Book

What can you do with your retirement memory book when you're finished making it? Aside from gifting it to a loved one, coworker, and so on, here are ideas for what to do with your retirement memory book:

  • Family heirloom: These make excellent family heirlooms that can be passed down through generations to honor someone's career and legacy. 
  • Funeral plan: It's also common to include a retirement memory book in a loved one's funeral. Whether you have an in-person, traditional funeral or a virtual funeral online with GatheringUs, including elements from this memory book is very powerful 
  • Final wishes: When making your final wishes, you might also want to include instructions for your retirement memory book. Ensuring it gets passed down to your next-of-kin, saved by your workplace, or restored in your memory is important. You can create a quick, legal will online in seconds with Trust & Will to protect your things and your wishes after death. 
  • Digital: You don't have to make a physical retirement memory book. Uploading your book to a computer, the cloud, or social media keeps it around forever. 
  • Safe: Last but not least, you might want to protect it just in case anything happens. Keeping your retirement memory book in a secure, water-proof safe is a great idea. This also makes it easy to grab in an emergency. 

Other Retirement Celebration Ideas

Make an event out of giving your loved one the retirement memory book. Go out for a nice dinner with family and close friends. Have a party with coworkers. Host a back-yard BBQ or rent out a community center or bar. 

Whether you are a coworker, boss, child, or spouse of a retiree, make sure you thank your loved one for their years of work. Chances are there have been some stressful moments, and the retiree didn’t always love every aspect of the job, but they persevered. And they should be commended for it. 

Looking for more creative ways to say goodbye to a retiring coworker? Read our guides on the best retirement songs and the best funny retirement gifts.

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