Gift Ideas for a Co-Worker Who Is Leaving
What to buy (and what not to!)

Gift Ideas for a Co-Worker Who Is Leaving

People leave jobs for various reasons. Sometimes it’s to progress in their chosen career. Sometimes it’s because they are moving to a new area. Then there’s always people who are retiring from work altogether. And let’s not forget those made redundant or worse – fired!

Whether you’re clubbing together as a company or department, or are looking to buy a gift just from you, it can be a difficult purchase. We often don’t know our co-workers as well as friends or family. This can also mean that we don’t necessarily want to spend as much on them either. You don’t want to offend with something too cheap or inappropriate. Likewise, you don’t want to embarrass with something too expensive, over the top or just not fitting.

Your first thought needs to go into whether or not a gift is really required. Sometimes, a card will suffice. It’s possible that a gift will embarrass the recipient and actually, words and the thought of a nice card can mean so much more.

Why are they leaving?

The first thing to consider is why they are leaving. If they’re retiring, for example, it wouldn’t make sense to buy them any kind of office paraphernalia. The parting gift should say something about this reason and show you have put real thought and care into the gift. There is no one size fits all here!

New Job / Promotion / Climbing the Career Ladder

There are so many options for this kind of leaver. Great gifts are things like inspiring notebooks, fun pens and organisers, diaries etc. Anything that they will treasure in their new role. And every time they look at that notebook / pen organiser / photo frame they will remember their old job and you.

If you’re buying alone for the leaver, these types of gifts are cheaper and easy for you to get a few bits. If you’re giving as part of a bigger group, consider dedicating at least 1/3 of your budget to this type of gift.

The advantage of practical things they can use in their new job is that it also shows the leaver that you don’t begrudge them. You want them to do well in their new job. You are giving them tools that will help them settle in and do a good job.

This type of leaver you can also have fun with. Because they’re leaving of their own accord and will be excited about a new role, you can buy more jokey gifts. Perhaps a fun card, or some kind of in-joke you’ve had over the years you’ve worked together.

Moving Area

Sometimes people are forced to move due to their partner moving jobs, parents moving (if they still leave at home) or even things like relationship breakdowns.

The trick with buying for this kind of leaver is to be sensitive. You may not truly know their reasons for leaving. They could be happy to be going, or actually really sad about it. It might be totally out of their control, or it could be an exciting new chapter.

The best types of gifts for this kind of leaver are something sensitive and thoughtful. Perhaps you have a picture of the whole team on a night out that you could get framed? A gift like this shows you care, isn’t extravagant, and will act as reminder to them of your time together as they move on.

Maternity Leave / Adoption Leave etc.

Maternity or adoption leave can again be a difficult time that probably only those who have left on maternity leave themselves will fully understand. All women will feel different but the mixture of emotions can include sadness as they are almost saying goodbye to their old life. They are also of course excited to welcome their new addition, but are aware that everything is changing and there is no going back.

Many people I have seen also make the mistake of buying leaving gifts for the baby, not the colleague. Of course it’s lovely to think of the baby, but really it’s the person you’re saying goodbye to. They’re possibly leaving forever or possibly for a pre-agreed amount of time. Sometimes you don’t honestly know as people can have every intention of returning to work afterwards but other factors prevail.

A group collection is often done which means that you can cover off buying for the baby and the colleague with a larger budget in hand. I’m just going to touch here on buying for the colleague, though as it’s a whole separate article on buying for babies!

A really thoughtful gift can be anything that assures them you will still be there when they return. Again, this could be photos of the team all together but here you can also consider treats for a new parent. Gifts of new-parent toiletries are always thoughtful. Care packs with any essentials they may need can be good, but think about how organised the leaver is. If they are anything like me and a bit of a control freak, they have probably already bought anything they need. So my advice goes back to pampering and nurturing the leaver as much as you can. This could extend to arranged meals out weeks after the baby has arrived, tokens to promise to babysit. You decide.

Sick Leave

Gifts for colleagues leaving to go sick are really much the same as maternity leavers. They are without the excitement of a bundle of joy, but they still don’t always know if and when they will return. Therefore gifts should be tailored as much to their circumstances as possible.

If you know they have an awful illness like cancer, research what other cancer patients have found useful such as cool pillows or anti-sickness bands. If you don’t know what illness they have, then play it safe again with pampering gifts that will lift anyone’s spirit.

Here, more than most, it will be the thought that counts, so spend time looking for the right card. And when you’ve found it, write something special in it. Your words, along with those from friends and family, could really help them through tough times to come.

For anyone with anxiety or depression that is signed off work, if you know they’re likely to return, then a well-thought out card is probably all that is required. Extending to a gift can make too much of a big deal out of it. A nicely written card will show them that you care and look forward to seeing them again soon.


Retirement is definitely a time to push the boat on a gift. This is a great time to look at personalised gifts. The fantastic “This is Your Life” book showcases iconic photo’s from every year of your life. A great way to remember stand-out events. If you want to get even more personal, consider making your own scrapbook with help from their family and friends. If they have worked at your company for a long time, you could consider making it specific to their time at your company.


If they’re going off to study, you can consider some of the same gifts as mentioned under leaving to go to another job. Thoughtful stationery will be useful for studies and remind them of working with you over the years.

If they’re taking time off to travel, then you can look to a whole host of travel gifts. We can definitely help with this kind of gift here at gift’d online. Take a look at our Scratch Map, ideal for planning countries you’re yet to visit. Or what about a Portable USB charger so you’re never without charge when you need it most.


Sometimes people are made redundant and leave straight away. Sometimes they work out their notice period. Regardless, if someone is being made redundant and the rest of the team are staying, it goes without saying that any leaving gift again needs to be well thought out.

Anything that shows you’ve enjoyed working with them is a good idea. This again could be a framed picture of you all together, or anything made or baked by yourself. It shows them that you care and that you have really thought about it. It is not overly expensive, which could be seen as in bad taste to someone who doesn’t know where their next pay cheque is coming from.


This of course varies by why the person was fired, and of course whether or not you know the real reason they were fired.

If they were on a performance review and had all their warnings, then something thoughtful, possibly handmade is ideal. Here you could again for the framed photo to remember you by.

If they have done something construed as gross misconduct, and you value your job, you probably need to be very careful about what you give. You probably want to give on your own, not even finding out if anyone else wants to donate to the collection. Think about your position in the company and what affect higher management hearing about your connection with that colleague might have on their view of you.


There is no one size fits all when it comes to leaving gifts, but keep it cheap, make it thoughtful, and give it with love. You can’t go far wrong if you follow these guidelines!

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