What gift to buy for a colleague leaving the company?

So as I have worked as a management assistant / personal assistant / secretary / office ninja for quite some time now (and I have done the education for it too, don’t worry about it 😉 ), I often use Google to see if I can get some inspiration. For example for what to write in a person’s wedding card, or what gift to buy a colleague that is leaving the company? In some countries it is very unusual to buy a person dinner after they have announced they’ve quitted their job, but in The Netherlands it is actually a courtesy that you get a dinner or a gift as a thank you for working for that company.

Anyway, so today I was thinking, maybe I should give the assistants something back, especially as it is admin week this week. I was thinking, let’s go for some good advice! So I would like to give you some fun gift tips that do not specifically have to take up a lot of time and effort, but are still very good options:

  1. Something that fits the company
    Now this is sounding way too vague, I know, but listen: what does your company produce? I used to work for a company that recycled cardboard. It might not be a very sexy product, but there are a lot of awesome things made out of cardboard to gift someone. You might even be shocked by how expensive those things can be. When I worked for that corrugated board business, I gifted my colleagues a lamp made out of cardboard (a nice one, via Etsy), or a radio made out of cardboard, or a clock. I always looked on the internet where I could find something that fitted the company. Especially if you do not know a person too well, it is safe to go for something that has a link to the business.
  2. Do It Yourself
    Okay, so I am not going to tell you to paper-mache something horrible yourself, but there are fun things you can gift a person, which is home made. In one case I had a colleague that was very much into travelling by himself. So when he left the company to enjoy his long-awaited pension, I decided to buy him a huge world map, and then I took pictures of all of his colleagues and photoshopped their faces into the faces of random people that I’ve found online. So I would look up all these crazy holiday pictures and then make sure to make it look like our colleague went to this place with another colleague. The photoshop might be done in Paint, it does not have to look good. Then I got the pictures printed on sticker paper, so we could put the stickers all over the map. We even asked the colleagues to send in holiday tips, to also get stickered to put on the map. A very personal but yet cute present, I think. For this particular person we also got together some money, so we bought a piggy bank in the shape of a photo camera (cause he was very much into that too) and put the money in there as a gift.
  3. Do something fun
    Sometimes you do not specifically want to give someone a gift, but rather take him to a super nice restaurant or do a fun activity to thank them for their time at the company. I had a colleague who was very much into maths, statistics, puzzles, et cetera. So we decided to take him to an Escape Room with the whole team. The cool thing about it is that there are so many themed ones, that you can even make it a bit more personal by chosing a theme that fits him or her. Also, in an Escape Room you really get to see very easily who is who. In the one that I booked, there were a few photos made, and in one of them the manager is actually pointing in some direction and we are all looking that way. Spot on! Very funny, and a cool experience to do a little bit of teamwork in such a cool way.

So, these are a few of the things that I have done for colleagues that were leaving the company. I really enjoy thinking very hard about what a person is truly about, what hobbies he might have and what would fit the company. And I must say, anytime I leave a company (which surely has happened a few times 😉 ) I am always very happy and humbled by the great effort people put into finding me gifts. I know there are many people out there that find gift giving something useless: why not just give money? But I think gifts should be memorable and personal (to the employee or to the company). To give an example: my parents gave me a nice amount of money the other day, but a few weeks before that, they gave me a bicycle. The bicycle is something I use everyday and I am so happy that I have it, while the money that they put in my bank account already kinda vanished buying things I can’t even remember. This is a bit exaggerated but I truly believe it works that way, no matter how easy money can be.


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