Big, dramatic gesture for retiring mom who does not want a party?
January 20, 2010 9:13 PM   Subscribe

My mother is retiring. I want to do something grand for her, but she doesn't want a party. Ideas?

There are a few extenuating circumstances here in that she is not retiring completely voluntarily. She is ready to retire, and excited to retire, but she might have kept working for another year or two if she didn't have the most awful boss in the world. I used to work for this person as well and she has some residual guilt about 'exposing' me to this person. I have assured her I am well over it and do not want this going down on her list of life regrets, but she has indicated that the boss lady's treatment of me has made her feel much, much worse than she might have otherwise.

Also, she and my stepfather lost a lot of money in an investment loss. They'll be okay, but their retirement is not necessarily going to be all they had hoped for and worked for.

Mom is not a fan of parties in general, and has especially said in the past that she *hates* surprise parties. My stepfather has implied she may be more amenable to a party for her 65th birthday, which is next year, but not to hold my breath on that because she isn't really the 'party type.'

So, what big, dramatic thing can I do to make my mom feel special about her retirement and show her how proud I am of her and how happy I am for her that she is starting this phase of her life? A special gift? Some sort of party alternative? I feel like her obstacle to a party is that she hates the idea of spending money to feed and entertain people she might not know or like very much, so she might be amenable to a family-only thing. And I do have aunts who could help me plot and scheme. So what can we do for her?
posted by JoannaC to Human Relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Send her on a trip to a place she really wants to go.
posted by Catbunny at 9:16 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I favorited Catbunny's, but I also wanted to add that if you were able, financially and otherwise, to go with her on said trip that would probably also be very nice.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 9:27 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

When my dad retired, a whole bunch of us in the family chipped in and sent my mom and him to Ireland. They loved the trip and it seemed like a great way to start the new chapter in their lives.
posted by tommccabe at 9:49 PM on January 20, 2010

Nthing sending them on a trip, if they're the type that would enjoy that. My brother and I sent my parents on a trip to Paris and Ireland for a few weeks for their 40th anniversary. Went down pretty well.
posted by smcameron at 9:56 PM on January 20, 2010

Alternative to the trip idea... what's her hobby, or what is the one hobby she would love to get into but hasn't been able to yet? Give her something to dive into and enjoy her freedom to pursue a dream full-time. Just think, it could be pottery, stained glass, painting, gardening (including specialty flowers like orchids), learning a language (and then going on a trip to use the language), writing a book, playing an instrument, starting her own little business or restaurant... endless options. Everyone could pitch in (money or time) to facilitate her segue into this new occupation - arrange supplies, classes, books, space...
posted by lizbunny at 10:24 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Recently, the girlfriend of a former coworker of mine made a very nice scrapbook to commemorate his graduation from college. She sought out stories and pictures from every significant person or experience (key professors, coworkers from internships, fraternity brothers, etc.), decorated them, and compiled them in chronological order. It was one of the most thoughtful, caring gift ideas I've ever seen.

It sounds like you used to work at the same place your mom did, so you probably have contacts among her coworkers? The boss may have been awful, but surely she has others that she liked? You could contact them and ask them to write notes or nice or funny stories on scrapbook pages for you, and get pictures of each person to include with their page. You could also include other pictures, souvenirs, etc. that relate to her career.

I suggest collecting these as loose pages, then binding them into book form at the end. That way, if someone messes up a page, no problem. Also, if the evil boss catches wind and insists on contributing her own page, you could just leave that one out. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 2:04 AM on January 21, 2010

Mom and daughter spa day. If that's too expensive then just massages. If you go with her instead of just a certificate she'll be more likely to actually go.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:05 AM on January 21, 2010

Nothing is worse for a person than retiring too young. She's not even 65. She could have another couple of active decades in her. Find her work. A new profession. Something to do.

And if the pay is low but the personal satisfaction is great, that's fine, as long it doesn't cost more money than she brings home. If she's living on a sufficient pension, the income is secondary.

As for how you give it to her: you do the footwork, scour the net and the neighborhood, call around, get realistic opinions from people involved, and come to your mother with one or more opportunities she could actually take. Maybe get yourself involved (at least to begin with) so you can help her get off the ground.

That's a hard present to find, but it would be worth having a look.
posted by pracowity at 4:18 AM on January 21, 2010

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