DIY: Retirement Survival Kit

Last week, I said farewell to two people I’ve known and worked with for several years at my 8-to-5 job and sent them each off with a retirement survival kit of sorts. The concept of a survival kit isn’t unique but I think that ones I put together had some fresh ideas and you’ll find that it’s fairly easy to assemble one of these yourself if you should have the need to do so. Both of these fellows are still relatively young (56 and 61) so I avoided the common and frequently used old age references that didn’t apply to them but I think that the kit would work well for a soon-to-be retiree of any age.

The Retirement Survival Kit

I’ll explain the significance of the items in a bit. Each kit contained the following items;


Top row – homemade coin jar, scissors, slippers, garbage bag, hammer
Bottom row – sleep mask, sunscreen, band-aids, toilet paper, Barrel of Monkey

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the kits and I managed to keep the total cost for each to about $40 including the gift bag and tissue paper. Except for the garbage bags that I already had at home and the sleep mask that I bought at Ross, all of the other items were purchased at Walmart. Small sizes and generics helped keep the cost down and the most expensive item was the slippers. I had originally thought to get flip-flops but it’s not the right season for those.

Presentation of Kit

Part of the fun of this Retirement Survival Kit is the presentation of the items to the retiree(s) at a farewell party. Using a gift bag large enough to hold all ten items, each was wrapped in tissue paper, labeled from 1 to 10 in the order shown above, and placed in the gift bag in reverse numeric order so that item #10 was on the bottom and item #1 was on top.

I developed a rough script (see it here) that I used to help me as I improvised during the presentation. After an opening introduction, the gift bags were placed in front of both of the retirees and they were asked to remove the item labeled #1 which was easy to find because it was on top. From the script, I read the explanation for that item (which includes why it’s part of the retirement survival kit) without revealing its identity. You’ll notice that the explanation includes a hint as to what the item is.  Part of the fun was having the rest of the attendees guessing along with the retirees as what the item would be as it was unwrapped. The process was repeated until all items had been opened.

As to the items in the kit, their relevance to surviving retirement is as follows;

Coin jar – to save pennies while living on a pension/fixed income
Scissors – to cut up ties worn for work that are no longer needed for everyday attire
Slippers – to adjust to more comfortable mode of everyday attire
Garbage bag – to take unneeded work clothes to thrift store for donation
Hammer – to bash alarm clock that is no longer needed
Sleep mask – to help in adjusting to sleeping past dawn
Sunscreen – to protect them as they venture outside during daylight hours
Band-aids & pain relief ointment – to address injuries from doing too much too soon
4-pack of toilet paper – to supplement supplies they have at home because they’ll be doing more there
Barrel of Monkeys – to fill time when they can’t think of anything to do

A few more things to know about putting together the kits. The coin jars were made from typical mason jars I bought that The Husband then cut a slot into each lid. Instead of buying a whole box of garbage bags for each kit, I simply took two from those I already had at home and wrote “For Donation” across them before folding and wrapping them. The tubes of sunscreen I bought came with attached carabiner clips which made them look like more an item to take on the go.

Adaptability of Kit

Even though the retirees for which I made these kits were both men who worked in an office setting, the presentation script for this kit could easily be adapted for a woman and/or for someone who worked in an environment other than an office. All it would take is changing the tie reference for item #2 to one more applicable to the person you are honoring and you have customized retirement survival kit.

It took me about a week to come up with my list of 10 items and I put the kits together the night before the retirement luncheon (last minute as usual). I was glad to be able to honor/roast these fine gentlemen who had both been with the ‘company’ for well over 30 years and they are now well equipped for their transitions into retirement life.


What do you think of this kit?  Are there other items I should have included?  How have you or would you honor/roast a colleague that was retiring?

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8 thoughts on “DIY: Retirement Survival Kit”

    1. Thank you, Nancy. It was a lot of fun to put together and to present to the retirees. The whole thing went over quite well with them and the rest of the staff.

  1. An additional idea for a woman is to make up a “home spa” kit. Put in bubble bath, a loofa sponge, bath tub pillow, good book to read, big mug with tea or a can of soda (depending on the season), good smelling lotion, etc. Maybe include the hammer for the alarm clock!

    1. Linda, those are fabulous ideas. I was a little challenged in putting together the kit for a man because lotions and bubble bath would not have been appropriate (though funny perhaps). Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. You were really creative with this gift! I love it! So many retirement gifts are full of gag gifts such as hemorrhoid cream, or reading glasses, or hair dye. This is perfect. Fun and thoughtful! I love the scissors for cutting the ties! These men are probably so ready to get rid of a daily noose around their necks, and to enjoy their well earned time of enjoyment! Great gift!

  3. I definitely was trying to be unique and not resort to the typical gag gifts. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the kit and the positive response.

A comment from you would be lovely