- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 11, 2006

A senior executive at the company where I work is about to retire, and my boss has asked me to come up with a list of “appropriate” gifts to mark the occasion. Normally the company gives a very handsome watch for such an occasion, but in this case, the executive is well known for never wearing one.

Obviously, we have to think of something else. I would appreciate some suggestions, including a few items that can be readily personalized, inscribed, engraved, etc.

A: You didn’t specify the price range your employer has set for this purchase, which would have helped answer your question. You did, however, mention that the usual gift is a “handsome” watch, which leads me to believe that it must be in the $250 to $1,000 range, if not higher.

OK, a watch is out. How about a clock for a table or mantelpiece? These generally have a space somewhere (usually on the base) that can be inscribed with the executive’s name, dates of service and appreciative words, if desired. Other possibilities that come to mind include a Steuben glass bowl or vase, top-of-the-line Montblanc pen set, heavy crystal paperweight, porcelain and bronze figurines or a sterling silver box from a major silversmith or jeweler (Cartier, Georg Jensen, etc.).

You also might try to match your gift to the person’s personal tastes or activities outside the office. This could range from artwork or a fine antique to a set of golf clubs or even an expense-paid trip to a favored destination.

Keith Lipert specializes in customized gifts for corporate clients, examples of which are on display in a special room at Keith Lipert Galleries in Georgetown. I asked him to make a few suggestions as well:

“Retirement gifts provide an opportunity to thank executives for their service and acknowledge friendships developed at the personal level over the years. Our approach would be to find a gift which both reflects the person’s interests and tastes and serves as an elegant decorative object for their home. It should be something to inspire pride and good memories about the time spent at the company. Others who see it should be impressed. This can be achieved even if the budget is relatively small.

“In this case, the budget would seem to be generous, and there are wonderful options ranging from art glass to silver. Clocks, if interesting enough, symbolize a new chapter in the individual’s life. Centerpieces and vases also make striking gifts. Decanter sets symbolize celebration and good times. Champagne flutes speak to toasting and celebration as well.

“The key is always to pick a distinctive and unexpected piece, something that both surprises and delights the recipient with its thoughtfulness.”

Address your questions on etiquette and protocol to Kevin Chaffee, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002 or send e-mail to civilities@ washingtontimes.com.

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