From Graduation to Retirement: 8 Unique and Thoughtful Ways to Say “CONGRATULATIONS!”

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Lately it seems with all the focus and attention put on children and the little accomplishments they complete, it has taken away from some of life’s really big events. Why would a child look forward to a cap and gown at his or her high school graduation when they had a cap and gown ceremony in preschool, kindergarten, sixth grade and every other grade in between? Back in my day high school graduation was the only graduation and you worked hard to get there. Thankfully my family recognized my accomplishments and were more than generous when it came to congratulating me on my victory over my high school years.

Over the years my own parents have developed their own ways of congratulating big and little accomplishments in my own life and while it may seem that society only acknowledges a few major life events, I can speak from personal experience that with all of the technology at our fingertips and in our homes there are more ways than ever to be creative and thoughtful in everything from congratulations to condolences.

Check out these achievements and how you can say “Congrats!” with just the swipe of a finger:

High School Graduation

Traditional: Graduation card with a check.

Updated: Congratulations card with a gift card for food.

There’s nothing wrong with sending a traditional graduation card — after all, someone survived high school! But if the graduate’s plans include moving away and going to college imagine their surprise when a note with a $50 gift card to IHOP attached shows up during their first finals week. Warm pancakes and hot coffee is truly the best way to show a college student you care. Thanks mom!

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College Graduation

Traditional: Dinner out, maybe a check or two.

Updated: A tailored suit (guys or girls.)

Nothing makes me feel more grown up than wearing a perfectly tailored blazer and pencil skirt, but I didn’t learn to appreciate tailors until I was in my 30′s and already done interviewing for big jobs. It doesn’t have to be a full handmade Italian wool getup, but a nice jacket and pants (or skirt) taken to a reasonable and talented tailor can help a new graduates confidence soar when it comes time to interview for big jobs or opportunities.

Wedding

Traditional: Housewares

Updated: Desperately needed dates

Depending on the financial status of the newlyweds, there’s a very good chance they’ll be struggling for the first few years of their married lives and dates will be tossed to they wayside as they are no longer courting each other and perhaps overwhelmed with the demands of daily life. Gift cards for dinner and a movie make sure they use your gift for its intended purpose and guarantee they will fit in some much needed one on one time with each other without worrying about their personal finances.

First Home

Traditional: Linens, perhaps a bottle of wine.

Updated: SO MANY LOWE’S GIFT CARDS

Never before had I considered the proximity of a home improvement store as a major selling point until we bought our first home. My sweet grandmother sent us a gift card for mundane things like light bulbs, electrical sockets, touch up paint and 9 volt batteries when we moved in and I have never appreciated a gift more. Outfitting a new 4 bedroom home with all new light bulbs is mind blowingly expensive, any little bit helps.

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Anniversary

Traditional: Card. Always a card.

Updated: Celebrating on unique days.

When Cody and I moved to Indiana over seven years ago, my mom began a tradition of sending Addie a Valentine’s card with a check or gift card so she could take us out for a Valentine’s treat. I love the idea of having Valentines include all of us and it also takes the pressure off of Cody and me to come up with some terribly romantic way to celebrate another February together. (14th Valentines together this year!) Rather than the same old anniversary card on the same day each year, why not send a gift card for a nice dinner so your favorite couple can celebrate their 17th President’s Day together?

New Baby

Traditional: Baby blankets, toys and clothes.

Updated: Anything for the parents — I can promise you they don’t need another baby blanket.

Trying to pick a single retailer for this category is next to impossible. You could go with Amazon so the parents could save on a subscription of diapers. You could go with Cabela’s so they could buy a really good pair of noise cancelling ear muffs to share. You could choose either SpaFinder or Spa Week so mom could get a little TLC when she gets a day off (HA!) or you could even just send a $50 Starbucks card with a note that says “YOU’RE GOING TO NEED THIS.” With all the attention on the new baby, sometimes it’s awful nice to have a little attention given to you.

baby-2

Surviving the Toddler Years

Traditional: NOTHING. WE GET NO CREDIT FOR KEEPING TODDLERS ALIVE AND IT IS HARD, Y’ALL.

Updated: Fly your brave child and their strong-willed offspring home, mamas and papas.

I would love nothing more than for an airline ticket to show up so I could go home and see my parents. Not only so they could witness the fleeting ridiculousness that is my silly (and temporary) toddler, but also so I could have a little help with her from the people who love her as much as I do. Maybe I could sleep in a few mornings and if I’m lucky wake up to pancakes like I did when I was a kid. Holy cow I miss home. Parents? If you can afford to buy your kid (and grandkids) a ticket home? You should offer, there will probably be tears of gratitude.

Retirement

Traditional: Jokes. Lots of retirement jokes. Maybe some wine glasses or a commemorative dish.

Updated: Treats to enjoy retirement!

Had my mom actually told me she had retired I would have bought her a box of chocolate covered strawberries and said “Congratulations! This is your first day of retirement breakfast!” and she would have loved it.  Retirement in this day and age is a really big thing, something many Americans may never see. After a lifetime of work a retiree deserves something a little extra, something they don’t need but would certainly enjoy. I know one big guy who is coming up on retirement who would have no problem spoiling himself with at Bass Pro Shops gift card. (Cliche? Sure! It’s their retirement, let them catch fish.)

But the celebrations don’t end there! As full grown adults we know there are at least a hundred other things we could congratulate our fellow adults for. Stuff no one else will ever appreciate unless you take the time to speak up. While this isn’t a comprehensive list, here’s a few suggestions:

  • Congratulations on surviving the Polar Vortex of 2014! (Attached to six pack of adult beverages.)
  • Congratulations on surviving all six of your kids, your husband and you having norovirius AT THE SAME TIME! (Attached to the biggest bucket of anti-bacterial products ever.)
  • Congratulations on not eating your young! (Attached to a bar of chocolate.)
  • Congratulations for not choking your boss when she passed you over for the promotion! (Attached to chocolate AND a six pack of adult beverages.)
  • Congratulations on losing the equivalent of a medium sized woodland mammal! (Attached to a gift card for new clothes.)

TwoSmiles by HP lets you print a custom greeting alongside a gift card from over 50 retailers from the comfort of your own home for free (you have to purchase the gift card of course.) With all the possibilities, what will you celebrate?

What have you done lately that deserves a little (or a lot of) congratulations?

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