There are many ways to approach giving an appropriate and professional goodbye gift to a coworker. If you are giving a larger, more expensive gift that will be from the whole office, it is appropriate to ask everyone to donate a small amount, usually five dollars or less. Otherwise, you can give the gift as an individual. If you would feel uncomfortable watching your coworker unwrap your gift in front of a group then it likely is not the kind of gift that should be exchanged in a professional environment.
Moving Somewhere New
If your coworker is leaving to move far away, either a new city or state, consider giving her a gift that can help her in her new home. For instance, if she is leaving your company in Boston for a new job in Dallas, buy a couple of nice new books about Dallas. A local restaurant guide or book about the history of the area may prove useful. Alternatively, you could give a special gift to help your coworker remember the place she is leaving. Buy her a beautiful book of photographs of Boston. Gift wrap it nicely with a thoughtful note.
A New Career
If your coworker is leaving to pursue a new career, give him something to commemorate his new job. For example, if he was in an office setting and is leaving to pursue his dreams of teaching elementary school, make a small gift basket of pencils, whiteboard markers and gold star stickers. Attach a card that says you believe in him and offer your support as he takes a leap toward a new career.
Perhaps there is a special object in the office that symbolizes this person or her contributions to the team. For example, maybe she did most of the work putting together the company’s annual report. In this case, pass around a copy of the cover and have everyone sign it with permanent markers. Take the signed sheet to a framing shop and have it nicely framed. Gift wrap the framed document and present it as an emblem of the work she accomplished at the company.
There are a few standard gifts that usually are appropriate. Arrive at the office a little earlier than usual on your coworkers last day to place a nice vase of flowers on his desk with a kind note. You could buy a special bottle of champagne and decorate it with a bow. Present it to the departing coworker as a token of affection and good luck. If you have a more personal friendship with him, a hug may be a special and meaningful gift on the last day.