Plaques are a classic way to memorialise, commemorate or show appreciation, whether to a person, a group or in honour of an event. Plaques can be made from wood, glass, metal and stone and are often engraved. Plaques can be elaborate, elegant or amusing and the kinds of things that you can put on a plaque will largely be determined by the occasion for giving the plaque.
Words of appreciation can be placed on a plaque to acknowledge someone's contributions to a cause or project, such as a non-profit volunteer or someone who performed above and beyond the call of duty. An example of the wording could be: "Presented to Joe Smith with appreciation for his outstanding commitment to the At-risk Youth Program," with the name of the company or organisation prominently engraved at the bottom of the plaque.
Plaques can act as memorials to remember someone who has died or a significant event from the past. These types of plaques are often placed on a wall or outdoor furniture or a sculpture or staked to the ground as a marker for people to see. Memorials can be worded in several different ways, depending on their subject. Examples include "Joe Smith, March 3, 1910 to July 7, 1980, In loving memory of a father, soldier and hero," or "7th Battalion, Normandy, December 6, 1941, Heroes, One and All."
A plaque may be presented as an award, such as for an "employee of the year" or winners of sporting events. Employee of the year plaques include the name of the person, the year for which the award is being given and sometimes a short message. An example would be: "Joe Smith, 2010 Employee of the Year, recognised for excellence in customer service." Awards for athletic contests would indicate the particular event, date, name of the person and the place finished, if applicable, such as first, second or third.
You can also put a retirement message on a plaque to express to someone what his years of service and dedication has meant for the company. Retirement messages tend to be more specific and personal than appreciation messages because the intent is to encapsulate many years of service as opposed to appreciation for one event. An example of this kind of message is "Joe Smith, for 25 years you met every deadline, pleased every customer and never complained. You will always be an inspiration to this company."