When you receive a plaque or trophy, it’s definitely something that is both exhilarating and meaningful. However, you may wonder about the etiquette involved in giving out each of these awards.

When is it more suitable to give someone a plaque and when is a trophy the best award to hand out? Each award, while valuable, is conveyed for different reasons. Both types of awards make memorable lifetime gifts. However, it’s better to give a person a plaque for certain activities while a trophy is more appropriate for other achievements.

Generally, the main difference in plaques and trophies involves the span of time the recipient took part in the accomplishment. While trophies signify awards that generally commemorate a person’s win or accomplishment during a competition, a plaque is given in memoriam, or awarded to a recipient for efforts that cover a broader scale.

Where You Can See Featured Trophies and Plaques

You can discover and learn more about trophies and plaques online, which you can order here. To better understand the use of trophies and plaques, it’s helpful to see how they’ve been used or their origins.

For example, the idea of a trophy award comes from ancient times. When Greek warriors won on the battlefield, they would place the captured banners or arms at the site to highlight their victory. Some “trophies” took the form of the enemy’s ship, which was left on a shore to represent the win. These types of events gave rise to awarding a “trophy” for wins or to reward a person’s or team’s outstanding work or achievement.

When Trophies are Typically Awarded

Usually, trophies are given after a competitive event where a big win or loss is one the line.  A trophy tells others that a recipient is the best of the best – generally rating him or her on the basis of their efforts in sports or business.

For example, trophies are given after athletic competitions or awarded to employees for being a sales leader or for achieving a top ranking. Therefore, trophies are usually awarded for winning a competition or when the awardee achieved a milestone among their peers.

How Plaques are Used

By contrast, plaques are typically used to commemorate accomplishments that took place over a longer period or are awarded because of the recipient’s sacrifice. For example, a plaque may be given to recognize a person for an invention, for their contributions to a scholarly work, or for acting heroically in the line of duty.

Plaques may also be given in memoriam or to commemorate a historical site. Therefore, some plaques are featured on homes that are historically significant or placed in settings where something historically important took place.

How Plaques are Made

Plaques are generally flat placards made of plastic, metal, or wood – engraved and designed for inside or outside display.

How Trophies are Designed

While trophies once were featured as cup-like awards they also can be designed in other shapes, such as obelisks, and made with a variety of materials, including crystal or glass.

Personalized and Commemorative Gifts

Both trophies and plaques are normally personalized – engraved to commemorate the recipient’s contributions or achievement, or to memorialize a building or place.

The Utmost Form of Appreciation

Trophies or plaques show the recipients to whom they’re given that you appreciate them and what they’ve done and accomplished. They represent gifts that can never be duplicated. They often are as meaningful to the giver as they are to the recipient.


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