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Anniversary Gifts by Year

Anniversary gift giving by the year

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Gift giving for wedding anniversaries is a practice that’s been in existence from as far back as the 18th century. It’s a way of appreciating one another as a couple and being valued by others who recognize how far your relationship has come. Exchanging anniversary gifts helps cement your relationship and give you something to look forward to with each new year.

In this article, we’ve got some excellent gift ideas for every anniversary as well all the information you need to help you choose the right one. Let’s take a look.

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Which to Choose: Traditional or Modern Gifts?

Anniversary gift giving still happens to date though themes have changed and evolved. As a result, couples can opt for traditional or modern gifts. Both types of gifts are symbolic, special and sentimental with a deeper meaning.

Traditional Anniversary Gifts

Date folded book art

Dated folded book art 1st year anniversary gift by Land K Creative. See it here.

Anniversary gift-giving was a tradition that existed back in the ancient, medieval and Victorian times. There were distinct gifts for each anniversary year. For example, gifts for the 1st year were based on paper and in the 2nd year, they were cotton gifts.  

American author Emily Post (1872 to 1960), decided to document this list in 1922 even though hers had the milestone anniversaries only, namely the first, fifth, tenth and every five years from then up to fiftieth anniversary. She also included the 75th anniversary gifts.

Since then, other anniversary gifts have been included for the years that Emily had excluded and now you can give special traditional gifts every year up to the twentieth year, if you wish. After the twentieth year, the gifts can be exchanged every five years.

Modern Anniversary Gifts

Leather desk set

Leather desk set 7th year anniversary gift by Hackney Leather Goods. See it here.

As the years progressed, more modern anniversary gifts began to replace traditional gifts on the list. This led an American national jewelers group to compile an updated list that had new gift ideas. The modern gift suggestions are not only contemporary but functional as well.

This is because of the idea that newly married couples may need more functional gifts. Due to this reason, modern anniversary gifts commonly include practical items such as clocks (1st year), electric appliances (4th year), silverware (5th year), desk sets (7th year) and watches (15th year).

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Gift

When choosing the perfect anniversary gift, the first thing you need to do is to choose whether to go with the traditional or modern theme. A mix or interchange of the gifts also works well. Say, one year you pick a traditional themed gift and the following year, you pick a modern-themed one.

  • Preference – Opt for a gift that you think your spouse or whomever you’re buying for would love.
  • Age – When looking for the perfect anniversary gift for your spouse, remember that age is important. For instance, if she’s in her 40s, yet you’re celebrating your 4th anniversary, a modern gift of electrical appliances may not appeal to her as much as a traditional gift in the form of flowers or floral-scented candles.  
  • Budget – Your budget will give you an idea of whether to go for modern or traditional gifts. As an example, you could be celebrating your 10th anniversary but may not be able to afford the modern gift of diamond jewelry. In this case, you can buy a traditional gift of aluminum or tin such as an aluminum sculpture or candleholder. A tin figurine or vase can also make a great gift.

Anniversary Gifts Alternatives

There’s no reason to be limited to certain gifts on your wedding anniversary as there are many options to consider. You can always opt for stand-alone alternative gifts or combine them with either modern or traditional themes. Here are some great choices which have specifics for each year:

  • Flowers
  • Colors
  • Gemstones

A good way of coordinating your anniversary gift is to pick either a modern or traditional gift and then have the corresponding colors and flowers as part of your celebration. You can also give jewelry for that year as part of your gift.

Note that there’s no consistency associated with flowers for each anniversary. Where no specific flowers are suggested in the list you’re using, simply settle for roses. A rose, which is linked to love, is best known as the floral king of romance. Similarly, if you don’t like the choice of flowers for a certain anniversary year, you can always substitute them for roses or something you like instead.

Platinum emerald ring

Platinum emerald ring by Segal Jewelry. See it here.

For example, on your 20th anniversary, you can decide to pick either china (traditional) or platinum (modern) themed gifts, decorate your venue in emerald, green, or blue (color) with aster or daylilies (flowers). Finally, make sure your chosen gift incorporates some emerald jewelry like a platinum emerald ring. With some creativity, you can choose unique yet symbolic gifts that will delight your partner.

The Symbolism of Anniversary Gifts

Now that we’ve gone through the types of wedding anniversary gifts, let’s take a look at the significance of anniversary gifts through the following two examples of anniversary years.

Year 1

Traditionally the first-anniversary gift is anything to do with paper as it represents a blank slate on which to write your life together as a couple. You can choose gifts like a romance novel, magazine subscription, tickets to attend special events or a cookbook.

Sundial anniversary gift

1st wedding anniversary sundial gift by The Metal Foundry. See it here.

Clocks are associated with modern anniversary gifts for this year and they represent the couple’s eternal love, the passage of time and all the good and bad that come with it. If you want to give a modern gift with a twist, you can always go for a sundial which would be a more unique gift.

Gold or yellow is the standard color for first anniversaries and the precious metal is gold. For conventional flowers, buy pansies or orange blossoms. Couples can exchange gold gifts in the form of pieces like necklaces, bracelets, or cufflinks.

Year 5

Wood is the traditional 5th year gift because by this time the marriage is like a tree whose roots sprout and can withstand any storm. Trees signify robustness and discernment, which equates to a solid marriage of five years. There’s no shortage of wooden-themed gifts like wood frames, wooden baskets, wooden board games and wooden furniture.

Wooden picture frame

Wooden picture frame by Blue Ridge Mountain Co. See it here.

The modern gift is silverware, which depicts sharing and enjoying warm meals served in them. Consider gifts like silverware plates and cutlery, silver jewelry and silver photo frames.

You have color options for the fifth anniversary, such as blue, pink, and turquoise while the 5th year flower is the daisy. Consider picking gifts in one of these colors depending on your spouse’s taste.

Blue sapphire earrings

Blue sapphire earrings by Sada Jewels. See them here.

The gemstone for the fifth year is sapphire which is firm and durable. It is true and tested just like your marriage. Sapphire jewelry will make a perfect gift on your fifth anniversary as it represents the virtues you behold in your marriage.

Wrapping Up

Anniversary gifts are important with each year having a very specific material and theme. The idea behind gift giving is that your relationship strengthens with every anniversary that passes.  While the gifts start out as simple gifts, their significance increases with each passing year just like your commitment to one another.