Wedding anniversary gifts are one of the few so-called traditions I actually try to follow. While it can sometimes be weird to figure out what to get your spouse that’s “paper” or “copper,” it’s nice to have a guideline to go by. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to holiday, birthday, or Valentine’s Day gifts for my husband, I’m always racking my brain trying to come up with a creative and unexpected option. It’s nice to have a general direction to get you started!
So where did the tradition of exchanging wedding anniversary gifts start? While nobody can say for sure, it was believed to have started in medieval Germany, where it was tradition for a husband to give his wife a silver wreath for their 25th anniversary, and a gold one for their 50th. Another theory was that what we now refer to as our “traditional” list of gifts started in Victorian Era England. This traditional list once only included gifts for the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversaries. However, it was Emily Post (who wrote the Blue Book of Social Usage in 1922) who recognized a growing trend of celebrating additional anniversaries, and listed a “symbolic anniversary gift for each of the first fifteen years of marriage and one for every five years after that,” according to one source.
While the origins of the “traditional” list of wedding anniversary gift by year might be a bit fuzzy, we do know that the “modern” list of ready-made anniversary gifts was created in 1937 by the American National Retail Jewellery Association. Practical gifts tended to be given in the early years when a couple was still establishing their home, and more “luxury” gifts (like jewelry..what a coincidence! :)) we’re given later on in the marriage. The official “traditional” and “modern” lists that we tend to use today (listed below) were compiled by librarians at the Chicago Public Library.
Whether you’re celebrating your first wedding anniversary or your 50th (and way beyond), you can use this handy guide to help you pick out the perfect modern or traditional gift. As a side note, I tend to switch back and forth between the modern and traditional lists, which I think is totally OK (and a bit more fun). You’ll also notice a few odd gift choices while scrolling through this list (original poetry tribute?!). Just know, however, that if you make it to your 100th anniversary, you’ll be gifted a 10-carat diamond! We’re not sure who from, but we like it. 🙂