These are the Top Wedding Anniversary Gifts by Year

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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!

A History of Anniversary Gifts

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.

first-anniversary-gift
My first anniversary gift to my husband: a paper print of a “love” mural in Paris, where visitors from around the world write “I love you.”

Modern vs. Traditional

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 Jewelry 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! LOL) were 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. 🙂

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 — especially for those who find themselves racking their brain trying to come up with a creative and unexpected option when it comes to a holiday, a birthday, or Valentine’s Day. It’s nice to have a general direction to get you started!

Full List of Anniversary Gifts by Year

  • 1st Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Paper
    • Modern: Clocks
  • 2nd Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Cotton
    • Modern: China
  • 3rd Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Leather
    • Modern: Crystal, Glass
  • 4th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Fruit or Flowers
    • Modern: Appliances
  • 5th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Wood
    • Modern: Silverware
  • 6th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Iron
    • Modern: Wood
  • 7th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Copper
    • Modern: Desk Sets
  • 8th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Bronze
    • Modern: Linen or Lace
  • 9th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Willow or Pottery
    • Modern: Leather
  • 10th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Tin or Aluminum
    • Modern: Diamond Jewelry
  • 11th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Steel
    • Modern: Fashion Jewelry
  • 12th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Silk or Linen
    • Modern: Pearl
  • 13th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Lace
    • Modern: Textiles or Furs
  • 14th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Ivory
    • Modern: Gold Jewelry
  • 15th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Crystal
    • Modern: Watches
  • 16th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Wax
    • Modern: Silver Holloware
  • 17th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Furniture
  • 18th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Porcelain
  • 19th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Bronze
  • 20th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: China
    • Modern: Platinum
  • 25th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Silver
    • Modern: Sterling Silver
  • 30th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Pearl
    • Modern: Diamond
  • 35th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Coral
    • Modern: Jade
  • 40th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Ruby
  • 45th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Sapphire
  • 50th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Gold
  • 55th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Emerald
  • 56th Anniversary: Day (theme)
  • 60th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Diamond
  • 75th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Diamond or Gold

Anniversary Gift Inspiration

1st Anniversary

Traditional: Paper

Though paper may seem like an odd choice to celebrate a year of marriage, it makes sense when you consider the fragile nature of the material. A relationship is also delicate in the beginning, but with proper care, it can last forever (like paper!).

Gift Idea: Silhouette Photo Art

This designer will create a custom “timeline” of your first year together as husband and wife that you can put in a scrapbook or hang on the wall. Choose some of your favorite pictures from your wedding, honeymoon, places you went, and so on!

Modern: Clocks

Like paper, time is precious. There’s also the idea that your first year of marriage probably feels as though it flew by, hence the clock.

Gift Idea: Custom Name/Date Wall Clock

You shouldn’t have a hard time finding a gift if you go the modern route! This elegant clock, made of steel and aluminum, preserves your names and wedding date while also making a great accessory for any home.

2nd Anniversary

Traditional: Cotton

Woven threads of cotton point to a couple becoming more intertwined and stronger together over time.

Gift Idea: Personalized Throw Blanket

Add you and your S.O.’s initials, song lyrics, or a map of where you met with the help of this designer.

Modern: China

Strong yet resilient, china encourages couples to recognize that every relationship has strengths and weaknesses.

Gift Idea: China Platter

Step up your hosting duties with a quality serving platter!

3rd Anniversary

Traditional: Leather

The symbolism of leather — which, historically, was used as a means of protection — is all about the shelter and security a relationship should provide.

Gift Idea: Leather Passport Holder & Luggage Tags

Book a trip to accompany these stylish genuine leather passport holders and luggage tags!

Modern: Crystal, Glass

There are a few different interpretations of the meaning behind crystal/glass, with some saying that they symbolize beauty and reflection; while others point to how crystal reminds a couple that they can touch the lives of others.

Gift Idea: Candle Holders

Add some flair to your living room or kitchen with elegant candle holders.

4th Anniversary

Traditional: Fruit or Flowers

Fruit and flowers both represent the blooming nature of your marriage.

Gift Idea: Matching Eco Resin Rings

Opt for these handmade eco resin rings that contain dried wildflowers over regular jewelry!

Modern: Appliances

Most appliances are used for everyday practicalities, and as an anniversary gift, they symbolize the simpleness and settled nature of a marriage.

Gift Idea: Nespresso

You and your S.O. probably already have a coffee maker or Keurig, so why not become full-blown baristas with an espresso machine?

5th Anniversary

Traditional: Wood

Trees themselves are known to symbolize strength—something that couples celebrating a fifth wedding anniversary (a big milestone!) should be celebrating.

Gift Idea: Wooden Bath Tray

Take relaxation to a whole ‘nother level with a wooden bathtub tray. This one is fully adjustable to fit almost any tub, and has built-in features like a wine glass holder, cellphone slot, and more.

Modern: Silverware

Also known to represent strength, along with clarity and purity, is silverware.

Gift Idea: Funny Forks

If you don’t need a new silverware set, opt for these hilarious (and adorable!) hand-stamped forks that celebrate the five years you and your S.O. have spent together.

6th Anniversary

Traditional: Iron

Iron is another symbol of strength, though it’s also said to signify good luck.

Gift Idea: Vintage Cast Iron Frame

Scour your local antique store or turn to a shop like this one on Etsy for a vintage frame (or mirror!).

Modern: Wood

The meaning behind the modern iteration of a wooden anniversary gift isn’t really different than that of the traditional one. Again, it’s all about resilience!

Gift Idea: Wood Watch

A wood watch is unique in itself, and as an anniversary gift, it can be made even more personal if you engrave it.

7th Anniversary

Traditional: Copper

Copper can produce heat, so the gift for your seventh wedding anniversary is supposed to represent the warmth you and your S.O. provide each other.

Gift Idea: Love Note Wallet Insert

Write your S.O. a permanent love letter that they can carry with them everywhere they go!

Modern: Desk Sets

Like appliances, the idea behind desk sets is that of practicality and a day-to-day commitment.

Gift Idea: Laptop + Phone Stand

There are not many options that fall under the category of “desk sets” except for, well, desk sets. If you don’t want to buy one of those, get something a little more practical like this laptop and phone stand that can be used anywhere.

8th Anniversary

Traditional: Bronze

Bronze is yet another reminder of the strength required to maintain and nurture a relationship, but particularly over time and as you mature.

Gift Idea: Push Pin Map

Make this gift — a map that allows you to document everywhere you and your S.O. have traveled together over the years — complete with some bronze push pins.

Modern: Linen or Lace

These are both known as objects of beauty that symbolize delicacy and purity.

Gift Idea: Bed Set

Give your bedroom a breath of fresh air with a linen bed set. This one comes in 12 different colors and can be used any season.

9th Anniversary

Traditional: Pottery or Willow

In the nine years that you and your S.O. have been together, your marriage has transformed from a ball of clay to a well-molded piece of pottery. Willow is also an option because of its flexibility and connection to nature.

Gift Idea: Matching Mugs

Don’t overthink this one! There’s plenty of options for both of these gift types, but we like the idea of some cute coordinating mugs.

Modern: Leather

Similar to the traditional gift suggestion for your third wedding anniversary, leather is meant to represent stability — and, you guessed it, strength.

Gift Idea: Coasters

Gift your S.O. (and yourself, TBH) a set of durable leather coasters that are sure to last, whether you want to emboss a monogram or not.

10th Anniversary

Traditional: Tin or Aluminum

This a big one! Even the least nostalgic of people will find themselves looking back at the past decade when their 10-year wedding anniversary rolls around. Aluminum is supposed to be reminiscent of your relationship’s flexibility and durability, past, present, and future.

Gift Idea: Wedding Song Wall Decor

Commemorate your wedding vows or the song you and your S.O. chose for your first dance with this aluminum print.

Modern: Diamond Jewelry

Again, a ten year anniversary is a big and beautiful one, so you’re meant to get a gift that’s just that.

Gift Idea: Diamond Anniversary Band

What better anniversary than your tenth to upgrade your wedding ring?

For more great anniversary gifts by year, you can use our handy infographic, below!

wedding anniversary gifts

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2 Comments

  • We have an anniversary sundial that you can find online, it is made of glass and sits on the window sill and was handmade just for us so it would work where we live. It is a clock that tells time by using the sun, but the coolest thing is that it makes really vivid rainbows in our home when the sun shines. We were able to add a date line to our sundial that the time shadow follows on our anniversary day each year and there is even a special mark on that anniversary line to celebrate the actual MOMENT we got married! My husband tells me that the sun and moon and planets all move every day, but they will always align for us on our day together (awww) It really is a great gift though because it also makes brilliant rainbows on the floor when the sun shines, and our toddler loves to play in the colors on the floor. I don’t remember what its called but you can find it online with a search – it has become a real touchstone in our home!

  • Such a great post. I have an idea to share with your readers. Wedding photos can be sent in for an artist to create a sketch of the bride’s wedding dress, groom’s suit, bouquet, veil and anything one could imagine. A Dreamlines wedding dress sketch makes a perfect anniversary gift, as it is a lovely way to commemorate that special day. http://www.MyDreamlines.com

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