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. Above all, it’s nice to have a general direction to get you started. So here are the best anniversary gifts by year!
A History of Anniversary Gifts by Year
So where did the tradition of exchanging wedding anniversary gifts every year start? While nobody can say for sure, it was believed to have started in medieval Germany. For example, it was tradition for a husband to give his wife a silver wreath for their 25th anniversary, and their 50th was gold. In addition, 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 recognized a growing trend of celebrating additional anniversaries. In fact, she referred to it as 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. So, we can actually thank Post for the continue gift-giving!
Modern vs. Traditional Anniversary Gifts by Year
While the origins of the “traditional” list of anniversary gifts might be a bit fuzzy, we know that the “modern” list was created in 1937 by the American National Retail Jewelry Association. On their list, practical gifts tended to be given in the early years when a couple was still establishing their home. On the other hand, more “luxury” gifts were given later on in the marriage. That seemed to be a win-win for the Jewelry Association! LOL. With that said, the official “traditional” and “modern” lists that we use today were compiled by librarians at the Chicago Public Library.
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Whether you’re celebrating your first wedding anniversary or your 50th, you can use this handy guide to help you pick out the perfect modern or traditional gift. For example, I tend to switch back and forth between the modern and traditional lists, which I think is totally OK (and a bit more fun). However, you’ll also notice a few odd gift choices while scrolling through this list that don’t seem to fit either. Like that original poetry tribute?! Just know that if you make it to your 100th anniversary, you’ll be gifted a 10-carat diamond!
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. This is especially true for those who find themselves racking their brain trying to come up with a gifts for holidays, birthdays, or Valentine’s Day. It’s nice to have a general direction to get you started!
At a Glance: 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
Ideas for Every Anniversary Gift by Year
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. How does the saying go? A relationship is delicate, but with proper care, it can last forever. Just like paper!
Gift Idea: Silhouette Photo Art
This designer will create a custom “timeline” of your first year together 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!
Like paper, time is precious. Moreover, you’ll probably feel like your first year of marriage 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 your home.
Woven threads of cotton point to a couple becoming more intertwined and stronger together over time.
Gift Idea: Personalized Throw Blanket
Create a blanket with you and your partner’s initials, song lyrics, or a map of where you met.
Meanwhile, 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!
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. For instance, some say that they symbolize beauty and reflection. However, others say that crystal reminds a couple they can touch the lives of others. We like the meaning behind both!
Gift Idea: Candle Holders
Add some flair to your living room or kitchen with elegant candle holders.
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!
Most appliances are used for everyday practicalities. However, as an anniversary gift, they symbolize the simpleness and settled nature of a marriage.
Gift Idea: Nespresso
Looking for more anniversary gifts by year? Check out this list of incredibly unique ideas for your 4th anniversary.
You and your S.O. probably already have a coffee maker or Keurig, so why not become full-blown baristas with an espresso machine?
Trees themselves are known to symbolize strength—something that couples celebrating a fifth wedding anniversary should be celebrating!
Gift Idea: Wooden Bath Tray
Take relaxation to a whole other level with a wooden bathtub tray. This one is fully adjustable to fit almost any tub. Moreover, it has built-in features like a wine glass holder and cellphone slot so you can relax with all your necessities around you.
Silverware is known to represent strength. Likewise, it can also mean clarity and purity.
Gift Idea: Funny Forks
Already have a new silverware set? Instead, opt for these hilarious (and adorable!) hand-stamped forks that celebrate the five years you and your S.O. have spent together.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Searching for more anniversary gifts by year? We compiled our ALL-TIME favorite 10th anniversary gifts here!
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!
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