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Anniversary gifts by year

These anniversary gifts by year provide meaningful gift ideas that symbolize love and commitment at each milestone in your journey as a married couple.

A woman smelling the colorful flowers that the man just gave her after reading these anniversary gifts by year

Your anniversary – the one day in all the year that’s purpose is solely to celebrate your life together.

It’s also a wonderful time to reflect on where you’ve been as a couple and where you’re going.

For that reason, I love trying creative anniversary ideas and asking anniversary questions.

I also love the gifts – especially gifts which hold special meaning and serve as tangible symbols of love, commitment, and appreciation.

Now it can get challenging thinking of appropriate gifts – especially once you’ve been together a decade or two.

Luckily that’s where the concept of anniversary gifts by year really comes into its own.

The origins of anniversary gifts by year

A person holding a small gift, topped with a ribbon, giving it to their special someone after reading these anniversary gifts by year

I’m always curious about how things such as the traditional and modern lists came to pass, so I did some research into the origin of anniversary gifts by year. The cynic in me speculated that it was an easy way to make bank.

It turns out that’s kind of true but also not true.

As far back as medieval times, German husbands presented a wreath of silver to their wives on their 25th wedding anniversary and a wreath of gold on their fiftieth (source).

This early practice really took hold during the Victorian era which made the giving of traditional gifts popular (though very few match what we know of “traditional” gifts today).

In fact, that the 60th wedding anniversary being diamond is directly connected to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, which celebrated her 60 years on the throne.

In the 20th century, Emily Post, the Queen of Etiquette, listed eight commonly known anniversary gifts (these being the first, fifth, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th and 75th), in her 1922 Blue Book of Social Usage. 

She then, in acknowledgement of the increasing popularity of symbolic anniversary gifts, listed one for each of the first fifteen years of marriage and one for every five years after that.

There is some evidence to suggest that the increasing durability and strength of gifts aligns with the durability and strength of the marriage – compare paper to diamonds for example (source).

Then in 1937 the American National Retail Jewelers Association (took this traditional list and expanded and updated many of the suggestions with more “modern” versions – and is no doubt the reason behind many gifts being metals and then gemstones, especially once we hit 30 years plus.

From these sprung the lists we use today (source).

However, lest I sound too cynical regarding the arbitrary origins, I’m all for the idea of a anniversary gift by year that has a theme to it.

There are three reasons for this.

  1. It helps with decision fatigue – by choosing a gift in line with the year together, your choices will be made so much easier
  2. It helps with recognition. For example, my husband bought me a diamond ring on our 10th anniversary. I don’t need to think about that. Other anniversary gifts, I’m a bit hazy on!
  3. Traditions are a form of shared meaning between couples and as such, helps bind them closer.

List of anniversary gifts by year (traditional and modern)

A set of gifts wrapped in a brown paper, designed with ribbons and flowers, done after reading these anniversary gifts by year

Now you know the history, you’ll also recognize that there are variations between countries (particularly the US and UK), and as I was saying about, there are not traditional gifts for every year, hence the blank row in the table.

However, this is a generally acceptable guide.

YearTraditional GiftModern Gift
7Wool, copperDesk Sets
8BronzeLinens, lace
9Pottery, willowLeather
10Tin, aluminumDiamond jewelry
11SteelFashion jewelry
12Silk, linenPearls
13LaceTextiles, furs
14IvoryGold jewelry
23Silver Plate
24Musical Instruments

Gift ideas based on traditional themes

A person holding a traditional colorful bouquet, giving it to their special someone after reading these anniversary gifts by year

You’ll notice from reading the lists that the traditional ones are a little more “open” than the modern ones as a rule. Paper, for example, has many more potential options than clocks!

Therefore below I have created lists of ideas for each of the traditional anniversary gifts by year.

Note that I haven’t linked to any product suggestions because the whole point of this is to get a theme but then choose something perfect for your partner – and only you know what that is!

However this should get those creative juices flowing.

Paper: 1st anniversary gift ideas

  • Book of romantic quotes or poems
  • Customized map of a significant location
  • Customized wedding vows printed and framed
  • Personalized love story book
  • Handwritten love letters or poetry
  • Paper artwork or prints
  • Tickets to a concert or theater show
  • Personalized stationery set
  • Subscription to a favorite magazine or newspaper
  • Scrapbook of memories from the first year together

Cotton: 2nd anniversary gift ideas

  • Cotton bath sheets
  • Cotton clothing or accessories
  • Cotton hammock for relaxing together
  • Cotton sheets with a high thread count
  • Cotton weekender bags for weekend getaways
  • Matching cotton bathrobes
  • Personalized cotton pillowcases
  • Soft and cozy cotton blankets or throws

Leather: 3rd anniversary gift ideas

  • Customized leather keychain
  • Leather armchair
  • Leather belt or accessories
  • Leather-bound journal or notebook
  • Leather-bound book collection of favorite author or genre
  • Leather luggage tags
  • Leather photo album
  • Leather travel bag
  • Leather wallet or purse
  • Leather watch

Fruit or flowers: 4th anniversary gift ideas

  • Exotic fruit basket or gourmet fruit arrangement
  • Floral-inspired art
  • Flower bouquet (here’s how to pick the perfect anniversary flowers)
  • Flower-shaped jewelry or accessories
  • Fruit or flower scented candles or bath products
  • Fruit-themed cooking / preserving class
  • Fruit teas
  • Potted plant or indoor herb garden
  • Subscription to a fruit or flower delivery service
  • Flower gardening tools or supplies

Wood: 5th anniversary gift ideas

  • Carved wooden figurines or sculptures
  • Handcrafted wooden bowl
  • Personalized wooden cutting board or serving tray
  • Wooden home decor items
  • Wooden outdoor furniture
  • Wooden photo frame
  • Wooden puzzle or game set
  • Woodworking class

Iron: 6th anniversary gift ideas

  • Cast iron skillet
  • Iron sculpture
  • Iron lantern
  • Iron fireplace tools
  • Iron fire pit
  • Iron sign for your home

Wool or copper: 7th anniversary gift ideas

  • Copper cookware
  • Cooper mugs
  • Knitted wool sweater
  • Wool blanket or throw
  • Wool socks or scarves

Bronze: 8th anniversary gift ideas

  • Bronze exterior lights (perfect if you live in a coastal area like us)
  • Bronze ornament
  • Bronze ring dish
  • Bronze sculpture

Pottery or willow: 9th anniversary gift ideas

  • A cricket bat (my husband would be all over this)
  • A sweat lodge session
  • Handcrafted pottery mugs
  • Pottery class
  • Pottery planters for indoor or outdoor use
  • Pottery vase with a bouquet of flowers
  • Willow picnic hamper (then go on a picnic date)
  • Willow wand

Tin or aluminum: 10th anniversary gift ideas

Caveat – this is definitely one anniversary where I’d be going for the modern theme! Finding something beyond food or drink in a tin is challenging.

  1. A flight (planes are made of aluminum)
  2. Aluminum travel mug or water bottle
  3. Biscuit tin (going with the UK definition of biscuit here)
  4. Tea in a tin

You can also include ones of these 10th wedding anniversary quotes in your card.

Steel: 10th anniversary gift ideas

  1. Corten steel fire pit
  2. Corten steel outdoor sculpture
  3. Stainless steel cutlery set
  4. Stainless steel watch
  5. Stainless steel flask

Silk or linen: 12th anniversary gift ideas

  1. Linen tablecloth
  2. Luxurious silk or linen bedding set.
  3. Silk or linen robes or pajamas.
  4. Silk or linen dress
  5. Silk or linen throw pillows
  6. Silk scarf
  7. Silk tie or pocket square

Lace: 13th anniversary gift ideas

  1. Lace lingerie
  2. Lace parasol
  3. Lace-trimmed handkerchiefs (I love my handkerchiefs)
  4. Lace tablecloth
  5. Shoes (with laces)

Ivory: 14th anniversary gift ideas

Ivory from elephants is not something we should be gifting, so this is another area where I suggest going with the modern list (which is gold).

  1. An African safari
  2. A donation to an elephant rescue fund
  3. Ivory-colored bedding or throw blankets
  4. Ivory-colored candles
  5. Personalized anniversary gift with an ivory hue, such as a photo frame

Crystal: 15th Anniversary gift ideas

  1. Crystal chandelier
  2. Crystal figurine
  3. Crystal glasses
  4. Crystal jewelry
  5. Crystal vase

China: 20th anniversary gift ideas

  1. A trip to China
  2. Antique china
  3. China collectable
  4. China platter
  5. China tea set

21st anniversary gift ideas and beyond

A couple sitting on a yacht, enjoying the sunset view together, after reading these anniversary gifts by year

Once you get to these years, these anniversary gift ideas are metals and precious stones and ideas around these become repetitive, so its your chance to let your knowledge of your partner’s likes and dislikes shine.

Jewelry becomes the obvious gift idea for 25 years and beyond.

Vacations based around the theme is another fun idea.

For example, you could visit a coral reef for your 35th, a place with golden beaches for your 50th, or a trip to Ireland for your 55th!

(You might also like 50th wedding anniversary quotes).

Celebrating anniversaries by choosing anniversary gifts by year adds a special touch to the milestone moments.

From the early years of paper and cotton to the later years of gold and diamonds, each anniversary presents an opportunity to express your love and appreciation for each other through thoughtful and meaningful gifts that symbolize the love, dedication, and growth you have experienced together.

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