Traditional Anniversary Gifts with a Modern Twist


PART ONE: 1st Wedding Anniversary through 10th Wedding Anniversary

I’ll admit, I have always been mystified by the ‘traditional’ anniversary gifts. I never truly understood them or got the point. Someone would mention their anniversary and someone else, usually an older female member of the family, would yell out, “Oh, that’s the cotton year!” 


Turns out, this anniversary tradition likely started in medieval Germany, where couples received a wreath made of silver for their 25th anniversary or gold for their 50th anniversary. The circular wreaths symbolized eternity, and were presented in precious metals to celebrate the longevity and good fortune of the couples. 

This was later expanded to include many different materials associated with various anniversary dates. For example, the material for the first wedding anniversary is paper. This is a modest and light material, which also can represent the first page of the couple’s story together. The material for the fifth wedding anniversary is wood. With additional years, this material is more strong and sturdy, and comes from trees with deep roots. 

As the years go on, the gift material becomes more substantial and grandiose. 

I really appreciate the romantic symbolism associated with gifts made of these materials. It is a beautiful way to infuse tradition, while being thoughtful and sentimental. With that said, it is also important that the gifts are personalized, useful, and fit into modern life. 

In recent years, librarians at the Chicago Public Library created an updated, modern anniversary gift list. But personally, I think it is more romantic to stick to the original list if you can, and get creative with the ‘material’ associated with each year of marriage. 

Below is part one of a list of traditional anniversary gift materials, by year, and my suggestions for a modern implementation. For part two, click here

Just a quick caveat: These are general suggestions and the true value of gift giving comes from tailoring the gift to the recipient. To create a custom gift they’ll love, reach out to us at



First Wedding Anniversary

Traditional Gift: Paper

Thoughtful Card (with a well thought out handwritten message), Journal or Notebook, Meaningful Book, Monogrammed Stationery, Framed Art Print, Calendar, Custom/Shared Map

Second Wedding Anniversary

Traditional Gift: Cotton

New Bedding, Monogrammed Bath Towels, Decorative Tea Towel, Couples Robes, Undergarments, Clothing (dress shirt, sweater, or dress), Scented Candle or Linen Spray

Third Wedding Anniversary

Traditional Gift: (Faux) Leather

Jackets, Wallet, Watch, Keychain, Catchall Tray, Dopp Kit, Overnight Bag, Purse, Jewelry, Hat Bound Journal, Coasters, Luggage Tags, Passport Covers, Accented Pillow or Clothing

Fourth Wedding Anniversary

Traditional Gift: Fruit and Flowers

Scented Soap, Perfume, Candle, Floral Print Clothing and Accessories, Art Prints (featuring fruit or flowers), Wine (it’s a fruit!), Fresh Flowers with Fruit and Champagne

OR, Go fruit-picking (in season) or on a wine tasting tour!

Fifth Wedding Anniversary

Traditional Gift: Wood

Furniture, New Floors, Custom Cutting Board, Bowl Set, Coasters, Home Decor, Shelves, Frame, Keepsake or Jewelry Box, Clock, Desk Accessories, Bluetooth Speaker, Bird House, Interior or Exterior Sign

Sixth Wedding Anniversary

Traditional Gift: Iron

Cast Iron Cookware, Bottle Opener, Lamp/Light Fixture, Door Stopper, Book Ends, Shelving with Hooks, Decorative Hardware

OR, Make use of a restaurant, beer or wine with ‘iron’ in the name. You could also frame an ‘iron’ inspired art print! 

Seventh Wedding Anniversary

Traditional Gift: Wool or Copper

Wool: Socks, Hat, Gloves, Scarf, Sweater, Coat, Blanket, Pillow
Copper: Pans, Kitchen/Bar Accessories, Ice Bucket, Mugs, Cufflinks, Colored Desk Accessories, Air Plant Holder, Frame, Money Clip, Decorative Hardware, Vase

Eighth Wedding Anniversary

Traditional Gift: Bronze

Home Decor, Mirror, Lamp/Light Fixture, Clock, Outdoor Sign, Sculpture, Garden Ornament, Wind Chime, Bottle Opener, Ice Bucket, Cufflinks, Jewelry, Tie Clip, Key Chain

OR, Have the key to your first home together professionally framed! 

Ninth Wedding Anniversary

Traditional Gift: Pottery

Mugs, Bowls, Cups, Plate, Vase, Ring Dish, Tray, Platter, Yarn Bowl, Ceramic Artwork

OR, Take a pottery class and create something together! 

Tenth Wedding Anniversary

Traditional Gift: Tin or Aluminum

Aluminum Tin (filled with keepsakes and mementos), Kitchen Appliances, Luggage, Golf Clubs, Gas Grill, Beverage Tub, Bar Accessories, Cookware, Knife Set, Jewelry, Frame, Hammered Vase/Bowl, Decorative Hardware


Looking for more? Part two of this series is posted here.