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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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