The Anniversary. It’s a wonderful tradition. You got married, probably had the biggest and most expensive party of your life, bought an extortionately priced dress, hired a special venue - where you ate special food and invited special guests - and probably took about five thousand photos by which to remember your very special day.
Phew. You would think that was enough. But no, after a mere 12 months of matrimonial bliss you are, by the rules of some medieval tradition, required to give a gift to your loved one to celebrate your unique triumph of couple-dom…every year for the next 60 years.
It begs the question…what is it all for? “Yay for us! We made it! Only 58 years to go until I get that diamond!” It may come as a surprise to some, but being married is a fact that most people (footballers and love-rats aside) manage to remember every day, without needing to be reminded once a year.
And the gifts – oh the gifts. The so-called tokens of love that are given and received by a partner that is none-the-wiser can be enough to put you off marriage for life. At least in medieval Germany friends and neighbours presented you with a silver wreath at a mere 25 years (if you could hang on to 50 years you got a gold wreath - even better). But despite today’s distinct lack of wreath bestowing ceremonies, we do it nonetheless. And you know as well as I do, two weeks before your next anniversary you will be bowing to pressure and wondering what on earth to buy your spouse.
Here’s where it gets difficult. Try as you might to be creative, let me tell you now, you will be resigned to typing one of the following in to Google…
‘What to buy for an anniversary/Anniversary gifts by year/Anniversary Gift Ideas’
And now you’re here. Well here’s the good news – below is the definitive list of traditional anniversary gifts by year. The not so good news? Tradition is, by association, rather boring, and FYI the gifts only start getting good after 10 years. As the likelihood of getting past seven isn’t great, let’s start with the smaller numbers for gift inspiration…
1st Anniversary Gift: Paper
Yes, the extravagant and altogether romantic gift of paper. “Darling, you complete me. Please accept this gift of A4 paper, freshly gleaned from the printer tray…” I mean, really? Paper? It’s made from the mashed up pulp of a tree. A gift such as this requires creativity, a little thinking outside of the box you might say. You could go for the romantic gesture and write 365 love notes, one for each day of your next year together…but if that’s enough to make you reach for the sick bucket there are less cringe-worthy alternatives. For the creative type, buy them a quality sketchbook, or even a personalised notebook for all their musings. For the intellectual, get them a years’ subscription to a newspaper – or a magazine for the devoted fashion fan. If they’re particularly into magazines, you could track down any issues missing from their collection, or find a special vintage edition. If you’re music lovers buy tickets to see your favourite band – hear the soundtrack of your earlier years together; or for a dose of culture,book theatre tickets to that show you’ve been meaning to see. A piece of artwork is always a gift well received, as long as you know what your partner will appreciate. If you’re a couple that’s well travelled, or looking to explore the world, buy a map. Mount it on your wall and track your adventures as you embark upon them – it makes a great piece of wall art and a keepsake for later on.
2nd Anniversary Gift: Cotton See what I mean? Gifts up to ten years definitely demand imagination, and the closest you’re going to get to jewellery in this instance is a cotton bag to keep it in. Although – that is quite a good idea, just remember to put something gorgeous inside. Alternatively, invest in some beautiful Egyptian Cotton sheets, however dull it might sound, trust us, the extra-long staple and silky texture of this particular cotton plant makes it a divine choice for bed sheets - pure luxury. For the man-about-town, embroidered personalised handkerchiefs always add a refined touch to his wardrobe, as will a well-chosen shirt. For her, a cotton lingerie or shoe bag will be a welcome addition to her accessories, and a fitting place to keep those special items – extra brownie points if you buy the lingerie/shoes to go inside…
3rd Anniversary Gift: Leather
Finally it starts to get interesting… Aside from the obvious and, shall we say ‘alternative’ leather based gift ideas, this one is really quite easy. A leather wallet/purse/passport holder is a great piece to buy, especially of you can have it personalised with initials or a special message. Girls, it’s a great excuse to get your hands on that Mulberry bag you’ve had your eye on for so long. There’s also a host of luxe leather accessories out there for his latest gadget, and thankfully they’ll make him look more timeless-chic than techno-geek. For the interiors bod, your third wedding anniversary is a great opportunity to buy that vintage leather arm chair he’s been pining over. It might not match your ‘home vision’, but it’s only fair if you are getting that designer bag…
4th Anniversary Gift: Fruit/ Flowers
Again, this one’s quite easy but has the potential to go so, so wrong. Here are some tips: do not combine both and buy her a fruit and flower hamper – she’s your wife, not your mother-in-law. Carnations are generally a no-no. Why so you ask? Take a look at the flowers outside the next petrol station you pass, 9 times out of ten they will be carnations. Not good. Also, pay a little attention – women drop hints all the time. E.g. ‘Oh look at those gorgeous Lilies – the yellow ones are my favourite!’ / ‘I like roses but NOT red ones, they must be white’ / Tulips are my favourite flowers EVER.’ In fact, stay away from fruit altogether - unless you’re reading fruit as grapes, and grapes as wine, and planning on taking her to a vineyard in the South of France. This is acceptable.
5th Anniversary Gift: Wood
You’ll see that the traditionalists got swiftly back to the ‘dullest gift idea ever’ formula with this one. But don’t fear, there’s always a way to make it more interesting. Take a weekend break to one of England’s most beautiful forests and stay in a luxury tree house (yes, they do exist). Other extravagant, and very wooden, gift ideas include buying a traditional British seaside hut - it can be a joint project you can enjoy together or a convenient hideaway when 5 years of marriage prove not to be going so well. Other, less excessive gifts include, a solid maple board lavished with the most delicious cheeses from around the world – perfect for the lover of du fromage, a piece of antique wooden furniture, or an engraved jewellery box. Again, it’s always a bonus if said box contains expensive jewellery…
6th Anniversary Gift: Iron
Do try and resist the temptation to fall into the ball and chain gags here. It may be funny at the time, but once the divorce papers come through I doubt you’ll be laughing quite so heartily. Admittedly iron is one of the more difficult traditions to inspire your gift, but aside from the classics – golf clubs, weights, and original wrought iron furniture there are some alternatives. Well, one. For a unique take on the 6 year anniversary gift you could take a trip to the site of the first ever iron bridge in, you guessed it, the village of Ironbridge in Shropshire! For an afternoon if iron-filled fun you can even visit the Ironbridge Gorge Museum… Or you could just buy jewellery and go out for dinner?
7th Anniversary Gift: Copper
Before you start rushing out to buy a whole new set of copper saucepans and sautéing pans, take stock and consider what else may exist out there. After all, copper kitchenware is lovely, but who really wants to say ‘I love you’ with pots and pans? For a dramatic gesture take a trip to New York and visit what is possibly the greatest display of copper in the world – The Statue of Liberty. Or for a unique take on copper that is closer to home, dine out on Oysters – apparently rich in copper minerals – and drink champagne to your heart’s content.
8th Anniversary Gift: Bronze
There is clearly a non-precious metal theme occurring here, but at least with the appearance of bronze we seem to be moving in the right direction towards silver and gold. At which point it seems appropriate to mention the obvious marriage-related novelty medals that a bronze anniversary gift may inspire. But we’re not going to dwell on that, instead why not book aluxury get-away to a remote sun-filled island and return looking like a bronzed god and goddess. Surely better than a bronze medal inscribed with ‘Well done we made 8 years!’ Art lovers may enjoy a piece of contemporary bronze artwork, or if you want to encourage your spouse to take up a new hobby there’s always the cymbals?
9th Anniversary Gift: Pottery
It may be obvious, but a pottery vase is a perfectly acceptable anniversary gift – especially if it’s filled with flowers (see 4th anniversary gift for reference). You could even take a pottery class and make one together (cue Ghost soundtrack.) But for something a little less messy that you can enjoy together, buy a tagine pot. Available in various gorgeous colours, not only does it look rather striking, it’s perfect for making delicious Moroccan dishes.
10th Anniversary Gift: Tin/Aluminium
Tin! I hear you cry. Don’t, whatever you do, assume that because your partner is partial to a snack of beans on toast that a years’ supply of Heinz is an appropriate anniversary gift for 10 years. It’s not. It makes you wonder why 10 years – a significant portion of time if you ask me – has such a pathetic material assigned to it. There are of course, ways round this disappointing gift idea, for example, buy his ‘n’ hers bicycles (made from aluminium) for romantic weekend adventures. A tin whistle? A cake tin? A vintage tin sign? No, we weren’t convinced either. Or you could eschew tradition and opt for the modern alternative for 10 years of marriage – a diamond – a much better solution.
Congratulations! You made it to ten years! The remaining anniversary gift ideas are really quite self-explanatory: silk, lace, crystal, pearl, sapphire, and gold to name a few. So if you do manage to make it past ten you’re pretty much sorted. All you need to do now is start saving…
12th Anniversary Gift: Silk
13th Anniversary Gift: Lace
14th Anniversary Gift: Ivory
15th Anniversary Gift: Crystal
20th Anniversary Gift: China
25th Anniversary Gift: Silver
30th Anniversary Gift: Pearl
35th Anniversary Gift: Coral/Jade
40th Anniversary Gift: Ruby
45th Anniversary Gift: Sapphire
50th Anniversary Gift: Gold
55th Anniversary Gift: Emerald
60th Anniversary Gift: Diamond
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