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Our Comprehensive Guide to Anniversary Gifts by Year

Are you about to celebrate a wedding anniversary? Struggling to find the perfect gift for your spouse? Wedding anniversaries have been celebrated since the Middle Ages, and are an important part of your relationship, so don’t let the occasion go unannounced. It’s not always necessary for there to be fanfares and trumpets, but this memorable event certainly warrants the exchanging of gifts between loved ones. You probably know that there are certain symbols associated with the number of years you’ve been married, but do you know where the whole idea comes from?

The History of Giving Anniversary Gifts by Year

annyversary gifts by yearThere is a lot of confusion about where the idea of giving wedding anniversary gifts came from. Some say it was as far back as the Holy Roman Empire, when a husband crowned his wife with a silver wreath to mark 25 years of marriage. And a gold wreath when they reached that momentous milestone of 50 years. Others attribute medieval Germany as the root of today’s gift giving tradition, when it was friends who gave the gift of a silver wreath to the wife.
There is however, more evidence to suggest that the modern day ritual of giving gifts to celebrate a wedding anniversary, dates back to Victorian times. Previous to 1937, only the most major anniversaries had an associated symbol. For example the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th and so on. The American National Retail Jeweler Association introduced a more comprehensive list that many wedding anniversary celebrators have been following ever since. The different materials associated with each passing year, have many different meanings, and represent the various stages you pass through in your marriage. To help you decide on the most appropriate gift to give to your wife or husband let’s give you the definitive list of anniversary gifts by year.

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Traditional List of Anniversary Gifts by Year

  • Year 1 – PAPER
  • Year 2 – COTTON
  • Year 3 – LEATHER
  • Year 4 – LINEN/ SILK
  • Year 5 – WOOD
  • Year 6 – IRON
  • Year 7 – COPPER/ WOOL
  • Year 8 – BRONZE
  • Year 9 – POTTERY/ CHINA
  • Year 10 – TIN/ ALUMINUM
  • Year 11 – STEEL
  • Year 12 – SILK/ FINE LINEN
  • Year 13 – LACE
  • Year 14 – IVORY
  • Year 15 – CHINA/ CRYSTAL
  • Year 20 – CHINA
  • Year 25 – SILVER
  • Year 30 – PEARL
  • Year 35 – CORAL
  • Year 40 – RUBY
  • Year 45 – SAPPHIRE
  • Year 50 – GOLD
  • Year 55 – EMERALD
  • Year 60 – DIAMOND
  • Year 65 – BLUE SAPPHIRE
  • Year 70 – PLATINUM
  • Year 80 – OAK
  • Year 85 – WINE
  • Year 90 – STONE

The list of traditional anniversary presents by year given above, is a compilation of traditional lists used in the UK and the USA. As you can see the materials increase in strength and durability as the number of years pass. And so relate to the increasing strength and endurance of your marriage. There is also a modern take on this list, that many people prefer to follow. But when it comes to giving anniversary gifts, of course it’s entirely up to you which list you follow. Or whether you prefer to buck the trend, and give your significant other half something completely different.

A List of Modern Anniversary Gifts by Year

  • First – Clocks
  • Second – China
  • Third – Crystal/Glass
  • Fourth – Appliances
  • Fifth – Silverware
  • Sixth – Wood Objects
  • Seventh – Desk sets
  • Eighth – Linen, Lace
  • Ninth – Leather Goods
  • Tenth – Diamond
  • a silver rose for eternityEleventh – Fashion jewelry
  • Twelfth – Pearls, Colored gems
  • Thirteenth – Textiles
  • Fourteenth – Gold jewelry
  • Fifteenth – Watches
  • Sixteenth – Silver holloware
  • Seventeenth – Furniture
  • Eighteenth – Porcelain
  • Nineteenth – Bronze
  • Twentieth – Platinum
  • 21st – Brass, Nickel
  • 22nd – Copper
  • 23rd – Silver plate
  • 24th – Musical instruments
  • Twenty-Fifth – Sterling Silver
  • 26th – Original pictures
  • 27th – Sculpture
  • 28th – Orchids
  • 29th – New furniture
  • Thirtieth – Diamond
  • 31st – Timepieces
  • 32nd – Conveyances (e.g., automobiles)
  • 33rd – Amethyst
  • 34th – Opal
  • Thirty-Fifth – Jade
  • 36th – Bone china
  • 37th – Alabaster
  • 38th – Beryl, Tourmaline
  • 39th – Lace
  • Fortieth – Ruby
  • 41st – Land
  • 42nd – Improved real estate
  • 43rd – Travel
  • 44th – Groceries
  • Forty-Fifth – Sapphire
  • 46th – Original poetry tribute
  • 47th – Books
  • 48th – Optical goods (e.g., telescope, microscope)
  • 49th – Luxuries, any kind
  • Fiftieth – Gold
  • Fifty-fifth – Emerald
  • Sixtieth – Diamond
  • 80th – Diamond, Pearl
  • 85th – Diamond, Sapphire
  • 90th – Diamond, Emerald
  • 95th – Diamond, Ruby
  • 100th – 10-carat Diamond

This list of modern anniversary gifts by year was organised in 2000 by librarians at the Chicago Public Library. Quite an extensive list we think you’ll agree. But it certainly gives you lots of ideas to choose from.

Follow a Tried and Tested Anniversary Gifts by Year List or Go With Your Own Idea?

It really is completely up to you. You might be the kind of person who loves to follow tradition, someone who is so confused by the whole idea of anniversary gift giving that you really need some kind of direction to follow. Or someone who just loves to buck a trend…….any kind of trend! But hang on a minute. It’s not just about you is it? A wedding anniversary is a celebration of two people living together in harmony. Sharing likes and dislikes, struggling through anything and everything that life throws at you, but above all loving another person because of who they are. That means that it’s not just your feelings that should be considered when thinking about the right anniversary gift. It’s not just about what you want, but what they want too.

Traditional or Modern List Which is the Best?

So you’ve decided that you’re going to take some inspiration from an anniversary gifts by year list, but which one should you go with?
Have you ever come across the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Well the same can be said of a gift. Nipping down to the local shop at the last minute, to buy a bog standard anniversary card off the shelf, just won’t cut the mustard with the wife, or the husband for that matter. Your wedding anniversary only comes round once a year, and of course it’s all too easy to forget this important event. There’s always going to be something that gets in the way of remembering. But the truth of the matter is that this annual event is not one that should be forgotten, or treated lightly. Giving your spouse a token to show your continued commitment and the value of your relationship is a wise move to make. And actually very romantic.
Finding the right anniversary gift is fairly easy in the beginning, but as the years pass and your material needs change, it will become increasingly difficult to come up with ideas for suitable anniversary gifts. Both traditional and modern lists provide you with a whole host of gift ideas, but which list is the best?

The First 20 Years of Married Life

For the first 20 years of married life, both lists contain ideas for every year. On the whole each list has different suggestions, but there are a few that are the same. Materials that were more commonly found in days gone by, such as tin and copper, feature in the traditional list. Whereas newer items such as fashion jewellery and optical goods, are featured in the modern anniversary gift list.

20 to 50 Years of Married Life

During this period in your married life, traditional gift suggestions are forthcoming for every five years of celebration. The modern list however, is slightly different, in that it still offers up a gift for every passing year. This may be to recognise the importance of keeping romance alive in your relationship, and making every effort possible to keep your love alive. Key anniversaries are the same, but the modern list interjects some interesting suggestions such as new furniture, cars and musical instruments.

50 Years of Married Life and Onwards

If you’re one of the fortunate few that have made it to 50 years, then gold is the one and only choice. And after that it’s something precious all the way to the end.
There really is no right and wrong answer to your question. Some would in fact say that anything is better than nothing at all. It’s up to you whether you decide to go with traditional or modern, but convention dictates that you should mark the occasion in whatever way you feel fits.

Why Not Start up Your Own Wedding Anniversary Tradition?

There’s one way great way you can celebrate the passing years, and that’s by starting your own wedding tradition. It will help you plan for future years, and be a fun way to make your own memorable moments to take with you through your married life together. If you’re not sure what to do, then let’s start you on your journey with some simple ideas.

Recreate Your Wedding Cake

Your wedding cake formed the centrepiece of your wedding reception, so why not recreate it every year? You might not want to go to the expense of creating it exactly. After all you might not want to eat several tiers of wedding cake all over again, every year. Many bakers will be only too pleased to make the top tier of a wedding cake to help you celebrate your wedding anniversary. And you’re bound to have a picture they can work from. You can have the same flavours, and the same decoration, and while cutting the cake make a toast to future years together.

Don’t Let Your Wedding Dress Languish in the Closet

All too often a bride’s wedding dress will be worn once and then forgotten. Left to gather dust in the back of the wardrobe. Take off the plastic cover, dust it off and wear it for your anniversary. If you think it’s a little over the top to wear for a dinner date, why not have it altered into a completely different style, and wear it on your anniversary every year? You could even dye it a different colour.

Take a Picture

Every year take a picture on your anniversary. Start off the tradition by taking a picture of the pair of you, holding a photo from your wedding day. Each year keep the picture from the previous year in the shot. Try out different sizes of photo, and you’ll be creating an ongoing and growing memory of your special day.
Or why not take a picture with the relevant number included. It could be 1 rose,5 balloons, 10 rubber ducks – you get the picture!

Play a Game

Pick a game that you both enjoy playing, it could be cards, a board game, a round of golf or darts. Each year carry on from where you left off on your previous anniversary.

Last Minute Wedding Anniversary Gift Ideas

gifts-by-yearHopefully now you’ve found your way to this website, you aren’t going to find yourself in need of a last minute gift idea to impress your loved one. But if you’ve been unfortunate enough to leave things till the last minute, why not try one of the following last minute gift ideas?

Print Your Own Anniversary Gift

Etsy is a great place to find gifts you can print off at home and frame yourself. Look for an image or a few sweet words. You’ll need to find a suitable frame, hopefully there’s one lying around at home – if you don’t want your gift to look last minute!

Take Her Out for a Night on the Town

You might need to arrange a babysitter, but this could be a great last minute idea. Book a table at her favourite restaurant, and enjoy a candlelight supper.

Tickets for a Show

You can purchase tickets for almost anything online nowadays, and are a great anniversary idea if you find yourself caught out. A London show, sports event, fashion show, music concert – whatever you think she’d like, go ahead and book it.