Anniversary Gifts By Year

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Aside from figuring out your joint tax return, one of the annual pressures of marriage is finding an anniversary gift for your spouse. Despite some centuries-old traditions and a few modern updates that will help guide you in the right direction, it can still be a daunting task to find something original. We’ve got you covered with a bunch of options that’ll keep you having to make a last-minute run to the florist because you couldn’t think of anything else.

1 Year Anniversary Gifts

Traditional: Paper / Modern: Clocks

Paper symbolizes the first year of your marriage–because, like a blank page, your relationship is still a story waiting to be told. As a more modern symbol, a clock represents the eternal nature of your love for one another.

This paper anniversary is a good excuse to wax poetic in a love letter to your spouse. You can also get her a personalized notebook or stationary–though don’t do this if she’s the type who relies on texts or email. The paper doesn’t have to be blank either: you can opt to  print out one of your favorite photos of the two of you as a couple, or a reproduction of ticket stubs for the first concert you went to together.

As for clocks, you can always go for a watch or other timepiece. Music lovers can find many items like this vinyl record clock, where you can select her favorite album to be put on the label for $38. The Museum of Modern Art store also carries many gorgeous clocks for reasonable (and unreasonable) prices. We like this modern Hibaya clock.

2 year anniversary gift

Traditional: Cotton / Modern: China

Cotton is said to represent a couple becoming interwoven, while china highlights the grace and beauty of their love. You might be tempted to get a 100% cotton novelty tee, but we suggest you go for something a bit nicer: a quality robe, the kind that you’d steal from a hotel if you thought you’d get away with it, like this $99 option (pictured below) from Parachute. If you go for china, order this $300 tabletop portable grill. Your dinner guests will be impressed by it’s cool design, and you can impress strangers when you haul it to a park for a more elegant blanketed picnic.

3 year anniversary gift

Traditional: Leather / Modern: Crystal

For your third year together, you can go for leather (representing the tough, lasting nature of your relationship) or crystal (which is shiny, like your marriage.) Obviously you can get a bit kinky with the leather—no judgments—but most gifts you’ll find are more of the journal/suitcase/wallet type. For a combination of fashionable and utilitarian, opt for one of these pairs of gloves that are elegant and also work with touch screens. If you want to combine the traditions, there’s always the option of getting leather coasters  and cocktail glasses ($16 per glass), because three years certainly deserves another toast.

4 Year Anniversary Gift

Traditional: Fruit and Flowers / Modern: Silk, Appliances

Depending on which theme you chose, there’s fruit and flowers, because your relationship is growing and blooming; silk, because hopefully your marriage will be smooth; and appliances, because, well, you probably forgot to add something to your registry or need an upgrade on your current gear. Bouqs is a reliable delivery service for flowers (and planters) of varying budgets, if you don’t have a go-to florist (also, buy her flowers more often, you yutz). For fruit, chocolate-covered strawberries might seem obvious, but they’re delicious and, if you’re creative, useful in the bedroom.

Silk robes and lingerie are always a solid gift, but if you want to be a tad selfish, silk sheets are the way to go–because by year 4, you’ll both probably be old enough to value a good night’s sleep over anything really fun. Appliance-wise, there are always phones and tables, but why not go for a $70 three-in-one breakfast station that lets you cook eggs and meats, make toast, and brew coffee all at once – with the promise that you’ll be the one doing all the work. Or, a combination of a wine fridge and electric corkscrew would certainly facilitate some romantic evenings.

5 Year Anniversary Gift

Traditional: Wood / Modern: Silverware

Wood is meant to show tree-like strength and roots, while silverware reps a hardened, beautiful bond and many shared meals to come.

Some dos and don’ts for wood: don’t make a boner joke. Do: create a dual-pronged gift of a wooden photo print and a fancy bottle of wine or booze that comes in a wooden case, or a personalized wooden whiskey barrel. A modern wood cake stand looks great and almost no one already has one of those. With silverware, there aren’t many “fun” options out there, but a new gold serving set, like this option from Crate and Barrel, is definitely a safe bet. For the more cocktail-oriented couple, this $130 nine-piece copper bar set has a Mad Men aesthetic — infidelity not included.

10 Year Anniversary Gift

Traditional: Tin or Aluminum / Modern: Diamond

After a decade, your relationship should be as durable as one of these two metals or the much-beloved stone. Unless you’re buying Altoids or some hot new tire rims, we recommend this tin case containing a spa treatment for $32 or a monogrammed aluminum cheese plate and knife for $115. You can throw out one when it’s used up, and the other will last a while. Think about what message you want to send here. For the more modern diamond gift, you can always just spend $6 on this Neil Diamond poster, though you might just find your “love on the rocks” if you do. Or just go for some jewelry. It’s been 10 years — you should know what she likes by now. The best tip for that is to listen when comments on someone else’s jewelry and remember it.

20 Year Anniversary Gift

Traditional: China / Modern: Platinum

Two decades in, china is given to represent the beauty and fragility of a relationship, so don’t drop it. Platinum, like the other metals before it on this list, is for endurance. Unless you’ve broken all the plates you’ve amassed over the years and need replacements, just go for porcelain jewelry.

—Dan Reilly

Bottom Line

As the years go by and you amass anniversaries, you may be tempted to let things slip gift-wise. Don’t. Your wedding is a date to be celebrated, no matter how many years ago it was.

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