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Romantic Gift Ideas for Your Wedding Anniversary

Updated on December 4, 2013

Your wedding anniversary is coming up . . . soon. The economy is tight and that trip to Paris, Hawaii, or Mexico is just not happening. What are you going to do to make your special day memorable for your special someone?

The early years are pretty easy. Life together is new. You might still be able to surprise each other with a unique or special present. If you are sentimentalists, you may follow the traditional anniversary gift lists:

First Anniversary Gift: Paper (modern: clocks)
Traditional wins here. So many romantic ideas for paper exist that fit so many budgets. A clock? You could put a romantic spin on it--but it is more a piece of fine furniture the two of you need to choose together.

For our first anniversary, I bought my husband one single share of stock in Motorola (which back in the day was very promising). The romantic idea of this piece of paper was that by the time we were married for 25 years, we could go on a trip with the reinvested dividends of this single piece of paper. The idealism of youth. We just celebrated our 20th anniversary, and that piece of paper, which did divide multiple times, is worth half of what it was. In fact, Motorola doesn't really exist as the same company as it was in 1993. But the idea was very romantic on our first wedding anniversary.

Because I like to cook, he bought me a beautiful hard cover edition of LaRousse Gastronomique.

2nd Anniversary Gift: Cotton (modern: china)
Finishing off the purchase of the china (good or everyday dinnerware) that you didn't receive for your wedding might be a practical gift. Not very romantic--but definitely practical. Cotton offers the romance: comfy cotton pajamas or cotton monogrammed robes, cotton bed sheets, a new cotton duvet . . .

Avoid the Appliance--Go for Romance on Your 4th Anniversary
Avoid the Appliance--Go for Romance on Your 4th Anniversary

3rd Anniversary Gift: Leather (modern: crystal/glass)
By the third anniversary, many couples are expecting a baby. Perhaps the honeymoon glamour has worn off. You might need to work a bit harder this anniversary for the appreciative "oooh" and "aah."

The modern gift is crystal or glass. If you already have children, perhaps they've already broken most of your glassware and you need to replenish--but is that really romantic? We did indeed have a football fly through our living room and smash our wedding crystal a few years back. But we would never have wasted a gift theme like leather!. Be imaginative. Be spontaneous. Maybe even be a bit naughty!

4th Anniversary Gift: Fruit or Flowers (modern: appliances)
Now, no matter how much I love my husband, if he ever gives me an appliance for our anniversary, I will cry. Yes, our refrigerator and dishwasher are about to blow. I can tell. They are loud and occasionally drip. I can sacrifice a Christmas present, Mother's Day, even my birthday. But, please, flowers (not fruit) on our anniversary--not a disposal.

Of course, anniversary gifts go both ways. So, ladies, what do you give your man? Fruit, flowers, or appliances? Men do like toys with cords. Audio/visual equipment might be a fantastic surprise. Perhaps additions to a surround sound system or a big screen TV--just so as long as the appliance doesn't pertain to a chore or a project that he needs to finish,

Time alone is the perfect anniversary gift for couples with young children. Call up that sitter, make dinner reservations and get out there together!
Time alone is the perfect anniversary gift for couples with young children. Call up that sitter, make dinner reservations and get out there together!

5th Anniversary Gift: Wood (modern: silverware)
A beautiful Costa Rican wood bowl, a tree planted in honor of your wedding . . . Then there's the silverware. Perhaps the kids have accidentally tossed your spoons along with their little yogurts or applesauces. Did the serving fork get mauled by the garbage disposal? Now might be the time to consider re-purchasing lost place settings--or, if enough pieces are missing--shopping together for a new set of everyday silverware.

6th Anniversary Gift: Candy / Iron (modern: wood)
By the time our 6th wedding annivesary rolled around, we were three years into children with number three on the way. The best anniversary gift that young parents can give each other is time alone together. Call in the favors, hire a sitter, beg the grandparents: but get out for an evening, a night, or the weekend. Focus on each other. Have a quiet dinner, hold hands--and don't talk about the kids! You can even continue the tradition of marking the year with candy (a big box of Godiva truffles might be appropriate) or purchase a piece of wood art as a memento of your weekend together.

7th Anniversary Gift: Wool / Copper (modern: desk sets)
A beautiful wool picnic blanket, a special bottle of wine, and quiet time alone to enjoy a romantic meal on a beach or in a nature preserve would be exquisite. If you were married in the winter or the weather is uncooperative, have your picnic in the middle of the family room floor after the children are in bed. A desk set? Whew, where'd the romance go there?

8th Anniversary Gift: Bronze / Pottery (modern: linens / lace)
A bronze statue for the garden, pottery for the dinner table, or a lace teddy for your beloved. After 8 years, now is the time for you guys to tell her she still stirs your soul with a little lace something. A silk dressing gown edged in lace also would be a welcome present, maybe accompanied by a spa gift card. For your husband, perhaps actually wearing the lace teddy would be present enough!

9th Anniversary Gift: Pottery / Willow (modern: leather)
Leather or pottery. If your kids have broken all your original dinnerware, maybe you can go for the pottery. But gee, lace one year, then leather next. Now, remember, guys, it doesn't need to be obscene. By your 8th and 9th anniversaries, you should know what styles your partner likes. Perhaps the best gift of the leather anniversary is the ability to chuckle over it and tease. A nice leather wallet, beautiful leather purse. . . .There are several very tasteful choices, as well as many that you can imagine that I can't list here.

12 year Lagavulin for 12 years of marriage
12 year Lagavulin for 12 years of marriage

10th Anniversary Gift: Tin / Aluminum (modern: diamond)
11th Anniversary Gift: Steel (modern: fashion jewelry
I think both Hallmark and the traditionalists ran out of ideas here. Tin, steel and aluminum are really not that romantic. Give me a pot or pan for my anniversary and you'll need a steel helmet for protection. Fashion jewelry sounds rather tacky. Gee, that leaves us with diamonds--always a girl's best friend.

12th Anniversary Gift: Silk / Linen (modern: pearls)
Do men really like receiving linen handkerchiefs or silk ties? I'm not really sure--and isn't that what Father's Day is all about? For our 12th anniversary, I bought him a bottle of 12-year Scotch (Lagavulin, his favorite).

13th Anniversary Gift: Lace (modern: textiles or fur)
I'm surprised at those modernists: fur is out. Textiles sounds oddly interesting: rugs have some potential. Perhaps a new set of sheets and bedding. Of course we all know what men would love to give us: lace teddies. But after three kids, I'd settle for flannel pajamas.

14th Anniversary Gift: Ivory (modern: gold jewelry)
Unless you've found a great retro store, ivory is illegal now. Gold jewelry might not be your beloved's style. Be creative here:
Have you written him or her a love letter recently? Instead of a dozen roses, how about a bountiful bouquet of wildflowers?

15th Anniversary Gift: Crystal (modern: watches)

16th Anniversary Gift: (modern: silver holloware)

17th Anniversary Gift: Furniture (modern: Furniture)
Last year, our anniversary was on a Saturday. But . . . our daughter was at a swing choir competition about 2 hours away (bused there but we have to retrieve). We finally got to celebrate with a quiet, albeit late, dinner, a good bottle of wine and time alone. No presents, just his presence.

18th Anniversary Gift: Porcelain (modern: Cat's Eye gem)
This year's anniversary featured neither procelain nor cat's eye. Instead, we were at the boys' football banquet, where I helped serve Italian beef, mashed potatoes and fried chicken. However, this year, my husband and I splurged and bought each other a 52" HD TV for our bedroom. It streams Netflix, amazon prime, and more. This is a first for us: the first TV in our bedroom. And I'm loving life!

Major Milestones

Major milestones are worthy of a vacation or a family party. I hope everyone is blessed with the health and love to make it to number 60!

20th Anniversary Gift: China (modern: platinum)
25th Anniversary Gift: Silver (modern: silver)
30th Anniversary Gift: Pearls (modern: diamond)
35th Anniversary Gift: Coral (modern: jade)
40th Anniversary Gift: Ruby (modern: ruby)
45th Anniversary Gift: Sapphire (modern: sapphire)
50th Anniversary Gift: Gold (modern: gold)
55th Anniversary Gift: Emerald (modern: emerald)
60th Anniversary Gift: Diamond (modern: diamond)


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