Your Guide to the Best Wedding Anniversary Gifts by Year

Wedding anniversary gifts are one of the few so-called traditions I actually try to follow. While it can sometimes be weird to figure out what to get your spouse that’s “paper” or “copper,” it’s nice to have a guideline to go by. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to holiday, birthday, or Valentine’s Day gifts for my husband, I’m always racking my brain trying to come up with a creative and unexpected option. Above all, it’s nice to have a general direction to get you started. So here are the best anniversary gifts by year!

A History of Anniversary Gifts by Year

So where did the tradition of exchanging wedding anniversary gifts every year start? While nobody can say for sure, it was believed to have started in medieval Germany. For example, it was tradition for a husband to give his wife a silver wreath for their 25th anniversary, and their 50th was gold. In addition, another theory was that what we now refer to as our “traditional” list of gifts started in Victorian Era England. This traditional gift list once only included gifts for the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversaries.

However, it was etiquette guru Emily Post who recognized a growing trend of celebrating additional anniversaries. In fact, she referred to it as a “symbolic anniversary gift for each of the first fifteen years of marriage and one for every five years after that,” according to one source. So, we can actually thank Post for the continue gift-giving!

My first anniversary gift to my husband: a paper print of a “love” mural in Paris, where visitors from around the world write “I love you.”

While the origins of the “traditional” list of anniversary gifts might be a bit fuzzy, we know that the “modern” list was created in 1937 by the American National Retail Jewelry Association.

On their list, practical gifts tended to be given in the early years when a couple was still establishing their home. Then, more “luxury” gifts were given later on in the marriage. That seemed to be a win-win for the Jewelry Association! LOL. After that, the librarians at the Chicago Public Library merged both the “traditional” and “modern” lists to end up with what we use today!

Also Read: 16 of the Best Macy’s Dresses for Mom

Modern vs. Traditional Wedding Anniversary Gifts: Which One is Better?

There’s no right answer when it comes to choosing a traditional or modern gift. For example, I tend to switch back and forth between the modern and traditional lists, which I think is totally OK (and a bit more fun). 

And even though it can sometimes be weird trying to figure out what to get your spouse that’s “paper” or “copper,” it’s nice to have a guideline to go by. This is especially true for those who find themselves racking their brain trying to come up with a gifts for holidays, birthdays, or Valentine’s Day. It’s good to have a general direction to get you started!

Similarly, you’ll also notice a few odd gift choices while scrolling through this list that don’t seem to fit. (Like that original poetry tribute?!) In other words, you might have to put up with some random gifts for a years year. Just know that if you make it to your 100th anniversary, the gift is a 10-carat diamond, which ain’t too shabby.

WGM Says: In addition to modern vs. traditional gift suggestions, each anniversary also has an associated color and gemstone. If that’s more your style, we’ve included those options in our ‘At a Glance’ section, below!

No matter if you’re celebrating your first wedding anniversary or your 50th, you can use this handy guide to help you pick out the perfect modern or traditional gift!

Also Read: Here’s what you need to know about Manly Bands

Do you have to give an anniversary gift each year?

No! Whether or not you exchange gifts is completely up to you and your partner. Just make sure you’re on the same page about it. If your partner is expecting a gift and you decide this is a year you’re going to skip, there might be some hurt feelings involved. It’s always a good idea to talk about what the gift exchange plan is before any anniversary. That way you can talk about budget, anniversary plans, etc.

What is a budget-friendly anniversary gift?

There have been several years when my husband and I have been downright lazy about giving anniversary gifts and decided to do something completely different. For instance some years when we’re traveling or just know we won’t have time to shop for gifts, we decide to write down things we love about the other person, with the number corresponding to our anniversary (IE: 12 things I love about you.). It works because we both talked about it ahead of time (as noted above), and do it together. And it doesn’t get more budget-friendly than free!

At a Glance: Anniversary Gifts by Year

Years 1-10

  • 1st Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Paper
    • Modern: Clocks
    • Gemstone: Gold (though not technically a gemstone, it’s thought to bring couples good luck for the beginning of their marriage)
    • Color: Yellow or Gold
  • 2nd Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Cotton
    • Modern: China
    • Gemstone: Garnet
    • Color: Red
  • 3rd Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Leather
    • Modern: Crystal, Glass
    • Gemstone: Pearls
    • Color: Jade Green or White
  • 4th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Fruit or Flowers
    • Modern: Appliances
    • Gemstone: Blue Topaz
    • Color: Blue or Green
  • 5th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Wood
    • Modern: Silverware
    • Gemstone: Sapphire
    • Color: Turquoise, Blue, or Pink
  • 6th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Iron
    • Modern: Wood
    • Gemstone: Amethyst
    • Color: Turquoise, Purple, or White
  • 7th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Copper or wool
    • Modern: Desk Sets
    • Gemstone: Onyx
    • Color: Yellow or Off White
  • 8th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Bronze
    • Modern: Linen or Lace
    • Gemstone: Tourmaline
    • Color: Bronze
  • 9th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Willow or Pottery
    • Modern: Leather
    • Gemstone: Lapis Lazuli
    • Color: Terracota
  • 10th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Tin or Aluminum
    • Modern: Diamond Jewelry
    • Gemstone: Diamonds
    • Color: Blue or Silver

Years 11-20

  • 11th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Steel
    • Modern: Fashion Jewelry
    • Gemstone: Turquoise
    • Color: Turquoise
  • 12th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Silk or Linen
    • Modern: Pearl
    • Gemstone: Jade
    • Color: Oyster White
  • 13th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Lace
    • Modern: Textiles or Faux Furs
    • Gemstone: Citrine
    • Color: White
  • 14th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Ivory/Elephant (The ivory represents the stability of an elephant. But since ivory is banned, you could instead use an elephant figurine or faux ivory)
    • Modern: Gold Jewelry
    • Gemstone: Opal
    • Color: Ivory
  • 15th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Crystal
    • Modern: Watches
    • Gemstone: Ruby
    • Color: Red
  • 16th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Wax
    • Modern: Silver Holloware
    • Gemstone: Peridot
    • Color: Silver or Emerald Green

WGM Says: Since there is no “official” list of gifts, it gets a little vague for some years (especially the higher ones). Some have the same modern and traditional gifts, while others lack a gemstone, color, or specific gift altogether. There are no rules when it comes to anniversary gifts, so you can celebrate the occasion as you see fit!

  • 17th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Furniture
    • Gemstone: Carnelian
    • Color: Yellow
  • 18th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Porcelain
    • Gemstone: Cat’s Eye
    • Color: Blue
  • 19th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Bronze
    • Gemstone: Aquamarine
    • Color: Bronze
  • 20th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: China
    • Modern: Platinum
    • Gemstone: Emerald
    • Color: Emerald Green

Years 21 and beyond

  • 21st Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Brass or Nickel
    • Gemstone: Iolite
    • Color: Orange
  • 22nd Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Copper
    • Gemstone: Spinel
    • Color: Green
  • 23rd Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: A silver plate
    • Gemstone: Imperial Topaz
    • Color: Silver
  • 24th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Opal
    • Modern: Musical Instrument
    • Gemstone: Tanzanite
    • Color: Lavender
  • 25th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Silver
    • Modern: Sterling Silver
    • Gemstone: Silver (though not a gemstone, this is typically associated with 25th anniversaries)
    • Color: Silver
  • 26th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Art
    • Gemstone: Jade (though this year does not have an official gift, jade seems to have been made the “unofficial” gift/gemstone)
  • 27th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Sculpture
    • Gemstone: Jetstone
  • 28th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Orchids
    • Gemstone: Amethyst
  • 29th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Furniture
    • Gemstone: Silver (though not a gemstone, this is typically associated with 25th anniversaries)
    • Color: Silver

Years 30 and beyond

  • 30th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Pearl
    • Modern: Diamond
    • Gemstone: Pearl
    • Color: Green
  • 35th Anniversary:
    • Traditional: Coral
    • Modern: Jade
    • Gemstone: Jade
    • Color: Coral
  • 40th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Ruby
    • Gemstone: Ruby
    • Color: Ruby Red
  • 45th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Sapphire
    • Gemstone: Sapphire
    • Color: Sapphire Blue
  • 50th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Gold
    • Gemstone: Gold
    • Color: Gold
  • 55th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Emerald
    • Gemstone: Emerald
    • Color: Emerald Green
  • 56th Anniversary: Day (theme)
  • 60th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Diamond
    • Gemstone: Diamond
    • Color: Diamond White
  • 75th Anniversary:
    • Traditional and Modern: Diamond or Gold

Now that we’ve gone over the entire list, let’s get into some fun ideas! We’ve come up with some great options for different anniversary gifts by year, below. Hopefully there’s something in here that is perfect for you and your partner!

Ideas for Every Wedding Anniversary Gift by Year

1st Anniversary

Traditional: Paper

Though paper may seem like an odd choice to celebrate a year of marriage, it makes sense when you consider the fragile nature of the material. How does the saying go? A relationship is delicate, but with proper care, it can last forever. Just like paper!

Gift Idea: Heart Snapshot Art

Personalize this heart print with 30 of your favorite snapshots from your first year of being married.

Modern: Clocks

Like paper, time is precious. Moreover, you’ll probably feel like your first year of marriage flew by, hence the clock.

Gift Idea: Custom Name/Date Wall Clock

You shouldn’t have a hard time finding a gift if you go the modern route! This elegant clock, made of steel and aluminum, preserves your names and wedding date while also making a great accessory for your home.

2nd Anniversary

Traditional: Cotton

Woven threads of cotton point to a couple becoming more intertwined and stronger together over time.

Gift Idea: Personalized Throw Blanket

Create a blanket with you and your partner’s initials, song lyrics, or a map of where you met.

Modern: China

Meanwhile, china encourages couples to recognize that every relationship has strengths and weaknesses.

Gift Idea: China Platter

Step up your hosting duties with a quality serving platter!

3rd Anniversary

Traditional: Leather

The symbolism of leather — which, historically, was used as a means of protection — is all about the shelter and security a relationship should provide.

Gift Idea: Leather Passport Holder & Luggage Tags

Book a trip to accompany these stylish genuine leather passport holders and luggage tags!

Modern: Crystal, Glass

There are a few different interpretations of the meaning behind crystal/glass. For instance, some say that they symbolize beauty and reflection. However, others say that crystal reminds a couple they can touch the lives of others. We like the meaning behind both!

Gift Idea: Candle Holders

Add some flair to your living room or kitchen with elegant candle holders.

4th Anniversary Gifts

Traditional: Fruit or Flowers

Fruit and flowers both represent the blooming nature of your marriage.

Gift Idea: Matching Eco Resin Rings

Opt for these handmade eco resin rings that contain dried wildflowers over regular jewelry!

Modern: Appliances

Most appliances are used for everyday practicalities. However, as an anniversary gift, they symbolize the simpleness and settled nature of a marriage.

Gift Idea: Nespresso

Looking for more anniversary gifts by year? Check out this list of incredibly unique ideas for your 4th anniversary.

You and your S.O. probably already have a coffee maker or Keurig, so why not become full-blown baristas with an espresso machine?

5th Anniversary

Traditional: Wood

Trees themselves are known to symbolize strength—something that couples celebrating a fifth wedding anniversary should be celebrating!

Gift Idea: Wooden Bath Tray

Take relaxation to a whole other level with a wooden bathtub tray. This one is fully adjustable to fit almost any tub. Moreover, it has built-in features like a wine glass holder and cellphone slot so you can relax with all your necessities around you.

Modern: Silverware

Silverware is known to represent strength. Likewise, it can also mean clarity and purity.

Gift Idea: Funny Forks

Already have a new silverware set? Instead, opt for these hilarious (and adorable!) hand-stamped forks that celebrate the five years you and your S.O. have spent together.

6th Anniversary

Traditional: Iron

Iron is another symbol of strength, though it’s also said to signify good luck.

Gift Idea: Vintage Cast Iron Frame

Scour your local antique store or turn to a shop like this one on Etsy for a vintage frame (or mirror!).

Modern: Wood

The meaning behind the modern iteration of a wooden anniversary gift isn’t really different than that of the traditional one. Again, it’s all about resilience!

Gift Idea: Wood Watch

A wood watch is unique in itself, and as an anniversary gift, it can be made even more personal if you engrave it.

7th Wedding Anniversary Gifts

Traditional: Copper

Copper can produce heat, so the gift for your seventh wedding anniversary is supposed to represent the warmth you and your S.O. provide each other.

Gift Idea: Love Note Wallet Insert

Write your S.O. a permanent love letter that they can carry with them everywhere they go!

Modern: Desk Sets

Like appliances, the idea behind desk sets is that of practicality and a day-to-day commitment.

Gift Idea: Laptop + Phone Stand

There are not many options that fall under the category of “desk sets” except for, well, desk sets. If you don’t want to buy one of those, get something a little more practical like this laptop and phone stand that can be used anywhere.

Afterward, we’ve got even more ideas for your 7th wedding anniversary here!

8th Anniversary

Traditional: Bronze

Bronze is yet another reminder of the strength required to maintain and nurture a relationship, but particularly over time and as you mature.

Gift Idea: Push Pin Map

Make this gift — a map that allows you to document everywhere you and your S.O. have traveled together over the years — complete with some bronze push pins.

Modern: Linen or Lace

These are both known as objects of beauty that symbolize delicacy and purity.

Gift Idea: Bed Set

Give your bedroom a breath of fresh air with a linen bed set. This one comes in 12 different colors and can be used any season.

9th Anniversary

Traditional: Pottery or Willow

In the nine years that you and your S.O. have been together, your marriage has transformed from a ball of clay to a well-molded piece of pottery. Additionally, Willow is also an option because of its flexibility and connection to nature.

Gift Idea: Matching Mugs

Don’t overthink this one! There’s plenty of options for both of these gift types, but we like the idea of some cute coordinating mugs.

Modern: Leather

Similar to the traditional gift suggestion for your third wedding anniversary, leather is meant to represent stability — and, you guessed it, strength.

Gift Idea: Coasters

Gift your S.O. (and yourself, TBH) a set of durable leather coasters that are sure to last, whether you want to emboss a monogram or not.

Get our full list of unique 8th anniversary gifts!

10th Anniversary

Traditional: Tin or Aluminum

This a big one! Even the least nostalgic of people will find themselves looking back at the past decade when their 10-year wedding anniversary rolls around. Aluminum is supposed to be reminiscent of your relationship’s flexibility and durability, past, present, and future.

Gift Idea: Wedding Song Wall Decor

Searching for more anniversary gifts by year? We compiled our ALL-TIME favorite 10th anniversary gifts here!

Commemorate your wedding vows or the song you and your S.O. chose for your first dance with this aluminum print.

Modern: Diamond Jewelry

Again, a ten year anniversary is a big and beautiful one, so you’re meant to get a gift that’s just that.

Gift Idea: Diamond Anniversary Band

What better anniversary than your tenth to upgrade your wedding ring?

For more great anniversary gifts by year, you can use our handy infographic, below!

anniversary gifts by year infographic

Wedding Anniversary Gift FAQ

What are the best anniversary gift ideas?

Speaking as someone who has been married for over a decade, I can tell you that the best anniversary gifts are the ones that have meaning. You want to know that your spouse put thought into the gift, and didn’t just see that the gift was “linen” and run out to get the first linen thing they can find. For example, for our third anniversary gift (leather) there is a lyric in The Smith’s “This Charming Man” (my husband’s favorite band) that is “leather run smooths on the passenger seat.” So, I found a vintage poster for that song and framed it. It wasn’t technically “leather,” but it revolved around the idea of it in a meaningful way.

Once you’re married, do you still celebrate your dating anniversary?

Technically, your anniversary becomes your wedding anniversary, which is the date you got married on. However, I have seen couples celebrate both their dating anniversary (their first date) AND their wedding anniversary. I personally find this confusing, but it’s completely up to you! After all, it’s always fun to have an excuse to celebrate your relationship!

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  1. says: Rebecca B.

    We have an anniversary sundial that you can find online, it is made of glass and sits on the window sill and was handmade just for us so it would work where we live. It is a clock that tells time by using the sun, but the coolest thing is that it makes really vivid rainbows in our home when the sun shines. We were able to add a date line to our sundial that the time shadow follows on our anniversary day each year and there is even a special mark on that anniversary line to celebrate the actual MOMENT we got married! My husband tells me that the sun and moon and planets all move every day, but they will always align for us on our day together (awww) It really is a great gift though because it also makes brilliant rainbows on the floor when the sun shines, and our toddler loves to play in the colors on the floor. I don’t remember what its called but you can find it online with a search – it has become a real touchstone in our home!

  2. says: Nikki Gentry

    Such a great post. I have an idea to share with your readers. Wedding photos can be sent in for an artist to create a sketch of the bride’s wedding dress, groom’s suit, bouquet, veil and anything one could imagine. A Dreamlines wedding dress sketch makes a perfect anniversary gift, as it is a lovely way to commemorate that special day.