Anniversary Gift Ideas by Year

When I was trying to figure out what to get my husband for our anniversary this year, I was completely stumped. I like to follow the traditional anniversary gifts, and the second anniversary calls for something involving cotton.

Cotton, cotton, cotton. What was something thoughtful I could get him that's made of cotton?

I started off looking for tickets to the Cotton Bowl. After all, we do live in Dallas (home of the Cotton Bowl) and my husband is a high school football coach. A quick StubHub search showed me that was out of our budget (we agreed on a $50 budget for gifts this year).

So I let it stew for awhile, and I finally came up with something just a week before the big event. I decided to design a custom t-shirt for him that would commemorate our marriage/anniversary/relationship. We both are active and like to exercise, so we wear a lot of t-shirts. I knew he would like it if I could find one that would fit him well.

The design needed to be very subtle, perhaps just an inside joke that we would both understand. I don't know about you, but my husband isn't likely to wear a shirt that screams, "I'm in love and have been married for two years!" He's a quiet, understated person. His clothes reflect that part of his personality. The challenge was on to come up with a design that was meaningful but quiet/masculine enough that he would actually wear it. Challenge accepted!

I fiddled around with designs and finally settled upon this one:

I used CustomInk.com to have this design printed across the front of a royal blue t-shirt. Very subtle, right? Those numbers are our wedding date and the numbers of our marriage verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It's very meaningful to us, but other people might not be able to interpret the numbers. That's exactly what I wanted.

And then I felt kind of left out, so I got myself a shirt too! We're not the type to wear matching shirts, so I got myself an entirely different style using the same logo (with different colors). 

second anniversary gift idea

This anniversary gift process got me thinking, and I decided to make a list of gift ideas for each anniversary. Maybe it will help someone else who is looking for ideas... and maybe it will help me in future years!

1st Anniversary 
Traditional: paper | Modern: plastic | Alternate: clocks | Flowers: pansy | Alternate Stones: gold, peridot

Gift Ideas (paper): personalized artwork, photo album, framed marriage certificate, book (story of your relationship?), magazine subscription, concert/movie/theater tickets

Second Anniversary
Traditional: cotton | Modern: cotton/calico | Alternate: china | Flowers:cosmos | Alternate Stones: garnet

Gift Ideas (cotton): blanket, monogrammed pillow cases, bedding, cotton luggage, clothes, custom t-shirt, Cotton Bowl tickets, fuzzy bathrobe and slippers

3rd Anniversary 
leather | Modern: leather | Alternate: crystal and glass | Flowers: fuschia| Alternate Stones: pearls, jade

Gift Ideas (leather): wallet, purse, luggage, jacket, furniture, iPad/Kindle/Nook case
* bonus points for monogrammed or other personalization!

4th Anniversary 
Traditional: fruit and flowers | Modern: linen, silk, nylon | Alternate: appliances | Flowers: geranium | Alternate Stones: blue topaz, blue zircon

Gift Ideas (fruit & flowers): a flowering fruit tree you can plant together, wreath for the front door, herb garden, Jam of the Month club, Fruit of the Month club, Rose of the Month club, flowered bedding/clothing/accessories, trips to local botanical garden/arboretum, perfume scented with flowers or fruit (orange blossom, rose, pear)

5th Anniversary 
Traditional: wood | Modern: wood | Alternate: silverware | Flowers: daisy | Alternate Stones: sapphire,  pink tourmaline

Gift Ideas (wood): furniture, wooden candlesticks, wooden kitchen utensils, cutting board, wood cutout of the first letter of your last name

6th Anniversary
Traditional: candy | Modern: iron | Alternate: wood | Flowers: calla lily | Alternate Stones: amethyst, turquoise

Gift Ideas: Fancy chocolates, a huge supply of your spouse's favorite candy, a fun trip to the candy store (Dylan's Candy Bar in NYC would be fun to visit), candy + movie tickets, Candyland (if you like board games), personalized candy

7th Anniversary
Traditional: copper & wool | Modern: brass | Alternate: desk sets | Flowers: Jack-in-the-Pulpit | Alternate Stones: onyx, yellow sapphire

Gift Ideas: a set of copper pots, a copper ring or more jewelry, copper sink as part of a full kitchen/bathroom renovation (!!), wool scarf– bonus points if you knit it yourself, wool blanket (can't go wrong with Pendleton, very All-American), a new wool rug

8th Anniversary Traditional: bronze | Modern: pottery | Alternate: linen | Flowers: clematis | Alternate Stones: tourmaline

Gift Ideas: oil-rubber bronze chandelier, door knobs, faucet, hardware, etc., self-tanner (so you can bronze yourself!), any piece of clothing that is bronze-colored, bronze fire pit, bookends, a sculpture

9th Anniversary
Traditional: pottery | Modern: willow | Alternate: leather | Flowers: poppy | Alternate Stones: amethyst

Gift Ideas: his and hers coffee mugs, a handmade vase, pottery lessons from a local art studio, potted plants, anything from Pottery Barn. To have something personalized, check out Etsy.com vendors and search "pottery."

10th Anniversary
Traditional: tin | Modern: aluminum | Alternate: diamond | Flowers: daffodil | Alternate Stones: blue sapphire

* If you were married and didn't have a lot of money for a nice ring (and you said, "We'll upgrade you later on"), this might be a good time to get her a new ring. Note the alternate gift: diamond. Or you could always wait for 20 or 30 years, but this way she'll get to enjoy it longer.
Gift Ideas: anything in a tin container, tickets to see the Wizard of Oz/Wicked on Broadway (complete with Tin Man), candies, popcorn and your own living-room screening of Tin Cup starring Kevin Costner

15th Anniversary
Traditional: crystal | Modern: glass | Alternate: watches | Flowers: rose | Alternate Stones: ruby

Gift Ideas: crystal glasses, candlesticks, anything Swarovski, chandelier, a huge box of Krystal burgers(!)

20th Anniversary
Traditional: china | Modern: china | Alternate: platinum | Flowers: day lily | Alternate Stones: emerald

Gift Ideas: new set of china, a trip to China (!), date night in Chinatown or at your nearest Chinese restaurant, jewelry made with china beads

25th Anniversary
Traditional: silver | Modern: silver | Alternate: silver | Flowers: iris | Alternate Stones: silver jubilee

Gift Ideas: silver jewelry– bonus points if it is personalized, like an engraved locket, something with your kids/grandkids names, etc., a silver car (!), vintage set of silver, silver clothing

* Happy Thursday *
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