Anniversary Gifts by Year: Traditional and Modern Present Ideas
Most everyone knows of the age-old practice (seriously, it dates back to the Middle Ages) of giving specificbased on the number of years you've been wed. The idea behind it? With each anniversary that passes, you strengthen your relationship. So, while these anniversary gifts may start out simple (paper for your first year and flowers for your fourth), their substance and significance increases as your investment to each other does. As time has evolved, though, so have these anniversary gift lists to match our more modern way of living.
Nowadays, each year is associated with anniversary gift "materials" or types, as well as different gemstones and designated colors (or color combinations) that tie into and relate to the anniversary year's overall theme. Together, these four components offer tons of anniversary gift ideas.
Here, we break down the different traditional and modern anniversary gifts by year, plus all the anniversary gemstones, anniversary colors and the meanings behind them. Take this inspiration straight to Etsy, Uncommon Goods or another favorite gift website. But first, click out to our super-comprehensive and shoppable gift guides for each amazing year (we've linked to them all below!).
Traditional Gift: Paper
Paper is a fitting gift for the first year because it's fragile, just like the beginning stages of marriage. But, if you take care of it properly, it'll last a lifetime.
Modern Gift: Clocks
Time is precious and clocks represent the passing of time and the change and challenges that come with it.
Color: Gold or Yellow
See the "gemstone" below and the material above (which can be yellow-ish).
Gold isn't technically a gemstone, but the special metal lets couples ease into luxurious gift-giving. A simple gold piece of jewelry (cufflinks for him, a necklace for her) is the way to go.
Traditional Gift: Cotton
Cotton's woven threads symbolize how you become more interconnected as time goes on and learn to be more flexible.
Modern Gift: China
Both strong and delicate, china indicates the weaknesses and strengths of any relationship.
Because it's red hot—just like your marriage (sorry, we had to).
Even though garnet comes in several colors, red garnet is most commonly used in jewelry for the second year.
Traditional Gift: Leather
Leather represents shelter and security for the third year, much like what a marriage and the home you build with each other symbolizes.
Modern Gift: Crystal or Glass
As a gift, glass and cut crystal both signify and reflect light and beauty.
Color: Jade or White
It's said that jade symbolizes abundance. Meanwhile, white is often associated with purity—like your pure love for one another.
A symbol of wisdom and beauty, pearls form many layers over time and the longer they form, the more beautiful they become, much like a marriage.
Traditional Gift: Fruit or Flowers
Your relationship has fully bloomed by your fourth anniversary, making flowers or ripe fruit an appropriate gift.
Modern Gift: Appliances
A more practical gift, sure, but electrical appliances also embody how settled you feel in your relationship by the fourth year.
Color: Blue or Green
This aligns with the milestone's special gemstone.
Gemstone: Blue Topaz
Long associated with love, romance and affection, blue topaz is the perfect stone to set in a piece of a jewelry as an anniversary present.
Traditional Gift: Wood
Your roots have sprouted much like a tree by your fifth anniversary, so together you can endure anything.
Modern Gift: Silverware
All the meals you've enjoyed together and will continue to share are best commemorated with beautiful silverware.
Color: Blue, Pink or Turquoise
You've got options, so choose your loved one's favorite of the bunch. Or, mix and match colors—it's all up to you.
Much like wood, sapphire is a hard and durable material that can withstand the test of time just like your relationship.
Traditional Gift: Iron
Iron marks your strength because even after six years, you can still maintain a bond.
Modern Gift: Wood Objects
Much like the traditional five-year gift, an item made out of wood suggests the resilience of your marriage.
Color: Purple, White or Turquoise
By now, you've probably realized there are a few theme repeats. Already gifted something white or turquoise? Try purple, a regal and magical color, this time around.
Amethyst is made of quartz (which is a strong, heavy stone), making it a gift with lasting power.
Traditional Gift: Copper or Wool
The metal helps create heat, much like the warmth you give each other. And wool is just plain cozy.
Modern Gift: Desk Sets
This may not sound romantic, but work is a huge part of modern life. Gifting a desk set brings a touch of home to their professional space.
Color: Yellow or Off-White
Celebrate the light of your life with a sunshine-y shade or wool in its natural hue.
This hard and durable stone is often used for carving. It's thought to protect marriages from strains and trials as well as represent harmony.
Traditional Gift: Bronze or Pottery
Like many of the metals, bronze symbolizes strength and indicates that your relationship is getting stronger by the eighth year, too.
Modern Gift: Linen or Lace
Linens and lace are both delicate and refined, and just like love, they're also objects of beauty.
Yep, just like the traditional anniversary theme.
Similar to many other anniversary gemstones, tourmaline is tough against damage and long-lasting. The stone is said to do many things, including bolster relationships.
Traditional Gift: Willow or Pottery
Willow is indicative of flexibility as is pottery because much like a lump of clay, marriage is formed and shaped over time into something beautiful.
Modern Gift: Leather
Leather was used by our ancestors as a way to protect themselves. The material itself is known for how well it endures, which your marriage has also done by the time you reach the ninth year.
This earthy color is named after clay hardened by baking. Your relationship, meanwhile, has been nurtured by emotional warmth.
Gemstone: Lapis Lazuli
Often used in feng shui to balance negative and positive energies, lapis lazuli is said to encourage honesty as it protects your relationship from any dangers.
Aluminum and tin won't rust, meaning they won't wear down. Their pliability and preservation is a symbol for how every successful marriage requires flexibility—especially by your 10th anniversary.
Modern Gift: Diamond Jewelry
When you've passed one decade, your marriage is as beautiful as a piece of diamond jewelry.
Color: Silver or Blue
You can't go wrong with either one of these elegant hues.
This major milestone qualifies diamonds as fitting and appropriate gifts for both parties.
Traditional Gift: Steel
Steel is one of the strongest metals on earth, so it's no surprise that it represents the 11th year since by this time, nothing can break your bond.
Modern Gift: Fashion Jewelry
Really, it never gets old and it's wearable every day, so they'll remember the sentiment each time they put it on.
Courtesy of the anniversary's gemstone.
One of the oldest charms against evil, turquoise not only protects but also brings good health, fortune and peace.
Traditional Gift: Silk or Linen
As they say, home is where the heart is, and these are two home decor staples. Anniversary presents made from these materials symbolize the life you've built together.
Modern Gift: Pearl
Finding a good pearl is like finding hidden treasure—kind of like how it felt when you finally found the love of your life.
Color: Oyster White
When you're together, the world is your oyster. And oysters make pearls.
This stone attracts love, protection and prosperity.
Traditional Gift: Lace
Don't think of this year as unlucky. Lace shows the elegance and beauty of the sanctity of marriage for the 13th anniversary. And like we said earlier, it's also strong.
Modern Gift: Textiles or (Faux) Furs
Different fabrics represent the comfort and warmth being married for 13 years brings you.
It's a classic color to go with the classic material, lace.
Bright yellow citrine will bring both joy and love to your significant other.
Traditional Gift: Ivory
Ivory as a 14th anniversary gift originates from Hindu mythology and signifies luck and protection. Look for elephant-themed gifts instead of actual ivory if you're going this route. You can also find plenty of other off-white materials that look like ivory.
Modern Gift: Gold Jewelry
Just as significant, gold jewelry represents unification, eternity and perfection.
For obvious reasons.
This stunning multicolor stone symbolizes love, passion and desire—talk about romantic.
Traditional Gift: Crystal
Crystal may be delicate but it's also sturdy, like your marriage, which is strong enough to have lasted 15 years but also another 15 and beyond. It also represents clarity and transparency.
Modern Gift: Watches
A timepiece in any form signifies the passage of time and all the years you've spent together, plus all the ones you'll share in the future.
It's also a well-known symbol of romance and passion.
By 15 years, the flame is still going strong, so it only makes sense that a ruby—the fiery red gemstone—commemorates the year.
Traditional Gift: Wax
Like a lit candle, you and your SO have an undeniable spark.
Modern Gift: Silver Holloware
Silver holloware (think: anything related to the dinner table that isn't silverware—aka bowls, trays and so on) symbolizes unity since you'll enjoy it when you sit down to dine together for your 16th anniversary.
Color: Silver or Emerald Green
The first is due to the modern theme. The second represents things like harmony.
Peridot is a symbol of undying love and devotion. It's also a beautiful shade of green.
Traditional and Modern Gift: Furniture
Gifting each other furniture represents the security, comfort and familiarity of a marriage that has been established for 17 years.
We can't get enough of happy hues.
Known as the stone of endurance that also brings joy and warmth, it helps keep a sense of humor in the relationship.
Traditional and Modern Gift: Porcelain
Elegant and refined but also delicate, porcelain signifies the hard work you've put into your marriage to keep it going strong for 18 years without damage. A porcelain gift serves as a reminder to continue to handle your relationship with care.
This cool, soothing color makes yet another appearance.
Gemstone: Cat's Eye
Named for its resemblance to a cat's eye, this stone keeps a watchful eye over both of you and removes any melancholy from your lives. Beyond that, it also represents love, commitment and happiness.
Traditional and Modern Gift: Bronze
Surprise, surprise—just like the traditional eighth-year gift, bronze indicates that your relationship has grown stronger. Additionally, it also signifies health within your union even through tough times, since some believe it has healing properties.
This year's color is based off the traditional (and modern) theme.
This protection stone will keep everything that's bad out but still keep all the love in for your 19th anniversary.
Traditional Gift: China
China shows the delicate and fragile nature of being in love. It needs to be looked after and handled carefully—much like a marriage—in order not to break.
Modern Gift: Platinum
Platinum can stick it out through thick and thin much like you both have after 20 years wed.
Color: Emerald Green
In honor of the anniversary gemstone.
The sacred stone of the goddess Venus, emerald is known to preserve love so you can celebrate another 20 years together.
Traditional and Modern Gift: Sterling Silver
Spending a quarter of a century in love is worth celebrating with such a precious and valuable metal. After all, 25 years is known as the "silver anniversary."
No wonder a 25th anniversary celebration is called a "silver jubilee."
Silver jewelry radiates brilliantly—as bright as your love—and symbolically represents a clear vision and lucidity for the future. (Like gold for the first anniversary, this isn't technically a gemstone.)
Traditional Gift: Pearl
Deep down in the ocean, you'll find precious pearls. They represent the hidden beauty of a long-lasting union with maturity that reveals itself from within.
Modern Gift: Diamond
A diamond's long-lasting endurance, beauty and strength appropriately reflects the nature of a 30-year marriage.
Even now, you continue to grow as a couple. And that's what green symbolizes.
Both pure and elegant, pearls are timeless just like your relationship.
Traditional Gift: Coral
Yes, just like the coral at the bottom of the sea. It's believed to have magical healing powers that shield you from harm similar to how the love you have for one another protects your union.
Modern Gift: Jade
Jade represents luck, wealth, wisdom and passionate love in relation to so many years of marriage.
This vibrant mix of pink, red and orange is just as vibrant as your ever-evolving love.
The emerald symbolizes long-lasting love and preservation. No wonder it appears so often on this wedding anniversary gift list.
Traditional and Modern Gift: Ruby
Rubies are thought to possess a flame that never burns out, much like your love and commitment after 40 years of marriage.
As in ruby red.
Keeping with the theme, the precious ruby gemstone honors the occasion.
Traditional and Modern Gift: Sapphire
Sapphires have long been associated with royalty (Kate Middleton's engagement ring, anyone?) and indicate the longevity of your marriage.
Color: Blue or Red
Yes, sapphire blue. Some also say sapphire red counts.
The gemstone is a shining example to those who also aspire to remain in love for so many years.
Traditional and Modern Gift: Gold
Only something as desirable, classic and luxe as gold can represent such an important milestone (dubbed the "golden anniversary"). It shows the prosperity, wisdom, strength and significance of such a long-standing union.
Because truly, there's nothing quite like gold.
Not only is gold beautiful, but it's also strong and resistant to corrosion and is often associated with wealth, wisdom and optimism.
Traditional and Modern Gift: Emerald
Why are emeralds such a popular anniversary theme? It's simple: They signify true love as well as devotion and adoration.
Color: Emerald Green
The green craze continues.
Known for dispelling negative vibes and bringing positive ones in, Alexandrite brings good fortune and prosperity. It's also undeniably cool: It's rare and changes colors in different light.
Traditional and Modern Gift: Diamond
By the time you've gotten to 60 years, it's time to pull out all the stops. Yep, we're talking diamonds. Celebrating such a special anniversary like this one calls for a stone that represents unconquerable and enduring love.
Color: Diamond White
Because your love shines bright like a diamond.
The fire in a diamond indicates an undying love that cannot be dulled.
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Updated September 2019