Anniversary Gifts by Year: Traditional and Modern Gift Ideas for Him and Her

Whether you're experiencing your first wedding anniversary or celebrating 10 years together, find traditional and modern anniversary gifts by year and gift ideas for your significant other here.
by Francesca Conlin
iStock

Most everyone knows of the age-old practice (seriously, it dates back to the Middle Ages) of giving specific anniversary gifts based on the number of years you’ve been wed. The idea behind it is that 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. 

Following the anniversary gift types are the different gemstones that have been assigned to each year to reflect your ever-evolving bond and the significance of your relationship. And last are designated colors and color combinations that tie into and relate to the anniversary year’s overall theme. Together, all four of these components can be incorporated either in the actual anniversary gift you give or the way you commemorate the special day, or both.

Here, we break down the different wedding anniversary gifts by year (both traditional and modern), plus their symbols, so you can celebrate in style.

  1. 1 Year Anniversary Gift

    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

    Gemstone: Gold Jewelry
    For those still paying off their wedding, a simple gold piece of jewelry (cufflinks for him, a necklace for her) is the way to go.

  2. 2 Year Anniversary Gift

    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.

    Color: Red
    Because it's red hot—just like your marriage (sorry, we had to).

    Gemstone: Garnet
    Even though garnet comes in several colors, red garnet is most commonly used in jewelry and fitting for the second year.

  3. 3 Year Anniversary Gift

    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

    Gemstone: Pearl
    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.

  4. 4 Year Anniversary Gift

    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

    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.

  5. 5 Year Anniversary Gift

    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

    Gemstone: Sapphire
    Much like wood, sapphire is a hard and durable material that can withstand the test of time just like your relationship.

  6. 6 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional: Iron
    Iron marks your strength because even after six years, you can still maintain a bond.

    Modern: Wood
    Much like the traditional five year gift, an item made out of wood suggests the resilience of your marriage.

    Color: Purple, White or Turquoise

    Gemstone: Amethyst
    Amethyst is stone is made of quartz, which is a strong, heavy stone making it a gift with lasting power.

  7. 7 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional Gift: Copper
    One level up from iron, copper shows that you are even stronger for your seventh anniversary. Additionally, the metal helps create heat much like the warmth you give each other.

    Modern Gift: Desk Sets
    Fast forward many, many years and in most households, both spouses work. Gifting a desk set brings a touch of home to their work life.

    Color: Yellow or Off-White

    Gemstone: Onyx
    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.

  8. 8 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional Gift: Bronze
    Better than both copper and iron, bronze blends the two metals to create a stronger one 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.

    Color: Bronze

    Gemstone: Tourmaline
    Similar to many other anniversary gemstones, tourmaline is tough against damage and long lasting.

  9. 9 Year Anniversary Gift

    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 provide shelter. The material itself is known for how well it endures, which your marriage has as also done by the time you reach the ninth year.

    Color: Terracotta

    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.

  10. 10 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional Gift: Aluminum or Tin
    Bend aluminum or tin any which way and they still won’t break or rust, meaning they won’t wear down. Their pliability and preservation is a symbol for how every successful marriage requires flexibility—especially by your tenth 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

    Gemstone: Diamond
    This major milestone qualifies diamonds as a fitting and appropriate gift for both parties.

  11. 11 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional: Steel
    Steel is one of the strongest metals on earth, so it’s no surprise that it represents the eleventh year since by this time, nothing can break your bond.

    Modern: 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.

    Color: Turquoise

    Gemstone: Turquoise
    One of the oldest charms against evil, turquoise not only protects but also brings good health, fortune, and peace.

  12. 12 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional Gift: Home Decor
    As they say, home is where the heart is. Gifting home decor items to your better half symbolizes the life you’ve built together.

    Modern Gift: Pearls         
    That pearl necklace or pair of earrings you gift for this year will hold much more meaning once you learn that pearls take a long time to form and become better over time—just like your relationship.

    Color: Oyster White

    Gemstone: Jade
    This stone attracts love, protection, and prosperity.

  13. 13 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional Gift: Lace
    Don’t think of this year as unlucky. Lace shows the elegance and beauty of the sanctity of marriage for the thirteenth anniversary—it’s beautiful, but also strong.

    Modern Gift: Textiles or Furs
    Different fabrics represent the comfort and warmth being married for 13 years brings you.

    Color: White

    Gemstone: Citrine
    Citrine will bring both joy and love to your significant other.

  14. 14 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional Gift: Ivory
    Ivory as a fourteenth anniversary gift originates from Hindu mythology and signifies luck and protection. Look for elephant-themed gifts instead of actual ivory if going this route.

    Modern Gift: Gold Jewelry
    Way easier to find but still just as significant, gold jewelry signifies unification, eternity, and perfection.

    Color: Ivory

    Gemstone: Ruby
    A ruby is, in fact, a red sapphire stone. Often associated with the color red? Love and passion, of course.

  15. 15 Year Anniversary Gift

    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.

    Color: Red

    Gemstone: Ruby
    By 15 years, the flame is still going strong, so it only makes sense that a ruby—the fiery red gemstone—commemorates the year.

  16. 16 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional and Modern Gift: Silver Holloware

    They don't call it Sweet 16 for nothing. Even though this is a traditional and modern gift pick, silver has historically meant clarity. Silver holloware (think: anything related to the dinner table that is not silverware so bowls, trays, and so on) symbolizes unity as well since you enjoy it when you sit down to dine together for your sixteenth anniversary.

    Color: Silver

    Gemstone: Peridot
    Peridot is a symbol of undying love and devotion.

  17. 17 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional and Modern Gift: Furniture
    Gifting each other furniture represents the security, comfort, and familiarity of a marriage that has been established for seventeen years.

    Color: Yellow

    Gemstone: Carnelian
    Known as the stone of endurance that also brings joy and warmth, it helps keep a sense of humor in the relationship.

  18. 18 Year Anniversary Gift

    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.

    Color: Blue

    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 represent loves, commitment, and happiness.

  19. 19 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional and Modern Gift: Bronze
    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 it’s long been known for its healing properties.

    Color: Bronze

    Gemstone: Aquamarine
    This protection stone will keep everything that’s bad out but still keep all the love in for your nineteenth anniversary.

  20. 20 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional Gift: China
    China shows the delicate and fragile nature of being in love. It needs to be looked after and handled with care—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 twenty years wed.

    Color: Emerald Green

    Gemstone: Emerald
    The sacred stone of the Greek Goddess, Venus, emerald is known to preserve love so you can celebrate another 20 years together.

  21. 25 Year Anniversary Gift

    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.

    Color: Silver

    Gemstone: Silver Jewelry
    Silver jewelry radiates brilliantly—as bright as your love—and symbolically represents a clear vision and lucidity for the future.

  22. 30 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional Gift: Pearls
    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.

    Color: Green

    Gemstone: Pearl
    Both pure and elegant, pearls are timeless just like your relationship.

  23. 35 Year Anniversary Gift

    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.

    Color: Coral

    Gemstone: Emerald
    The emerald symbolizes long-lasting love and preservation.

  24. 40 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional and Modern Gift: Ruby
    Rubies are thought to possess a flame that never burns out much like how strong your love and commitment is after 40 years of marriage.

    Color: Red

    Gemstone: Ruby
    Keeping with the theme, the precious ruby gemstone honors the occasion.

  25. 45 Year Anniversary Gift

    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

    Gemstone: Sapphire
    The gemstone is a shining example to those who also aspire to remain in love for so many years.

  26. 50 Year Anniversary Gift

    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.

    Color: Gold

    Gemstone: Gold
    Not only is gold beautiful, but it’s also strong and resistant to corrosion and is often associated with wealth, wisdom, and optimism.

  27. 55 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional and Modern Gift: Emerald
    Emeralds signify true love as well as devotion and adoration.

    Color: Emerald Green

    Gemstone: Alexandrite
    Known for dispelling negative vibes and bringing positive ones in, Alexandrite brings good fortune and prosperity.

  28. 60 Year Anniversary Gift

    Traditional and Modern Gift: Diamond
    By the time you’ve gotten to 60 years, it’s time to pull out the big guns—eh-hem, we mean, big diamonds. Celebrating such a special anniversary like this one calls for a stone that represents unconquerable and enduring love.

    Color: Diamond White

    Gemstone: Diamond
    The fire in a diamond indicates an undying love that cannot be dulled.

  29. For more of the best anniversary gift ideas, check out our comprehensive anniversary gift guides by year.

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