Anniversary Gifts for Every Year and Occasion

Are you curious about anniversary gifts and unsure where to start? If so, you’re not alone!

This is one of the most common questions we hear from longtime customers stopping to ask for our advice. 

We decided to compile decades of experience into an anniversary gift guide to provide you with everything you need to know.

Within our different sections, you will find themes, traditions, information of different regional variations, the purpose behind the traditions, and gift suggestions.

First, we will focus on traditional, contemporary, and alternative gift options. Then, we will cover deeper anniversary gift options, including anniversary colors by year, anniversary flowers by year, gemstones by year, and anniversary gifts for him and her.

We hope you enjoy our anniversary gift guide!

Where did Traditional Anniversary Gifts Come From? 

Most of us are familiar with the tradition of giving gifts for specific years that you or a couple you know is married.

There are 10 year anniversary gifts all the way up to 50 year anniversary gifts and all the years in between. Typically the bigger presents begin at the 10 year anniversary mark, but each couple is unique. Some couples only celebrate with 20 year anniversary gifts! The actual reason behind this tradition is not well known, however. 

The tradition probably began in Medieval Germany, when husbands would crown their wives with wreaths of silver or gold to mark their milestone 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries. This was no small feat since the average life expectancy at birth was only 30 years old!

This tradition appears to have been adapted through different cultures over time. Today it encompasses the first 10 to 15 years of marriage, with milestone anniversaries marked by a traditional gift after that.

Wedding anniversary presents by year vary slightly between regions. While US couples will celebrate their first anniversary with a gift of paper, for example, UK couples may celebrate with cotton. By and large, however, these variations are minimal. 

What do Traditional Anniversary Gifts Mean? 

A popular belief among those who trace the tradition to medieval Germany suggests that the procession of yearly anniversary gifts follow the stages of married life. Others suggest that the materials for each traditional anniversary gift grow in strength each year along with your marriage.

Here are the commonly acknowledged traditional wedding anniversary gifts for the US and UK. However, due to changes and adaptations over time, you may be more familiar with a different material that is customary for your region or family, which you prefer to incorporate.

Note: Some traditions place the diamond anniversary at 75 years. It has become common, however, to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary at 60 years, a shift that followed Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee marking the 60th anniversary of her coronation.

What are Traditional Anniversary Gifts by Year? 

Shopping for traditional anniversary gifts by year requires some creativity in the earlier years of marriage if your spouse is not particularly excited by tin, for example, or wool.

Using the traditional materials as your guide, however, you can still find ways to incorporate tradition into your gifts. Creative 5 or 10-year anniversary gifts for him, for example, might include wood in the form of a hardwood ring.

Shopping for milestone anniversaries from twenty-five years and beyond presents a different challenge: each year is marked by a precious metal or gemstone. 

Narrowing all of the elegant options to one perfect gift can be time-consuming. That’s why we curated shoppable gift guides for several milestone years. We’ve done the work to select milestone anniversary gifts with impeccable style made of the highest quality materials.

Another example, for a 30th wedding anniversary, might be a pearl necklace or pendant. This is not only a beautiful gift for her but one that children and grandchildren will cherish as a family heirloom.

What do Modern Anniversary Gifts Mean?  

Modern anniversary presents by year have not entirely replaced traditional anniversary gifts, but instead, have taken up an equal and complementary position.

Couples may choose to switch between the lists each year depending on their needs and tastes or even incorporate elements from both in the gifts they select to mark another year of marriage.

We would also like to point out that the contemporary list of anniversary gifts does not deviate from the traditional materials in several milestone years.

This means plenty of opportunities to mix and match presents!

What Are Some Examples of Modern Anniversary Gifts? 

Appliances for the fourth anniversary may not appear romantic on the surface, but ask a husband who has been washing dishes by hand for years if he would appreciate a dishwasher to commemorate the event, and he’s sure to answer yes.

Similarly, the much-mocked 44th-anniversary gift of groceries may seem lackluster on the surface, but a busy wife who spends long hours in the office and dreads her weekend grocery shopping trips might dream of a grocery delivery subscription service.

The 35th anniversary, for example, is celebrated with gifts of jade. A jadeite ring makes a beautiful and rare gift to mark the occasion. If your spouse is an antique collector, you might also consider a gift of equally rare American vintage jadeite kitchenware.

Diamond anniversary bands make their appearance much earlier on the updated list of anniversary presents by year. Rather than waiting for their 60 year Diamond Anniversary, couples may exchange diamond gifts on their 10th, 30th, and 60th wedding anniversaries if they follow the modern gift list.

If you married a fashionista who would be far more delighted by diamonds than she would by tin for your tenth anniversary, our shoppable 10 year anniversary gift guide has the meaningful and modern diamond gifts you’re looking for.

Shop the galleries of contemporary ten year anniversary rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings available to purchase online or in our Union Street, San Francisco jewelry boutique, or find inspiration for the perfect custom anniversary gift all in one place.

For select milestone years, both the traditional and contemporary anniversary gifts are the same. Such is the case for the Diamond Anniversary, celebrated at sixty years. This doesn’t mean, though, those with modern taste are without chic, trendsetting options. For a 60th

Alternative Anniversary Gifts

The existence of traditional and modern anniversary gifts by year is relatively well known. Less well-known is the notion of traditional anniversary gemstones.

As with traditional and modern anniversary gift guides, couples may find that they are best served by combining ideas from more than one practice or choosing the gift each year that is the best fit for their spouse, as opposed to following just one tradition from year to year.

Alternative Anniversary Gifts by Year

Unlike the traditional and modern anniversary gifts, there is no sole authoritative source on the list of anniversary gemstones.

However, the American Gem Society, the Gemological Institute of America, and the American Gem Trade Association have supported many commonly shared lists.

The commonly acknowledged anniversary gemstones endorsed by the Jewelers of America are listed first and are followed by frequently shared alternative gemstones.

ANNIVERSARY GEMSTONES BY YEAR

Unlike the traditional and modern anniversary gifts, there is no sole authoritative source on the list of anniversary gemstones, though the American Gem Society, the Gemological Institute of America, and the American Gem Trade Association have supported many of the commonly shared lists.

The commonly acknowledged anniversary gemstones which are endorsed by the Jewelers of America are listed first, and are followed by frequently shared alternative gemstones, where applicable.

What are some Alternative Anniversary Gifts? 

Unique anniversary rings and jewelry may appeal to couples who don’t see their lifestyles or needs reflected in traditional or modern gifts.

As many couples now marry later after first establishing themselves, merging households are more common, and the need for practical basics may be limited.

Similarly, the contemporary list was first created in 1937 and had couples who did not live together before marriage in mind. Today, it’s far less usual to find a newly married couple returning from their honeymoon before they share a roof.

While investment pieces like china may be appreciated by some spouses celebrating their second anniversary, others may have inherited family china or find that unique occasion dishes don’t suit their lifestyle. A gift of rose quartz jewelry may be the more appropriate and a much more appreciated second-anniversary gift, in this instance.

Unique alternative anniversary gifts can also come from thoughtfully combining the materials from different lists or taking inspiration from each. The modern tenth-anniversary gift of diamonds, for example, can be paired with inspiration from the alternative gift of onyx to produce a stunning black diamond anniversary ring.

The sophisticated and stylish black diamond makes an excellent alternative to the traditional 60th anniversary gift, as well.

If your partner for the past sixty years has always set the trends rather than following them, a black diamond anniversary gift offers a new approach to incorporating traditional sentiment in designs that appeal to her striking and fashion-forward style.

ANNIVERSARY COLORS BY YEAR

The anniversary colors are inspired by the traditional, modern, or gemstone gift for the same year.

While standard anniversary colors served in the past as guidance for party planners who wished to throw themed anniversary parties, modern couples may use them to guide their gifts, as well.

As the colors are incorporated in the traditional, modern, and gemstone anniversary gifts, some years are associated with more than one color.

As with the list of traditional anniversary gemstones, there are no colors commonly followed with any consistency beyond the 25th wedding anniversary except for milestone years.

ANNIVERSARY FLOWERS BY YEAR

Each year, wedding anniversaries are also associated with a traditional flower, providing even more inspiration to find the perfect gift that has roots firmly set in tradition.

If your partner has a green thumb or a passion for the outdoors, a living gift of flowers may be precisely the thing to delight them.

Using the list of traditional anniversary flowers, you can create a tradition together as a couple, planting the customary anniversary flower in your garden each year as you celebrate and building a perennial garden that grows with you year after year.

Most anniversary flower traditions include only years 1-15, marking all future years every five years until the 50th wedding anniversary.

While there is consistency among most of these lists, a few variations may provide alternatives for those living in regions where the more common suggestion is not available or in cultures where the traditional flower holds a different meaning.

Where applicable, the list below begins with the commonly associated flower for each anniversary and is followed by the lesser shared alternatives.

ANNIVERSARY GIFTS FOR HIM

When shopping for anniversary gifts for him, it becomes clear that the traditional and modern gift lists skew toward gifts that might have held particular appeal to wives at the time the customs were created.

The contemporary list of anniversary gifts by year incorporates more neutral gifts and some that had husbands in mind when the new tradition caught on, such as the 59-year anniversary gift of a golf game.

Some of the modern anniversary gifts allow for a greater range of interpretation than others.

For example, the 54-year anniversary gift of glass might inspire a gift of rocks, glasses, and a whiskey at least as old as the marriage. The 32 year anniversary marks a gift of conveyances, which can be adapted to anything from a riding lawnmower to a motorcycle to suit any man’s interests.

Husbands fond of jewelry can mark the occasion of practically any anniversary with a band that incorporates the color, metal, or gemstone associated with that year, such as this diamond anniversary band for him. Watches and bracelets that include the conventional anniversary material are also potential options to consider.

For the sixtieth anniversary, all of the anniversary gift lists agree: diamonds are the way to go. Diamond anniversary bands are a popular choice, but they’re not the only one available.

Our shoppable guide for him includes bold statement rings, elegant and masculine eternity bands, and unique men’s rings composed of nature-inspired materials such as wood and meteorite—there’s sure to be a diamond anniversary gift on the list that will suit the tastes and styles of any man.

ANNIVERSARY GIFTS FOR HER

Anniversary gifts for her are somewhat more natural to come by, but partners should still take care to tailor gifts to the interests and lifestyle of their spouse rather than relying on tradition alone.

Tastes and style will determine whether a traditional anniversary band is the kind of gift she’ll love or if a more unconventional approach would better suit her.

If none of the traditional gifts suit her, creatively approaching anniversary flowers can provide a new way to surprise her with a unique gift.

For example, if your partner wouldn’t find much appeal in china or rubies, the 15th-anniversary flower, rose, can inspire a gift more in line with her tastes, such as a rose gold anniversary band.

Milestone anniversaries merit milestone gifts, such as a matching set of 2-3 pieces of diamond jewelry.

Our Luxury 60th-Anniversary Gift Guide brings together suites and sets of coordinating diamond jewelry that can be worn individually or together to create a knockout look (not to mention an unforgettable 60th anniversary gift!)

ANNIVERSARY GIFTS FOR COUPLES

It’s not uncommon to receive an invitation to an anniversary party celebrating a milestone anniversary for friends or relatives. The recommendations for anniversary gifts by year may also be applied to gifts from friends and family.

GIFTS FOR PARENTS & GRANDPARENTS

When shopping for anniversary gifts for grandparents, parents, or friends, apply the same approach you would when buying for your partner and consider the couple as well as the tradition, rather than relying on tradition alone.

The 50th wedding anniversary gift ideas for your parents who love to entertain might incorporate an element of this shared interest into a golden anniversary gift of gold-rimmed serving dishes or stemware.

Meanwhile, a more appropriate approach to 50th-anniversary gift ideas for your friends who spend every spare moment traveling might be an engraved gold compass.

GIFTS FOR CHILDREN & GRANDCHILDREN

While it is in line with modern etiquette for guests (except for the hosts) of an anniversary party to bring a gift for the couple, anniversary gifts are neither expected nor necessary outside of a planned celebration.

Parents and grandparents who wish to present their children and grandchildren with gifts for their anniversaries are of course, however, welcome to do so.

Younger couples, especially, may still be starting their lives together or be looking to upgrade some of the items they’ve been using since their dorm room days.

A set of quality Egyptian cotton towels tucked into a wicker laundry basket, for example, might be precisely the anniversary gift that your daughter and her partner are hoping to receive so they can do away with the rough, threadbare towels they each brought with them when combining their homes.

Even a well-established couple is likely to have wish list items that they haven’t acquired. A wooden salad bowl set might delight your grandson and his partner for their five year anniversary if they don’t have one already.

Similarly, a silver tea set to commemorate your daughter’s 25th wedding anniversary may be precisely what she and her partner were hoping for.

Loved Our Anniversary Gift Guide?

Even with every possible resource at your fingertips, you may still find yourself lacking inspiration for the perfect wedding anniversary gift. Consider asking for the advice of your spouse’s friends and family if you feel the need for additional insight.

If you’re shopping for jewelry, consulting with your trusted jeweler will help you narrow down your choices and incorporate modern and traditional elements.

There are plenty of options to choose from depending on your taste and budget, from vintage anniversary rings to 3 stone diamond anniversary rings and gold anniversary bands.

A local jeweler whom you know and trust is your best bet to navigate your options and find the perfect anniversary gift to celebrate each year of your marriage.

If you haven’t yet developed a relationship with a jeweler, an anniversary is a perfect time to seek one out. After getting to know you, your partner, and your tastes, they’ll be available year after year to help you build upon jewelry investments and coordinate future gifts with those you’ve bought in the past.

Looking for help in the San Francisco area? Drop us a line to schedule a consultation, or stop by our Union Street shop in the Cow Hollow district!