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Creative Twists on Traditional Anniversary Gifts

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Good anniversary gifts can be difficult to find. The gift must convey romance without being corny, intimate knowledge of a soul mate without being predictable, and utility without being domestic. Add the pressure of a personal and sentimental celebration to the mix, and purchasing an anniversary gift can actually be quite stressful.

Hallmark’s list of traditional anniversary gifts is a helpful guide, but the list is heavily focused on items a couple may need for the house. To avoid the impression that housework is what you expect of your mate, find creative ways to honor the spirit of the traditional list with more modern gifts.

The first anniversary is traditionally the paper anniversary. Buy tickets to whatever your partner enjoys – the theater, a sporting event, a home and garden show at the local convention center, etc. Books are another paper product that conveniently varies depending on your spouse’s interests. You may want to purchase a book about a hobby that you already do together or a tradition you would like to start.

For the second, or cotton anniversary, buy a two-person hammock to string up in the back yard or the porch. Spend some time together relaxing, talking, and rekindling that “just met” feeling. If you are more the indoors type, a cozy quilt will do the same trick.

The third anniversary is leather. Purchase a wallet and tuck an extra gift inside. The content of the wallet depends on the personality of your relationship. Hopeless romantics might appreciate a love note or poem – either an original or a published favorite. Foodies would swoon over a memo giving the place and time of dinner reservations. The fashion-conscious would love some jewelry.

Traditionally, fruit or flowers are given for the fourth anniversary. Make the gift last all season long by joining a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture exists for just about any home or farm-grown product imaginable. Find one near you using Local Harvest’s search tool, and your sweetie can pick up a new bouquet of flowers or basket of fruit every week.

A simple way to celebrate the fifth, or wood, anniversary is to give a gift related to your spouse’s hobby. Wood is formed into so many different items – furniture, artwork, instruments, sporting goods – that you are bound to find something perfect for everyone. A more involved – and more romantic – gift idea is to plan an intimate evening snuggling in front of a fireplace, either at home or at a rustic B & B.

Like the fourth and fifth, the sixth anniversary offers a traditionally crowd-pleasing gift – candy. Take the extra step of personalizing the candy with a heartfelt message. M & M’s offers the opportunity to print your own phrases, and even pictures, on the tiny chocolates. Or, purchase a personalized candy bar wrapper from Current and wrap it around your sweetie’s favorite sweet.

For the seventh, or wool and copper anniversary, take a “copper” vacation. Depending on the area of the world in which you live and your budget, there are many different “copper” vacation sites. Copper Mountain in Colorado is perfect for skiing. Visit the Copper Coast in Waterford, Ireland for dramatic sight-seeing. Travel to Australia’s Copper Coast for swimming and water adventures.

For romance closer to home, find a big old copper beech tree and picnic under its namesake leaves. The trees are popular garden additions throughout Europe, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States. Hike England’s historic Burnham Beeches, near Windsor Palace, which is home to trees over 800 years old. In the eastern U.S., copper beech trees make appearances at many famous landmarks, including the Biltmore Estate.

Since the traditional gift for the eighth anniversary is bronze or pottery, purchase a vessel and fill it. What you purchase and what you use as filler depends on your partner’s interests. For example, purchase a handmade coffee mug and fill it with coffee beans, a subscription to the Sunday times, or a memo promising a weekly Saturday morning coffee date. Alternatively, purchase a clay wine chiller and include an expensive or rare bottle of wine.

For the ninth, or pottery and willow, anniversary, plant a tree. Whether you stay in your current home a lifetime or move on, the tree will serve as a reminder of your ever growing love. Be sure to carve your initials in it when the trunk is sturdy enough!

The tenth anniversary gift is tin or aluminum. Purchase a lovely tin, pewter, or aluminum picture frame and temporarily fill it with a gift certificate for a portrait session. After you and your partner get the prints made, you can hang your tenth anniversary picture next to your wedding picture.

For a true picture of how your lives together have grown, include in the portrait everything that is currently part of your lives -- children, pets, and extended family. Together, make a promise to take a new portrait every 10 years of your marriage. On your fiftieth anniversary (and beyond), the photos will help you reminisce about the good old days and look forward to those yet to come.

Once these ten years are behind you, choosing creative and memorable anniversary gifts will be a matter of habit. No matter what gift you choose, if it comes from the heart, it will be appreciated.



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