July 08, 2021
🕐 15 Min Read
Congratulations! You made it through your first year of marriage! Celebrate your first year together with a gift filled with love! Not sure what to get? Read on to learn about traditional gifts and modern alternatives for first anniversary gift ideas.
Congratulations on your 1st year!
Your first wedding anniversary is a cause for celebration! You and your partner made it through your wedding and the first of many years to come. So why not splash out and show how much you care. Today we’re going to break down 1st anniversary gifts, why we give them, traditional gifts, and modern alternatives. No matter what gift you choose, it’s the sentiment behind the gift that matters most. So let’s dig in to learn more about the best first anniversary gifts for every couple.
Why do we give anniversary gifts?
We only give gifts on the most special of occasions. Birthdays, Valentines, holidays, and anniversaries are always the perfect opportunity to show your significant other how much you mean to them with a special treat chosen especially for them. Anniversaries pose their own unique circumstances. Like the old Hollywood trope, we often see couples struggling to find the perfect gift and waiting until the last minute to purchase a heart-felt bauble.
But where did this tradition come from? When did couples begin exchanging gifts and tokens of love to celebrate the anniversary of their marriage?
Couples have been exchanging gifts and tokens of affection for millennia. A trip to most major museums will reveal a wealth of treasures, among them, tokens large and small given from one partner to another to celebrate their love.
Paintings, sculptures, and jewelry have all been used as tokens of love throughout history. Ancient Romans exchanged rings as a commitment to each other. Rings have been found from Emperors to their wives and lovers with inscriptions and engravings made in metal and stone. But rings and tokens aren’t exactly the same as an anniversary gift, so when did couples begin exchanging gifts to mark their anniversary?
When did the tradition of anniversary gifts start?
Many believe the origins of the modern anniversary traditions can be traced back to Germany in the Middle Ages. If a couple were able to achieve twenty-five years of marriage, they would have a grand celebration. During this period of history, the average life expectancy was considerably lower than it is today, so a couple surviving for twenty-five years was a really big deal and a major cause for celebration.
At this time, the friends of the couple who reached this important milestone would present the woman with a silver wreath, usually in the form of myrtle (a traditional headpiece worn by German brides). If the couple made it another 25 years, an even greater celebration would be held to celebrate the couple’s 50th year together, and the wife would be presented with a gold wreath. This longevity was a rare occurrence and thus a significant celebration for the families and friends involved.
As we rolled into the 1800s, these Germanic traditions saw a rise in popularity in England. In the Victorian period, Brits took up the tradition of exchanging anniversary gifts with fervor. In an attempt to emulate their Queen and her German husband, Prince Albert, British couples began to exchange gifts on their marriage anniversary. Elaborate anniversary celebrations were fashionable back then, so gift-giving thrived as a result.
This period brought us the traditional list of anniversary gifts that we know of today. The 20th century saw these traditions gain popularity in the United States thanks to etiquette writer Emily Post and her 1922 guide to manners. To this day, both countries have their own anniversary lists, although they're almost identical. The traditional list suggests gifts that increase in strength and durability with each year.
So the first anniversary gift starts with paper and goes all the way up to Diamond, the hardest natural material. Traditionally these gift lists cover anniversary gifts for each year up to the 15th anniversary, and after that, every fifth anniversary, up to the 60th Diamond anniversary celebration.
In the 1930s, marketing companies saw the opportunity to update the traditional list for the modern couple. This modern list expanded on the ideas of the traditional anniversary list but offered couples more practical alternatives. Like their traditional counterparts, these options correlated to the couple’s relationship, starting with a clock for the 1st anniversary gift to represent the passage of time.
While some of the so-called modern alternatives may not seem so current now (would you want a desk set for your sixth anniversary?) Both lists of traditional and modern gifts leave room for interpretation. These lists continue to be referenced by couples today, although it's definitely not required to adhere to them. In fact, lots of people don't even know these guidelines exist! So just by reading this article, you’re ahead of the curve!
Paper: Traditional 1st Anniversary Gifts
Now that we’ve given you the lowdown on where anniversary gifts came from let’s dig into the traditional 1st anniversary gift options. As we mentioned above, couples have been exchanging gifts to celebrate their anniversary for the last few centuries. Then, as now, couples have wondered, what is an appropriate gift?
Choosing a first anniversary gift can be particularly intimidating. You’ve just gotten married, so you most likely received plenty of practical gifts from friends and family. You’ve also just shelled out on a wedding and all the things associated with it: rings, dress, etc. And now you need to get an anniversary gift? Never fear! While picking a 1st anniversary gift may seem daunting, you have plenty of options!
You may be thinking: What is the traditional gift for a first year wedding anniversary? Paper is the traditional first anniversary gift! But don’t worry, you don’t have to run out to your local stationary store or make a call to Staples. There is room for interpretation with this traditional first anniversary gift, so you can be creative and find something that is as unique as you are.
Many couples choose to go for options that incorporate paper in some way, from a heartfelt card to a piece of art that represents you two as a couple. Photo albums or framed prints from your wedding are an inexpensive and impactful gift that you can both appreciate for years to come.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you could buy tickets for the two of you to make an anniversary escape and celebrate your love for each other. If you feel like staying closer to home with your loved one, a special book or love coupons are a great option to show your special person how much you care.
Clocks: Modern Anniversary Gifts
Paper not your thing? Relax, there are modern alternatives to the traditional anniversary list. If you’re following the modern anniversary guide, a clock is the gift to give on your first anniversary. The clock is meant to represent the passage of time or your time together as a couple.
While very practical, you can still turn it into a sentimental gift with the right touch. Don’t just go for a plain, boring wall clock, but get something that fits you as a couple. Try adding photos of you and your dearest to the numbers of the clock for a DIY upgrade, or splash out on a custom clock engraved with your special date.
Watches are a great alternative to a traditional clock. Gender-neutral timepieces are ever more popular, like our sleek Radiance Watch. A watch is a handy accessory that will keep your partner looking good no matter their style. Watches with smooth plain dials are an elegant choice for anyone that is looking for a timepiece that doesn’t overwhelm. Some people wear their heart on their sleeve, but why not on your wrist?
Gift your partner a watch engraved with your special date or a love note to show you’re seriously sentimental. Take cues from your wedding rings and choose a watch in a similar metal to show you’re truly matched. If your other half likes to stand out, choosing a timepiece with a unique color is an ideal choice.
Gemstone and Jewelry Anniversary GiftS
If you’re at a loss for wedding anniversary gift ideas, and paper or clock gifts just won't cut it, the world of gemstones offers infinite inspiration and meaning. Anniversaries also have corresponding gemstones for each year. While there is no one acknowledged and authoritative list, Jewelers of America, the American Gem Society, the American Gem Trade Association, and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) all endorse a list of anniversary gemstones and jewelry gifts. This list departs from traditional and modern anniversary gift lists in that it only includes gemstones and precious metals.
Gifting a glittering bejeweled bauble to celebrate a wedding anniversary is an age-old tradition. While the gems we use to mark these anniversaries have changed over the years, the sentiment behind these gifts remains the same. They are special tokens of love and a tangible expression of your love and devotion.
Gold Anniversary Gifts
So what is the gemstone for a first wedding anniversary gift? Gold and Peridot! Now I know what you’re thinking; Gold isn't a gemstone! But there is a method behind the madness. A couple is still in a golden ‘honeymoon period,’ finding their footing at the time of their first anniversary. Like the soft and malleable raw metal, a beautiful piece of gold jewelry is the perfect anniversary gift that can represent the malleability of the marriage to come.
Gold has long been used in decorative objects as far back as 4000 B.C. The warm, sumptuous color of gold has strong associations with the sun, and some ancient people believed that gold was literally tears from the sun that had fallen to Earth. In Africa, Asia, Europe, and the New World, this luscious metal has been prized as an alluring material that then, as now, has been used to create masterful pieces of jewelry.
While yellow gold is probably the best-known version of gold, you have lots of options. If your sweetheart prefers cooler tones, white gold jewelry is a great alternative. Rose gold jewelry is a flattering choice that looks exquisite on every skin tone. To learn more about gold, check out our blog, Karat vs. Carat: Decoding your jewelry.
Peridot Anniversary Gifts
You don’t have to be tied into buying gold jewelry for your first anniversary gift. There are a plethora of gorgeous, gold-colored gemstones that can represent the golden glow of your first year together. Gems like Citrine, yellow Topaz, and Peridot are all fantastic options to show your special someone how much you care. Like gold, Peridot is associated with the celestial.
This bright yellowish-green gem has been found in meteors, formed from the pressure as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. This out of this world gem is one of the oldest known gemstones and is even mentioned several times throughout the Bible. Also known as Olivine or Chrysolite, from the Ancient Greek word ‘chrysolithos,’ meaning golden stone, named after the flashes of golden brilliance the gem displays, this gem makes a fantastic anniversary gift that will tell your love that they’re the center of your universe.
The most remarkable gifts often come in the smallest packages. There are no rules or limitations on what you can get for a 1st anniversary present. Like your marriage and love story, you don’t have to follow a particular path to find a cookie-cutter anniversary gift. If you and your partner like something different, then consider skipping the paper and getting her a gift she’s sure to love: jewelry!
Remind your loved one of your happiest day: the day you said your vows. An anniversary ring symbolizes the unending love you both share. A versatile option, the gift of an anniversary ring is a meaningful and heartfelt choice. An eternity band is a sparkling symbol of commitment and a thoughtful reflection of your journey together.
Select a band that coordinates with her engagement and wedding ring for a chic stacked look. Alternatively, a ring of a different style to adorn her right hand is a fun and fashionable choice. Try choosing an anniversary ring set with her favorite gem or colorful birthstone. However she chooses to wear it, an anniversary ring is a stunning and heartfelt gift.
A necklace or pendant is a timeless anniversary gift that your love can wear every day. A necklace that incorporates a heart shape is always a classic choice. Choose a necklace with a meaningful symbol like the moon to tell her she’s your moon and stars, or go for a sleek, shimmering Moonstone pendant: always a timeless option.
Looking for a gift with a personal touch? Why not consider selecting a necklace with a central gemstone that’s meaningful to you and your special someone? A necklace featuring your or their birthstone or a gem with metaphysical properties may be just this thing to remind your love of your special day.
Keep in mind what precious metal your spouse wears most often; does she prefer yellow, rose gold or silver? Match the metal of her necklace to her wedding set for a chic coordinated look. With almost limitless options, necklaces make a fantastic choice for an anniversary gift. Start a tradition you’ll follow every year, with her collection growing in tandem with your life together.
Earrings are one of the most popular presents for anniversaries. A pair of gemstone studs that can be worn every day are a timeless gift. Find earrings with a unique design to mark your one-of-a-kind anniversary. If your spouse is a botanical beauty, a floral pair of nature-inspired earrings are sure to tickle her fancy. If she treasures sleek and sophisticated silhouettes, a pair of White Topaz accented earrings are a gorgeous gift sure to leave her smitten.
Who says you have to choose just one gift? One of the best things about giving earrings as an anniversary gift is that you don’t have to stop after just one pair! Start her anniversary collection with a unique pair of raw crystal studs, and slowly build it as your lives grow together. Mark your special anniversary with a luxe pair of halo studs, shimmering Moonstone hoops, or stunning drop earrings. Earrings are a gorgeous, heartfelt gift she will treasure for years to come.
No matter if you choose a traditional paper gift, a modern watch, or a stunning piece of gold or peridot jewelry, you’re sure to show your one and only the depth of your love. Learn more about gemstones, birthstones, and their healing properties; check out our guides!