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Traditional anniversary gifts

Traditional anniversary gifts vary from country to country but in the United States, the guru of American etiquette established some guidelines for gifts to be given on landmark anniversaries.  Emily Post wrote in 1922 that only eight occasions required traditional anniversary gifts:
Happy anniversary card
        • 1st  -- Paper
        • 2nd -- Cotton
        • 3rd -- Leather
        • 4th -- Fruit and Flowers or Linen
        • 5th -- Wool
        • 10th -- Tin, Aluminum
        • 25th -- Silver
        • 50th -- Gold
Over the years, others have expanded the list to include every single anniversary and suggest modern alternatives to the traditional anniversary gifts. With the exception of the 25th and 50th anniversaries, however, you can give whatever you want. You might still follow some degree of tradition by just wrapping the gift in a color that resembles the designated gift for that year or represent the traditional gift with a figure attached to the bow. 

A somewhat poetical guide
to traditional anniversary gifts

The first year it’s paper
Year three gets you leather
By four years, it’s linen
No matter the weather.
 
After five years, it’s wood
A decade yields tin
It’s durable and sturdy
Like the marriage you’re in.
 
The 15th is crystal
The 17th a watch
At 20 years, it’s china
Time to raise gifts a notch.
 
The 25th is silver
…an object that’s pricey
And says that your marriage
Should no longer be dicey.
 
After 30 years it’s pearls
Five more gets you jade
You can wear with your finery
Or have it displayed.
 
After 40 years a ruby
Is the gift that’s suggested
But the 41st is land
If your spouse has invested.
 
A half century of marriage
Calls for gifts of pure gold
To celebrate a bond
That will never grow old.

-- PPM


More anniversary ideas
Anniversary toasts
Funny birthday toasts

Silver for 25th anniversary

pricey anniversary gift of gold

If you want to some more specific ideas, the chart below offers traditional and modern options. A few observations:
  • The modern list suggests giving land for the 41st and improved real estate for the  42nd anniversary but designates books for the 47th. (How's that for elevating the power of the written word?)
  • The proper gift for the 46th anniversary is an original poetry tribute. (Remember SpecialSpeeches.com if you need help with that one.)
  • Diamonds are the standard gift for anything after the couple reaches their 60th anniversary. The 100th anniversary calls for a 10-carat diamond. If a woman remains married to the same man for a century, she certainly deserves a ring too big to wear.

An alternative tradition that is gaining popularity is to forego the the suggested gifts in favor of making a charitable donation in honor of the couple's anniversary.

The Wedding Anniversary Gift Chart

The list below was compiled from a variety of sources including jeweler professional groups and party planning/gift sites.

Anniversary   Traditional gift   Modern gift Couple toasting anniversary



1 year Paper Clocks, Plastic, Gold Jewelry
2 years Cotton China, Cotton, Garnet
3 years Leather Crystal, Pearls, Glass
4 years Linen, Flowers Appliances
5 years Wood Silverware
6 years Iron Objects made of wood, Amethyst
7 years Copper Desk sets, Onyx
8 years Bronze Linens, Tourmaline
9 years China or Pottery Leather, Lapis
10 years Tin, Aluminum Diamond
11 years Steel Costume Jewelry
12 years Silk Pearls, Gemstones
13 years Lace Cloth, Fur, Citrine
14 years Ivory Gold, Opal
15 years Crystal Watches, Ruby
16 years Peridot Silver Table Implements
17 years Watch Furniture
18 years Cat's Eye Porcelain
19 years Aquamarine Bronze
20 years China Platinum, Emerald
21 years Brass, Nickel
22 years Copper
23 years Silver plate
24 years Musical Instrument
25 years Silver Silver
26 years Art or Photographs
27 years Sculpture
28 years Orchids
29 years Furniture
30 years Pearl Diamond
31 years Watch, clock
32 years Car
33 years Amethyst
34 years Opal
35 years Coral Jade
40 years Ruby Ruby
45 years Sapphire Sapphire
50 years Gold Gold
55 years Emerald Emerald
60 years Diamond Diamond
65 years Love
70 years Love
75 years Diamond, Gold Diamond, Gold
80 years Diamond, Pearl
85 years Diamond, Sapphire
90 years Diamond, Emerald
95 years Diamond, Ruby
100 years 10 carat Diamond

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