I’m a 30 year old urban yuppie looking for cool anniversary gifts that fall under the traditional themes by year – 1) paper, 2) cotton, 3) leather, 4) linen/silk, and 5) wood.
At first I wondered if it would be a bad idea to restrict ourselves to this anniversary tradition by year, but after brainstorming the first 5 years of gift ideas, I actually like having a narrower field of options. It simplifies the gift giving process.
This is my secret log of traditional anniversary gift ideas for Years 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Feel free to steal any ideas and share your ideas here too.
1st Wedding Anniversary: Paper
A paper anniversary gift sounds simple enough, but it’s easy to go too DIY with this one and I’m trying to avoid boring handmade gifts.
I stumbled across this custom Folded Book Art, which allows you to get your initials or wedding date (or any text) formed by the folded pages of a real book. You have to order in advance, especially if you want them to use a specific book of your liking and not a random one, but if you have a mutual favorite book, this could be a really stunning paper gift for your first anniversary.
I’ve been thinking about assembling a bucket list for a while now, and using a Bucket List book seems like a useful way to get new ideas and organize some real plans. Most Bucket List books seem to be focused on travel experiences, and I want to make sure I have activities on there other than just vacations. There are plenty of things that we can experience and accomplish together that don’t require leaving the country.
2nd Wedding Anniversary: Cotton
Clothes are the first thing that come to mind when I think of the traditional cotton anniversary, which makes this tough. Fortunately, there are some other fabric-related gifts I’ve stumbled across.
These pillowcases are a fun way to commemorate your second wedding anniversary and can be used on a couch or on neighboring chairs if you are picky about your thread counts and don’t want to actually sleep on them. There are a few cute designs to choose from, so you could get a few different ones and rotate through them. I like that these are a modern way to stick to the traditional cotton theme.
I would love a new set of luxury bedding that’s like what you would find at the Ritz Carlton or the Four Seasons. It’s not that expensive either to order really nice Egyptian Cotton sheets online and an equally soft duvet cover. Since it’s affordable to re-create that luxurious environment in your own home, I’m all for it and suspect that this will be a useful cotton gift.
3rd Wedding Anniversary: Leather
Whew! This one’s relatively easy because there are a lot of nice leather options for gifts in general. I think the traditional third leather anniversary is my favorite theme.
One of my favorite places to shop for modern or traditional leather gifts is on Etsy because you can get almost anything customized on there. Just doing a general leather search brought up a bunch of interesting products I had never seen before (and admit that I kind of want to buy for myself). I love the personalized leather wallets, catch-all trays, key chains, and photo frames – all of which can be used to celebrate a wedding anniversary.
If you are looking for a more practical gift that can be used for work, I love these beautiful leather sleeves for laptops and tablets. You can get these monogrammed for a lovely personal touch, and it adds a level of professionalism to slip your computer out of a leather sleeve at a meeting. Of course there are also leather backpacks, weekend bags, and tote bags that would make nice wedding anniversary gifts too. You can go as traditional or as modern as you want.
4th Wedding Anniversary: Linen & Silk (UK: Fruit & Flowers)
I don’t know why there’s suddenly room for confusion in Year 4 when the other years are pretty clear cut. Is it linen OR silk or linen AND silk? Why do the US and UK differ so widely on this one? It doesn’t matter because neither material makes this gift easy.
I ordered a photo book with a linen hardcover for my wedding album, and it looks classic and elegant (and a bit traditional), so I’m thinking about ordering another one for the our fourth linen anniversary. I made the first one on MyPublisher, which has since been acquired and merged into Shutterfly. There are plenty of other websites that allow you to design photo albums with fabric covers, so I will be shopping around next time.
I’ve noticed lately that a lot of nice wool scarves (both men’s and women’s) are actually blended with silk to create that smoother texture. There are plenty of scarves made of modal & silk blends and cotton & silk blends too. They are soft and lightweight too, as you’d expect from luxurious fabrics. Surprisingly, I’ve found some beautiful, handmade silk scarves made in Europe on Etsy, which would be a nice addition to any outfit and a creative play on the traditional silk anniversary theme.
5th Wedding Anniversary: Wood
I love technology and all of the doors it has opened to customizing wood and bringing the natural texture and color of wood into our homes. When you reach your fifth wedding anniversary, you are more likely to be thinking about customizing your home, which makes the traditional wood theme an interesting gift.
I have long admired reclaimed wood furniture pieces that put a modern twist on a traditional element, such as these georgeous tree stump side tables on hairpin legs. Industrial modern design and mid-century modern styles are so popular these days and put a lovely contemporary spin on traditional wood furniture. These handmade wooden pieces used to be very expensive only a couple of years ago but are now remarkably affordable online. I bought one and it looks fantastic in our home.
I love this updated take on photos. There are quite a few sites that will affordably print your photos onto wood these days. I’ve seen the output of several different attempts (Photobarn, Woodsnap, Etsy, etc), and they all turned out quite lovely. I would print wedding photos or family photos on these for a sentimental wood anniversary gift.