Feeling a little lost when it comes to the perfect first anniversary gift? Today, our dear friend Catherine of Bestowe Gifting is giving us all a much appreciated refresh on amazing 1st year anniversary gifts! Stay tuned, because she’ll be sharing even more anniversary gift ideas soon too! xx
How do you celebrate your anniversary? Traditional or modern? What about something new? I’m coming up on a milestone in my life that I couldn’t be more proud of: my 15 year wedding anniversary. A decade and a half of choosing love each and every day. 15 years of supporting each other, standing up to each other, pushing each other, laughing, crying, and growing with each other. Figuring out the wild game of life with each other. Bringing a child into the world with—whew, just all the things, too many to list. 15 years is a long time.
As I’ve got picture albums and nostalgia scattered all over the kitchen island, I’m caught up reminiscing on that precious first year. I’ll admit, it was my favorite year we were married. Not that I’m not still 100% still in love, but that year of firsts was so memorable and special for me. First house, first joint bank account, first of so many adventures and many, many failures. I know it sounds cliche, but, oh to be young and carefree again. We were poor and figuring it all out, but it was blissfully perfect. I am truly blessed to have such a solid foundation with an incredible man who has stood by me for so many years. He is the actual smartest, kindest, best father, and ultimate best friend. Handsome and I think the best hugger in the world.
Anniversaries, Valentine’s, or just date night—it’s all about taking time with your significant other. Real time. Time away from technology (yes, even your apple watch) to be present with one another. To strengthen your bond. To connect with focus. To SEE one another. To listen. To drive your roots down deep so they will support you over time. I think that’s the key to our 15 years of marriage. We have always *really* talked and *really* listened about the important and unimportant things. We aren’t afraid to say what we feel about literally every subject. We really know each other. That, and our coffee-shop-meet-cute story, but that’s for another post. It has all got me thinking about reinventing the traditional anniversary gift game. You know the one where you are supposed to give paper, cotton, then leather… and so on.
Not that I don’t have a
pathetic obsession undying love for tradition, but I thought about twisting that tradition up a bit and curating anniversary packages around it. And I actually did a bit of reading to find out where these traditions came from. I thought I would stumble upon a beautifully, romantic Victorian story—something out of a scene from Little Women with rolling green pastures and love letters written from a quill and ink pot in front of a fireplace, but that’s not exactly what I learned.
The real history of anniversary gifts
It’s somewhat unclear, but definitely archaic. Remember, marriage hasn’t always been a love story. They were arranged to preserve power, lineage, and produce heirs. Think dowries. The list of anniversary gifts starts back in Ancient Rome when a silver wreath would be presented to the woman at a couple’s 25th wedding anniversary. This was a reward of kinds—a gift for the betrothed that she had performed her assigned duties well (not that she had any other choice). As time progressed, thankfully the structure of marriage also progressed and marriages became about, gasp…love…what a concept. The idea scared people and so in addition to the 25-year gift of silver, more anniversary gifts were invented to incentivize the marriage to, well… last. Not exactly romantic. Gifts were given at 1, 5, and 10 years. By the turn of the twentieth century, and the invention of commercialization, industry became involved and we have the list we have today. As more and more industries wanted a piece of the anniversary pie, the list grew and grew… So starting with year one we have been left with paper as a gift. People have gotten creative over the years with a gift of paper, but there is not a clear reason for the gift. People interpret it as a blank slate or a symbol of how delicate marriage is. And that is still a beautiful symbol, but definitely not what I was hoping to find.
OK, boring history lesson over. I’m choosing to believe this list of anniversary gifts is about hopeless romantics from the fearless March sisters themselves and not derived from an ancient, patriarchal culture.
For the year one anniversary gift of paper you will find creative gift ideas ranging from concert or plane tickets, to homemade tickets for a hot air balloon ride (!) to a framed print of your wedding song lyrics—there are some seriously good ideas out there. The modern interpretation for paper is clocks as a gift. That is a stretch from paper, and who doesn’t love a new watch, but I like the notion of keeping it romantic, and clocks just aren’t cutting it for me. So, sticking with paper, these are my favorite ideas:
Paper gift for the art-lover: Paper art sculptures. These are seriously amazing and could complement the vibe of your new home together. So many of them remind me of marriage too!
Paper gift for the hopeless romantic: Recreate your wedding bouquet in paper! These paper flower bouquets are gorgeous and lasting!
Paper gift for the sentimental: Heirloom quality photo album. Do you love the feel of old books? What if you opened up an antique-bound book to the photos of your wedding? These timeless photo albums are so neat—and also one of Oprah’s Favorite Things.
Paper gift for the young at heart: Adult coloring books are so fun and relaxing. They come in literally every theme now—pick one out for both of you and get some fancy pencils to compliment it. Netflix, color, and chill together.
A New Twist on Anniversary Gifts:
If you like the traditional or the modern gifts, then by all means go with it! I’m thinking instead to base the new list on emotional concepts left up for one’s own interpretation. You get the picture that I’m a romantic right? So, I’m changing year one from Paper to Perfection. Celebrating that perfect first year and being a perfect couple. If you are in year one and, like me, want that perfect memory to last forever then here are some ways to celebrate. And of course, I’ve got a few great gift ideas!
Year One Anniversary Gift to Celebrate Perfection
If I could go back in time to that first year of marriage, I would celebrate its perfection and bottle it up Jack Pearson style. (PSA: If you aren’t watching This Is Us, then do you even understand romance? That’s a PSA, right?) You know what I’m thinking, right: time capsule. As part of your anniversary celebration, pick out a box or vessel together (maybe something significant to your love story) and fill it with your favorite memories of each other. A picture, a trinket, a love letter. Get creative and slow down with this one—this extra romantic, extra special gift will mean so much more to you 15 years down the road, trust me. Maybe a wrapped gift as a future surprise gets stowed away. Maybe a recorded message like Jack. When you’ve perfected it, tuck it away and save it for your 5th, 10th, or 15th anniversary. No peeking.
My ultimate one year anniversary celebration would be a date night in. Candles, wine, a delicious meal cooking and crafting away at our special time capsule project. Telling each other all the reasons we are adding the items to the capsule while keeping some a secret. Sounds dreamy to me. Still, I would get a gift. But, I think the gift could be simple. Something to just say, “This has been a perfect year and I love you”. Our boxes make that easy—they are simple, evoke deep emotion, and come in various price ranges. You can even add in one of the unique paper gifts mentioned above to complete the gift. There is truly something for everyone. I think this one is just perfect.
Here are a few other ideas:
Gift box for the first home.
Gift box just to say I love you.
Gift box for a little self love. My personal favorite type of gift.
You seriously can’t go wrong with a gift box full of curated, handmade goodies! We’ve put a good bit of thought into these already!
More Anniversary Gifts by Year
In my next posts, I’ll share other ideas for reinventing the anniversary gift guide and giving you ideas for traditional gifting as well. I’ll also be launching some new things on the website specifically for, spoiler alert, anniversary gifts! Here’s what I’ve got coming:
Year Two. Traditionally this is cotton. My spin is Comfort. Leaning into growing comfortable together.
Year Three. Traditionally this is leather, but I’m converting it to Luxury. You’ve made it three years, let’s get luxurious.
Year Four. Traditionally this is fruit & flowers, but I’m thinking along the lines of nurturing your relationship’s roots.
Year Five. Traditionally is wood, but we are changing it to Wander! Trip time!!
Stay tuned for the upcoming blogs on some new ideas for celebrating anniversaries. I cannot wait to share! And tell us, what ways you plan on celebrating your first anniversary?
(first photo: Zipporah Photography, second photo: Kayla Failla Photography, third photo: Sarah Price Photography)