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Aniversary Gifts, Gift Ideas & Traditions

Anniversary Gifts History

"The practice of giving peculiar gifts on various wedding anniversaries originated in Central Europe. Among the medieval Germans it was customary for friends to present a wife with a wreath of silver when she had lived with her husband twenty-five years. The silver symbolized the harmony that was assumed to be necessary to make so many years of matrimony possible. On the fiftieth anniversary of a wedding the wife was presented with a wreath of gold. Hence arose 'silver wedding' and 'golden wedding.' This practice, borrowed from the Germans, has been elaborated upon in modern times"

INFORMATION ROUNDUP by George Stimpson (1948)

"Although the first anniversary is considered the paper or plastic one, the second, cotton and so on, it is not mandatory that the gift be of the "appropriate" material or composition for the specific year. The exception is in the case of the tenth (tin or aluminum) and twenty-fifth, which is known as the "silver anniversary." In these cases, the gift usually "goes" with the anniversary. For other years it is equally correct, and often more interesting, to buy what seems appropriate for the particular couple and carry out the theme in the wrapping or decorating of the package. Thus a gift for the seventh anniversary could be wrapped in copper-colored paper, a lace handkerchief might decorate the package for the thirteenth, and so on."

ETIQUETTE FOR MODERNS by Elinor Ames (1965)

Traditional & Modern Anniversary Gifts

Anniversary Traditional Gifts Modern Gifts
1 Year Paper Clocks
2 Years Cotton China
3 Years Leather Crystal, Glass
4 Years Fruit and Flowers, Linen Appliances
5 Years Wood Silverware
6 Years Iron Wood Objects
7 Years Wool (Copper) Desk Sets
8 Years Bronze Linens, Lace
9 Years Pottery (China) Leather Goods
10 Years Tin, Aluminum Diamond
11 Years Steel Fashion Jewelry
12 Years Silk Pearls, Colored Gems
13 Years Lace Textiles, Fur
14 Years Ivory Gold Jewelry
15 Years Crystal Watches
16 Years Peridot Silver Holloware
17 Years Watch Furniture
18 Years Cat's eye Porcelain
19 Years Aquamarine Bronze
20 Years China Platinum
21 Years Brass, Nickel
22 Years Copper
23 Years Silver Plate
24 Years Musical Instrument
25 Years Silver Sterling Silver
26 Years Original Pictures
27 Years Sculpture
28 Years Orchids
29 Years New Furniture
30 Years Pearl Diamond
31 Years Timepieces
32 Years Conveyances (car, automobiles)
33 Years Amethyst
34 Years Opal
35 Years Coral (Jade) Jade
36 Years Bone China
37 Years Alabaster
38 Years Beryl, Tourmaline
39 Years Lace
40 Years Ruby Ruby
41 Years Land
42 Years Improved Real Estate
43 Years Travel
44 Years Groceries
45 Years Sapphire Sapphire
46 Years Original Poetry Tribute
47 Years Books
48 Years Optical Goods (telescope, etc)
49 Years Luxuries (any kind)
50 Years Gold Gold
55 Years Emerald Emerald
60 Years Diamond Diamond
75 Years Diamond, Gold
80 Years Diamond, Pear
85 Years Diamond, Sapphire
90 Years Diamond, Emerald
95 Years Diamond, Ruby
100 Years 10 carat Diamond

Anniversary Party Etiquette

In general, if an anniversary party is thrown in the earlier years of a marriage, it is usually hosted by the couple themselves; asking for gifts for such an occasion would be in poor taste.

Parties to celebrate. The later anniversaries, such as the 25th, are often hosted by the couple's adult children. For these parties, guests should bring gifts unless "no gifts, please" is specified on the invitation. (If this request is made, everyone should honor it to avoid embarrassment. Close friends or relatives who do wish, nonetheless, to offer a memento of the occasion should deliver the gift prior to the party.)

In some cases, if the host knows of a big-ticket item - such as a holiday trip or a piece of furniture - which the couple could really use or enjoy, guests could make cash donations toward it. The host would take care of purchasing the gift, collecting the money, and having everyone sign the card at the party.

The opening of the presents should be done after everyone has arrived; after dinner, while having coffee, is an excellent time.

For couples who do not wish to receive personal gifts, one alternative for guests is to donate to the couple's favorite charity in honor of the occasion. On the other hand, a beautiful floral arrangement, a lush living plant, or fruit and wine baskets make very good gifts and are always welcome gestures.

There may be some instances in which gifts of cash are proper - such as for an anniversary couple who are retirees with small pensions or limited retirement funds. The host could send a note to guests informing them that a money tree or basket will be set up. Enclose cash or checks in an envelope with a brief message or card.