Traditional wedding anniversary gifts come from a list of materials or themes that are associated with every year of marriage. Each year may have different themes or materials associated with it. Other popular lists include the the Modern, Gemstone or Flower lists. The idea is so that you can select a gift with a theme or the material mentioned for the year thus aiding you in selecting and giving gifts.
The Traditional Gift List
The traditional wedding anniversary list has developed over the generations into the one shown below. Some of the years have variations in the theme depending upon who has published the list. More history of how the wedding list evolved is available on our Traditional Wedding List History page.
In Short, it is called the traditional list because it is the oldest gift list in existence. There is evidence that before the modern anniversary list was produced the list was known just as the wedding anniversary gift list.
If you select the anniversary year you are interested in below you’ll be taken to a page with details on the anniversary. What’s more, if you select the material/theme link we’ll give you ideas for gifts relevant to that theme.
Furthermore not every Wedding anniversary has a traditional theme. Some years have no material or theme. Below the 50th these anniversaries will have a theme in the Modern Anniversary List. Above the 50th they have no theme or material.
Traditional Anniversary Gifts List
|1st Anniversary gift||Paper|
|2nd Anniversary gift||Straw or Cotton|
|3rd Anniversary gift||Leather|
|4th Anniversary gift||Fruit & Flowers or Books|
|5th Anniversary gift||Wood|
|6th Anniversary gift||Candy or Iron|
|7th Anniversary gift||Wool or Copper|
|8th Anniversary gift||Pottery or Bronze|
|9th Anniversary gift||Willow or Pottery|
|10th Anniversary gift||Tin or Aluminum|
|11th Anniversary gift||Steel|
|12th Anniversary gift||Linen or Silk|
|13th Anniversary gift||Lace|
|14th Anniversary gift||Ivory|
|15th Anniversary gift||Crystal|
|20th Anniversary gift||China|
|25th Anniversary gift||Silver|
|30th Anniversary gift||Pearls|
|35th Anniversary gift||Coral|
|40th Anniversary gift||Ruby|
|45th Anniversary gift||Sapphire|
|50th Anniversary gift||Gold|
|55th Anniversary gift||Emerald|
|60th Anniversary gift||Diamonds|
|70th Anniversary gift||Platinum or Diamond|
|75th Anniversary gift||Diamonds|
Anniversary Gift List Variations
We’ve listed the most popular traditional gifts first in the list above. If there are other themes or gift ideas mentioned it’s because we have found references to these in different publications. Certainly there is no one definitive list.
What’s more, there are a few variations with the traditional anniversary gifts list above which we’ve not included. Possibly the largest one being that for the first wedding anniversary. In the United Kingdom and Europe, the 1st anniversary traditionally used to be Cotton with the second year being Paper themed. This has now been reversed to follow the American traditional theme of Paper for the 1st year and Cotton for the 2nd year. We think the reason behind this is down to the world becoming a smaller place with the use of modern technologies.
There are other variations on the traditional and modern gift theme. Again these tend to be local traditions, for example in Germany there is also a tradition to celebrate the Copper Wedding Anniversary which, there, occurs at 12 and a half years or halfway through a Jubilee (which is 25 years.) There is also a Vinyl Anniversary for when you have been married 33⅓ years. If you’ve not guessed already this is based upon the old gramophone records which played at 33⅓ revolutions per minute (rpm)
Important traditional wedding anniversaries
All the important and major anniversaries originate from the traditional anniversary gifts list. Indeed the 25th wedding anniversary and 50th wedding anniversary are the oldest known anniversaries being celebrated with symbols and gift-giving. With the 25th formally being called the Silver Wedding and the 50th called the Golden Wedding. They are often referred to (incorrectly I might add) as the silver anniversary and golden anniversary respectively. These can be traced back to early European history. The Husband would present his with with a silver garland headdress for the 25th Anniversary. For the fiftieth anniversary he would have presented her with a Gold Wreath to mark the occasion.
The Modern Wedding Anniversary Gifts List
The Modern wedding anniversary gift list was first launched in 1946 by the American Jeweler’s Association and has developed into the one shown below. What’s more some of the anniversary years have variations on the theme depending upon who has published the list.
Modern Anniversary Gift List
|Anniversary Year||Modern Gift Theme/Symbol|
|3rd anniversary||Crystal or Glass|
|4th anniversary||Electrical Appliances|
|7th anniversary||Desk Sets|
|8th anniversary||Linen or Lace|
|10th anniversary||Diamond Jewelry|
|11th anniversary||Fashion Jewelry|
|12th anniversary||Pearls or Coloured Gems|
|13th anniversary||Textiles or Furs|
|14th anniversary||Gold Jewelry|
|16th anniversary||Silver Holloware|
|21st anniversary||Brass or Nickel|
|23rd anniversary||Silver Plate|
|24th anniversary||Musical Instruments|
|26th anniversary||Original Pictures|
|30th anniversary||Diamond Jewelry|
|36th anniversary||Bone China|
|42nd anniversary||Improved Real Estate|
|46th anniversary||Original Poetry Tribute|
|48th anniversary||Optical Goods|
|49th anniversary||Luxuries, any kind|
|50th anniversary||Gold Jewelry|
What are the symbols for anniversaries?
As shown above, the traditional and modern gift themes are the symbols used for each anniversary year.
What are the anniversary gifts by year?
We’ve grouped all the anniversary gifts by year below so you can see for each anniversary year not only the traditional and modern gifts but also the appropriate flowers and also the anniversary gemstones that are listed as appropriate for each year.
|Anniversary Year||Gift themes||Gift Suggestions|
|1st year Anniversary Gifts||Pansies||Flowers|
|Fresh Water Pearl||Gems|
|22nd||Spinel (all Colours)||Gems|
|42nd||Improved Real Estate||Modern|
|46th||Original Poetry Tribute||Modern|
|49th||Luxuries, any Kind||Modern|
|100th||Ten Carat Diamond||Modern|
What’s the most popular anniversary gift?
This does vary by anniversary year. The most popular anniversary gift is often the traditional gift. If the wedding anniversary year does not have a traditional gift then the modern gift would be chosen to select anniversary gift ideas from.
Do wives buy husbands anniversary gifts?
This is something that should be discussed in the early years. A sign of a successful marriage has always been good communication. So understanding each other and when there are gift occasions and when not. For example, we did not tend to buy gifts in our early years choosing to celebrate with meals and days out. When children came along gift giving was more appropriate as priorities shifted to care of children. As they have left home we’ve moved onto joint experience type of gifts.
What are the different anniversary milestones?
Originally there were just the two anniversary milestones; silver at 25 years and golden at 50 years, these being the jubilees that a couple may experience in marriage. This has moved with time and now several anniversaries are considered a marriage milestone, these being:
- 25th Wedding Anniversary (Silver Wedding)
- 30th Wedding Anniversary (Pearl Wedding)
- 40th Wedding Anniversary (Ruby Wedding)
- 50th Wedding Anniversary (Golden Wedding)
- 60th Wedding Anniversary (Diamond Wedding)
- 70th Wedding Anniversary (Platinum Wedding)
- 75 Wedding Anniversary (Diamond Wedding)
For more information check out our other pages below: