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Wedding Anniversary Years & Gift Ideas

Wedding anniversaries have always been something to celebrate. We have been offering gifts on these special occasions since ancient times. Roman husbands would offer a silver wreath to their wives on their 25th anniversary and crown them with a golden wreath to celebrate their 50th. Special gifts associated with a specific year were confined to those two landmark anniversaries. It wasn't until the 20th century that so many different years of marriage became associated with a particular type of gift.

At first only landmark occasions like the 1st, 10th and 40th anniversaries were acknowledged with such gifts but the practice steadily grew. There is now a firmly established gift tradition for the first 15 anniversaries and then for every 5th year until the 80th. However, there does not appear to be any logic behind the gifts associated with each year. Not that this really matters!

If you are looking for an anniversary gift then you don't have to stick with tradition. There are no hard and fast rules. The most important thing is to find a gift that the couple concerned will really enjoy. The traditional associations can be useful though. If you keep these in mind it will help you to choose something different every year and the traditional materials could inspire some interesting ideas.

With so many anniversary traditions to remember it can be hard to recall them all. To make matters more complicated there are now commonly accepted modern alternatives to the traditional gifts! So to help you out, here's the full list of traditional anniversary years together with the modern alternatives and some gift ideas inspired by each tradition.

1st Anniversary - Paper

Great gifts here include photo albums, books, poster art and prints. You could even try something novel such as an origami kit or craft a paper creation to celebrate. The modern alternative to paper is a clock.

2nd Anniversary - Cotton

For the perfect second anniversary gift consider beautiful bed linen and luxurious bath towels. If you are in tune with the couple's sense of style then you could always go for clothing or perhaps opt for something amusing such as his and hers t-shirts. The modern alternative for the 2nd anniversary is china.

3rd Anniversary - Leather

So the 3rd anniversary brings a touch of luxury to proceedings. If you would like to buy something for the home then leather cushions would fit the bill. Leather wallets and purses are popular accessories that don't cost the earth. Some couples may shun leather on ethical grounds and so would prefer the contemporary alternative which would be something fashioned from crystal or glass.

4th Anniversary - Linen

The linen anniversary could be celebrated with the gift of bedding or perhaps table covers and napkins for the dining room. The modern 4th anniversary gifts are fruit and flowers.

5th Anniversary - Wood

The gift of wood provides plenty of scope for the imagination. Depending on your budget, furniture, garden furniture and photo frames are all excellent gifts. You could also choose wooden kitchen accessories like chopping boards and cheese boards. The contemporary choice is silverware which could include cutlery, photo frames and pens.

6th Anniversary - Iron

Well this could be a tricky one if you want to stick to tradition! You are in luck if your couple enjoy cooking as you could opt for cast iron cookware or if the garden is more their thing then perhaps a cast iron garden ornament. The modern alternative of sweet and sugar might prove to be more appealing, especially for chocoholics.

7th Anniversary - Copper

Copper cookware is a stylish gift here or you could think laterally and choose something that is simply copper in colour. There are all sorts of contemporary copper home accessories you could choose such as bowls, wall art, frames and even candle holders. The accepted contemporary alternative is a desk set.

8th Anniversary - Bronze

Couples with period homes might enjoy receiving decorative pieces in bronze or bronze sculptures. Otherwise go for something bronze in colour. If you are struggling then the modern 8th anniversary gift won't help you because it is bronze!

9th Anniversary - Willow

You will find a variety of handcrafted gifts for the home and garden which are fashioned in willow. Baskets and boxes are useful for storage or perhaps you could give a picnic basket or willow hamper full of goodies. Willow pattern china would also suit and cricket bats are traditionally made from willow. Alternatively go for the modern option of linen or lace.

10th Anniversary - Tin

These days few items are made from tin with the possible exception of some cake tins. Copious amounts of canned beer would be a humorous take on the tradition or you could look at the modern alternative which is leather.

11th Anniversary - Steel

Stainless steel may not be very romantic but it is practical! A beautiful set of cutlery or kitchen utensils would be good for foodies and other ideas include tankards, pens, hipflasks or keyrings - all of which you could get engraved with a special message. If these don't appeal then look to the modern 11th anniversary gift of jewellery.

12th Anniversary - Silk

Who doesn't love the luxury of pure silk? Think soft furnishings, premium bedding, scarves, ties and clothing. The contemporary choice, rather oddly, is pearls!

13th Anniversary - Lace

Unlucky for some! Traditional lace may be a little dated for many couples although lace trimmed soft furnishings and clothing may suit. The modern alternative which is textiles gives you much more scope.

14th Anniversary - Ivory

Once a rare treasure, ivory is now very definitely unethical. Choose something ivory in colour, such as a bunch of ivory flowers or photo frame, or defer to the modern option of gold jewellery.

15th Anniversary - Crystal

Home accessories with crystal details, crystal lighting, crystal glasses and crystal jewellery are all fabulous gifts for a 15th anniversary. Watches are the contemporary choice.

20th Anniversary - China

Well you have had a five year breather and a 20th anniversary is certainly a biggie. Celebrate it with fine china tableware, porcelain figurines or perhaps some anniversary mugs for him and her. The more current option is platinum which would usually mean jewellery.

25th Anniversary - Silver

Everyone remembers this one! The landmark 25th anniversary deserves to be marked with a wonderful gift. Silver jewellery or silver clocks would be perfect presents. Silver or silver plated photo frames and pens are sure to be welcomed too. If you think that a more contemporary gift is in order then use the colour silver as a theme as this will bring chrome accessories, clothing and soft furnishings into the mix.

30th Anniversary - Pearl

Now this one could be difficult. Pearl jewellery is obviously a consideration but perhaps not appealing to the gents. Mother of pearl is used to decorate many home accessories which gives you more options. The modern alternative is diamonds which could get expensive!

35th Anniversary - Coral

At this point you are probably thinking that anniversary gifts don't get any easier. Paper is probably starting to look like a breeze. When it comes to coral then you are more restricted to items such as jewellery unless your couple happen to have an aquarium! Although you could explore ideas around the coral colour or perhaps even gifts with coral patterns or motifs. The modern choice is jade which gives you a colour theme if nothing else.

40th Anniversary - Ruby

Another big landmark! Ruby jewellery makes for a gorgeous but rather costly gift. If your budget is more modest then perhaps a good bottle of ruby port will do the trick. There is no modern alternative to rubies. This one is red all the way.

45th Anniversary - Sapphire

If you want to treat someone special to a sapphire then it doesn't have to be blue. Sapphires form naturally in a variety of colours so you will have an exciting choice. For a more affordable gift opt for a sapphire blue flower in a decorative planter or even decorative piece of sapphire blue glass.

50th Anniversary - Gold

A generous budget will give you limitless possibilities here but if a 24 carat treat is beyond your purse then use gold as a theme and you can't go wrong. Gold coloured picture frames, photo frames, pens, soft furnishings and decorations could all be winners.

55th Anniversary - Emerald

In crystal lore emeralds are the stones of spring and rebirth so perhaps life begins somewhat later than at the age of forty! Couples celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary would certainly appreciate beautiful emeralds but something in wonderful emerald green would be a good alternative.

60th Anniversary - Diamond

Diamonds are the ultimate sparklers but if you can't afford such an extravagance then go with crystals or glass instead. Other options could also be to find a special anniversary gift that incorporates a diamond pattern or shape.

Of course you can choose absolutely anything to be your anniversary gift. If you have come up with a great idea that the couple will love then stick with it. At Bastins we have a fabulous range of affordable gifts for you to choose from. We are sure that you will find exactly what you need in our collection no matter how many years of marriage your friends and family are celebrating.

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com / Petr Kurecka

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