Wedding Anniversary Gifts: Tradition Gets A Makeover

Life Magazine, photo unknown

Life Magazine, photo unknown

Hey folks, remember that time you got married? I hope so because you’re required to keep on remembering  – every year, FOREVER. Not remembering wedding anniversaries can lead to nights on the couch, even more-expensive-than-you’d-normally-buy jewelry or signing up for things you’d normally refuse to do with your spouse like Zumba lessons or using your naked body as a platter for an intimate Sunday football meal.

Luckily, if you’ve forgotten or are just plain out of gift ideas, tradition gives an outline of what to give for every year of marriage. It seems these days that anniversary gifts are getting more and more elaborate (and expensive). I’ve seen a lot of women who get extra diamond wedding bands for hitting random or early mile markers (for the record, jewelry as gifts don’t start showing up till a couple hits 25 years). The gift list, courtesy of Hallmark, is humble and a little random in terms of materials. In breaking from the Industrial Wedding Complex that sullies the institution of marriage, The Feminist Bride is modernizing the list (I’ll try to keep in the spirit of the old traditions)! As a new rule on an anniversary give the gift of yourself and your full time instead of something store bought. Nothing reconnects a couple like quality time and nothing continues to solidify a relationship like positive memories.

Anniversary Traditional FB Modernization
1st Paper The Arbor Anniversary: An eco-friendly idea is to plant two trees somewhere, so they can grow with you two! Or  – Write love letters to your beau to be opened at 5, 10, 20, etc. years of marriage.
2nd Cotton The Unity Anniversary – Splurge for a team event, for the same team or opposing teams (friendly teasing can be playful too!) and show some team spirit with a T-shirt (uniform). Or – Sign up for a charity event (like a run, ride, walk or build). Exercising, community and being generous with the one you love can feel great, plus it builds on that new team of yours.
3rd Leather The Open Road Anniversary – Rent a fancy car, like a convertible or sports car and burn some rubber leather on the road. Pick a coastal, mountain or nature route, plan a picnic or hike. Just take turns at the wheel, today is about sharing. And don’t forget your leather driving gloves. Or wear out some leather soles by taking a stroll or a hike.
4th Fruit/Flowers The Spirit Anniversary – Go on a wine, brewery or spirits tour to, err, get in the spirit. Perhaps get a fancy bottle of bubbly to be drank at another anniversary. Drive safely!
5th Wood The Affirmation Anniversary – Re-new your vows – like I plan to do in Las Vegas, in costume.
6th Candy/Iron The Sweet Anniversary – Take a trip to an ice cream, chocolate or candy factory (Ben and Jerry’s gives good tours) or make some from scratch at home, pop some champagne and don’t worry about the calories or dishes until tomorrow.
7th Wool/Copper The Animal Anniversary – Hit up a zoo, aquarium, shelter or farm (with sheep!) Or – Adopt a new furry family member.
8th Pottery/Bronze The Impressions Anniversary – Get some clay or femo and immortalize your love. (No getting mad at their physical interpretation of you, you didn’t marry Picasso or Mary Cassatt). For the less artistically inclined, visit a museum. OR – Find a way to recall your first impressions of the one you love. Share what caught their attention the first time, what they see now, and their hope for the future.
9th Willow/Pottery The Foundation Anniversary – Get all Ron Swanson and whittle a love bench (maybe you two can take a class) where the couple can settle down and take a respite moment together. OR – Buy a brick or sponsor a bench in your favorite spot that contributes to the keep of it; that way, you can revisit it often.
10th Tin/Aluminum The Friends Anniversary – Break out those pots and pans and host a dinner for you and your closest friends and family. Maybe reconnect with forgotten groomsmen or best ladies. Make a toast to everyone for supporting you both for the last decade.
11th Steel The Historical Anniversary –  Take a trip down memory lane. Perhaps that goes as far as your recent path, maybe it means going a little farther by plotting your family tree. OR – Take a trip to a historical site, like Plymouth Plantation or Mystic River where there are Metalsmith actors (we actually did this and had a surprising good time).
12th Silk/Linen The Silk Anniversary – Invest in some new silk sheets and PJs, spend the whole day in bed. 12 years, you’ve earned it. OR – go skydiving (silk parachutes). Nothing spices up a relationship like some extreme adventures and realizing how important someone is to you when they are about to jump out of a plane at 3,000 feet.
13th Lace The TLC Anniversary – Lace is delicate, but at 13 years your marriage is proving durable. That said, everyone likes to recharge. Give the gift of TLC – hit up the spa, get a couple’s massage, basically find a way to relax and pamper yourselves.
14th Ivory The Ivory Anniversary – Spend a fun night out at a dueling piano bar or concert. Maybe check out a zoo with some elephants or a Natural History Museum.
15th Crystal The Celestial Anniversary – Get a psychic reading. OR – spend a night under the stars – perhaps at a romantic campfire (for the outdoorsy types, at a Planetarium (for the science nerds), or from a fancy city spot.
20th China The Global Anniversary – Splurge with a trip to China or somewhere you’ve always wanted to go for another honeymoon. Got a smaller budget? Pick an exotic ethnic restaurant to attend or attend a local cultural event.
25th Silver The Silver Anniversary – If you’ve hit a quarter of a century, BOTH people deserve EQUAL bling.Still looking for an activity? Throw yourself a black and white party. The couple can entertain wearing signature silver.
30th Pearl The Pearl Anniversary – Take an oyster tour or have them as fancy appetizers – they are, after all, aphrodisiacs. Hog Island north of San Francisco is an amazing time. Drive up Route 1, stop at the farm, order a ton of oysters and enjoy them at the picnic tables next to the water. It’s homespun, but beautiful and delicious! Or take a trip to the beach. Landlocked? Make a tiki bar at home.
35th Coral The Water Anniversary – Find some water to chill by whether it’s lakeside or ocean. Water activities can be really fun if your active, if not, charter a boat or head out on a boat tour.
40th Ruby The Heart Anniversary – Revisit all your past anniversaries (Hopefully, you’ve been taking photos and notes all these years). Share how you fell in love the first time, kept on falling in love and why you still love the one you’re with. Maybe this can be done with more than words, like a photo collage or video.
45th Sapphire The Diamond Anniversary – For the hardest substance on earth, finding a way to represent the durability and brilliance of a marriage is a great way to spend this anniversary. Perhaps that’s with some matching jewelry, but for those looking for an activity – check out something longlasting. Maybe that’s a special trip to Italy to see the Roman ruins or something more local.
50th Gold The Golden Anniversary – If matching gold grills are not your thing, perhaps it’s time to out do that black and white party you threw on your silver anniversary.
60th Diamond The Wisdom Anniversary – You’ve been giving your time and yourself selflessly to your spouse for the last 60 years. Perhaps the best gift you both can give is sharing your secrets of success.

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