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Your anniversary is the most special day of the year! Whether you’re celebrating your one year anniversary, your two year anniversary, or even your ten year anniversary, it’s important to show your loved one that you care. There are so many lists out there of the traditional anniversary gifts by year, but what if you’re not a traditional person?   There are flowers, gemstones and even colour themes to inspire you.

The best anniversary gifts for the first 5 years of marriage are ones that are personalized to the couple’s interests, but that’s not always possible, especially if you’re looking for an anniversary gift for a friend or family member.

Here are a few ideas for anniversary gifts by year (first 5 years) to show you’re thoughtful.

wedding anniversary gift ideas by year - year 1 is paper such as a love letter or journal

1st Anniversary: Paper

Paper is traditionally the gift for the first year anniversary, and when I think of paper, what comes to mind is stationery.   Boring right? How about:

  • a custom made piece of jewelry, pen or pencil (made of paper)
  • a lovely journal for writing or drawing
  • calendar – I love the ones with kittens and puppies, cause it instantly makes you go “awwwww”
  • framing your vows
  • write your partner a love letter (as steamy as you want)
  • books
  • a class on making sheets of homemade paper and then create a handbound journal
  • an annual subscription to their favourite magazine or newspaper such as a subscription to a cooking or home decor magazine.
  • a gift certificate for a day at their favourite spa
  • modern ideas can include:

    • a watch, clock or a sundial
    • an addon to the clock idea, take an afternoon and go antique shopping to get that special clock for your kitchen or home office
    • to further build on the previous idea, take it up a notch by writing out an itinerary for the afternoon which could include a lunch or visit to a wine tasting at a local winery
    • colour theme that’s gold or yellowish
    • gemstone:  any stone in a gold setting in a pendant, bracelet, ring, earrings, cufflinks or pen
    • flowers:  carnation and pansies
wedding anniversary gift ideas by year - year 2 is cotton such as personalized napkins

2nd Anniversary:  Cotton

Cotton is the traditional gift for the 2nd year anniversary.  Cotton brings to mind clothing and linens. But what else can you do to make it special?

  • a homecooked meal with custom table napkins embroidered with your wedding date
  • flowers from the garden that you dried yourself and mount on a piece of cotton and framed
  • a fancy cotton tablecloth
  • who doesn’t love cotton sheets…make it special and go for an Egyptian style set
  • any type of clothing made from cotton – which can be boring, so look for something personal.  If your partner loves AC/DC give them a cotton t-shirt with the last concert they attended
  • a set of personalized bath towels or robes
  • modern ideas can include:
    • the homecooked meal from above, but on a new set of China
    • colour theme that’s red (writing that steamy love letter on red paper) or red lingerie
    • gemstones:  a red garnet which can be part of a ring, pendant, pen, earrings or cufflinks.
    • flowers: sunflowers, lily of the valley
wedding anniversary gift ideas by year - year 3 is leather such as a leather journal

3rd Anniversary: Leather

Some may not like the idea of giving leather, so you can use alternative leather-styled material. Some ideas include:

  • journal or diary (if you and your partner loves to travel, how about a travel journal)
  • jackets
  • belts
  • laptop case
  • handbag
  • shoes/slippers (although I wouldn’t want Joe buying me shoes, a gift card would work just as nice)
  • wallets
  • toolbelt
  • boots
  • a sentimental gift would be a photo album of your time together
  • or go with modern ideas such as:

    • crystal or glass
    • colour theme of jade or white which is associated with abundance
    • flowers: sunflowers, lily of the valley
    • gemstone:  pearl and it doesn’t have to be a traditional pearl necklace.  Any type of jewellery, pen or accessory can have some type of pearl inclusion.  Associated with wisdom and beauty.
wedding anniversary gift ideas by year - year 4 is flowers such as a floral painting

4th Anniversary: Fruit or Flowers

This is one of the years that the gift idea is truly boring with fruit or flowers.  So kick it up a notch with these ideas:

  • a picnic in the park with a basket of exotic fruit and drinks
  • a cooking class or floral arranging class that you can do together
  • an art class featuring painting a floral design
  • a still life photo of fruit or flowers that’s framed
  • a wine-of-the-month club membership
  • custom jewellery with tiny floral inclusions

    • for an anniversary gift, I created a pendant for the bride with pieces of her bouquet infused into the pendant and for the groom, created a custom pen with pieces of his boutonniere infused into it.
  • a floral painting from a local artist
  • for the garden lover, buy or build together a special gardening bench
  • modern ideas include:

    • appliances (personally, I would have loved a dishwasher for my 4th year anniversary)
    • a coffee maker…sounds blah right? but if your partner loves espresso or fancy coffee, a specialty coffee maker will make your mornings fun and you can enjoy experimenting with coffee together
    • colour theme:  blue or green
    • flowers:  geraniums, hydrangea
    • gemstone:  blue topaz (associated with love, romance and affection)
Exotic Wood Rings and Pens Next to a Wedding Bouquet

5th Anniversary: Wood

I’m biased with this one, but you can go all out with ideas for a woman or man.  Wood for an anniversary gift symbolizes growth, stability and commitment.

man: a watch with a personalized engraving and wood band.

  • wood jewellery, pens or accessories (told you I was biased)
  • jewellery box
  • a handcrafted salad bowl
  • plant a tree in your partners name
  • wood picture frame
  • artwork featuring a forest
  • wood for a workshop (your partner would love this if they are a creative person)
  • for the garden lover, buy or build together

    • a special gardening bench
    • a luxury styled wood birdhouse
  • butcher block counter top or island (if you have the space)
  • for game enthusiasts:

    • wood chess set
    • wood jigsaw puzzle
  • modern ideas include:

    • flowers: daisies
    • colour theme:  blue, pink, turquoise
    • gemstone: sapphire
    • silverware
Anniversary Gift Ideas for Friends and Family

Anniversary Gift Ideas for Friends and Family

Anniversary gifts by year can be as simple or as elaborately designed as you and your partner desire, but what if you want to buy an anniversary gift for a friend or other family member?   Consider what the couple has enjoyed together during the first five years of their relationship and take inspiration from these ideas to create a one-of-a-kind gift.  

For friends who have been through thick and thin together, a heartfelt gift may be a wooden plaque with the couple’s names hand-carved into it. Alternatively, consider a gift that reflects the friendship between the two people, like a custom-made cookbook or charming key ring.

When brainstorming an anniversary gift, it’s important to remember that different couples enjoy different types of anniversary gifts. Consider what the couple enjoys doing most and if you can’t figure that out, choose a gift for each person and present the anniversary gift separately.


It can be overwhelming to think of what to buy for your partner or friends for their anniversary. I hope this list inspires you to think about a thoughtful gift for the first five years of the relationship.

Have you ever given a gift for an anniversary or another occasion? If so, how did you decide on the gift? If you haven’t, what would you like to receive?

If you’d like some one on one help choosing a personal anniversary gift, reach out and we can hop on a Zoom call and brainstorm some ideas.

Anniversary Gifts by Year To Show You’re Thoughtful (first 5 years)