In 1922, Emily Post penned the first list for anniversary gift giving. In 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler's Association modified it and created a modern list, which has since been altered a bit.
Recognizing the anniversary of the wedding day is something that varies by couple. Although the traditional and modern lists give some guidelines and suggestions for appropriate gift selections, many couples choose to celebrate in a way that has meaning to them.
Sometimes it is an experience, rather than a gift that is chosen to acknowledge the anniversary. JoAnn Kijewski of Lansing married her husband 52 years ago and says they prefer to spend time together with family and have fun rather than purchase items. For several years, an anniversary weekend was spent camping in Michigan.
A repeat honeymoon or bucket list of vacations to check off each year is a great way to celebrate while creating lasting memories.
At the Wayside Chapel in Palos Park, Illinois, a popular anniversary dinner/vow renewal takes place one Sunday evening a month. Many of the couples who attend this group event were married at the chapel, but it is not required. A dinner precedes a vow renewal service in the chapel. The cost is $60 per couple and advance reservations are required by calling Laura at 708.361.3650.
Perhaps the first thing to come to mind to celebrate an anniversary is jewelry. At jewelry.com, you'll find which anniversary metals or stones are recommended for each year (first is gold, second is garnet, third is pearl, etc.).
A bracelet that can have charms added each year or a piece that allows for added stones is a popular one, according to Mary Colville, chief marketing officer for Albert's Jewelers. "You can start building a Pandora bracelet and do something personal to that individual and add a bead for Mother's Day or Christmas," she says. "It's the modern charm bracelet."
She also recommends a diamond eternity band or three-stone ring with stones to represent the past, present and future.
There is also a list of anniversary flowers that coordinate with each year. The list recommends carnations the first year, daisies on the fifth, daffodils on the tenth, and so on. Find a full list at flowershopdeals.com.
If you choose to honor tradition and follow the gift lists, there are ways to personalize items to suit your spouse. The traditional first-year gift would be paper. It could be something as simple as a classic book or framed copy of your wedding invitation, as heartfelt as a hand-written poem, or as creative as a photo journal of your first year together. Shutterfly.com and Blurb.com offer small purse-sized flip books up to hardcover, professional-grade bound books.
On the modern side, the first-year gift would be clocks. It could range from a wristwatch to a desk, wall or even grandfather clock, and allows the opportunity to engrave a special message to your sweetheart.
Christmas ornaments that reflect each year's theme are also thoughtful gifts that can be enjoyed for years to come.