Traditional Wedding Anniversary Ideas

by Emily Meehan ; Updated September 28, 2017

Flowers are the traditional gift for the fourth wedding anniversary.

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Wedding anniversaries celebrate the passing of each year of a marriage. Each year is celebrated by the exchanging of traditional gifts. The traditional gifts are general guidelines for the actual gift. For instance, the first-year anniversary gift of paper is not just a piece of paper, but it could be tickets to a concert or a love letter.

First Through Fifth

Traditional anniversary gifts allow gift givers to think creatively and adapt the traditional gift to a distinctive gift for their spouse. The first through fifth traditional anniversary gifts are paper for the first, cotton for the second, leather for the third, flowers for the fourth and wood for the fifth. Use these gifts as a guideline for creative gift giving. Paper could be artwork or a first edition of a favorite book. Cotton could be clothing or bedsheets. Third anniversary gifts could be leather wallets or a leather purse. Choose your spouse's favorite flowers for the fourth anniversary. Wood for the fifth can be furniture or an addition to the house.

Sixth Through 20th

The sixth through 12th anniversary gifts have several options. Spouses can choose to exchange candy or iron for the sixth, wool or copper for the seventh, pottery or bronze for the eighth, willow or pottery for the ninth, aluminum or tin for the 10th, steel for the 11th and silk or linen for the 12th. The multiple options for the anniversary gifts allow for more creativity, and the exchange of gifts can be determined by the personal preferences of the couple. Consecutive traditional gift ideas stop after the 15th and resume at the 20th. The 13th anniversary is lace, the 14th ivory, the 15th crystal and the 20th china.

Jewelry and Gemstones

Most of the years between the 21st and 59th wedding anniversaries have no official traditional wedding anniversary gifts. This is because every fifth year is a gemstone anniversary. Gifts can and should be exchanged during other years, but the fifth years can denote a special event as the years pass by and are more expensive because of the rarity of couples who reach that number of years together. The 25th is silver, the 30th pearl, the 35th coral, the 40th ruby, the 45th sapphire, the 50th gold and the 55th emerald. The 60th is the diamond anniversary. These gemstones could inspire couples to exchange jewelry or gold watches, but they have room for creativity. Instead of a pearl necklace for the 30th anniversary, couples could stick with the from-the-sea theme and go on a scuba diving vacation.

Gifts From Children

Children of couples celebrating many years of marriage should give gifts to their parents. There are no specific traditional children's gifts for a given year, but there are many options. These occasions happen on later anniversary years, typically the 20th, 30th, 40th and 50th years of marriage, when these children are adults. People can celebrate their parents' marriage with homemade gifts of a scrapbook of the family's history or a surprise gift of a vacation to a favorite place. Children can follow the traditional gift for the year guideline and get gold watches for their parents' 50th anniversary.

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About the Author

Emily Meehan began freelance writing in 2007. She wrote for her graduate school newspaper "The Public Servant," covering subjects ranging from politics to arts education. Meehan has a Master of Public Service and Administration from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Science in sociology from Brigham Young University.