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Anniversary Gifts: Our modern take on the First Year Anniversary Gift Traditions

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How will you Celebrate Your One Year Anniversary?

Photography & Videography: The Arroyos / Venue: Red Barn Ranch in Hopland CA / Planning & Design: Prim Event Studio / Floral Design: Amanda Vidmar Design

Pictured above: Natalia and Marek and their rustic wedding at Red Barn Ranch.

I recently came up on a milestone in my life that I couldn't be more proud of, my 15 year wedding anniversary. A decade and a half of choosing love each and every day. 15 years of supporting each other, standing up to each other, pushing each other, laughing, crying, and growing with each other. Figuring out the wild game of life with each other. Bringing a child into the world. Whew...just all the things…too many to list. 15 years is a long time.

As I’ve got picture albums and nostalgia scattered all over the kitchen island, I'm caught up reminiscing on that precious time. I’ll admit, it was my favorite year we were married. Not that I’m not still 100% still in love with the man I married, but that year of firsts was so memorable and special for me. First house, first joint bank account, first of so many adventures and many, many failures. I know it sounds cliche, but oh to be young and carefree again. We were poor and figuring it all out, but it was blissfully perfect. I am truly blessed to have such a solid foundation with an incredible man who has stood by me for so many years. He is the actual smartest, kindest, best father, and ultimate best friend. Handsome and I think the best hugger in the world.

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Top gift ideas for what to give for your first year anniversary -

it is all about taking time with your significant other. Real time. TIme away from your technologies (put that phone down!) and being present with one another. Strengthening your bond. Connecting with focus. Seeing one another. Listening. Driving your roots down deep so they will support you over time. I think that’s the key to our 15 years of marriage. We have always really talked and really listened about the important and unimportant things. We aren’t afraid to say what we feel about literally every subject. We really know each other. That, and our coffee-shop-meet-cute story - but that is for another blog post. So, this has all got me thinking about reinventing the traditional anniversary gift game. You know the one where you are supposed to give paper, cotton, then leather… and the list goes on.

Not that I don’t have a pathetic obsession undying love for tradition, but I thought about twisting that tradition up a bit and curating anniversary packages around it. And I actually did a bit of reading to find out where these traditions came from. I thought I would stumble upon a beautifully, romantic Victorian story - something out of a scene from Little Women with rolling green pastures and handwritten love letters written from a quill and inkpot in front of a fireplace, but that’s not exactly what I learned.

History of Anniversary GIfts

The history behind these gifts are somewhat unclear, but definitely archaic. Remember, marriage hasn't always been a love story. They were arranged to preserve power, lineage, and produce heirs. Think dowries. The list of anniversary gifts starts back in Ancient Rome when a silver wreath would be presented to the woman at a couple’s 25th wedding anniversary. This was a reward of kinds - a gift for the betrothed that she had performed her assigned duties well (not that she had any other choice). As time progressed, thankfully the structure of marriage also progressed and marriages became about, a concept. The idea scared people and so in addition to the 25-year gift of silver, more anniversary gifts were invented to incentivize the marriage to, well... last. Not exactly romantic. Gifts were given at 1, 5, and 10 years. By the turn of the twentieth century, and the invention of commercialization, industry became involved and we have the list we have today. As more and more industries wanted a piece of the anniversary pie, the list grew and grew … So starting with year one we have been left with paper as a gift. People have gotten creative over the years with a gift of paper, but there is not a clear reason for the gift. People interpret it as a blank slate or a symbol of how delicate marriage is. And that is still a beautiful symbol, but definitely not what I was hoping to find. Ok, boring history lesson over. I’m choosing to believe this list of anniversary gifts is about hopeless romantics from the fearless March sisters themselves and not derived from an ancient, patriarchal culture.

Balloon Ride Anniversary

For the year one-anniversary gift of paper you will find creative gift ideas ranging from hot air balloon ride tickets (like this idea from our partners at 100 Layer Cake) to concert tickets to a framed print of your wedding song lyrics - there are some seriously good ideas out there. The modern interpretation for paper is giving a clock as a gift. That is a stretch from paper, but we prefer the notion of keeping it romantic, and clocks just aren’t cutting it for us. So, paper it is. And here are some of our favorite ideas out there.

Lightning Fold Paper Art 

Paper gift for the art-lover:

Paper art sculptures. These, from artisan Elsa Mora, are seriously amazing and could compliment the vibe of your new home together. Unfortunately, I think her etsy shop is on break for a bit. Other people we love are: Jeff Nishinaka and affordable Lightning Fold. If you want to look at something that we're drooling over, but just isn't in our price range right now: Matt Shlian


What about a beautiful art piece out of paper from something from your wedding. Some people save and frame their invitations? About a year after I got married, my Aunt and Uncle designed a quilled paper art 3D piece from our invitation. How sweet and sentimental and thoughtful is that? Pictured below. 

Quilled paper art wedding invitation origami book

Another awesome thing that we found that you might absolutely love if your partner is into books or art, an origami book with your initials folded into it. Maybe it's made from a poem book of a reading you used at your wedding to make it even more personal.


Paper gift for the hopeless romantic:

Recreate your partners wedding bouquet in paper! These paper flower bouquets are gorgeous and lasting! Bonus points for you being a wishy washy sentimentalist as well. They'll love you for it :)

 paper bouquets for wedding anniversary

Paper gift for the sentimental:

Heirloom quality photo album. Do you love the feel of old books? What if you opened up an antique-bound book to the photos of your wedding? These timeless photo albums are so neat - and also one of Oprah’s Favorite Things.

heirloom paper anniversary photo album gifts 

Paper gift to remember:

Usually when you get married, you might be moving into your first house or apartment together. Essentially making a new life for you as a couple. We all know that settling in can take a while, so maybe you'll still have space on your walls to add some art. We love the idea of getting creative with some framed art. What about framing a poster from your favorite concert you've been to together, or framing a map that you can pin all of your travels to (for the more adventurous). Maybe you like movies, frame your favorite vintage James Bond movie poster. We've ordered frames from Framebridge before and have been thoroughly impressed.

James Bond Vintage poster

Paper gift for the young at heart:

Ok. We had to do it. We know that adult coloring books have been around for a while now, but have you tried them? They are actually as relaxing and fun as they claim to be! Maybe you have someone draw silhouettes of you and both color them in (you can find people who draw portraits on etsy everywhere). Coloring books also come in literally every theme now - pick one out for both of you and get some fancy pencils to compliment it. Netflix, color, and chill together.


A New Twist on Anniversary Gifts:

If you like the traditional or the modern gifts, then by all means go with it! I'm thinking instead to base the new list on emotional concepts left up for one's own interpretation. You get the picture that I’m a romantic right? So, I’m changing year one from Paper to Perfection. Celebrating that perfect first year and being a perfect couple. If you are in year one and, like me, want that perfect memory to last forever then here are some ways to celebrate - and of course, I’ve got a few great gift ideas!

Body mind and spirit gifts

 Featured here is our Body Mind and Spirit gift box.

Year One Anniversary Gift to Celebrate Perfection

If I could go back in time to that first year of marriage, I would celebrate its perfection and bottle it up Jack Pearson style. (PSA: If you aren’t watching This Is Us, then do you even understand romance? That’s a PSA right?) You know what I’m thinking: time capsule. As part of your anniversary celebration, pick out a box or vessel together (maybe it could be something significant to your love story) and fill it with your favorite memories of each other. A picture, a trinket, a love letter. Get creative and slow down with this one - this extra romantic, extra special gift will mean so much more to you 15 years down the road, trust me.  Maybe a wrapped gift as a future surprise gets stowed away. Maybe a recorded message like Jack. When you’ve perfected it, tuck it away and save it for your 5th, 10th, or 15th anniversary. No peeking.

anniversary gift time capsule 

My ultimate one year anniversary celebration would be a date night in. Candles, wine, a delicious meal cooking and crafting away at our special time capsule project. Telling each other all the reasons we are adding the items to the capsule while keeping some a secrete. Sounds dreamy to me. Still, I would get a gift. But, I think the gift could be simple. Something to just say, “This has been a perfect year and I love you”. Our boxes make that easy - they are simple, evoke deep emotion, and come in various price ranges. You can even add in one of the unique paper gifts mentioned above to complete the gift. There is truly something for everyone. I think this one is just perfect.


Here are a few other ideas:

Gift box for the first home: Our Be Home Gift Box

housewarming table runner gift

Gift box just to say I love you with our My Sweet Valentine Gift with a fun and lovely gold heart necklace.

Gift box for a little self love for both of you with Wellness Everyday that includes a candle, bath products and the suggestion of staying in and pampering your love for each other. My personal favorite type of gift :)Wellness gift charcoal soap anniversary gift lotion

You seriously can’t go wrong with a gift box full of curated, hand-made goodies! We’ve put a good bit of thought into these already! The gift pictured here is Wellness Everyday gift from our assortment.


More Anniversary Gifts by Year


Coming up in the next blogs I’ll be talking about my other ideas for reinventing the anniversary gift guide and giving you ideas for the traditional gifting as well. I’ll also be launching some new things on the website specifically for anniversary gifts...spoiler alert! Here’s what I’ve got coming:


Year Two - Traditionally this is cotton. My spin is Comfort. Leaning into growing comfortable together.

Year Three - Traditionally this is leather, but I’m converting it to Luxury. You’ve made it three years, let’s get luxurious.

Year Four - Traditionally this is fruit & flowers, but I’m thinking along the lines of nurturing your relationship’s roots.

Year Five - Traditionally is wood, but we are changing it to Wander! Trip time!!


Stay tuned for the upcoming blogs on some new ideas for celebrating anniversaries. I cannot wait to share!


And tell us, what ways you plan on celebrating your first anniversary??











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