Nate and I love tradition, which is why, after 15 years of marriage, we continue to buy each other traditional anniversary gifts. Some of our choices have been fun winners, and others have been major duds (like the wine rack that I actually now use for hats). Some have been splurgy, and others didn’t cost a dime. But I love that traditional gifts require you to get creative. This is a list of what we’ve bought each other over the past decade along with my recommendations—at various price points—for traditional anniversary gifts.
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- 1 1st year: Paper
- 2 2nd year: Cotton
- 3 3rd year: Leather
- 4 4th year: Fruit and flowers
- 5 5th year: Wood
- 6 6th year: Iron or candy
- 7 7th year: Wool or copper
- 8 8th year: Bronze
- 9 9th year: Pottery
- 10 10th year: Tin or aluminum
- 11 11th year: Steel
- 12 12th year: Silk, linen, or pearls
- 13 13th year: Lace
- 14 14th year: Ivory
- 15 15th year: Crystal
1st year: Paper
What we gave: It was the first year of wedded bliss and I had a list of poems (that Nate had actually written me) bound into a book. He wrote another poem. Ahh, to be young and in love.
Ideas for gifting: Concert tickets, a framed photo from your wedding, or this adorable “mates for life” print (Uncommon Goods, from $30).
2nd year: Cotton
What we gave: We were still newlyweds and our gifts reflected it. Nate gave me a pretty yellow quilt that was embroidered with our wedding date; I gifted him a scarf, which he wears on rare occasions.
Ideas for gifting: You can pretend you’re at a fancy hotel with a set of 100% cotton sheets (Brooklinen, from $99). Though at this point, I’d be happy with a new pack of Hanes Comfort Briefs (Amazon, from $9).
3rd year: Leather
What we gave: I gifted Nate with a monogrammed leather passport holder that he still uses often. He bought me a watch with a leather band.
Ideas for gifting: A fancy, buttery-soft leather passport holder (Smythson, $180), a handsome Dopp kit (Etsy, $24), lovely leather texting gloves (Brooks Brothers, $138), or a leather bookmark (Will Leather Goods, $25) that would go nicely with a meaningful book.
4th year: Fruit and flowers
What we gave: For this anniversary, I gave Nate a “pair” of Knicks tickets, tied to a pear. He gave me a pressed-flower necklace that serves as a pretty decoration on my nightstand.
Ideas for gifting: Send the gift of a fruit tree (Amazon, $70) or flowers (The Bouqs Co., $39), a pair of concert, sporting event, or even movie tickets.
5th year: Wood
What we gave: Nate gave me a teak memento box for letters and cards—along with a lot of mature jokes about wood. I had a tree planted at the park where we were engaged; we’ve gone home each year to see its growth.
Ideas for gifting: Have a tree planted in your spouse’s name, an olive wood mortar and pestle for margarita night (Amazon, $34), or an engraved customized wooden map (Etsy, from $59).
6th year: Iron or candy
What we gave: This is the year of the wine-slash-hat rack. I gave Nate a cast-iron pan.
Ideas for gifting: Fancy candies (Sugarfina, $28) or perhaps a piece of Lodge cast-iron cookware (Amazon, $15)—we love ours, and it’s a lot more affordable than other brands.
7th year: Wool or copper
What we gave: I got Nate a wine bucket that sits on the bar and leaks. Nate got me another necklace-slash-dresser decoration.
Ideas for gifting: Cozy wool socks (Bombas, $78 for a gift set of four), a copper bar-tool set (Pottery Barn, $59), or even matching sweaters (L.L. Bean, $69, and L.L. Bean, $69). A set of Moscow Mule mugs (Food 52, $63 for a set of four) would be a fine choice for copper.
8th year: Bronze
What we gave: Nate’s a fan sleeper, and he used his father’s old-fashioned version until it conked out, which greatly disappointed him. I found a similar model with bronze blades. Nate gave me a (winning!) necklace from Me&Ro—a bronze number 8 that came from a guest room at the Plaza Hotel.
Ideas for gifting: A pretty pair of bronze drop earrings (Need Supply, $116), a Fitbit band of that shade (Fitbit, $70), this artistic bike lover’s wall sculpture (Uncommon Goods, $80), or a bronze toilet paper holder (Amazon, $25) for upgraded me time.
9th year: Pottery
What we gave: This was a banner year. I found a cool Jonathan Adler match holder in the shape of a boom box, and Nate gave me a ceramic owl that I use for dog treats.
Ideas for gifting: Anything from Jonathan Adler pottery (Amazon, $30) or this lovely line (Marian Bull, $195). Or take a pottery class together.
10th year: Tin or aluminum
What we gifted: Nate got me serving platters. I gifted him an old-fashioned train set, God knows why; and a wine opener, which is more our speed.
Ideas for gifting: An all-black aluminum espresso maker (Need Supply, $100), a stylish hammered serving tray (Goop, $134), or these tin-glazed ceramics that come in a milky-white hue (Food 52, from $20).
11th year: Steel
What we gifted: I gave Nate a photograph from artist Jesse Rieser that lives in a steel frame. He gave me a Steel Magnolias DVD, which is my favorite movie in the world and subsequently the only reason I learned to work a DVD player.
Ideas for gifting: This playful set of heart-shaped spoons from Italian design brand Alessi (Amazon, $31 for a set of four).
12th year: Silk, linen, or pearls
What we gifted: Nate gifted me a linen tablecloth. I gave him a bow tie with a cool oyster print.
Ideas for gifting: A set of special linen cocktail napkins (Neiman Marcus, $64 for a set of four) for a festive dinner party, a set of silk pajamas (Amazon, $119), stackable pearl rings (Catbird, $35), and these fun bow ties (Nola Couture, $55).
13th year: Lace
What we gave: I gave Nate a new pair of sneakers (laces!). He gave me a sequined lace wrap that I promise to wear one day.
Ideas for gifting: A funky pair of shoelaces (Whiskers Laces, $15) or a breezy lace-trim robe (Amazon, from $34).
14th year: Ivory
What we gave: Real ivory is a result of poaching (which is one of the greatest threats to elephants), so I bought Nate a shaving tool set with faux ivory handles. He bought me a beautiful ivory-like comb in a fancy green leather case that I treasure and use to backcomb my hair every day.
Ideas for gifting: A splurgy shaving kit (The Rake, $130) and equally fancy comb (August Grooming, $60).
15th year: Crystal
What we gave: We’re not much for poetry these days but still appreciate the practical and finer things in life. Nate bought me a decanter so I can make my boxed wine look presentable, and I purchased him a wine coaster for when we buy an actual bottle of wine.
Ideas for gifting: Elegant zirconia earrings (Nordstrom, $39), that wine coaster (Amazon, $35), or a decanter (Amazon, $43).
Anne Roderique-Jones is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in Vogue, Marie Claire, Southern Living, Town & Country, and Condé Nast Traveler. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
The content of each “Anything Once” column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of SELF or SELF editors.*