Traditional Anniversary Gifts for Your Modern Man
Are you sick of anniversary gift lists for men that assume all men come with the same set of (very limited) interests? Have you been fruitlessly searching for anniversary gift ideas for him that you haven't seen 100 times before? Have you had unkind thoughts about an innocent friend who had the unfortunate luck to be the tenth person to suggest a wooden anniversary wall plaque to you as "such a cute and unique idea?"
Take a deep breath, friend; we're here to help. In this guide, you'll find our proven formula to help you select the perfect gift for any recipient and any occasion, including examples of traditional and modern anniversary gifts for him that go beyond the typical golf-themed novelties and tired Man Cave decor.
Ready to stop reading about anniversary gifts for men and start learning about anniversary gifts for YOUR man? Let's go.
Shopping for the woman in your life? Read our Ultimate Guide to Anniversary Gifts for Her and get gift ideas actually worthy of the woman you love!
Anniversary Gift Traditions
If you've read our Guide to Anniversary Gifts by Year, you'll recall that the tradition of giving gifts of silver and gold for milestone anniversaries can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Some accounts recall the tradition of husbands crowning their wives with wreaths of silver and gold for their 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries, respectively. Others point to a custom of friends, family, and neighbors giving these gifts to the wife to celebrate the occasion. In both tellings, the one constant is this: anniversary gifts were given to wives, and those gift materials bloomed into the traditional gift list we all know and follow still today. A contemporary list of readymade gifts emerged in the early 20th century to supplement the more traditional gifts, giving couples the option to follow the new tradition, stay with the old, or pick from between the two.
Let the Recipient Guide You
Even with two lists to choose from, many of today's couples feel limited in their options as they glance between two lists that don't represent the 21st-century lives they lead. If you feel as though you're faced with only the options to buy traditional gifts your partner doesn't need or to forego a tradition that seems to exclude you, we'd like to offer an alternative.
Rather than letting tradition restrict you, let your partner's taste and personality guide you. No matter the material, start with the question: What does my spouse really want right now, and how can I incorporate this material into that gift? This formula helps you arrive at a gift that is personal and reflects the depth of your connection to your partner while still incorporating tradition.
Looking for the full list of traditional and contemporary anniversary gifts by year? Read our ULTIMATE Guide to Wedding Anniversary Gifts, with gift ideas for every year from 1-60!
Imaginative Wedding Anniversary Gifts for Him
While the modern anniversary gift list designates a specific, readymade gift for each year, the original list of traditional gifts dictates only the material. Below you'll find just a few of these materials and gifts used to generate anniversary gift ideas for him that focus on the recipient and incorporate the traditional or contemporary lists to create a personalized and meaningful present. A link to the complete lists of wedding anniversary gifts by year is at this end of this section.
Traditional Wedding Anniversary Gifts for Him
The customary anniversary materials are said to grow in value and durability as your marriage grows. While there are some variations by region, most years are aligned. Below we've used the materials most commonly associated with each anniversary in the US. Asking the question we posed above, "What does my partner want most right now, and how can I incorporate this material?" here are some possible answers:
My partner wants more time to relax:
1st anniversary, Paper: If his favorite way to relax is reading, a new release by his favorite author, a first edition of his favorite book, or even The Complete Calvin and Hobbes are all gifts printed on paper, the traditional one year anniversary gift.
10th anniversary, Tin or Aluminum: Does relaxing for him include getting away from it all? Let him know you're ready to go, too, with an aluminum camp stove to use on the camping trip you've planned so you can both get away for the weekend.
My partner wants to travel:
5th anniversary, Wood: Celebrate your fifth anniversary with a trip to Redwood National & State Park, Germany's Black Forest, or another destination renowned for its one-of-a-kind woodlands.
20th anniversary, China: While China may be the obvious destination for your china anniversary, you can also plan a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area where you'll be able to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and one of the oldest Chinatowns in the US.
My partner wants to update his wardrobe:
3rd anniversary, Leather: It doesn't get any easier than the leather anniversary if you married a man who is married to fashion. Those Allen Edmond shoes you know he loves but won't buy for himself? Buy them.
25th anniversary, Silver: Your 25th anniversary puts silver front and center. Take this opportunity to upgrade his wedding band or buy him an anniversary ring in any silver-tone metal. You can incorporate interesting elements or his hobbies with unique men's rings such as this men's anniversary ring with a meteorite inlay or a titanium and hardwood band.
Shop more silver-tone jewelry for him:
If your partner's preference is for gold jewelry, he's unlikely to complain if you celebrate both your 25th and your Golden Anniversary, celebrated at 50 years, with gifts of gold. Following the modern list of anniversary gifts, gold jewelry may also be given at 11 years (fashion jewelry), 14 years (gold jewelry), 15 years (watches), and again at 50 years (gold):
Modern Wedding Anniversary Gifts for Him
While the contemporary anniversary gifts by year suggest a more specific gift each year, typically a readymade gift or a specific application of the material, you can still use the question we've used above as your guide to expand your options.
My partner wants more time to relax:
1st anniversary, Clocks: Look at his hobbies that he turns to for relaxation as a guide. If running and exercising are his go-to method to clear his mind, look for a health and activity tracking smartwatch for your first anniversary.
5th anniversary, Silverware: If your partner unwinds best in the kitchen, the five year anniversary gift of silverware allows the opportunity to upgrade some of his tools. Consider new knives, measuring spoons, grill tools, or any new kitchen gadget he's been pining for, so he can cook up something so delicious nobody will even notice the silverware.
My partner wants more time to travel:
24th anniversary, Musical Instruments: For partners with a travel bug, use the modern 24th anniversary gift of musical instruments as inspiration for a trip to Nashville, Austin, Atlanta, Seattle, or another US city known for its music.
27th anniversary, Sculptures: For your 27th anniversary, the only question you need to answer if you want to plan an anniversary trip is: which famous sculptures would my partner most want to see? You might find yourself in Florence viewing Michelangelo's David, in Washington, D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial, or visiting the Moai on Easter Island.
My partner wants to upgrade his wardrobe:
10th anniversary, Diamond Jewelry: Traditionally, diamond gifts are exchanged on the 60th wedding anniversary. The modern list puts diamonds in play much sooner, on the tenth anniversary, delighting fans of fine jewelry everywhere. If you married a man who can't get enough diamonds, consider a diamond eternity band or a diamond anniversary ring.
Shop more diamond jewelry for him:
For the complete list of modern and traditional anniversary gifts by year, plus alternative gifts based on anniversary gemstones, colors, and flowers, be sure to read our Anniversary Gifts for Every Year Guide.
Get Help Shopping for Anniversary Gifts
We live in an age where we can book our own travel, research our destinations, and make all of our purchases online. When it comes to traveling to another country or investing in heirloom jewelry, however, consulting with a professional can save you time, money, and headaches.
At Carats & Stones, we can't book your trip to Paris, but we're a good friend to have by your side when you're shopping for anniversary jewelry or looking for custom jewelry design. If you're shopping in San Francisco, stop by our showroom or call to set up a free consultation with a member of our expert staff to plan your most memorable anniversary yet.
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