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First Wedding Anniversary Gift Ideas: Traditional and Modern

Alison is retired from a career in sales and marketing. She now works as a freelance writer and researcher on health, pets, home and family.

Help the happy couple experience a memorable day.

Help the happy couple experience a memorable day.

Inexpensive Gifts Chosen With Love

A first wedding anniversary is a very special occasion and one that you will want to mark with a suitable gift, but what to choose? This article provides innovative suggestions for both traditional and modern first-anniversary gift ideas that are sure to please.

We are all having to tighten our belts a little these days, which is perhaps why the phrase 'cheap first wedding anniversary gift ideas' has been typed into Google so many times over the past year or so! Still, if you need an inexpensive gift that does not look 'cheap' and will show the recipient that it was chosen with love and care, then read on!

Traditional First Wedding Anniversary Gifts

1. Paper and Cotton

Paper is a traditional gift associated with the first anniversary of a marriage. In the UK, cotton is also strongly associated with the first anniversary.

In both cases, the association seems to come from the way the threads of paper or cotton are woven together to give the materials strength. It is analogous to the way that two people have chosen to weave the threads of their separate lives together to create a strong marriage as a couple.

2. Jewelry

Gold jewelry is traditionally given during anniversaries. Gold jewelry set with the recipient's birthstone would be a thoughtful gift for the misses. Alternatively, pearls are increasingly popular for women and have a timeless beauty.

3. Flowers

Pansy flowers are a traditional floral gift for the first anniversary. In the 'language of flowers', pansies symbolize reminiscence, loving thoughts and merriment, and they communicate to the person receiving them that they are always in the giver's thoughts (which is very romantic, I think).

The beautiful pansy flower is well-known for its charm.

The beautiful pansy flower is well-known for its charm.

Modern First Wedding Anniversary Gifts

1. Clocks and Watches

More contemporary gift ideas now center around clocks or watches. Beware, though, this can run you into problems if one of the intended recipients is Chinese!

In China, giving a timepiece as a gift is regarded as a way of reminding people of their own mortality. In other words, you are almost saying to them that they are going to die soon! Additionally, the Chinese word for clock is zhong, which apparently sounds similar to a word that can mean death or funeral.

Thankfully, there is a way around this! If you really want to give a clock as a gift to a Chinese person or couple, then you should tell them in advance. They will reciprocate your kindness with a traditional red packet containing money as a payment. This makes it alright for them to accept your gift of a timepiece without any worry!

2. A Romantic 'Tussie Mussie'

Unfortunately, it is not possible to make a bouquet of pansies because they are such small, delicate flowers. However, you might like to revive an age-old tradition and make a romantic 'Tussie Mussie'. These beautiful little posies can contain any flowers you like! Check out the step-by-step instructions in the video above, which uses Violas—the original, wild pansies. They symbolize faithfulness—which could not be more appropriate for a first anniversary—and can contain any flowers you like!

Alternatively, you can make a cross-stitch or embroidery picture. Pictured below is one I bought very cheaply on eBay and which I made up for a special first wedding anniversary in my own family a while ago.

This cross-stitch showcases the traditional pansy flower.

This cross-stitch showcases the traditional pansy flower.

Ideas for Gifts Based on Paper

Paper can take many forms, and what you give is only limited by your imagination—not the size of your wallet!

1. Homemade Picture Frame

A personalized frame is a beautiful, homemade craft that combines the paper and pansy ideas. You'd personalize it by buying a plain, flat frame and decorating it with glued-on cut-outs of pansies. Use PVA glue to stick the pansies in place, and then put a coat of clear varnish over everything to finish.

Photographs and Picture Frames: The Perfect Gift for a Couple

2. Entertainment Tickets

Whether to a movie, a theater show or a concert, tickets make a great paper gift. Obviously, you will need to know the person's taste in movies or music for this to be a success, but if you feel confident, then these could be a real hit. In the first years of marriage, money is often very tight, and treats are at a premium.

Sports tickets would also be a great idea. If the recipient follows a particular sport and has a favorite team, why not scour eBay for old game programs, posters, autographed pictures or other memorabilia?

3. Books

Choose something associated with the person's hobbies and interests or a nice coffee table book.

4. Board Games

Board games can be a fun way to socialize with friends. They can also be used to allow the couple to enjoy each other's company without distractions! Board games can be traditional or even slightly naughty ‘adult' games if you know the couple well enough and are sure that the gift will not give offense.

5. Stationery

A stationary gift could be anything from getting some paper monogrammed or personalized for the couple to pretty notecards. Perhaps picking up the pansy theme once more could be helpful.

A hot-air balloon ride is just one of the innovative 'Experience Day' tickets you could give as a paper gift for a first wedding anniversary!

A hot-air balloon ride is just one of the innovative 'Experience Day' tickets you could give as a paper gift for a first wedding anniversary!

More Thoughtful Anniversary Gift Ideas

1. Experience Day

A gift of 'Experience Day' tickets could provide a fun way for the couple to spend a wedding anniversary together. The festivities of the day could range from race car driving to a hot-air balloon ride, a cookery lesson, painting, or even horseback riding. In fact, just about anything you can think of would make for a good experience day. You can give open-ended tickets for an experience so that your recipients can book it for a day that fits in with their work schedule and other commitments.

2. Give the Gift of Time!

Romantic gifts need not be material things. Spending quality time is sometimes the most precious gift of all. The gift of time in our hectic, modern lives is always appreciated.

I'd suggest preparing and cooking a special meal and decorating the table beautifully. It would be a good idea to compile a playlist of music that has special significance to you both (favorite songs, music associated with a first date, first dance, first kiss, etc.). You could cap the night off by pampering your wife with a bath in a bathroom decorated with scented candles. This would give her time to relax with a nice glass of chilled wine. None of these suggestions cost a lot, but they all mean so much.

Tickets for a spa day of pampering are also well received. Avoid choosing a makeover day (you love her just the way she is) or gifts of undies (not very imaginative)!

A little pampering can go a long way!

A little pampering can go a long way!

I hope that my suggestions of traditional and modern one-year anniversary ideas have provided you with some food for thought. If you have a great suggestion that I have not mentioned, please share it in the comments section below. Tell us about what you chose as a present for the recipient(s) and if it was a success or a disaster. I would love to hear from you!

© 2013 Alison Graham


Alison Graham (author) from UK on June 11, 2018:

Thank you Eileen, it's very nice to receive positive feedback, especially from a fellow UK Hubber!

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 08, 2018:

Some great ideas.

Alison Graham (author) from UK on June 18, 2015:

Beena, thank you so much for telling me about this anniversary sundial, it sounds beautiful. What a lovely way to remember a special day.

Beena P on June 18, 2015:

My sister's husband got her a gift certificate for an anniversary sundial that sits on her window sill and makes rainbows in the room when the sun shines. When she had it made she had a special date line added that the sundial shadow follows on their anniversary each year, and each summer we all watch the shadow as it gets closer and closer to their special day. I am babysitting her kids this morning and they are playing in the rainbows on the floor made by the little sundial in the family room window, and I think it was a wonderful gift, something symbolic that has become an important part of their home and family life together!

Alison Graham (author) from UK on June 09, 2014:

Hi Madalyn, thanks for your comment - I hope you and your husband have many, many happy years together - sounds like a very thoughtful and precious gift.

Madalyn Quire on June 09, 2014:

Since paper is the traditional one year anniversary gift. I have to share My Dreamlines. They sketched my wedding dress. Super amazing gift. My husband did well...not sure how he can ever top it!