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Who Came Up With Anniversary Gifts Anyway?

Tips and Advice

Photo Credit: Katherine O'Brien

Photo Credit: Katherine O’Brien

Anniversaries are a special day that comes around every year when married couples celebrate their marriage and for how long they have been married. Specific anniversaries have different themes that correlate with the anniversary year offering suggestions of what type of gift to give. Anniversaries are an annual renewal of the commitment between two people, meaning this may be the one gift a year that may need a little more effort.  But when did anniversary gifts become common? The custom may go back in time further than you may think. 

The tradition of giving gifts for a wedding anniversary extends as far back as the middle ages. American author and New York socialite, Emily Post, wrote a book titled ‘Etiquette’ that was published in 1922. The topics covered in the book ranged from etiquette in society to business to funerals. Included in this manners handbook, Post listed suggested anniversary gift themes beginning with the first wedding anniversary, followed by the fifth, and then every five years up until the 25th, concluding with the 50th anniversary. The American National Retail Jeweler Association expanded on the original list in 1937 by filling in the missing years up to the 14th wedding anniversary as well as the multiples of five all the way till the 50th year. These suggested gift themes are referred as the ‘Traditional’ themes. The list was later reviewed and updated to incorporate a ‘Modern’ theme for each anniversary. 

Below is a list of traditional (center column) and modern (right column) gift themes by anniversary year. 

What anniversary are you celebrating? Do you follow the traditional list of gift themes? What interesting gifts have you received from your spouse on your anniversary? What gifts have you given to your spouse for your anniversary? 


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