Traditional vs Modern Anniversary Gifts | A Year-by-Year Guide

Happy anniversary card and flowers

Not only is each year of marriage a special milestone in and of itself, but most years also have their own distinct themes for anniversary gifts. What are the customary wedding anniversary presents, though, broken down by year? How did they get here? Year by year, we’ll educate you on the ins and outs of presenting both classic and contemporary anniversary presents.

One of the most ingenious uses of anniversary year themes is that as time goes on, both your bond and the traditional materials get stronger. How lovely!  As your devotion for each other grows, so does the substance and meaning of these anniversary gifts, which start out simply (paper for the very first year and flowers for the fourth). And after forty years or more of wedded bliss, you can expect to exchange precious metals and stones.

Although some claim the tradition originated in ancient Rome, the custom of presenting a particular anniversary gift based on the length of a couple’s marriage goes back to the Victorian period. And these days, it’s not uncommon to find a more contemporary gift item that matches our modern way of life. Each anniversary has its own unique theme, and the gemstones, colors, and flowers are all carefully chosen to go along with it. If you’re looking for the ideal anniversary present, you’re basically spoiled for options.

Which Wedding Anniversaries Are Considered Milestones?

Another question that frequently leads to confusion needs answering before we jump into the modern and traditional anniversary goods organized by year. Which years mark the milestones of a wedding anniversary? There is a certain something about celebrating one year of marriage, as we’ve already mentioned. Nonetheless, in honor of a solid, happy marriage, there are particular years that are somewhat more significant than others.

Milestone anniversaries are celebrated every five years beginning with the fifth year of marriage and continuing on to the tenth, fifteenth, twentieth, twenty-fifth, and thirtieth anniversaries. When you’ve been together for at least 30 years, the tradition usually shifts to once every ten years.

However, many couples also hold a special celebration to mark their first anniversary. In all honesty, the level of celebration you and your spouse choose for each anniversary is entirely up to you. Our firm belief is that each year deserves an unforgettable moment and an appropriate gift of recognition.

Which Annual Gifts are Customary for Anniversaries?

Here is a list of every wedding anniversary theme for years one through ten, as well as every five years from ten to sixty, arranged according to year. Yes, we included the annual jewels, flowers, and colors associated with anniversaries. Find out what the materials symbolize, then use that idea to pick out the gift!

carnation and gold

First Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Paper
  • Modern Gift: Timepieces
  • Color: Yellow or Gold
  • Metal: Gold
  • Flowers: Carnation

Customary anniversary presents become more meaningful every year, much like your partnership. Paper thus represents a suitable place to start: Similar to the beginning of your marriage, it is delicate, but with the right care, it can last a lifetime. The contemporary gift for this milestone occasion are clocks, which symbolize time’s passage, change, and the difficulties that accompany it.

Certain years of marriage are represented by a metal instead of a gemstone, but some are correlated with gemstones. This time, it’s crafted from gold, which makes a wide range of gift possibilities possible (consider cuff links, jewelry, a timepiece, or even a picture frame covered in gold). The flower of the first anniversary, the carnation, depicts young love.

cosmos and garnet

Two-Year Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Cotton
  • Modern Gift: China
  • Color: Red
  • Gemstone: Garnet
  • Flower: Cosmos

During your second year together, the customary anniversary theme is a bit stronger compared to the first: cotton. The interwoven strands of the cloth represent the connectivity in your partnership and how you have grown more adaptable as a pair over time. Conversely, the contemporary medium (china) depicts the contrast of a newlywed couple. It illustrates the positives and negatives of any relationship by being both powerful and sensitive.

The year’s official gemstone, garnet, serves as the inspiration for the two-year anniversary hue. These represent the two pillars of your relationship: love and friendship. Finally, harmony and order are connected to the cosmos, which is an indication of a well-balanced marriage.

sunflower and pearl

Third Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Leather
  • Modern Gift: Glass or Crystal
  • Color: White or jade
  • Gemstone: Pearl
  • Flower: Sunflower

Among all wedding anniversary gifts, one of the most useful ones is given during the third year of marriage. Leather is a metaphor for the safety and stability you experience in the relationship you have. The current gifting theme for the three-year anniversary is glass or crystal, which is almost the exact opposite of rustic leather. The glass and cut crystal both symbolize a bright future by reflecting light and beauty.

Pearl, an exquisite gemstone, is also associated with this year. These timeless stones accumulate layers as time passes, and like a marriage, the more slowly they shape, the more exquisite they get. This year’s anniversary flower is the sunflower–its strong stalk represents the solid base of your marriage, while its vivid yellow flowers capture the love that illuminates it.

geranium and topaz

Fourth Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Fruits or Flowers
  • Modern Gift: Appliances
  • Color: Green or blue
  • Gemstone: Topaz (blue)
  • Flower: Geranium

Specific years of marriage, such as the fourth anniversary, are recognized with two customary presents. For this milestone, both flowers and fruit are recognized as customary anniversary gifts. They make a suitable present for a partnership that is flourishing. Practically speaking, an appliance is the gift of choice on this wedding anniversary. By the fourth year, your sense of stability in your partnership is reflected in your home habits.

Searching for ideas for jewelry gifts? Get something embellished with blue topaz, a stone traditionally connected to romance, love, and affection. The fourth-anniversary colors, which are green and blue, as well as geranium flowers, which stand for friendship, happiness, and health, are also excellent sources of inspiration.

daisy and sapphire

Fifth Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Wood
  • Modern Gift: Flatware
  • Color: Turquoise, pink, or blue
  • Gemstone: Sapphire
  • Flower: Daisy

When the fifth-year rolls around, your relationship has taken root, so strong wood is the conventional material of choice this year. Alternatively, silverware is a contemporary choice that pays homage to the many meals you’ve shared and will share in the future. A symbol of everlasting love and devotion, the delicate and charming daisy is this year’s featured flower.

Are you looking for a present that will make your sweetheart’s eyes sparkle? The gemstone linked to this significant occasion is sapphire. Like wood, it’s a sturdy material that will not fade over time—just like your marriage. You have an endless array of options when it pertains to colors. This particular year was historically tied to the colors blue, pink, and turquoise.

calla lily and amethyst

Sixth Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Iron
  • Modern Gift: Wooden Items
  • Color: Turquoise, White, or Purple
  • Gemstone: Amethyst
  • Flower: Calla Lily

The customary anniversary material for the next year is even more durable than wood–iron is used to celebrate six years together. Of course, the contemporary trend for this year is wood objects if you’re still infatuated by wooden gifts (or you skipped them the last time around). This year’s flower is the calla lily, a sophisticated, graceful bloom that illustrates the way in which your relationship has evolved throughout time. It has also been said to stand for innocence, faithfulness, and purity.

Amethyst is this anniversary’s gemstone; combine it into a present with a deep history. According to historical traditions, Saint Valentine, often known as the Patron Saint of marriage and love, sported an amethyst ring with Cupid carved on it.

freesia and onyx

Seventh Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Wool or Copper
  • Modern Gift: Desks
  • Color: Off-White or Yellow
  • Stone: Onyx
  • Flower: Freesia 

As customary anniversary presents for the seventh year, both wool and copper are acceptable. Wool is just comfortable, and the metal plays a role in the creation of warmth (much like the cozy feeling you give each other). This year’s modern gift is somewhat more out of the ordinary, yet it is extremely useful. When they spend a lot of time at the computer, desk sets and organizing supplies provide their workstation a little bit of home and act as a continual reminder of your love.

This year’s color, off-white, honors the inherent color of wool, while yellow symbolizes the cheerfulness of your life. Alternatively, the mysterious black onyx is the seventh-anniversary gemstone, and it is said to shield marriages from problems and promote harmony.

clematis and tourmaline

Eighth Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Pottery or Bronze
  • Modern Gift: Lace or Linen
  • Color: Bronze
  • Gemstone: Tourmaline
  • Flower: Clematis

Another representation of your growing bond is bronze, which is also the traditional material for the ninth anniversary. Pottery is the other traditional sign for this year- this handcrafted item shows how you’ve developed your union into a happy and successful one. You have a lot of options this year for gifts because there are two contemporary themes: lace and linen. These delicate materials all wonderfully display the intricate details of your affection.

The eighth-anniversary blossom is even more exquisite–clematis is a symbol of wisdom and intellect (i.e., the various ways that you have both become smarter in tandem). This year’s gemstone, tourmaline, is linked to a number of virtues, such as compassion and unwavering love.

poppy and lapis luzuli

Ninth Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Pottery or Willow
  • Modern Gift: Leather
  • Color: Terracotta
  • Gemstone: Lapis Lazuli
  • Flower: Poppy

It is customary to give a willow or pottery present on an anniversary to mark the marriage’s ninth year. Because willow wood is simultaneously strong and pliable, it shows how the two can naturally coexist, much like a happy marriage. Like the eighth-anniversary theme, your love has evolved into something beautiful through time, and this is reflected in pottery.

Leather is a recurring present on anniversaries, continuing through year nine. Our forefathers defended themselves with this durable substance. Poppies, a flower associated with memory and creativity, are the flower of the ninth anniversary. This year is also connected to the earthy hue of clay, terracotta, and the gemstone of truth and protection, lapis lazuli.

daffodil and diamond

Tenth Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Tin or Aluminum
  • Modern Gift: Diamond Jewelry
  • Color: Blue or Silver or blue
  • Gemstone: Diamond
  • Flower: Daffodil

You may have to wait a long time—an additional 50 years, in fact—to give or get diamonds if you’re giving them according to the custom of giving them on your anniversary. However, if you choose a more contemporary approach, you can incorporate the diamond motif at the ten-year mark. Tin or aluminum is actually the customary marriage anniversary present for this year–these materials are resistant to rust, so they can withstand any kind of weather, much like a ten-year marriage!

For this noteworthy occasion, there’s a choice of two-anniversary colors: blue or silver. And lastly, the daffodil is this year’s flower. Give your significant other a bouquet of ten vibrant yellow flowers, one for each year you have been married.

rose and ruby

15th Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Crystal
  • Modern Gift: Timepieces
  • Color: Red
  • Gemstone: Ruby
  • Flower: Rose

When reaching the 15-year marital milestone, finding thoughtful anniversary presents for one another is simple. This year’s usual motif is crystal, which is a more economical option than diamonds–it stands for openness and transparency and is both delicate and strong at the same time. The modern theme is watches, which represent the years that you’ve shared together and all that is yet to come.

The remaining gifting themes associated with this milestone are red rubies, both fiery and honor a flame that is still burning strong (also, red is a passionate color). The oh-so-romantic rose is the flower of this year’s anniversary.

aster and emerald

20th Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: China
  • Modern Gift: Platinum
  • Color: Emerald Green
  • Gemstone: Emerald
  • Flower: Aster

According to this year’s modern gifting concept, couples who have been married for twenty years are officially platinum. The lovebirds have shown they are just as resilient as platinum, sticking together through good times and bad. China is the customary anniversary gift on this significant occasion, illustrating how delicate love is, much like porcelain.

This important occasion is made even more special with the gemstone of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Given that emeralds are believed to maintain love, you have another 20 years of marriage ahead of you, and the fact that asters, the official flower, are usually thought of as weeds, conveys resiliency.

iris and silver

25th Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Sterling Silver
  • Modern Gift: Sterling Silver
  • Color: Silver
  • Metal: Silver
  • Flower: Iris

The 25th anniversary happens to be one of those years when a metal is used instead of a gemstone. With sterling silver serving as both the official color of the milestone and a symbol of both tradition and modernity, the quarter-century is defined by silver (thus the name, the “silver anniversary”). We couldn’t agree more—celebrating a love that has endured for 25 years with a precious metal is fitting. If silver isn’t your thing, there’s always the 25-year anniversary bloom–qualities that contribute to a relationship’s growth include wisdom, bravery, and faith, which are all represented by irises.

lily and pearl

Thirtieth Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Pearl
  • Modern Gift: Diamond
  • Color: Green
  • Gemstone: Pearl
  • Flower: Lily

If you’ve beat the statistics by celebrating thirty years of marriage, pearls have long been the stone of choice. As a symbol of the inner beauty that comes from a committed relationship, they last a lifetime. When looking for a present, they also make excellent classic jewelry items. Once again, the 30th anniversary is an opportunity to splurge on diamonds! Thirty years of marriage are like a rock: strong, beautiful, and enduring.

For this year, lilies have been chosen as the flower to represent change and renewal. They are a perfect token of your affection for a couple starting a new chapter in their lives. Additionally, this milestone is linked to the color green, which represents the growth you’ve experienced as a couple.

coral rose and emerald

35th Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Coral
  • Modern Gift: Jade
  • Color: Coral
  • Gemstone: Emerald
  • Flower: Coral Rose

Among the many anniversary materials organized by year, the 35th features one of the most out-of-the-ordinary. This year, the customary gift is coral. However, as coral is an integral component of our underwater ecosystems, consider giving things that are inspired by coral or have coral colors instead. Like the love you feel for each other preserves your union, it is thought to possess magical healing properties that surround you in a protective aura. This landmark is linked with more than only coral–two green gemstones are available to you: Modern lucky jade is paired with the love-preserving emerald gemstone.

ruby and gladioli

40th Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Ruby
  • Modern Gift: Ruby
  • Color: Red
  • Gemstone: Ruby
  • Flower: Gladioli

During the 40th anniversary, rubies take center stage. There is a rhyme or purpose behind the moniker “ruby anniversary” when discussing wedding anniversary gifts, whether they be traditional or contemporary in nature, color, or gemstone. Like your affection and dedication, this crimson ruby is believed to have an eternal flame. Legend has it that it bestows bravery, good fortune, and protection—all qualities you want as you go forward in life.

One would expect a unique flower to accompany this wedding anniversary milestone, and that bloom is a gladioli, a vivid and striking blossom. You can show your partner that you’re still completely smitten with them after forty years of marriage–they symbolize infatuation.

blue iris and sapphire

45th Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Sapphire
  • Modern Gift: Sapphire
  • Color: Blue or Red
  • Gemstone: Sapphire
  • Flower: Blue Iris

Now let’s look at the sapphire anniversary. As a gemstone, sapphires are both classic and contemporary. (And it serves as the basis for the official colors of the year.) This magnificent gem has long been thought of as belonging to the nobility–it is believed that sapphires bring good fortune, in true royal style. Additionally, they represent honesty and devotion, which are cornerstones of a strong bond. Faith and commitment are also represented by the blue iris, the anniversary flower of 45 years.

yellow rose and violet

50th Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Gold
  • Modern Gift: Gold
  • Color: Gold
  • Metal: Gold
  • Flower: Yellow Rose and Violet

For the big 5-0, there’s no question as to what they should receive as an anniversary present. The historic theme, modern material, color, and metal of this milestone are all symbolized by gold. After all, an occasion as momentous as the “golden anniversary” deserves only the most timeless, and opulent symbol of all: gold. A time-honored union is a sign of prosperity, wisdom, strength, and importance. Should you be in need of a wider variety, this year has been bestowed with two distinct blossoms: violets and yellow roses.

callalily and alexandrite

55th Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Emerald
  • Modern Gift: Emerald
  • Color: Emerald Green
  • Gemstone: Alexandrite
  • Flower: “Green Goddess” Calla Lily

For couples celebrating 55 years of marriage, an emerald is both a classic and contemporary gift–it’s no wonder this valuable jewel is a common choice for so many anniversary themes! True love, dedication, and admiration are all signified by it. Interestingly, alexandrite, not emerald, is the official gemstone for this milestone. Under incandescent light, this color-changing stone transforms into ruby-red, however, in direct sunlight, it could be mistaken for an emerald. Good fortune and wealth are brought about by rare alexandrite, which is known for eliminating negative emotions and ushering in positive ones.

Looking at the anniversary color palette by year reveals that green is a recurring theme, and, as one might expect, calla lilies—and more significantly, the “Green Goddess” variety—symbolize the maturation of your relationship.

orchid and diamond

60th Anniversary Gifts

  • Traditional Gift: Diamond
  • Modern Gift: Diamond
  • Color: Diamond White
  • Gemstone: Diamond
  • Flower: Orchid

Diamond anniversaries are the last (but certainly not the least) on our compilation of anniversary presents by year. To commemorate an incredible 60 years of marriage, the hardest jewel in the world is given. According to the Mohs scale, diamonds are ten times stronger than sapphires and rubies combined. Hence, a stone that symbolizes unbreakable and everlasting love is quite fitting for an anniversary celebration of this kind.

It should come as no surprise that diamonds also inspire this amazing anniversary color. Inspiring ideas can also be found in flowers, and the graceful orchid represents exceptional beauty, which is bountiful in a 60-year marriage.


The “rules” or lists of customary anniversary gifts by year can differ based on the source, and regardless of the origins of these ideas, whether they stem from past customs, etiquette guidelines, or advertising strategies, it is nevertheless fun to give a gift that represents the happy occasion of an additional year of wedded bliss. Obviously, these are just recommendations; it is perfectly okay to give any kind of gift to mark the moment; you don’t have to follow the rules!

Molly Davis
Molly Davis

Molly is an East Coast writer who lives on West Coast time. She’s been in the journalism field for over 20 years — newspapers are her first love but she’s finding digital media to be just as fun and challenging as print! When she’s not giving therapist-quality dating advice, she’s curled up watching movies, reading, or volunteering at local dog shelters.