Ideas For Last Minute Anniversary Gifts For Him And Her

Traditional First Anniversary Gifts

I remember vividly how I first came to realize that there were traditional gifts associated with wedding anniversaries. When I was nine year old, something seemed to be different about my parents’ upcoming anniversary; there seemed to be some special quality to it, something I was too young to understand, something I caught in snatches from the whispered plans of my (much older) siblings.  And indeed there was something wonderful about that October day: my parents celebrated 25 years of marriage, their Silver Wedding.

At nine years old, 25 years of anything seemed like a life time –and I was shocked to learn, after doing a bit of research that day to learn more about this, that not only were there particular gift items for most years of marriage but that people could be married for 50 and 60 years.  Incredible!  Sixty years of marriage!  I scanned the list to see what the traditional gift was the one suggested for achieving that unbelievable feat and found the answer: diamonds (not that there needs to be any excuse for getting diamonds – they’re a great gift any year). Yes, I thought, diamonds are the most fitting choice for those celebrating one of the largest possible anniversaries, the couple having enjoyed both a long life and negotiated the ups and downs that every marriage has to weather.

My eyes scanned back to look at the first anniversary gift object: paper.  What a horrible choice, I thought, for a wedding gift.  What could one possibly buy that was exciting or interesting that was made of paper?  While I really liked books, I hardly would want someone to choose a book for me, even if it were a special edition or they knew my taste, and a notebook (monogrammed or leather bound or whatever) was even worse: despite the fact that I kept a diary- and still do – it just didn’t seem special enough.  Just like nice stationary, it’s an OK gift from a friend, but from one’s life partner?

Yes, my nine year old self was very disappointed by this first anniversary element, but my current self sees it as a challenge!  Let me offer you some ideas that I have been thinking about as gifts for your first anniversary. I’ve divided it into two sections: gifts that could work for husband or wife and a couple of ideas particularly for her.

For Husband or Wife

I’ve suggested before that a unique, personal gift would be a piece of art, using a site such as one that my niece used for her own anniversary (she says she had caricatures made because my nephew has a sense of humor) at  My Davinci. Another idea is to have a painting made of your first home or to have a sketch of your separate family trees combined together through your marriage.


I often like to give and receive many smaller gifts combined into a larger one, so you could put together a “paper anniversary gift basket” with a collection of gifts, taking a few suggestions from the following ideas: a magazine subscription, a pass, membership, or license to an event or hobby he or she enjoys (such as to a museum, concert or play series, or gym), a bouquet of paper flowers, a scrapbook to commemorate all the fun things the two of you have done this past year, and, of course, don’t forget to tuck some love coupons,  activity books, or other humorous gifts in there for a bit of naughty fun.

If you have a creative or romantic flair, a handwritten love letter or poem is a touching addition to your basket.  If you need help to get you started, you can use a template to create your own personalized love story or perhaps frame the sheet music/lyrics to your first dance or frame an image or place that has significance to you both.  A copy of your wedding vows done in calligraphy is also a lovely first wedding anniversary gift.  Hopefully you already have a printed album of your special day, so why not organize an updated photo shoot to supplement that album with a “one year later” addition of a few more beautiful shots of the two of you (this is something that you can do for years to come to mark every year together).

wedding vows in calligraphy

Another idea is to create a personalized message to hang in your home.  I checked out these images and thought they would be a good idea for a first anniversary gift. One particular idea along this vein is to frame “milestone” dates and there are a few sites that offer to frame an aerial view picture of your home, centered and shaped as a heart.

And if the two of you are particularly driven and goal oriented, perhaps a couple’s bucket list would be a fun way to think about the upcoming years you’ll be spending together.

Bucket List for Couples

Finally, we all know plane tickets are made of paper, right?  Whether it’s an exotic, two-week getaway or a cozy weekend break, a nice vacation for just you two is a wonderful surprise!  If that’s too difficult to spring on your partner, then tickets to a weekend event like a concert, sporting event, or play could be a great option.

Just For Her


While I suggested art pieces earlier that would work for both the husband and wife, one particular piece that I think would appeal to your wife is to have a drawing made of her wedding dress. The site My Davinci offers this service, and I’ve read reviews on other sites from very happy recipients!

And a classic gift for her is jeweler, but perhaps you are thinking that you can buy paper jeweler – or even if you could, that it would not be beautiful – but there actually are nice pieces made out of paper – and you would never even guess it without knowing.  There are commercial sites out there, such as Moonlight Paper Earrings, but I myself have received a paper bracelet from The Apparent Project that is a grassroots project to help give those in need both purpose and a steady income in Haiti – the poorest country in the world.  There’s an amazing video on the site to show you how they take trash items and recycle them, making beads for their jeweler from cardboard, among other items, and the video ends by highlighting the impact the project has on entire families.  I still can’t believe my colorful bracelet is made from cereal boxes!   Personally, there’s no better gift I can receive than one that also benefits others.  Happy anniversary!