How to Pick an Anniversary Gift

Man and woman sitting at the bow of a boat with wine
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Puzzled over how to pick the right anniversary gift to celebrate this year? Regardless of your budget, you can find one that will delight your spouse if you put some thought into it.

Here's what you need to know: The best anniversary gift is one that symbolizes your relationship. (That's one reason gifts such as a weight-loss book or a vacuum cleaner can be disheartening.) Follow any of the steps below to come up with an anniversary gift that will bring a smile to your mate's face, followed by a hug and a long kiss.

Seven Ways to Pick an Anniversary Gift

  1. Pick an anniversary gift based on a theme Did you know that there is a theme for every year of marriage? Actually, there are two for each year: traditional and modern. Since so many couples celebrate their anniversary by taking a trip, we've added a third category: travel.
  2. Pick an anniversary gift based on the number of years you've been married You can count on this: If you've been married two years, choose a gift that has two pieces, such as tickets to a show or concert. Three years? How about a triple date on your anniversary night consisting of cocktails, dinner, and dancing? Four years? How about a camping trip to Four Corners (where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet)? You get the idea!
  3. Pick an anniversary gift based on a collection If your spouse collects anything, this gift is a no-brainer. Whether he or she loves porcelain owls, antique trains, or anything else, find a similar item to grow your mate's collection.
  4. Pick an anniversary gift based on delight After all, that's the goal of any gift. For most women, that means romance is an essential element. Start with a love letter from the heart. Written on beautiful paper and wrapped around a single long-stemmed rose (or as many roses as years you've been married), it's a sentimental gift that's priceless.
  5. Pick an anniversary gift based on a promise Did you come close to forgetting your wedding anniversary? Or has it been a particularly tough year financially? Then give a promise that you vow to fulfill at another date. One sweet way to give an anniversary gift when you're empty handed is to present your partner with love coupons.
  6. Pick an anniversary gift based on what was missing from your wedding Does your partner feel that your wedding was less than perfect? This is an opportunity to make it right. Perhaps the wedding photos or video weren't great. If that's the case, schedule a sitting with a professional photographer as your gift. Were the flowers wrong? Fill the bedroom with the right flowers. Hated the band? Create a playlist and sync it with your phone. Bad food? Treat yourselves to an unforgettable anniversary dinner at an award-winning restaurant.
  7. Pick an anniversary gift together After a certain number of years, you and your spouse may want to forgo personal gifts for one that honors what you've built. For example, every year my husband and I go to our local nursery and pick out a tree or shrub. Now our garden is filled with lilacs, rose of sharon bushes, a new eastern redbud tree and a weeping willow tree that was just six feet tall when planted. Now it soars—and makes my heart soar every time I see it.

Anniversary Gift Giving Tips

  • Don't forget your anniversary! Write it on your calendar, set an alert, but do not forget!
  • Don't forget to include a card with your anniversary gift. It could be funny or sentimental.
  • Don't give lingerie. That's a gift a man gives to a woman for his enjoyment. But she may not feel the same way.
  • Don't give a practical gift or one that your home needs -- unless you've discussed it in advance and both agree that it would make a good anniversary gift.
  • Start the day off with a kiss and a card and a sincere "Happy Anniversary, my love."
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