Traditional Anniversary Gifts For Modern Marriages

Wedding season in South Africa officially commences with the beginning of summer. But, venue availability (and peak season surcharges) means the season to wed unofficially starts as early as September and can extend to late April.

So, right now we’re about in the middle of anniversary gift season as well, which means husbands (and wives) countrywide are fumbling to crack the perfect take on traditional anniversary gifts. And, since it’s less than a week away, feel free to treat our ides as your personal list of Valentine’s Day gift ideas, too.

The First Five Traditional Anniversary Gifts

Year Traditional (UK) Modern (-ish) (US)
1 Cotton Clock
2 Paper China
3 Leather Crystal/Glass
4 Fruit Appliances/Electric
5 Wood Silverware


Traditional anniversary gifts have been around since the Holy Roman Empire, when husbands used to crown their wives with silver and gold wreaths on their 25th and 50th anniversaries, respectively.

Thanks to the introduction of commercialism in the 20th century, there is now a named gift for almost every year of marriage. But, we won’t get cynical, now will we? Just like Valentine’s Day provides the perfect excuse to show your better half an extra special expression of your love, traditional anniversary gifts can be an awesome guideline. And, in some cases, a necessary restraint on your ‘honeymoon phase’ budget. 

As you can see, the traditional and the modern-ish guides both have the marriage home at heart. They can seem more like a wedding registry, than an outpouring of love and appreciation. But, that’s only if your imagination stopped developing in 2000 (when the modern-ish guide was created).

We’ve taken the liberty of doing some of the grudge work for you and have come up with some creative alternatives to keep your marriage flourishing.

Year One

Marriage is a step into the realm of real intimacy, so why not ditch that tablecloth or the bedding you had planned to purchase for something more… intimate? And, by intimate, we mean tighty-whities, of course. What could signify being closer to your hubby than

For the lady in your life, nothing says ‘I love you’, more than a man who understands that underwear should be sexy and comfortable.

There’s an old superstition that says you shouldn’t buy your partner a watch before you wed. So, rather than a clock, why not whip out a wristwatch? Because who even uses a clock anymore? And in the vein of modern, active, tech-savvy couples, get something overly practical to make living, running, breathing, and telling the time, easier for your ride-or-die.

Year Two

If you plan on buying a card or a book, you’re grossly underperforming in the traditional anniversary gifts department. Especially if your spouse’s love language is ‘gifts’. Don’t be that person.

Paper can mean so many things in our modern marriage context. Like money. But, since we don’t do paper money, a gift card for a couple’s spa treatment, for example, may just cut it. We kid, that’s an excellent gift.

And, please don’t buy a china tea set, unless someone is into tea. Let’s just be literal and plan a trip, okay?

Year Three

You’re seeing leather, and you’re thinking 50 shades of incorrect thoughts. Get your mind out of the gutter, woman. You’ve survived the make-it-or-break-it years and you’ve probably also started hitting a rhythm in each of your professional careers with the support of your spouse and the positive pressure of couple goals.

Crown your husband or wife’s career with the genuine gift of leather. A leather tote for the work laptop, or that puts the right foot forward, every time.

And, if you didn’t get any crystal wear for your wedding, then by all means. But, if you’re not into that kind of thing, anyway, start saving for a bottle of Cristal to toast to many more years ahead. In your glass champagne flutes.

Year Four

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but you may need to book an appointment, if this is your idea of an anniversary gift. Instead, I detect top

And for her? Fresh green mandarin top notes and heart notes of salted vanilla.

And appliances aren’t sexy, but they need not be unromantic. Especially if it’s a dishwasher. Or a digital coffee maker that starts brewing before you open your eyes. Or, why not combine digital (electric is too old school) and fruit, and get that Apple MacBook somebody’s been dropping hints about. We said we’re being creative here.

Year Five

Wow. Half a decade, you romantic troopers, you. This calls for something extra special. And, your options are wood or silverware. Insert thinking face.

We’re not entirely sold on the fancy knives and forks deal, but there are lots of things that come in silver. Like joint bank account cheque cards. Or gold. Or platinum. We don’t know. But, nothing says ride-or-die, like, “Whats mine is yours”. Traditionally, this is how marriages should start, but with the early new millennium wave of independent women, the tides have turned. It’s time to share the keys to your empire.

And while we’re at the point where your love means more to each of you than your money, let’s to commemorate the next 50 years. It’s wood, get it?


Insurance Guru

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