Hannah Drake

6 Creative Gift Ideas for Your First Anniversary

MarriageHannah Drake2 Comments

The question Luke and I get asked most about our whole marriage separate from wedding thing is what day we'll celebrate as our anniversary. We talked it over and decided that 16 September is our anniversary. Ten days ago, we were married for one year and we wanted to celebrate that! We'll probably acknowledge 16 May, at least for a while, but maybe with a smaller tradition, like dancing to our first dance song, just the two of us and our record player in the living room.

So now that we know when our anniversary is, it's a matter of celebrating it! In our wildest dreams, we would love to take a trip every year--big or small--to mark our anniversary. This year, we're in Italy for our belated honeymoon, and last year after our marriage, we drove to Wales for a quick weekend getaway, a minimoon. I have an idea for next year, but it might not happen for another few years. Either way, we're off to a decent start on that idea.

It's also nice to mark the occasion with a gift and I'm sure it would be so lovely to look back in a few decades and see what we gave to each other to mark another year of marriage. When it comes to anniversary gifts, I fancy myself quite the traditionalist. Did you know that almost every year of marriage has a traditional gift associated with it and it slightly differs between the US and the UK?

I'm going off the US list, which makes this year our paper anniversary. But what do you even get someone for a paper anniversary? How do you top when Jack got Rosario all those paper towels on Will & Grace? Here are a few ideas that think outside the box:


Create a set of 12 date night cards to give to your spouse. You can do it one of two ways and either come up with set dates specific to each month, built around the seasons and holidays (like a backyard camp out in July or apple picking in September) or come up with twelve more generic dates and allow your spouse to pick which date they want to go on that month. It's the gift that keeps on giving all year! And if you're not very good at planning ahead, you can literally give your spouse the gift all year and make a new date card each month to give them one month at a time.


Around our house, we love gallery walls, whether it's graphics I've made, our wedding photos, or photos from our trips together. Maybe, like us, you'll stick to a theme and print out photos from a specific trip or maybe all of your travels, maybe wedding photos or other professional photos, or maybe go more casual and choose a handful of your favourite selfies together. I'm all about symmetry, so for our gallery walls, I've chosen the same frames and had the photos printed the same size, but do whatever is more your style, if you'd rather have a variety of frames and sizes. Either wrap all the photos individually to give your spouse a few gifts to open, or hang them all while your spouse is out to surprise them with new home decor when they're home.


To continue the thread of home decor, maybe there's something special you'd like to have printed for your home. Maybe it's something from your wedding--a reading, a verse, or maybe even your vows (bonus points for both being handwritten!). Maybe it's a special quote or an expert from a book you both love. Find something that captures the essence of you as a couple or commemorates your wedding day from a year ago. If you want something created for you, I can do that! To go a slightly different route, you could also have a watercolour commissioned of a special place, where you met, where you got engaged, where you got married, your first house, etc. (I can't do that for you though.)


Remember when you used to get airline tickets printed out instead of downloading them on your phone? Those were the days, right? If you want to go big and definitely don't want to go home, book a surprise trip for the two of you. Whether you'd be driving, flying, or riding the rails, in this age of e-tickets, you could definitely make your own to give to your spouse and tell them when and where you're off to.


Two of our friends have a cool thing in their house that I've always loved. They're from two different states and now live in the UK, so they have the two states plus the UK in a frame together, I believe with hearts marking where they're from and where they live now. It says "him", "her", "us". If Luke and I ever lived somewhere other than the UK or Colorado, I'd totally be down to make that, even if Colorado is just a rectangle. Or maybe a heart that is half where he's from and half where she's from. Or if there's somewhere else that's special to you, you can get an antique or illustrated map of that place instead. For our wedding, my sister and brother-in-law gave us a map of the stars above Birmingham the night we got married and I love that. At The Night Sky, you enter the date and location and they'll map the stars for you. You can even add a note to be included on the poster. Since we already have one for our marriage, I would love to add the stars from when any future children are born.


For Valentine’s Day, I got Luke a book of our love story from Love Book Online. It would be absolutely perfect for your paper anniversary. It’s really easy to create and customise your book to perfectly fit your story. You create little cartoons of yourselves, choosing from different features and outfits, and then fill in the pages from their templates. You can add illustrated elements to the pages, change the wording, and basically make it whatever you want. And it doesn’t even have to be your literal love story. It can be literally anything you want. Things you love about your spouse. Things you want to do with your spouse. Dreams you share with your spouse. They take care of everything else and will ship you a beautiful, high quality book within two weeks.

What did you and your spouse give each other for your first anniversary? Did you go the traditional route or do something completely different?

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Header Photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.

Updated April 2019 with additional ideas.