Updated on 12.16.08

Some Thoughts on Anniversaries and Their Requisite Gifts

Trent Hamm

Happy Flickr Anniversary! by Sandra on Flickr!On our first wedding anniversary, I didn’t get my wife a gift. Quite frankly, I considered the idea, but shelved it because it didn’t seem like a major situation. I believed that sometimes it’s nice to get a gift for a “major” anniversary (one ending in a 5 or a 0), but for other anniversaries, I thought just spending some time together was an appropriate way to celebrate.

I was… wrong.

My wife was pretty upset with me. She had thought carefully and put together a really thoughtful gift for me, which she sprung upon me that evening. When I told her that I didn’t have a gift for her, she thought I was kidding, but eventually she realized I wasn’t. And it wasn’t pretty.

Since then, we’ve adopted a policy of getting each other very simple but thoughtful gifts for our anniversary – books, journals, simple trinkets that clearly represent that we’ve been paying attention to each other.

This is the custom that we’ve established within our marriage. Neither one of us feels that an anniversary calls for a huge, ostentatious gift of any kind. Instead, we view it as a day to recall our wedding vows and our pledge to combine our lives together, and we’ve found that simple and thoughtful is the way to go for us.

Having said that, I’ve observed many different patterns in different marriages that I’m familiar with. One marriage, for example, seems to revolve around absurdly huge gifts given by the husband to the wife, and I know from outside conversations that the husband really resents this pattern.

In another marriage, the couple sticks very carefully to the “traditional” list of wedding anniversary gifts – paper, wood, and the like. They try to think of thoughtful gifts for each other that center around the “theme” of the anniversary. I can tell from both of them that this is a tradition that they both value.

Another marriage seems to involve spending a lot of money on something frivolous that they’ll both enjoy. Recent gifts include a week-long trip and a Lexus.

In yet another marriage, their sole remembrance of their anniversary is a kiss for each year they’ve been married.

Why am I reporting all of these things here? There is no established pattern for anniversary gifts, so don’t get caught up in trying to chase something that’s an illusion. From what I can see, anniversary celebrations are as varied as the marriages they represent.

If you think that there’s something “expected” as an anniversary gift and you don’t like it, talk to your partner. It’s likely that you’re harboring an expectation that may or may not be real – and that expectation can be very expensive in the short term – and can establish a very expensive pattern over the long term.

The key to celebrating any personal event is to find a way to celebrate it that’s in line with your personal values. For us, the most valuable thing in our marriage is the fact that we know each other almost as well as we know ourselves, and we focus on celebrating our anniversary in a way that represents that.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be about frivolous spending at all. Instead, it needs to just be a remembrance of a key moment in both of your lives – and it should reflect on both of you in a way that fulfills you both.

How do you celebrate your anniversary? Share your tactics in the comments.

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  1. savvy says:

    Well we’ve only had two anniversaries. Our first anniversary was a bit of a big deal to us so we took a weeklong vacation to the Caribbean. For the second anniversary, we just had a quiet dinner at a nice restaurant. I don’t believe we even exchanged gifts, only cards.

  2. Shay says:

    We talked about it before our first anniversary and mutually agreed not to exchange gifts…and we still don’t. We do, though, take a weekend near our anniversary and get away to a local bed and breakfast and just relax and enjoy each other’s company. It works. :)

  3. Ken Montville - The MD Suburbs of DC says:

    I’m coming up on #5 myself and my wife and I are a little “older” (in our early 50s) so we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff already. In fact, we can barely think of what to get each other for Christmas, let alone the anniversary (which comes shortly after Christmas anyway).

    The other part of this is that we throw all our money into one basket, so to speak, so giving each other gifts is taking money from one hand to give it to the other. Why not just buy something both of us want? Ahhh. That’s the hard part.

    It’s a real conundrum. You want to do something to make the day special but you don’t want to spend big bucks and you already have a bunch of “stuff”.

  4. Kelly says:

    We just celebrated our 4th anniversary this past Sunday and we spent it driving through a blizzard to Grandma’s house for Christmas :) By the end of our harrowing 7 1/2 hour journey with kid and dog, my husband said it was the best anniversary we’ve had so far. Just being together as a family talking and helping each other was quality time. We got to see a beautiful winter solstice setting sun and brought a great bottle of wine with us to share a toast once we arrived at our destination. We used to go out to dinner at the Space Needle, but that got too expensive, and we don’t live in WA anymore. Our gifts are typically small for our anniversary, and for future anniversaries, we’ll probably just try to get a babysitter and go out for a nice dinner.

  5. AJ says:

    Both sets of my grandparents were married for over 50 years. All four endured the Great Depression. None of them ever exchanged gifts. Heck, later in life they even had separate bedrooms in their respective homes! All treated their spouses w/love and respect.

    We’ve been married for 12 years now. We used to give cards but have given that up – for the expense and for the environment. Sometimes we treat ourselves to dinner, sometimes not. The kids love when we watch the wedding video and go through the photo album – an annual tradition.

    IF you can afford it, celebrate how you wish. Unfortunately expensive gifts don’t guarantee a happy and successful marraige.

    Having said all that I don’t think we do celebrate marraige enough in our country. Honestly, marraige is not always easy or fun. I do try and send an eMail or an inexpensive cards to friends and relatives. Sometimes I think I’m cheering them on!

  6. Kevin says:

    We have only been married for two years, but my wife and I have taken two short weekend trips. Neither more than a couple of hundred miles away.

    Just being out of your normal environment and focusing on each other for two-three days is a nice change of pace.

  7. Christine says:

    We are about to celebrate #5 and we do not have a set pattern. First year, we took a weekend trip by car to Williamsburg a few hours away, we exchanged small gifts, and his mom had a small dinner party. Second year, we orchestrated the closing on our house to fall on our anniversary so needless to say no other gifts were exchanged. Third year, we took a weekend trip by car to Richmond also a few hours away and exchanged gifts. Last year was messed up and we had to celebrate late, but we went to a really nice dinner a few weeks after. We picked out my anniversary gift early and I surprised him with his later. Our anniversary is about two months away and we have not made any official plans. I have ordered my husband’s gift. Its a practical purchase, something he wants but wouldn’t buy for himself.

  8. MegB says:

    We are approaching our third anniversary. Both of our birthdays, our anniversary, and Valentines Day (which neither of us ever really celebrated) all fall within a one month period. So we decided before we got married that we would pick a very special restaurant every year and have a nice dinner together to celebrate everything–but it is mostly to celebrate our anniversary. We don’t eat out a whole lot, and we have picked somewhere new and special for the last two years. I look forward to it, especially since our anniversary is in February, which can sometimes be a dull month.

  9. Battra92 says:

    Why take money from a joint account to buy each other anniversary gifts? It seems like a big waste of money to me. To me it’s just a day like any other and every day should be special with none standing out.

    Reason #1,231 as to why I am single for life. ^_^;;

  10. Rob in Madrid says:

    In almost 25 years of marriage I’ve only manage to surprise my wife twice. Once on our 10th anniversary when I bought her a new ring (thankfully she likes clusters) and again a few years latter when I really shocked her by ordering flowers to her hotel room. In the last 10 years or so we’ve moved away from gift giving etc (no kids so not much pressure there)

    What I do what she loves is I often send her text messages when she’s on the road “only X sleeps left” and that she really likes that.

  11. Rob in Madrid says:

    In talking to alot of my students (adults learning English) all the men complain that they have no idea what to buy the wives and all the (smart) wives tell husbands what to do to “surprise” them. The more details the better!

  12. Carlos says:

    I’ve heard of bone-headed mistakes, but not buying your wife an anniversary gift to celebrate your first year together – I’m guessing you slept on the couch for a month :-)

  13. Kevin M says:

    We just had our 3rd in October. We don’t really have a tradition other than to NOT buy anything extravagant. We just did cards this year, since neither one of us really wanted or needed anything. We usually try to go out to a nice meal and get a babysitter for our son so we can have some adult time, so I guess maybe that’s our “thing”.

  14. Michael says:

    It’s like that scene in “The Family Man.” I cringe every time I see it.

  15. Anastasia says:

    My husband and I got married on Valentine’s Day. Every time I tell people that, they say, “You get cheated out of a present!” I can’t tell you anything that was further from my mind when we picked a wedding date.

    We do exchange gifts. Every year he gives me a charm for my charm bracelet – which I adore and wear all the time. I get him an XBox 360 game, or something similar. Our traditions may change over the years, but I would never want to let the day slip by without remarking on it in some form :-)

  16. L. says:

    Dear Trent,

    In case that I don’t have opportunity to do so later, I would like to wish you a Merry Merry Christmas in the company of your loved ones. Everything of the best for you, your family and friends!

    And…Keep up the good work! :)

  17. Natasha says:

    My husband and I just celebrated our fifth anniversary this last weekend. We usually go out for dinner and a movie, but this year we moved to Seattle and I had grand plans, which we documented on our blog:


    This year we didn’t exchange gifts, as we are planning on a trip to Europe and are saving the money for that instead, but in years past, we squish Xmas and our anniversary (on the Solstice) into one gift giving time, and set a limit of $150 for each person and spend within that range.

  18. SJ says:

    Usually we just go out to a nice dinner together – the same for birthdays too. This year was our 5th anniversary, and in keeping with the traditional “wood”, we had two photos from our wedding framed – we had been meaning to do that for five years and it was a a nice way to celebrate the occasion.

  19. Ian says:

    My wife and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage next summer! The past few years we’ve picked a hotel with an included breakfast in Canmore, about an hour away, and use Air Miles to pay for it. We usually go up early on the Saturday morning and go on a hike or just walk around town find a cafe for lunch. Then check in to the hotel. Sunday morning we take advantage of the breakfast and then take our time driving home, sometimes taking a “scenic” route. All in all, the time together is really enjoyable and works out very economical.

    Merry Christmas to you & your family Trent and to all your readers.


  20. Adrienne says:

    The problem has less to do with the gift and more to do with unspoken expectations. My husband and I agree upon gifts for xmas, anniversary, valentines (yuck) and whatnot well in advance. Sometimes we buy gifts, sometimes not but at least one person isn’t left hanging.

    Battra92 – We always buy gifts out of our own money (joint money is for bills and savings).

  21. kim says:

    When we were married 24 years ago, we decided to always celebrate our anniversary. We may go go to dinner, spend the night in a hotel or even get away for a few days. We feel that marriage should be celebrated, even when we had/have very little money. We are currently saving for a simple quiet trip this fall to celebrate our 25 years! I always give these words of wisdom to the new bride and groom, to celebrate your anniversary!
    Merry Christmas Trent to you and your family!

  22. EGD says:

    We started a tradition on our first anniversary of staying at a bed and breakfast together. Our anniversary is December 22, and the tradition started just because we were home for Christmas and didn’t want to spend our first anniversary 20 feet from his parents’ bedroom! It is our gift to each other every year now, along with dinner and a nice bottle of champagne. It is our favorite night of the year.

  23. Mr. GoTo says:

    Here is my suggestion for young married couples. Agree that you will not spend money on exchanging cute but frivolous gifts on your anniversary. Instead, agree to put that money away in a 25th Anniversay Fund that you will use for something really special – an exotic vacation or, in our case, we saved really hard and bought ourselves a vacation home for our 25th anniversary. Every time we walk into that home, it reminds us of our special relationship, which is now at 31 years!

  24. plonkee says:

    It’s definitely all about expectations. For lots of people (me included) gifts are really, really important. It’s truly the thought that counts and if it’s from someone important, I want there to be lots of good thought involved.

    Certainly, each relationship (romantic and platonic) develops its own traditions.

  25. Erin G says:

    my husband forgot an anniversary, once, too… and it hurt my feelings. he nongift wasn’t intentional like yours though, which is why I was hurt.

    this remind me of our valentines tradition… we treat ourselves to chinese takeout and stay home with a movie – away from the chaos and consuermized celebrations, and just have a night with each other. breaking that tradition, even for a fancy night out, would be a real bummer for me.

  26. Zoie says:

    I have been married 4 years, every year we have a picnic in the park where we got married. Last year we skipped it, since we had a 3 week old baby at the time. I look forward to having the same picnic with our son in future years.

  27. Stacy says:

    My wedding anniversary is no big deal, but every year on the anniversary of our first date my husband makes me the same dinner he made for me on our first date. Awww!

  28. Steve says:

    My girlfriend and I go on our first date again, dinner and a movie. It is probably boring to some people, but I think that it might remind of us why we decided to be together in the first place.

  29. mabinogi says:

    Our 1st wedding anniversary was just yesterday, so this is quite timely! I thought your story about being in trouble for not buying your wife a present was pretty funny (although I doubt it was at the time). I don’t think we really discussed it, but we didn’t give each other presents or do anything big, just dressed up and went out to eat at a nice restaurant. Having an anniversary 3 days before Christmas makes presents a bit less of a requirement, maybe. We’re both such frugal types and don’t really need more stuff, and I guess we were both on the same page, luckily.

  30. liv says:

    Dinner dates would work for me. No big gifts necessary. Of course, I’ll need to be married first :P

    I’m trying to figure out the timing, but on your first year anniversary, had you had your financial epiphany at the time or was it just that you didn’t think the first year anniversary was big enough to warrant a gift?

  31. hippykidz says:

    My wife and I were married on Feb.the 29th 2008. My dilema is not what but when. We will have been married a year but is it really our anniversary? Do I count every four as one or do we fudge it year to year? AGGGGH!

  32. Stephen says:

    I made the same mistake on our first anniversary.

    We had an agreement for no gifts, since we had just bought a house and furnished it. When she gave me a card and a simple gift, I knew I was in trouble when I had nothing in return.

    I will never make that mistake again!

    Merry Christmas! I’m looking forward to another great year your posts.

  33. anewton says:

    Our anniversary is less than a month before Christmas. We used to try to buy small gifts and a card for each other, but sometimes had trouble deciding on a budget. For the past five years, we have started a tradition of picking out an original piece of art (paintig, photo, pottery) together and purchasing that as our anniversary gift. That way we both love it, we can adjust the budget yearly as needed, and it is something we will treasure forever.

  34. Battra92 says:

    I suppose I came off as a bit cold or something but what I meant to say was that every day should be special, not just the day with the same month and number as the day you got married. I’m sentimental inside but I seem to come across as a cold miser. :P

    I suppose if I got married a one year anniversary present would be that I would make something special for dinner or something like that.

    Though according to Hallmark the 1 year is paper so origami would be my first thought there. ;)

  35. DW follows the traditional pattern based on the calendar. I follow no pattern whatsoever (for instance, I haven’t gotten her an xmas present this year, so sue me ;-P ). Instead get things for her at random times whenever it makes sense.

  36. leslie says:

    I have never been married but in all of my dating relationships, I made it clear that I thought celebrating an anniversary was silly.

    Mainly because when you’re dating, you don’t have a set date to celebrate. There’s always some round-about date that you arbitrarily pick that either signifies when you were “official” or just the first date.

    I am not trying to remove the seriousness from a serious relationship, but I find it more important to always be grateful for the person than to just splurge on a gift once a year. I’ll have enough anniversaries when I’m married!

  37. Kristen says:

    We celebrated our last anniversary (Dec. 7th) by going on a mission trip to Costa Rica and delivering clothes to a needy community there.

  38. DivaJean says:

    We are at a point in our 15 year marriage where gifts aren’t all that needed. We don’t bother with Valentines or anniversary presents at all! We are just too busy to worry about the small stuff in keeping our crazy family going.

    That being said, I still hope to score my favorite perfume for Xmas. AND, I still got hubby some new clothes that were hinted at.

  39. Jade says:

    My boyfriend and I, if we’re in town for our anniversary, go to a nice Italian place that he took me to when we first got together. They take reservations, unlike Olive Garden, so we don’t have the stress and worry on our anniversary about how crowded the restaurant might be and how long we’re gonna be waiting while we’re starving and trying to enjoy ourselves.

    For our fifth anniversary this past summer we went to Vegas. Killed 3 birds with one stone, celebrated our anniversary, visited a friend from high school, and I went to the Star Trek convention and my boyfriend finally got to see the atomic testing museum.

    I dunno if we’re going to Vegas again next year for our anniversary or not, but it’s the same weekend as another Star Trek convention in Vegas, so I suppose it depends on who the guests are at the convention. Otherwise, we’ll just go out for dinner to the same restaurant and my boyfriend will most likely bring me flowers like he did every week when we first got together and I’ll get him a card. And I’ll save what I would have spent on Vegas for our 6th anniversary and keep it in a CD until our 10th anniversary, at which point I should have enough saved for 2-3 nights at the Bellagio in a lakeview room so we don’t have to drive or take the monorail across town so I can watch the fountains (which is the best part of Vegas, at least to me).

  40. pat says:

    Married 29 years so far. Our anniversary falls around the time of an annual artists’ studio tour we have in our city, which we both enjoy. We set aside that weekend to visit the artists, and we get to select a piece (or pieces) as our anniversary present to ourselves. We look forward to this all year.

  41. HebsFarm says:

    DH and I are married 14 years. We don’t exchange gifts for anniveraries or Valentines, although we do try to take a small trip if it ends in a 5 or a 0. On birthdays we do a card or a dinner out. Gifts are not my “love language,” that is, I don’t need a gift to feel special. What I value is all the little things he does every day… like making the coffee, warming up my car, filling the gas tank. I know that he would sincerely try to do ANYTHING I asked him to, so I am very careful what I ask for… and wishing for perfume or flowers or jewelry on top of a daily gift like that seems just wrong.

  42. The Sheconomist and I first started dating on her birthday, I proposed on her birthday 5 years later. We’re getting married next year, on a different day. I’m not sure what we’ll do for wedding anniversaries. We’ll buy gifts out of our joint account to show we’ve been listening to eachother’s wants and desires.

  43. Quadelle says:

    We discuss in advance what we would like to do that year, but we always do something to mark each anniversary. It may be as simple as going out for dinner, but sometimes it’s been a weekend away. A couple of times we bought a painting we both liked, and it’s been nice having a visual reminder of our shared history.

  44. Green Panda says:

    We like to do trips for out anniversary. Gifts are optional. I prefer having memories of going to new places with my spouse.

  45. For us, travel is our anniversary tradition. We ran off to Vegas and got married by an Elvis impersonator. On our first anniversary, we went for a 3 night cruise to the Bahamas. Last year, we went to the mountains for the weekend.

    Since we began living more frugally, we decided that we’d skip the trip until our financial picture is the one we want. But, once we’re feeling good about our emergency fund, our debts, and our careers.. we’re heading back to being road warriors.

    Anniversary #5, we’re cruising the Greek Isles.

  46. Stephanie says:

    We get “free” gifts for one another. We are doing that for Christmas and hope to make it a tradition. You can read more here:


  47. Shannon says:

    My partner and I are about to celebrate our 3rd anniversary this Saturday.

    Our first one was spent repeating our first date -a bushwalk picnic to a waterfall. Our second, we had a lovely dinner and this one, well, I’m not quite sure what we’ll do. It’s up to me to arrange this year’s activity :-) We have vouchers for a day spa, so we might do that, or we might just chill out, see a movie and do whatever we feel like doing on the day – as long as we do it all together, that’s all that counts.

    It also helps that we don’t celebrate Xmas for each other and that we make more of a fuss of each other’s birthday. The anniversary, is just a bonus icing ont he cake to remind us that we’re lucky to have each other.

  48. Leslie says:

    our first anniversary we took a limo and went to a nice restaurant. Our 2nd anniversary was the day after I finished my last round of chemo and I was thrilled that anything tasted good and it was spent at a smaller local restaurant

    we don’t always give gifts or we try and make them reasonable and something the other person would like because it isn’t about the gifts but about remembering the day that we were legally joined together.

  49. Jessica says:

    We have been married for 3 years this year. We usually just go out to dinner togethe. Just something casual at a place we both enjoy. No gifts are exchanged. Our anniversary is a week after my b-day so we may end up taking a short weekend trip (2-3 hours away) to celebrate both. However, we just do this to spend time together. I would be just as pleased with a nice dinner at home (as long as he cooks it! :P).

    I noticed others had mentioned Valentine’s Day so I’ll include our little tradition for that. I think it is a remarkably silly holiday, but my husband sees it as a good excuse to get a cookie cake. So every year we get a small heart shaped cookie cake for the two of us to enjoy.

  50. Rachel says:

    Hubs and I will be celebrating 8 years next week, and I honestly can’t remember if we’ve ever bought eachother gifts for our anniversary or V-Day. We try to celebrate on New Years Eve, but usually at least mention it the day before (our actual anniversary.) Last year he forgot completely, but it really didn’t bother me much. Like HebsFarm (#27) my hubs goes out of his way to make sure I’m well taken care of, so it seems silly to ask for some token gift on top of that. He’s really a gift himself! Granted, some days he’s more of a gag gift, but still….

  51. Karen says:

    I am not married but my parents have been for over 50 years. They usually have a nice dinner – sometimes with us kids. For their 50th we had a big party. Like other commenters – I don’t do the V-Day hoopla. Just a card for boyfriend and a nice dinner and movie at home – sometimes we splurge and get crabs/lobster – yummy.


  52. Alice says:

    I have a slightly different perspective. My husband was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, so he grew up not celebrating Christmas, birthdays, etc. The one “holiday” that his family celebrated was his parents’ anniversary, they call it “family day” because it marks the beginning of their family, and the whole family exchanges gifts, just like many families do for Christmas. We have decided that our family will do similarly, making our anniversary more of a whole family event. We will exchange gifts for our anniversary, but we have decided that for adult birthdays we will just have an evening out, and for Christmas we have limited it to one purchased gift to/from each person (anything else should be homemade).

  53. My husband and I mark our anniversary by going out to dinner instead of exchanging gifts. Of course, we don’t exchange Christmas or Valentine’s Day gifts, either, so we’re definitely not in the majority. I used to be a big presents person, but my husband definitely isn’t, and I eventually decided he’s in the right. Why mark a special day by spending a bunch of money when we could spend a small sum (dinner out or cooking something special) and celebrate one another by enjoying each other’s company?

  54. colleen costello says:

    My husband and I got married 21 years ago on the day after Christmas. We got married in my parents’ living room by his Dad, a minister. It was lovely and low key and suited us perfectly. We rarely do anniversary gifts because it is the time of year where we have spent our budgeted extra money on Xmas gifts. No big deal… we don’t typically need anything anyway.

    Last year we went to a fancy restaurant in Orlando, just the two of us. That was a real treat for our 20th. My parents watched the kids and as it is rare for just the two of us to go out, it was really special.

  55. Kasandra says:

    Had to laugh that you would not buy your wife a gift on your first anniversary, definitely clueless! Sorry but true….My best friend, my sweetie and the love of my life and I have been married for 23 years and we celebrate every occasion if we can. One of my fondest memories was when we were in school and dirt poor, we would head out and have a cheap dinner (often the dollar menu from Wendys!), head to the card shop……browse through the cards, pick one we would give the other and say “If I could afford it this is the one I would give you!” We would read it together and laugh, we had a great time! Why not celebrate your love every time you can, its what makes a mediocre relationship a great one. I feel cherished and important when my husband brings home a great card, flowers or whatever he thinks of…. and I be sure and tell him. Even if we just go to dinner (with 2 for 1 coupons), I love spending that time alone with him! He’s the greatest guy.
    Merry Christmas Trent……THANK YOU for all the time you spend bringing us simple dollar ideas! We appreciate all the time you spend (even if we truly don’t understand the time it takes!!) …. from the bottom of our hearts!

  56. Laurie says:

    We married later in life. Out hiking together a year later, my husband said “Hey, isn’t today our anniversary?” I thought about it, but decided it had been 4 days prior. When we got home, we looked it up and found we both were wrong!

    Fortunately, we are well matched in every way, including our lack of romantic sense. The day we DO celebrate, with a special dinner out, is April Fool’s Day, the anniversary of the day we retired and “left home” to travel – an infinitely bigger change in our lives than our marriage.

  57. Laura says:

    On our first anniversary my husband gave me a silly card that replaced the traditional schedule of gifts with some silly ones (3rd is Caulking, 4th talc, 5th Duct Tape, etc). We have since embraced it and use it as our guide for gift giving – with a $10 cap as well. Makes it fun, silly, and a good opportunity to be creative. Next up: PVC.

  58. Lisa says:

    My husband and I hated the stress of anniversary gifts, so we decided early on in our marriage to buy something together. One year it was adirondack chairs so we could sit on the deck together. It might be something that we both see and love but can’t justify the expense for no reason, then we buy it as an anniversary gift. We love this, and there is no stress. We will probably start doing it for Christmas as well, since it really works.
    We save the “surprises” for non occasions, just to tell each other we love each other.
    The Love Languages book helped us to see that gifts weren’t as important as time and communication to us.

  59. Mary says:

    Sometimes we go out to dinner, usually with kids, or make a nice dinner at home. One thing we do every anniversary is take a family picture. In the back of our wedding album are the annual pictures of how our family has changed and grown. This means more than any gift or spendy dinner.

  60. Lisa says:

    We always try to do something unique – gifts are secondary. For instance, last year the traditional gift for our anniversary was wood – so we went hiking in the woods together :) This year, we went raspberry picking and had dinner on a farm. I can hardly wait to see what next year holds.

  61. Rosie says:

    As for anniversaries and other traditional gift dates, my husband and I are not programmed to give gifts just because of a date on the calendar. We give meaningful gifts at the time we stumble on something we know the other would enjoy. It doesn’t have to be reciprocated. As he says, a really good gift is something you know some one would like but probably not think to buy for himself or herself. Feeling hurt when your spouse “forgets” I think is an immature response. I’m just happy that my husband is alive, as there are many people who lose their spouses to illnesses and other untimely episodes. Life is the best gift of all.

  62. Lynne says:

    We non celebrated our 20th anniversary in August. Hubby used to send flowers and a card. I asked if I should take vacation so we could celebrate and he said no. I thought he was kidding and took vacation anyway. I went to Virginia that week to visit my son’s family and came back with gifts for him. He promised to take me to his favorite restaurant soon, but I’m still waiting. I never expected much on anniversaries in the past, but really thought 20 was special….call me silly, but from now on it will be just another day, not because we didn’t celebrate, but because I seemed to be the only one who cared.

  63. Sunshine says:

    I just had to laugh at your experience. I was readin what your wrote and saying, “Oooh, I bet that didn’t go over well.” While I’ve never been to that level, I’m pretty bad about gifts. I’m getting better, though. My partner and I have great communication and she understands me (now), so I consider it a work in progress.

  64. Tarythe says:

    Like Green Panda, my husband (of 2.5 years) and I do trips. I probably won’t remember if he buys me a book or a sweater, but will remember places we go. It doesn’t have to be to a far away place, just a time set aside to travel somewhere together. We’re both full-time students and working, so we can easily get caught up in being so busy and it’s nice to force ourselves to relax. The first year we took a whole weekend to go to Palmyra, NY and stay in a nice little bed and breakfast, and last year we just went camping for a single night. Next year we’ll probably drive to Philadelphia for the day (it’s about 2 hours away from here and yet we’ve never been!).

  65. DrFunZ says:

    Not married here, but my parents were married for 62 years. I do not know what happened from years 1-15, I cannot remember gifts being exchanged between them. I know they sent each other cards. The best was in 1980 – my mom sent my dad a card that said “I am crazy about you”. To her great surprise, he sent it back to her the next year – then she sent it back to HIM the year after. I think it went back and forth for about 15-20 years until Dad’s Alzheimer’s got to him. I found it among his things when he died: it was addressed and stamped – he forgot to mail it – but he never forgot the person he was “crazy about”! Seems to me that kind of love is way better than any kind of gift.

  66. Kim says:

    For me, the non-gift is not the point. The point is that my husband does not want to spend money on me. I don’t care about big things, merely a remembrance. I would always have been happy to have a homemade card, a bouquet picked from my garden, a book…anything. I have learned to live with this as a quirk of his and usually buy myself some small remembrance for special days, so that I get to mark the moment without expecting him to do the same. After all, he has a lot of wonderful qualities, he just doesn’t have a sentimental bone in his body and his family did not give gifts. They had money, but they were C-H-E-A-P!!!!! When they bought something it was either for show or to celebrate a gambling windfall. My father-in-law excused this by saying that he didn’t want to be pressured to buy something by corporate America.

    I have to laugh. Sometimes when I get a little down about it, as it does feel like I am not valued at times, I remind myself of all the things he DOES that are special. And because our anniversary is really close to Christmas, I no longer beg off of practice or Christmas parties scheduled for the same day, as it is not a celebrated day for us. I will admit though (should any man read this and wonder about their OWN wives) that no matter how well I have learned to cope and get over it, there is still that tug of disappointment each and every time. For 27 years now I have had that tug of disappointment.

    What a shame.

  67. Kim says:

    Oh, and my parents in later years (who ALWAYS celebrated their anniversary with a special night out) began to give each other joint gifts. In fact when they sold their house, it was really hard for them to give up their “anniversary rock”, a large boulder they purchased for the yard which was seating for them next to the garden.

  68. Anne KD says:

    We got married in July 2005. We took vacations the first two years, but this year we stayed home to save for the house. We started talking about next anniversary’s vacation yesterday on our way to my parents’ house, along with other more important communication while on our 2.5 hr drive. One of the best parts of our vacations is to have unscheduled time to be with each other and talk about anything and everything.

  69. Ian says:

    One thing I’ve noticed in a few of the comments here is the “his” money, “her” money, “our” money scenario. We’ve been married almost 30 years and our mortgage, banking, autos etc are all jointly held… no separate personal accounts as we’ve never seen a need.

    Trent, what’s your position/opinion/recommedation on this?

  70. Ian says:

    One thing I’ve noticed in a few of the comments here is the “his” money, “her” money, “our” money scenario. We’ve been married almost 30 years and our mortgage, banking, autos etc are all jointly held… no separate personal accounts as we’ve never seen a need.

    Trent, what’s your position/opinion/recommendation on this?

  71. GrantParish says:

    My husband and I have been married for 22 years – which is not a notable accomplishment. But our 22 years have been tremendously happy and that is worth noting. We always plan our annual vacation trip around our anniversary date so we have a nice relaxing time away each year. Because it is in October we usually avoid crowds and high-season prices. Our trip is our gift so we don’t give individual gifts to each other.

  72. I tell my hubby that he’s very lucky because I could care less about getting a gift on any of our anniversaries. We both even forgot out first four…life just kept going and our moms both had to remind us. LoL On our 5th we did decide to go out to dinner together and that was nice. But otherwise it’s just not a necessity to get gifts. I also don’t want gifts for Valentine’s day. :)

  73. Zannie says:

    My boyfriend does not tend to be the sentimental type, but indulges me when I want to celebrate. And I tell him when I do. ;) This year was my 30th birthday, his 40th birthday, and our 5th anniversary, so we had a lot of big ones and will every five years. We generally assume no gifts for special occasions, though last Christmas I gave him a couple of gifts because I really wanted to. I hid them from him until I gave them to him because I knew if he knew I’d gotten him something he’d feel guilty or obligated, and that was not meant to be part of my Christmas gift.

    For our 5th anniversary, we borrowed a friend’s car (we don’t have one) and drove a couple of hours down the coast to spend the night in a private room in a hostel at a lighthouse. We had a picnic dinner on a bench overlooking the foggy ocean. The next day we went to an aquarium a bit farther down the coast. It was perfect.

    I don’t think we did anything for any of our other anniversaries, but as of our first year I was still trying not to scare him away. He was very flinchy about the whole idea of having a “relationship” at first, so if I’d made a big to-do of our anniversary he’d probably have freaked. But in general, while I only feel very sentimental about significant anniversaries, the first one is significant! Especially for marriage.

    Actually, I take it back, he did do something for our 4th anniversary. He posted to his blog about how lucky he felt to be with me and how glad he was I had “stubbornly” hung onto him in spite of his flinchiness. And that was the best present in the world.

  74. sharon says:

    Trent- hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, and prosperously frugal new year. Thanks for what you do…this is the first site I’ve enjoyed reading so much and to which I’ve posted.

    This is an interesting post or set of posts about gifts and gifting. It resonates with me because I think there’s too much obligatory gift giving in general.

    Aside from birthdays and Christmas my husband & I don’t do ‘obligatory’ gifting. Anniversaries we generally treat ourselves to a weekend at different B&Bs w/in a few hours from home and explore the area. We don’t do Valentines Day, yuck! I give surprise gifts throughout the year or send flowers (his office mates think it’s a hoot)when the mood hits as a way to show my love and appreciation for him as a person. I think appreciating each other throughout the year is best and personally I feel a lot less pressure.

  75. Linda Saull says:

    My husband and I do not exchange gifts for birthdays or Christmas. Instead, we celebrate our anniversary by going on another “honeymoon”. We usually go somewhere in the Caribbean for a week. This year we celebrate our 21st!

  76. Jessica says:

    My husband and I go to out to breakfast at the same place we ate breakfast on our wedding day. We talk about the last year, and how well our marriage went, or didn’t. We talk about the changes we hope to make for the new year.

    Then we go back to our favorite wooded spot and restate our vows.

    This is far more meaningful then any present or expensive dinner.

  77. Nick says:

    I’ll only really give my girlfriend a gift if it’s a logical one, something useful. I’m not so big on ‘romantic’ gifts that don’t have any real use beyond the mental one.

  78. deRuiter says:

    Giving of a gift for an anniversary is fine if you like that sort of thing. I feel lucky because I get gifts all year long. Screen door sticking? One mention and it’s magically fixed. Buy a pice of antique furniture which needs work? Within a short time the beautifully restored piece graces the house. I like to plant the peas on St. Patrick’s Day, and the day before the soil is turned over, even if the snow has to be shoveled off a small patch of garden first. To me the gestures are spontaneous, well…maybe not the garden peas thing, but all the rest, and I’m never saddled with superfluous clutter which costs money and takes up space. On the other hand when I see something I want, I don’t hear “You don’t need that.” So for us, buying gifts for a certain calendar date wouldn’t work. Before Christmas I brought back the remains of a small antique toy barn from Germany. Christmas morning there was the beautifully restored vintage toy barn gracing the putz display under the tree! Money couldn’t buy anything better than that!

  79. Roxanna says:

    Great blog you have here but I was wondering if you
    knew of any forums that cover the same topics discussed here?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get opinions from other
    experienced individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Cheers!

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