Deciding Between Traditional and Modern Anniversary Gifts

The difficult thing about gifting is deciding on a gift that will be appreciated by the recipient.  However, when it comes to anniversary gifting, the problem is compounded by the fact that you must choose between traditional gifts and modern ones – not an easy task in the least!

The key to smart gifting: know the recipient

It all boils down to how well you know the recipient, whether it’s your spouse or a couple you wish to honor on their anniversary. While deciding on a gift, ask yourself if the recipient is a traditionalist who values old customs and etiquette, or someone who is more flexible and pragmatic. Having a better understanding of the recipient will make it easier for you to decide.

Make the most of tradition…

Traditional anniversary materials include some gifts that have been used since medieval times, like silver and gold.  However, the traditional list only came into existence in 1937 when it was published by the American National Retail Jeweler Association. It has different materials for each of the first fifteen anniversaries and for every fifth year after that, ending with the 60th  Anniversary. There are around twenty-four items in all, including paper, cotton, wool, aluminum, steel, leather, and precious stones.

The traditional list will challenge your imagination. For example, if you have to make a gift of wood, should it be something ornamental, like an ornate carving, or something utilitarian, like a writing desk? If you choose wisely, keeping in mind the sensibilities of the recipient, you can make the most of tradition.

…or make an impact with modernity  

Modern anniversary gifts

The modern list of anniversary gifts lacks the cultural heft of the traditional one. However, by mentioning specific gifts (clocks, silverware, desk sets, appliances), it places the accent on extravagance and helps one focus on a gift that’s both expensive and useful. Needless to say, it also includes time-honored items like gold, silver, diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald (also in the traditional list), which inspire one to present fine jewelry as an anniversary gift.

While the traditional and the modern anniversary gift lists differ in many ways, they share the same spirit in honoring longevity of commitment in marriage. With the right combination of instinct, common sense, and sensitivity, you can make a gift that strikes the right chords.

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