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Welcome to the first in a series on anniversary gift ideas, so I’ll be starting at the most logical spot, first year anniversary gift ideas. These are great for men, women, or to give to a couple on their first anniversary.
What Should I Buy for a First Year Anniversary Gift?
In the United States and North America, the traditional first year anniversary gifts are based on paper. In the U.K. they are based on cotton and the modern suggestion is a clock.
If you’d rather send floral, the traditional first anniversary flower is the carnation. And for those who want some bling the gemstone is mother of pearl. That ought to get you a fair list of things.
I ended up having two wedding receptions, one on each side of the country and my spouse has made it a tradition to give me the anniversary flower on the anniversary of the second reception. Isn’t that sweet?
We also have anniversary gift ideas for other milestone years.
The Best Paper First Year Anniversary Gift Ideas for Your Partner or a Couple
If you have been hanging around here for a long time, you may remember that my spouse knocked this one out of the park for me, with the purchase of a very old book. I received a copy of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations which was published while he was still alive. Is there a seminal figure in your spouse’s field? (Hint: Newton’s books are VERY expensive.) See what you can find for very old books, or signed copies, or even a childhood favourite.
Romantic Dinners Cookbook
Keep the romantic alive well into their second year of marriage by gifting a couple a romantic cookbook for their first anniversary. You could also pair it with a grocery store gift card or a bottle of wine.
Personalized Map Print
Personalize this map with their wedding location for a decorative keepsake that will look great hung up in their home. You can give it on its own, or frame the art print for a thoughtful gift idea.
Coffee Table Book
Humans of New York is a fascinating look into the lives of the people all around us every day (more so if you live in New York).
Clever Anniversary Card
This funny anniversary card is perfect for a light-hearted couple to show you’re thinking of them on this special day. It even comes personalized with the date so it doubles as a romantic keepsake too.
A Year of Dates
Made of paper, this gift keeps with the 1st anniversary tradition in a unique way. The box is filled with 52 sealed date night cards; one for every week of the next year. You could give it to a couple as a gift, but since it’s sealed it would also be fun for your spouse too.
If you’re wondering, yes the cards are gender neutral so every couple will feel included.
Romantic Traditional 1st Anniversary Gifts
Custom Photo Book
It’s your first anniversary. Have you made those photo albums you intended to make? You could get around to that and present it to your surprised spouse!
Framed Newspaper Print
This downloadable file is ready to be customized with whatever headings, text, and photos you’d like. This would be a great thoughtful first anniversary gift for a happy couple or to make for your spouse. Once you’re happy with your creation print and frame it for a personalized display piece.
Okay, we are partially teasing with the Love Letter game. You could do that, of course, but what we really mean is that you should take some time and write a love letter from your heart, for your spouse. It is the lowest cost and most heartfelt idea out there.
Write a love letter to your love. Alternatively, make a jar of lovely notes, including things that you love about your spouse!
Photo Frame with Paper Matting
Use paper matting as an excuse to gift a photo for this milestone anniversary. Nicely framed wedding pictures are an exceptional gift choice; especially if you want a joint gift to the happy couple.
Put together a story of anything related to your relationship! It could be a photo album of your relationship, a bunch of tickets and pamphlets from concerts or trips you’ve taken together, or half journal, half photos. It’s up to you.
Write a lovely note, or some thoughts about growing together as a couple, and then plant them to see what blossoms!
Date Idea Book
After the honeymoon phase is over married couples might be looking for unique ways to keep the romance going. This book of date ideas is a fun way to give them some inspiration; grab it for a couple’s first anniversary or give it to your spouse as a pseudo gift for yourself.
Wedding Dress Sketch
This is a pretty way to keep the memory of the bride’s wedding dress.
Jewelry in a Paper Box
Use the paper boxes jewelry comes in as an excuse to buy your spouse something shiny for your first wedding anniversary.
Stationary as 1st Anniversary Gift Ideas
You can get one printed that is full of photos of the two of you. Another idea is to pick up a desk calendar or wall calender and go through it, writing in important dates and reminders of when you went on that trip, or a fun, or memorable time that you had together. Tips about when to start looking for gifts, or ideas of things you might want could be fun to add as well!
The moleskine is a classic. The notebook of legendary writers, and everyone else as well. One of the best practical first year anniversary gifts out there.
Pick out some custom stationary, embossed or monogrammed with your spouse’s name. There are a multitude of styles available, so you can find something to fit their tastes. This is a great first anniversary gift for a couple, especially if you get them some stationary that has both their names on it together.
Calendars come in all sorts of entertaining and hobby-inspired forms. From desk calendars to wall calendars and motor bikes to, um, cat humour, there are a multitude of choices. Although paper is only the traditional gift for the first anniversary, you can always start a tradition of giving a new calendar at every anniversary!
Return Address Stamp
It’s not quite paper on its own, but it goes with your paper products. A custom stamp is one of the most unique first year anniversary gifts I can think of.
It’s a unique gift, but why not? This could be a really thoughtful first anniversary gift for a spouse that is starting their own business, needs a business card upgrade, or hasn’t updated their cards with their new married name.
Cute Post It Notes
Post it notes are always handy, and they’re a practical gift idea to add into a first anniversary gift. You can pair them with a cute and fun post it note holder too!
Travel and Activity Related Paper Gifts for a First Anniversary
Custom Wine Labels
Whether you make your own wine or not, spring for some custom labels. No one will forget which bottle you brought to the dinner party!
Keep notes on which wines you love and which ones you want to skip from now on by using a gorgeous little wine journal. This gift idea would also pair well with a bottle of wine to get the recording started. Super cute for a wine loving couple to enjoy on their first anniversary.
Keep track of all the places you’ve gone and the places you’ll go with a travel map. They even come in scratch-off now!
Take off on a new adventure, with the gift of plane tickets. The world is your oyster with this gift. You could go on a quick weekend jaunt to relatives or a theme park, or take off on a round-the-world trip. Now that everything is digital you’ll have to print off the ticket information to really make this a “paper” themed gift.
Travel guides dovetail oh-so-nicely with plane tickets, but they are also good for planning weekends away or complimenting trips that you already have planned. You can even get a city guide for your very own city, to search out weekend adventures on your home turf.
Map Book for Road Trips
I love this gift idea for an adventurous couple! They can use this book to help plan road trips to do together. Anything road trip related would make fun first year anniversary gift ideas for a couple who loves adventure.
36 Hours USA & Canada Book
This fun book is part of a series called “36 hours” which are road trips in various regions, predominantly in Canada and the United States. They are a great inspiration for new adventures as a couple.
Couples Planning Journal
Instead of letting your calendar control you, you control your calendar. This journal can help plan all aspects of the days and weeks during the next year ahead. It even has prompts! Set out on the second year of your marriage and make it remarkable, together.
I have some gorgeous antique maps at home, and highly recommend them as a gift for the map-inclined.
Ticket Stub Holder
Hold on to the memories that you create together by picking up a holder for all of your ticket stubs. Naturally this gift is even better if you include a gift of tickets to something wonderful, here is a list of tickets for inspiration.
Fun Paper Gift Ideas for Your Spouse or a Couple
Give your spouse or a couple a lottery tree filled with scratchies as a fun first anniverary gift. It will give new meaning to “for richer or poorer”!
There are a myriad of different tickets that you can get, we brainstormed some a bit back. To bring it all together, purchase a frame to put the tickets in, after you have used them!
Magazines for women who hunt, magazines for model airplane aficionados, work out buffs and woodworking, they all exist!
Wireless Photo Printer
It’s not made of paper but it does print it! This handy printer can wirelessly print out your favorite photos right from your phone.
DIY a gift, or purchase some jewelry that is made out of paper. A great number of necklaces and bracelets are made out of magazines by women in developing countries. Supporting their livelihoods while buying your spouse something to wear is a win-win.
There are so many completely adorable cupcake liners out there in the world. You can go the extra mile and put some cupcakes in them to celebrate, too.
Table Topics Cards
Table topics are fun conversation starting cards, centered around a theme. There’s the original deck, a couples deck and many more.
Most of these are made out of paper or paperboard. If your household is like mine, specifically gifting your spouse their favourite game piece, whether it’s the top hat, or the red plastic pegs, will make the gift extra special.
Any sheet music would be good for a musician, really. Yes, you can get some stuff online, but there’s nothing better than having an actual paper copy.
Playing cards are a great addition to a first anniversary gift basket or just a fun gift on their own.
How else are you going to record how big the fish was?
These are so cool! Make your own custom puzzle for a fun and unique gift idea.
If your spouse likes to hunt give a paper hunting journal for your first anniversary. You can always pair it with other hunting themed gifts too.
For the book collector! Give these on their own, or with a book.
Collector Comic Book
If your spouse is the nerdy type, a collectible comic book is a great paper anniversary gift idea.
Make Your Own Paper Clock Kit
This one bridges a few different gifting traditions! It would be fun for you and your spouse to make together.
Paper Loaf Trays
You can put anything in these paper loaf trays. What a nice way to give some homemade bread to a couple that’s been married for one year?
More Unique First Year Anniversary Gift Ideas:
Pinatas are a great way to celebrate any occasion! And since they’re made of paper, what better excuse to have one than a first anniversary celebration?
Place Card Set
You can get a pack of paper place cards, and then also include some place card holders. This would be a fun gift to give a couple who likes to entertain.
These are super pretty! They’re made of pressboard, which is close enough to paper to make a great traditional gift.
Paper Lamp Shade
Change up your decor with a paper lamp shade and have a visible reminder of your first anniversary, for several years to come.
It’s made of paper, so why not! Super cool idea for a room divider or home decorating for someone who likes Japanese-style decor.
We all need toilet paper! Pick up some comedic toilet paper, perhaps this golf themed toilet paper. You may have seen a lot of creative wrapping using toilet paper rolls on Pinterest.
You can stick something inside of the toilet paper roll. Simply cut out some cardboard or boxboard that is the same size at the end of the toilet paper roll, to keep your actual gift inside. You can then wrap the whole roll up, or cover the cardboard in wrapping paper and tie it with a bow. Lots of things will fit inside, including that love letter, or tickets.
This is a fantastic first year anniversary gift idea for a man!
They probably don’t want any paper hats, but a hat box made of paper is a pretty fun gift idea.
Car Air Freshener
These would be fun as a themed gift or part of a first anniversary gift basket.
Paper Bag Princess Book
This is a super cute first anniversary gift idea for a couple. They probably remember it from their own childhood! It would be even better if the couple was expecting so it could be both a wedding anniversary gift and something they can share with the baby.
Cardboard Deer Head
Faux animal racks are all the rage these days, and this one happens to be made from cardboard! It’s also a puzzle, so it’s DIY project (maybe for the couple to do together) and decorative piece in one.
Not just for wedding decor, lanterns are fun on balconies, in backyards, or to decorate basements. Add a touch of whimsy, or perhaps opt for a fancy meal under the soft glow of a lantern. These would also make great decorations for a first anniversary party.
Newspaper Print Clothes
There are some cute (and some ridiculous) newsprint clothes available, which is a slight bending of the rules, but definitely on the paper theme!
Hopefully you’ve found some inspiration for paper themed first anniversary gifts for a couple! If you’re still stumped for ideas, you can never go wrong with a thoughtful note or card.