Whether you’re celebrating one year of dating or a year of marriage, nailing the first-year anniversary gift can set the tone for the year to come. Before you consult every online gift guide you can get your hands on, let’s set some ground rules so there’s little room for error. Then we’ll move onto the part where we recommend first year anniversary gift ideas.
In this article:
- 1-Year Wedding Anniversary vs. 1-Year Dating Anniversary
- Navigating Expectations in Dating
- 4 Factors that Will Influence Your Gift Decision
- Gift Guide: Match Your Gift to the Thought you Want to Express
The short version of this post…
Step 1: Be thoughtful.
Step 2: Buy gift.
(Don’t forget step 1.)
The long version...I know it’s tempting to dive right into our first anniversary gift ideas, but if we prioritize thoughtfulness for the next five minutes, making a decision will be super quick.
First, we need to know more about the woman you’re buying one-year anniversary gifts for, where her head’s at and what your gift to her communicates. After all…if it’s the thought that counts, what exactly is the thought?
That’s not a trick question.
It’s easy to think that the thought is simply remembering that it’s your anniversary and proving it with a gift. That’s a good start, but you need to nail down the thought behind the gift before figuring out what to buy (and sometimes more importantly, what not to buy). Otherwise, you risk being confronted with the awkward, “Why did you think I would like this?” or the pointed, “Is this really what you think about me?”
Reading this article will be far less painful than having to answer either of these questions.
Think of the thought as the strategy and the gift as execution on that strategy. Execution without strategy is just busy work, and there’s too much riding on this to treat it like a common chore.
Come with us on a quick journey. We’ll get you into the first anniversary gift-buying mindset and then help you make the best purchase. By the end of this, the chances of you getting it wrong will be very low. And it’s highly unlikely you’ll suffer any of the common repercussions of being thoughtless—or worse, not being able to read minds.
Important Disclaimer: Not all women are the same.
Obvious, right? You would think. Before we set out to write this post, we read a number of other articles that claim to have the best first anniversary gift ideas that any wife, partner or girlfriend will love.” Really, any wife or girlfriend? That’s a bold statement.
So, we wanted to put it out there that we know how dangerous it is to pretend for even a second that there are set rules that apply to any woman. The possible one exception is that being thoughtful—showing her that you “see” her—tends to be an empirically successful approach.
Now, let’s get to it.
1-YEAR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY vs. 1-YEAR DATING ANNIVERSARY
We’ll start with the easy stuff: Is this a 1-year wedding anniversary or a dating anniversary?
The answer to this question will heavily influence the direction of your gift buying. Someone who’s already married often has far different expectations than someone who’s potentially heading in that direction—or wants to be.
For married couples…
The first anniversary gift for your wife is traditionally something made of paper, which can feel decidedly unthoughtful and limiting. Like, should you get her personalized stationary? Concert tickets? Or, gasp, just a card?
The great thing about the paper anniversary is that you can memorialize pivotal life moments in words and images.
The key to going the traditional route is to think less about the paper and more about the message you put on it.
Since putting thoughts on paper is our specialty, getting the first anniversary gift for your wife right is a challenge we’re excited to help you tackle—without falling back on clinical or unthoughtful options.
For couples who are dating…
The rules for a great first anniversary gift for your girlfriend are completely different than first anniversary gifts for your wife. In fact, there are no official rules at all, only unstated expectations, which can be even more difficult to navigate.
We need to understand what those expectations are before we move onto the part where we make recommendations.
NAVIGATING EXPECTATIONS IN DATING
If you’re celebrating your first year of marriage, skip to the next section.
If this is your first year of dating, let’s figure out just how much is riding on your first-anniversary gift decision and create some parameters around it.
It’s important to know if your partner is eager to get married, someone who wants nothing to do with it, someone who prioritizes companionship above all—or someone who falls somewhere in the middle of those things.
If she’s eager to get engaged…
For a woman who’s hoping for an engagement ring sooner than later, getting her any ring other than that one could have unintended emotional consequences. (Remember what happened on Vanderpump Rules when Tom gave Katie the infamous “ring on a string” as a commitment present? Let’s just say it didn’t go down so well.)
We could go on, but instead, let’s just rule out rings as 1st anniversary gift ideas if she’s got marriage on the mind and that’s not your intention right now.
If she’s in no rush to get married…
For a woman who feels less pressure to get married or doesn’t place a lot of weight on it, a ring can be a totally appropriate and thoughtful nod to your commitment to her. And ultimately, your commitment is one of the most important thoughts you can communicate through one year anniversary gifts.
Congratulations: You’ve made it through the basic profiling. Now, onto the advanced stuff.
4 FACTORS THAT WILL INFLUENCE YOUR GIFT DECISION
Whether you’re celebrating your first-year of dating or marriage, here are the four things you must consider when mapping out your gift-buying strategy…
1. Is she a big gift-giver?
Or, to put a finer point on it: is giving and receiving gifts her “love language”? You don’t need to read the book to find out—you would know it if she was. She likely surprises you often with thoughtful gifts for no other reason than something made her think about you.
If this sounds like her, know that she’s likely to place a lot more weight on your choice in gifts than might a woman who experiences love in different ways. This is because gifts are how she expresses love, and so she puts a lot of thought into them.
This is just how she’s wired. And it can be lovely when you’re on the receiving end of it, but daunting when it’s your turn to be the gift-giver (especially if gifting isn’t the way you express your feelings). But long story short: You will be judged on the level of thought, not just the item itself.
2. Do you have a child together—or are you expecting?
Whether you’re dating or married, there are now (or will soon be) more than just the two of you. We’re not advocating making your anniversary a family affair—in fact, there’s a lot to be said for keeping it romantic and just between the two of you—but if your partner has recently given birth or soon will, she is assuming a new and important role: Mother. And as a new father, you may consider honoring this part of your story together as you celebrate your relationship.
A couple simple ways to go about this are with a gift that mother and daughter —if a girl— can enjoy together. Or a gift that lets your partner keep the thought of your son —if a boy— near.
3. Has she been hinting around at something specific?
Has she tagged you in a post of something she wants on Instagram or Facebook? The obvious news is that she clearly wants this thing. The less obvious news is that her tagging you reveals that she might not trust you to get her a gift she’ll like for your anniversary, so she’s taking matters into her own hands.
Chances are you wouldn’t be here if you were fully committed to getting her the thing she’s been hinting about.
While some women are really transparent and simply want what they want, there’s still a certain irony that comes with getting them what they what. It’s never really that satisfying for either of you. Proceed with caution if you’re going to take the easy way out and get her what she asked for.
After all, what Is the thought you’re communicating by doing this? “I love you enough to buy you the thing you wanted?” That’s a little boring. And it puts you in the role of magical wish-granting genie, rather than the role of thoughtful companion or lover.
If you feel compelled to go down this route, at least shake it up and pair the thing she wants with something unexpected that comes from you and conveys your thoughts, too.
4. Did you mess up in year one and feel like you’re still walking on eggshells?
Yikes. We don’t need to know what you did, but if you messed up and she stuck around, the goal is for both of you to move beyond what happened… There are so many things to say here, but let’s stick with the highlights.
Getting her forgiveness—meaning that she realizes whatever you did was a momentary lapse, not something that forever defines your character—is the product of two things: 1) Never doing the thing again. 2) Prioritizing and recognizing her feelings about it, rather than simply expressing your shame. (After all, shame is about you and forces her to tend to your feelings when what she needs is for you to acknowledge hers.)
Too deep? Okay, back to gifting. While a thoughtful gift isn’t going to solve this problem, it will say something about it. What you don’t want to do here is fall into the trap of making a grand gesture—you know, buying her a car, a house, a massive diamond ring…
While she might enjoy receiving these things, I think it’s safe to make a sweeping generalization here: we women are wired to subconsciously process these types of gifts as symbols of your shame and a substitute for any real commitment to growth in light of what happened. I’m sure you can imagine some sitcom or show where a man comes home randomly with flowers one day and his partner’s knee-jerk response is, “What did you do?” Now magnify this reaction by, like, a million.
Let’s nip this one in the bud here and now: no grand gestures. Thoughtfulness in the form of communication, not over-the-top gifts, is what she will subconsciously process as your commitment to moving forward with her.
GIFT GUIDE: MATCH YOUR GIFT TO THE THOUGHT YOU WANT TO EXPRESS
Still here? You’re a trooper.
Here’s the part where we nail down the thought(s) you want to communicate and how those directly translate into 1st anniversary gifts for her.
Which of the following seven thoughts do you want to communicate? Figure that out, and your 1 year anniversary gift (or gifts) will reveal itself.
We’ve made sure to include the option of a personalized paper fortune into each of these gifts, for tradition’s sakes.
1. You’re looking forward to your next year together.
Whether your first year together was bliss or a bit rocky—or you’re married or trying to figure out if that’s in the cards for you two—setting your intentions for the next year together helps create a shared vision for what’s to come.
2. The wedding was just the beginning.
The wedding was only chapter 1. You’re happy to be at the beginning of what will be a long journey together. Consider commemorating your first year together by personalizing a fortune with lines from the song you first danced to as a married couple.
3. You want to do life with her.
You’re both convinced you’re soulmates, who were put on this earth to find each other. You feel sorry for other couples that settled for anything less than what you have. You might even have each other’s names tattooed on your bodies at this point. She already knows how you feel about her because you can basically read each other’s minds, but you want to find a new way to express it—with heightened levels of intensity, no doubt.
4. You’re just as in love now as you were on your wedding day.
Your love is just as strong as the day you got married. Proof? You’ve spent the last year reminiscing about the most important part of that day: not the food, not the flowers, not the wedding party, but the vows you made to one another.
5. How fortunate you are to have found her.
Sometimes, hearing your partner remind you that you were exactly who they were searching for—that they were incomplete without you—is enough to keep you going for another year. Is this a message she needs to hear? Your first anniversary is a perfect time to say it.
6. You’re paying attention to the little things.
The mind can start playing tricks on people in relationships—making them feel like their partner doesn’t find them as interesting as when they first met. Reminding her just how interested you are can be as easy as calling out the little things between you, like an inside joke that no one else gets—or finding a special place for her to store that optimistic little fortune you saw her sneak into her purse after a Chinese dinner.
7. You want to honor her for her role as partner and mother.
She’s the mother of your child—or will soon be. She’s also your lover. These are two roles she might still be struggling to juggle. Let her know that you see her and admire her in both of them.
8. You've thought about her love language
If you want to honor her love language message holding jewelry will do just that if her love language is gifts and/or words of affirmation. To honor acts of service or quality time it can be a great idea to cook a meal, then present her gift at the end.
Do you have a clearer idea of what to get her and the thought behind it?
Remember: You’re already winning because you didn’t forget your one-year anniversary. The next—and more important—move is to be thoughtful, without going too over the top.
Your questions about the first anniversary gift answered:Still have questions on the first-year anniversary? Let us answer them for you!
What are some unique first anniversary gift ideas?
There are so many different first anniversary gift ideas that it can be hard to choose just one. It's a good idea to think about her interests and hobbies. If they love staying in and relaxing with a good book consider giving her the book bracelet or book necklace. If she follows her heart, or you want to show her that she's got yours heart jewelry is a great option. And it's the universal symbol for love.
What is the most popular first anniversary gift?
Our most popular first anniversary gift is a message holding locket. It's perfect because it holds a fortune that you can personalize. You can send her a meaningful message while honoring the traditional wedding anniversary theme, paper.
Our lockets are available in different styles and colors. Take a peek inside her jewelry box to see what type of jewelry she likes the most. If she mostly wears gold, go for a gold piece. If there are lots of silver jewelry pieces in her jewelry pieces, choose silver.
How do you celebrate a first anniversary?
There are many different ways to celebrate a first anniversary. How you celebrate depends on what you love to do together. Some people choose to stay at home and relax, while others may choose to go out and enjoy a special dinner or activity. For a sentimental celebration you can repeat your first date or go somewhere that means something to you. No matter what you choose to do, make sure it is special and memorable!
What are appropriate one year anniversary gifts?
An appropriate gift for a one-year anniversary is something that commemorates the special occasion. Usually, a one year anniversary gift will include something that means something to the two of you. Jewelry has always been a gift given from one person to another as it's precious and beautiful. Our jewelry pieces are also ultimately meaningful so you can personalize them with a secret note that means something to the two of you.
Popular customisations include quotes, private jokes, your wedding song lyrics, your wedding date or the coordinates of your first meeting place.
Do you give gifts for 1 year dating anniversary?
Gift-giving between dating couples can be a wonderful way to show your commitment to each other. Although it isn't customary to give a gift to commemorate a one year dating anniversary it is a nice gesture to do so.
You'll likely have a date night on your first dating anniversary. Here you can make the date unforgettable with a gift.
For more blogs on anniversaries, check out:
- Personalized Anniversary Gifts for Her
- What is a Paper Anniversary?
- Romantic Messages for Anniversary Cards
- 25th Wedding Anniversary Gifts
- 50th Wedding Anniversary Gifts
- 70th Year Anniversary Ideas
- Short Love Quotes for Your Anniversary
- Traditional Wedding Anniversary Gifts
- Shop Anniversary Jewelry Gifts For Her