Leather, Linen or Lace?
No one seems to know who dreamed up the year-by-year gift register that matches particular materials to wedding anniversaries — such as paper for the first, iron for the sixth, silver for the 25th — but the list has been around for more than a century.
The inventor was most likely of the Victorian era, when the passion for celebrating all things domestic knew no limits. In 1937, an association of jewellers in the USA created a new list, featuring ready-made presents for all 75 years — clocks instead of paper for a first anniversary, desk sets instead of wool for a seventh, and so on, through the low point of groceries for the 44th year. It sounds a little bit dull. At least with wool you might get some nice socks or even a blanket!
But think outside the (gift) box, and there are lots of creative ways to celebrate these anniversaries. Mark a sapphire anniversary (45th) with a hot balloon trip into a perfect blue sky. Or use the list as inspiration for a holiday – visiting places where the materials are made or come from. What if you want a party? Use the material of the year as inspiration for decorations. Ask for practical presents. Sheets for cotton, a garden statue for bronze, new pans for steel. You can choose one expensive item, and ask people to contribute to it. If you are feeling generous you could donate any left over money to charity.
So, let the occasion inspire you to do something that celebrates your marriage. And don’t forget buying presents for the person you love most is important, but giving someone something fun, meaningful or unusual is better.