The first anniversary gift is traditionally something made of paper. The obvious choice is a nice notebook or personalized stationery, but who wants an obvious gift? These 14 first anniversary gift ideas make the tradition a bit more fun for the modern age. The theme of a paper gift offers plenty of playful and romantic ideas for those willing to think creatively.
Here are a few favorites that are sure to leave your spouse looking forward to another great year!
First Anniversary Gift Ideas: The List!
The days of tacky photo albums are long gone. It’s now easier than ever to create an archival-quality custom photo book from your wedding day, honeymoon, or favorite social media shots.
When it comes to your first anniversary gift, our recommendation is to splurge on a “layflat” hardcover photo book from Pinhole Press. Print and paper quality are second-to-none, they have a nice weighty feel in your hand, and perhaps best of all, they lay perfectly flat when open.
Go do something together. Have a new experience! You can gift a paper ticket to a concert, a sporting event, a play, a hot air balloon ride, or just about anything else for that all important first anniversary gift. The possibilities are endless. You can even splurge and get a plane ticket and surprise your partner with a spontaneous trip.
- StubHub is our top choice for sports events, big name concerts, and everything in between.
- Ticketfly is great for finding indie music shows and other under the radar events in your hometown. Just select your city at the top and then explore!
Just make sure to print out the ticket on paper. If it doesn’t come with an official printable ticket, you can make one yourself.
Coloring books aren’t just for kids anymore. Lost Ocean and Secret Garden are just two of hundreds of options. Match your selection to your spouse’s favorite interests, whether it be cooking, gardening, or swearing. And make sure they’ve got the right tools for the job, like this Studio Series Coloring Set.
If you’re also celebrating your very first year of living together, a piece of art is a great way to add a custom touch to your new home. Since this is a paper anniversary gift, go with something wedding-related or choose a theme that has personal meaning to your relationship.
Minted supports independent artists while offering different size and framing options. You can shop their Limited Edition Art collections by theme: beach, cities & states, botanical, food, landscapes, and even bohemian.
The creatively designed Our Q&A A Day: 3-Year Journal for 2 People is a great way to stay connected the whole year through. With a different question to answer each day and only enough room for a sentence or two each, this is one daily practice that will never seem like a chore. Watch your relationship evolve as your answers change from year to year!
The Big Activity Book for Couples is a bit less personal but still loads of fun!
Maybe a bottle of wine too?
Flowers are often a default gift option for anniversaries so why not play up the paper anniversary theme with a subtle twist? The first anniversary tradition is the perfect chance to give her a brilliant bouquet of paper flowers made by The Flower Craft Shop. They’ll serve as an everyday reminder of a love that never wilts.
Our other favorite Etsy sellers for paper blooms include:
- Thee Paper Girl – Check out her custom bouquet made from the pages of a favorite book.
- Posh Studios – Go big with a spectacular paper flower backdrop or request something custom.
- A Paper Event – Vibrant colors, exquisite details, and intricate arrangements made in North Carolina.
For the artistically inclined, a hand drawn custom family portrait is a guaranteed hit. If you’re a risk-taker, go ahead and draw something yourself. If stick figures are the best you can muster, then check out this custom illustrated portrait service from Etsy shop owner Ana Mikulic. We love Ana’s slightly silly cartoonish style. Her work is so good that she often has a lengthy backlog. Order early!
Looking for a different look? Again, Etsy is where you’re most likely to find just the right style at a decent price. Be sure to check out these other talented artists doing custom illustrated portraits:
- Sheridan Hayes – Quick turn around time (4-5 days) for a high-res digital file to print yourself.
- Nora Wright – Nora’s “Story of Us” hand painted portraits are unique and totally affordable. Ships from the UK with free gift wrapping.
- Printable Wisdom – Ashley does A LOT of business on Etsy. Her illustrations are beautiful if also a bit on the “safe” side. Budget 3-4 weeks for delivery based on recent customer feedback.
What’s more precious than a collection of handwritten letters from the one you love? This one takes a bit of planning ahead but really pays off in the end. There are a bunch of different Letters To My… books, but two in particular are best bets for your first anniversary: Letters to My Love and Letters to Open When.
Take a look at the prompts and decide which one is right for you.
Your vows may very well be the most important words you’ve ever said to each other. This custom letterpress print with deluxe pigment ink from Minted is a great way to preserve your vows for posterity. They’ll even mount and frame it for you. All you have to do is endeavor to live up to these words each and every day!
Another fun option is to have your vows or wedding song inscribed and preserved under solid glass in a custom sterling silver necklace or earrings set from online shop Paper Anniversary. If you’re shopping for him, these custom wedding vows cufflinks are your best bet. They’ll do rush production too, just in case you’re running out of time!
Whatever your spouse’s passion, take the time to find a special version of a book that’s important to them. Track down a first edition of their favorite novel or vintage sheet music from a favorite artist. Source a cherished comic book or out-of-print cookbook.
A great place to start your first anniversary gift search is to walk into your local bookstore and ask for recommendations. Indiebound can point you to the best independent bookstores in your area.
A watercolor paper or other art paper pad and accompanying art supplies is a nice spin on the paper notebook idea. When it comes to watercolor paints, the Kuretake sets from Japan really stand out. If your partner doesn’t draw or paint you can also include this great how-to watercoloring book.
And of course there’s no shame in adult coloring books.
If you are into board games, finding a card based game is a great one year anniversary gift, especially if you make it into a whole evening of fun. Here are a few of my favorite picks because they are easy to learn and lots of fun for two players:
If your spouse is into traditional card games with a standard deck of cards, Theory 11 produces many beautiful playing card sets including the exquisite black and gold Monarch playing cards.
An antique map of your town, the place where you met, or where you took your honeymoon would make a beautiful and meaningful first anniversary gift. Raremaps offers a wide selection of maps and price points if you are short on time. Alternatively you can do some digging at your local flea market or antique bookstore.
Artist A.J. Gottberg creates heart-shaped collages from maps of important locations in your relationship.
While not vintage, Lovecation Map will create a stylized map of the place where you met along with your names. You can order the map framed or as a pdf to print at home.
Your spouse will think they’re getting just a book but when they crack the cover, surprise! It’s a handcrafted secret safe filled with some of their favorite things, like jewelry or fancy chocolates. This is a nice way to play with the paper gift idea outside the rules of tradition. For a wider selection of titles, also check out Hollow Books by Refined Pallet.
If you’re having trouble deciding which romantic photo of the two of you to have printed and framed, Minted’s Heart Snapshot Mix means you don’t have to choose. Personalize it with 30 casual snapshots and they’ll automatically arrange them into a fancy heart design for archival printing at whatever size you desire. They have a great selection of frames too!
Scratch off maps and push-pin travel editions are showing up on walls across America. There’s now something for every wander-lusting couple. Whether you and your sweetie aspire to see the world, hike every National Park, or get a sunburn on every island in the Caribbean, there’s a map for that! Order it framed with a custom title and then sit back and let someone else do all the work for you.
Did We Miss Your Favorite First Anniversary Gift Idea?
Tell us about it in the comments and we might include your suggestion in our regular post update!
Want More Original Gift Ideas?
Join our VIP Mailing List for a monthly email with quick links to our best discoveries.