First Anniversary Gift Ideas: Paper

Custom Anniversary Portrait

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!

1. Photo Books: Personal & Easy

1st Anniversary Gifts - Custom Photo Books
These square photo books are custom made with your Instagram shots.

The days of tacky photo albums are long gone. It’s now easier than ever to create a meaningful album from your honeymoon or your favorite photos together. If you’re huge on Instagram, then this Mini Photo Book with Layflat Pages is your best option. Pricing starts at only $16 and you can import your photos seamlessly. Mixbook also offers high quality custom photo prints and remarkably sharp poster prints if you want to go big.

For the more traditional hard cover photo book, Shutterfly has lots of modern and tasteful templates to choose from. This is a perfect time to start that wedding album you never got around to making!


2. Tickets: Grab a Show or Fly to Another Country

First Anniversary Gift Idea: Event Tickets
Take the opportunity to go to a special concert together.

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.

  • 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!
  • And there’s always StubHub for sports events, big name concerts, and everything in between.

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.


3. Keep Calm with Coloring Books & Pencils Too

First Anniversary Gifts - Adult Coloring Books
One of the more popular coloring books for adults!

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.


4. Art Prints: Bring Your New Home to Life

First Anniversary Gifts - Original Artwork
Support a local artist and find a great gift for your sweetie.

If you are also celebrating your first year living together, a piece of art is a great way to add to your new home. Since this is an anniversary gift, try to choose subject matter that has personal meaning to your relationship. There are countless websites devoted to selling posters and wall art, but we like to support local artists when we can. Here in the Bay Area 3 Fish Studios offers beautiful and affordable linocuts and poster prints.

If you can’t find someone local, 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. Use code SHIPFREE for free shipping!


5. 3-Year Journal for 2 People: Treasure the Time Together

You may not have all the answers, but if you try for one a day you’re bound to be all right.

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!

Make it a complete gift set by adding a set of colorful Micro-Line Pens or IceyDesigns’ lovely engraved pencils. Maybe a bottle of wine too?


6. Paper Flowers: Don’t Add Water

First Anniversary Gift Idea: Paper Flowers
Forever flowers make a thoughtful and surprising gift.

Flowers are often a default gift option for anniversaries so why not play up this 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:


7. Custom Portrait: Personalized Art for Two

1st Anniversary Gifts - Custom Illustrated Portrait
A custom family portrait is sure to be cherished for years to come.

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 Printable Wisdom.

Looking for a different look? Again, Etsy is where you’re most likely to find just the right artist. Be sure to check out these other talented artists doing custom illustrated portraits:

  • Ana Mikulic – We love Ana’s slightly silly cartoonish style. Her work is so good that she’s got a 4-6 week backlog. Order early!
  • Sheridan Hayes – Quick turn around time (4-5 days) for a high-res digital file to print yourself.
  • Kadie Foppiano – Sweet and colorful style. Choose a physical archival print or digital file to DIY.
  • Nora Wright – Nora’s “Story of Us” hand painted portraits are whimsical, original, and totally affordable. Ships from the UK with free fancy gift wrapping.


8. Letters to My Love: In Your Own Words

First Anniversary Gifts - Letters To My Love
The letters you write become a keepsake your spouse is sure to treasure forever.

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.


9. Letterpress Vows: Personal and Elegant

First Anniversary Gifts - Letterpress Vows
Letterpress is worth the extra time and money on that special first anniversary!

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!


10. Rare Book: Comics, Cookbooks, Etc.

First Anniversary Gift Ideas - Comic Books
A carefully selected vintage comic book is a sure winner.

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.


11. Artist’s Pad: More Than a Notebook

First Anniversary Gift Ideas: Art Set
Give more than a notebook. Gift an art set to inspire creativity.

A watercolor paper or other art paper pad and accompanying art supplies is a nice spin on the paper notebook idea. There are many good art sets available for the more adventurous artist or those that want to start a new hobby. 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.


12. Card Games: Play Together

First Anniversary Gift Ideas - Playing Cards
Put down that phone and play with paper instead.

If you are into board games, finding a card based game is a great first 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: Phase 10, Mille Bornes, and Fluxx. If your spouse is into traditional card games with a standard deck of cards, Theory 11 has lots of beautiful playing card sets including the green Monarch playing cards.


13. Vintage Map: Celebrate Your Place

First Anniversary Gift Ideas - Rare Map
Find an antique map of the city where you met.

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.


14. Hollow Book: Surprise Inside

First Anniversary Gift Ideas - Secret Storage Books
Don’t judge this book by its cover. Who knows what secrets lay within waiting to be unlocked?

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.


Bonus Idea: Heart-Shaped Photo Mix

First Anniversary Gift Ideas - Heart Photo Mix
Choose captioned, filters, foil-pressed, hues, or the classic look.

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’ve got a great selection of frames too!


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!

Also check out our other posts: 2nd Anniversary Gift Ideas and 10th Anniversary Gift Ideas.


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  1. I wanted to add one to your list. My husband gave me a sketch of my wedding dress and his suit created by Dreamlines. It was the most perfect gift I have ever been given. I love my sketch.

  2. I gave my husband a framed copy of the sheet music from our first dance as husband and wife. I still have it hanging in our home. Just celebrated 25th anniversary. Added sheet music for the 24th anniversary which is music.

  3. Yeah I love number 8 too! There’s something similar called NoteCube that my friend did and her hubby LOVEEEEEED it. It’s a little more established and they give you message/note suggestions which is handy. Little more expensive though 🙂

  4. My husband and I wrote letters to each other to be read before our ceremony. We ended up completely forgetting to give them to one another beforehand, and have saved them to give to each other at our one year anniversary! Ended up being a perfect and meaningful gift 🙂

  5. I also wanted to add one to this list. My husband gave me a personalized origami ball of my wedding dress and flowers created by AmberGlassArt. This was the perfect gift, I love it.

  6. How could anyone forget a book of the 100 best love poems! Great thing to do on a picnic, snuggled on the couch by the fire or just lying in bed together before you drift off to sleep! Love..Love…love it!
    The gift that keeps on giving!

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