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 favorite one year wedding anniversary gifts that are sure to leave your spouse looking forward to another great year!

The List! First Anniversary Gift Ideas

1. Custom “Layflat” Photo Book: Remember the Day

First Anniversary Gifts - Custom Photo Books
The “layflat” binding means a single photo can span more than one page.

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.

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

First Anniversary Gift Ideas: Event Tickets
Take the opportunity to go to a special show together.

May 2020 Update: This one is a bit tough right now due to the coronavirus shutdown, but consider planning something towards the end of 2020 or for next year. You can still give the tickets now and then let the anticipation build!

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 for sports events, big name concerts, and everything in between are endless with StubHub.

You can even splurge and get a plane ticket and surprise your partner with a spontaneous trip.

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. Adult Coloring Books: Keep the Calm

One Year Anniversary Gifts - Adult Coloring Books
Johanna Basford’s coloring books define the category.

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 - Fine Art Print
Support artists and find a great gift for your sweetie.

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.

5. Journal for 2 People: Treasure the Time Together

1st Anniversary Gift - Q&A A Day Journal
Keep the conversation going with this simple routine.

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 Gifts - Paper Flowers
Send in a photo and The Flower Craft Shop will recreate your wedding bouquet!

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.

7. Custom Portrait: Personalized Art for Two

Custom Anniversary Portrait
A custom illustrated 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 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.

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, & More

1 Year Anniversary Gifts - 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. 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.

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 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.

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 #1: 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 have a great selection of frames too!

Bonus Idea #2: Framed Push-Pin Travel Map

1 Year Anniversary Gifts - Push Pin Travel Maps
Geojango’s travel maps are made in the US and are the best reviewed on Etsy.

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!

Also check out our other posts: 2nd Anniversary Gift Ideas: Cotton, 5 Year Anniversary Gift Ideas: Wood, and 10 Year Anniversary Gift Ideas: Diamonds.

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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. My husband bought a star map from and I absolutely love it. He was able to recreate what the sky looked like on our wedding night. It’s hanging in our bedroom and I couldn’t be happier!

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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 🙂

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. An anniversary sundial is a good idea, we have one that sits on the window sill in our family room and it makes rainbow colors stream into the room when the sun shines. My husband got me a special paper certificate for it that let me choose where to put it in the house and then to have it handmade specifically for my favorite window – he thought he was so clever to give me both a paper gift as well as a cool clock. It has a special line on it that the time shadow follows on our anniversary day each year, and a mark on the line at the time we were married. Every year since, we have had a champagne toast when the shadow hits the mark to celebrate! I don’t remember what it is called exactly but you can find it online with a search. Check it out, it is very personalized and one of the coolest anniversary ideas I have ever heard about.

  9. Our first wedding anniversary is coming up so I came here for ideas – so many good ones! But I’m also considering making a paper mache piñata and filling it with some of his favourite lollies and chocolates ? and maybe a lottery ticket with some significant numbers?!

  10. First anniversary is one of the most special occasion for the married couples and dating couples too. Though it’s been one year I am dating a guy. And I was searching for gift ideas online for a long time . Then I found your blog and finally I got an ideas to gift him a heart shape photo collage of our pics. He liked this gift a lot. So thanks for such a good suggestion.

  11. I really loved the idea that you can gift a hand-drawn custom family portrait. I know my husband loved wall decor, and we have never actually printed off our wedding pictures, so I think that a painting of that day would be something he would love and hang up. Unfortunately, I am definitely not talented enough to make justice to such an awesome day, but I will look online for someone that could help me out.

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