First Anniversary Gift Ideas: Paper

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

First Anniversary Gifts - Instagram 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 Shutterfly is your best source for custom printed square photo books, square prints, and larger collage posters. For the more traditional hard cover photo book, Pinhole Press 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 Gift - 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 Gift Idea: Special Art Prints
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.


5. Tandem Activity Book: Spend Time Together

First Anniversary Gift Idea: Tandem Activity Book
Set your phones aside and settle in for hours of fun, just the two of you.

The creatively designed and illustrated Tandem Activity Book is a great tech-free date night idea. The 78 prompts are sure to make a fun night at home. The completed book can then be kept as a journal of memories, to be reflected upon for years to come.

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. The first anniversary tradition is the perfect chance to give her some nice flowers that won’t wilt made by Etsy seller A Paper Event. They’ll serve as an everyday reminder of your love for many many days.

In fact, Etsy is full of talented sellers who make a wide variety of paper blooms by hand. Be sure to check out our favorites:


7. Custom Portrait: Personalized Art for Two

First Anniversary Gift Idea: 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 by Etsy artist Ana Mikulic. She’s in Australia but works quickly and can get your portrait to you in 2-3 weeks. She also gives you a high resolution digital file at no charge. We love her slightly silly cartoonish style.

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:

  • Sheridan Hayes – Quick turn around time (4-5 days), high-res digital file to print yourself
  • Kadie Foppiano – Sweet and colorful style, choose physical archival print or digital file
  • PaperYarnMoon – Comic strip like characters, high-res digital file to print yourself


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. A 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 this custom sterling silver necklace and earrings set from online shop Paper Anniversary. They’ll do rush production too, just in case you’re running out of time!


10. Rare Book: Comics, Cookbooks, Etc.

First Anniversary Gift Idea: Special Rare Book

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 or antique version of their favorite novel. Get their cherished comic book or cook book signed by the author.

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 Idea: Drawing Set
Instead of just a notebook, gift an art set to inspire creativity. Photo credit: Moleskine

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 Idea: Card Games
Fancy playing cards and card based games.

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 Idea: Antique Maps
Find an antique map of the city where you met. Photo credit: — Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.

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 Idea: Hollow Book
Don’t judge this book by its cover. Photo credit: Secret Storage Books

Your spouse will think they are getting just a book, but a hollow book filled with something like jewelry or fancy chocolates will be a welcome surprise. This is a nice way to play with the paper gift idea outside “the rules” of tradition.


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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  • Ellie Jay
    August 16, 2017 at 3:26 pm 

    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.

  • Shelly Miles
    October 26, 2017 at 2:04 pm 

    Love this site! Thanks for all the help!

  • Frances
    October 31, 2017 at 3:16 am 

    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.

  • Stacy M.
    March 16, 2018 at 2:40 am 

    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!

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