The tradition of anniversary gifts dates back to medieval Germany, when a husband presented his wife with a silver wreath after 25 years of marriage. Over the years, the tradition grew and numerous lists were created indicating the type of gift appropriate for each year of marriage. While merely suggestions, it's fairly easy to come up with a meaningful anniversary gift when you combine the items on the list with a little creatively.
Emily Post published the first version of the traditional list of yearly anniversary gifts in 1922. It didn't include a gift suggestion for every year of marriage -- up to the 50th anniversary -- until 1957. According to Post, it's traditional to give your spouse cotton on your second anniversary, bronze or pottery for the eighth, lace for the 13th and coral for the 35th anniversary. If you put some thought into the gift you choose, the vague suggestions listed become romantic. For example, give matching monogram bath robes for your second anniversary, take a pottery class together for your eighth and arrange a vacation to scuba dive along the coral reefs in the Bahamas for your 35th anniversary.
In 1937, the American National Retail Jewelers' Association created a modern list of anniversary gifts. While the list is more specific and requires less creativity, the gifts tend to be impersonal. A clock, silverware and a desk set are the listed anniversary gifts for the first, fifth and seventh anniversaries. Consider having the clock and desk set engraved with a romantic quote to give the gift a personal touch and give your spouse jewellery made from antique silverware instead of a silverware set.
The tradition of giving flowers to the one you love dates back to the Victorian era, when expressing your feelings publicly was easier using flowers rather than words. However, different flowers symbolise different things, so it's important to choose the appropriate flower. For example, daisies -- associated with the fifth wedding anniversary -- symbolise a loyal love, beauty and simplicity.
If you find it easier to buy jewellery for your spouse each year, there's a gemstone symbolising every year of marriage. The list -- created by the European Jewelry Guild in 1912 -- lists mostly common gemstones. Rubies are considered appropriate for the 15th wedding anniversary and diamonds adorn the list three times, for the 10th, 60th and 75th anniversaries. However, lesser known gemstones made it onto the list as well, such as iolite as a 21st anniversary gift.