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Feature
‹‹ V.16 No.5 | February 1 - 7, 2007

Feature

One Hundred Ways to Say “I Love You”

Anniversary gifts that last a lifetime

By Laura Marrich

The Beatles had it half right. Money can't buy you love. It can, however, as it is in the case of anniversary gifts, make your years together a lot more romantic.

Standardized anniversary anniversary gifts are a relatively modern convention. They were first proposed in 1922 by America's grande damme etiquette, Emily Post. Her book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home included suggestions for appropriate gifts on first, fifth, 10th, 15th, 20th, 50th and 75th wedding anniversaries. The idea was straightforward enough: The more time you spend together, the more precious and/or durable gifts you gifts should be (or simply, the more you should spend).

Subsequent Etiquette in Society editions applied her idea to each additional five-year "milestone" (the 25th, and 30th anniversaries, for example). This collection came to be called the "traditional" anniversary gift list.

Merchant associates were delighted to have the equivalent of another Valentine's Day, but they saw missed marketing opportunities in the remaining off-year anniversaries. (Valentine's day has often been accused of being a "Hallmark holiday"—an invention of card companies intended to perk up sluggish First Quarter sales. But, as unromantic as the idea is, love keeps our economy percolating. According to the National Retail Federation, last year's total Valentine's Day-oriented spending was expected to reach $13.70 billion.) It wasn't long before a second "modern" anniversary gift list was introduced for lesser anniversaries. In some cases (but not all, as you'll see below) colors, flowers and gemstones were included as well.

Ready to start a romantic tradition of your own? We've compiled a list of all the traditional and modern gift suggestions right here, along with a few fresh ideas. And since newlyweds tend to be short on cash, so we've also included do-it-yourself gift ideas for your first eight years together.

As Paul Simon says, there are 50 ways to leave a lover, and he should know. He's been married three times. But things might have worked out better for Rhymin' Simon if he invested a little more on flowers and the occasional love letter.