Great Anniversary Gifts Ideas & What to NEVER Buy Your Wife

Wedding season is upon us, which means many of our anniversaries are approaching. I’ve been hearing some funny or not-so-funny horror stories of husbands’ gifts to their wives lately. So, as a courtesy, I just wanted to share a few warnings of what NOT to buy your wife for your anniversary, Valentine’s or other romantic holidays you celebrate.

Particularly if your spouse’s love language is gift giving, the present you choose may be seen as an expression of how you value him or her. In our culture, women tend to value romantic gifts from their husbands.

1.  Anything related to your wife’s weight. One friend bought his wife a digital scale with a fat measurement tool. In his defense, his wife had been talking about getting one. However, she was not impressed with the unromantic gesture. The same goes for workout tapes, weights, and even gym memberships. Women are just too body conscious in this country, and a gift from their husband suggesting they need to get in shape can bring out her insecurities.

2.  Any appliance. If your wife needs a new vacuum, please help her pick one out. But not for her anniversary! Again, this is not a good expression of your love and appreciation. Crock pots, washers/dryers, and anything else that is needed to run your home falls into the same category. I suppose a possible exception would be if she tells you what she really, really wants for her anniversary is a gourmet coffee maker, or something like that.

3.  An empty box, a piece of coal or other “joke” gifts. Seriously, I’ve heard of men doing this. They all have their reasons why it was funny to them, but trust me: Don’t.

4.  Skip it. If your wife says to skip the gifts this year, because you’re saving for a deck or home improvement, you can only half believe her. I’ve heard some wives or fiancées say this but not mean it. (I am a fan of honesty, since men can’t be expected to read minds.) A small, romantic gesture is much preferred over just skipping the event. Just tell her you couldn’t let the day pass without reminding her how much she means to you.

5.  Something you can’t afford. If you’re in debt or have upcoming financial obligations, there’s no reason to spend too much to show your love. Debt causes marital stress, increased arguments, and can lead to breakups.

Keeping the above list of no no’s will keep you out of the dog house most of the time. A few top gift suggestions for any occasion include:

1.  A love letter. Find tips here on how to write a love letter. It’s a free gift, and most appreciated.

2. Send flowers or a treat. I recently received chocolate covered strawberries for my birthday and loved it. If you send flowers, know her favorites. If she works in an office, send it there with a sweet note to put on her desk.

3.  Jewelry. This can be anything from costume jewelry to fine jewelry, and you can meet any budget. Be sure to check her style and perhaps ask her friends if she would enjoy what you’re considering.

4.  Pampering. You can splurge for spa certificates, or you can make up a coupon book offering your own massages or special services, a day to herself, or other activity she enjoys.

5.  Cards or notes. Leave notes around the house for her to find. One friend was going to be out of town on his first anniversary, so he had friends go to his house each day of the week to hide a love note for his wife to find. The great thing about writing a poem or note is it truly means speaking from your heart, and your spouse will really appreciate this.

6.  Travel or getaways. One of my favorite gift ideas is to secretly plan a get-away (including babysitting if needed). It can be for one night or a week away, depending on availability and budget. Consider it an investment in your relationship. While you’re together try not to let cell phones and other technology get in the way of your sharing time.

7.  Ask, or listen. Your spouse may be giving you hints or telling you what he or she would like.

8.  Create a romantic tradition for renewing your wedding vows. See anniversary traditions inspired by celebrities.

9.  If she enjoys sexy lingerie or perfume, by all means, indulge. But be sensitive to her preferences.

Read more ideas to show love in What have you done for your marriage today? Also, 7 free gift ideas.

Have you ever given a gift you regretted, or received a gift you couldn’t believe your spouse gave you? Share your experience, so others can avoid the same mistakes.

17 responses to “Great Anniversary Gifts Ideas & What to NEVER Buy Your Wife

  1. Along the same lines, I’ve comitted to never buy a gift for my wife that has a plug. If she insists that she REALLY wants something that plugs in, I buy it for her, but not as a gift. I buy it just because she wants it.

  2. What are your suggestions for gifts for husbands? I once read a suggestion of gourmet steaks and while I think the idea has merit – I’m no gourmet cook.

    What is thoughtful and meaningful to men?

    • Great question! I will do a separate post in time for father’s day to help answer it more fully. For the short answer, read Pour Love on Your Spouse to get more in tune with his desires and wishes. More next week…

  3. Lori,

    A great post, and one I will pass on.

    That said, it’s and my chance to play the ever dreaded “not in my marriage” card. I dare say most of the “great gifts” in my wife’s mind are on your don’t give list, with appliances being top of her list. On the other side, jewelry and pampering would be a total wash.

    Of course I know her, and know she is the exception on this, so I’m doing what is best for us.

    • You make a good point, Paul. You must first know your spouse before deciding what they would like best. But enough women have complained about these “no no” gifts that it’s a useful list, especially for newly married guys.

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  5. Yeah, this is a “know your wife” thing. I would love a gym membership or anything to do with working out, but my husband knows that health and fitness is a top priority for me.

    Jewelry is OK but I’m very picky!!

    Flowers I don’t like but my husband loves so our thing is that he either just pick some or buy something that’s living…but then he has to take care of it, LOL!!!

  6. One of the first years of our marriage, I got a teddy bear and some lotion for my Christmas gift. I do not enjoy stuffed animals all that much, and lotion is quite a scent-specific thing for me. I am happy to say he hasn’t repeated this, but it was most definitely a let-down!

  7. My husband got me a couple of aquarium fish for our first Valentine’s Day together….this was after I put alot of time and effort into his gift which was very romantic….also a birthday gift he got me before we were married – a fishing pole…he enjoys fishing but I’m not really crazy about it – guys – just because you have an interest doesn’t mean we have to share the same interest and please don’t try to force us to by giving us a gift you would like to receive.
    A boyfriend and I were very much in love, but for our first Christmas together he got me 2 pair of the ugliest, bulkiest gloves I have ever seen and a gift card for gas….not the romantic gift I was hoping for…
    It is hard to show gratitude and appreciation for a gift you hate when all you feel like doing is crying because you are so disappointed and feel like throwing the gift back in his face… I think we put so much anticipation and expectation into gift giving and receiving and when our partner’s expectations don’t match ours, we have set ourselves up for so much disappointment and the partner doesn’t understand and feels hurt by our less than enthusiastic response because they may see nothing wrong with the gift they selected. Gift-giving is a slippery slope that no one can seem to navigate very well.

    • I had to kind of chuckle at the gas card! You’re right, our expectations are probably too high for one another, and it can be frustrating. Putting the effort into a less-generic gift, like the fish you wanted, shows they care. Thanks for the comments.

  8. I think that you’re idea of the free gift – love letter is a really special one.
    you don’t need to spend lots to make a big impression – romance is thinking, not spending.

    • That is what I have been trying to tell my significant other that the best gift could be something that costs only $5 but if it is meaningful to me or our relationship or reminds me of him then it will mean the world to me – i like how you put that about romance is thinking not spending. It shows you know your partner and are in tune with their likes, dislikes and how they think and see things.

  9. Agree with the above commentor about writing a love letter being a fantastic idea, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to show your love, you just need to make the effort.

    Great post.

  10. Pingback: Tried-and-True Valentine’s Day Ideas | Marriage Gems

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  12. I read a lot of books, but often use a clean tissue or any odd thing as a bookmark. I asked hubby to make me a bookmark – I patiently explained it wouldnt matter one whit what it looked like – if he made it, it would be the most treasured item I could own.
    He vehemently refused to do it. Would not even try… he said he will never ever make me a bookmark and that I was silly to even ask. I waited nearly a year in hopes he would even BUY me one, ANYTHING as a guesture.
    My best friend and her daughter made me one when I complained to her about hubbys reaction, and I love it – but I cant look at it without being reminded that my hubby isnt even comfortable enough with me to give something as basic as a bookmark a go.
    Come on fellas, its the TRYING that counts too! It could look AWFUL to anyone else, but it would look AMAZING to me. Put yourself out there, take a risk and give it a go. It means more than anything else.

  13. There is a rainbow anniversary sundial (a cool clock that uses the sun to tell time) that you can find online, we have one in our house and it is awesome. It sits on the window sill in our family room and makes really great rainbows in the room when the sun shines. My husband had it handmade just for me with a date line for our anniversary day that the time shadow follows every year on our special day. We have had ours for quite some time, and it makes a show every year on our anniversary…so it is actually a gift that does something special for the couple every year on their anniversary for as long as they are together, and beyond!

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