Have any ideas? We’re rewriting the anniversary gift list

Okay, this has almost nothing to do with the post. But Anne, mentioned below, and her broody hen Big Wig, are fostering kittens. Yes, the hen sits on the kittens. You might die of the cuteness if you saw it. If you live in the LA area and need a fluffy, chicken-identified kitten, drop us a line.

Our neighbors Anne and Bill are about to have an anniversary. Anne was thinking about a gift for Bill and referenced the traditional anniversary gift list–you know, the inscrutable wood, paper, tin list, as well as the updated list which includes clocks and tablecloths–and was less than inspired. Instead, she’s thinking about taking a class that will be beneficial to Bill, and the relationship– a cooking class, perhaps. I hope I’m not spoiling any surprises! (She had other ideas, Bill…just in case you’re reading.)

Her instinct toward classes jives with an idea Erik and I have been kicking around for a while: that money should not be spent on objects, but on experiences.

We never regret money we shell out for experience, whether that be trips, workshops, lessons or strange adventures, while we often regret the acquisition of knickknacks and gadgets. Knowledge and experience are our most important possessions. They cannot be lost or broken. They form the stuff of our souls.

So we’re interested in rewriting the anniversary list in one or two ways, and would love it if you’d pitch in ideas for Anne and I to consider.

The first option is slightly more traditional. It would be a list of gift items, arranged per year, but we could try to rewrite it to be genuinely useful from a “homesteaders” point of view. I know I was just talking about the importance of experience, but we do need good tools in a functional household, and a list could be built around that.

The second option is the experience list. What sort of skills and knowledge make up a self-reliant household–and a good relationship? How would you prioritize that knowledge on a year by year time line? Can we think of 50?

And maybe there’s a third option–feel free to toss out anything you like.

Share this post

Leave a comment


  1. I don’t know about anniversary presents but how about consensus training as an engagement gift, and a permaculture design course as a honeymoon.

  2. I love this idea. I have been living on a boat with my husband and small daughter for the past four years (three in the daughter’s case)–first on a 28-foot engineless cutter, now on a larger boat, powered by solar, rainwater catchment, etc. It’s been like being on a ropes course–you learn to trust the other person literally with your life. I will have to think about the “experience list” concept–it is a beautiful one.

  3. I like it! Updated thinking for a good tradition of “what to give for anniversaries”. One idea that sticks out in my musings is simply this: in the third year of a couplehood, stuff starts to happen. “It’s science,” Bjork explains in an interview. The hormones of sheer bliss that start out with a couple start to wane, and the 3rd year shows the shadow side, the cracks, the problems. So a couple, around that anniversary, may find the gift of a couple’s counselling session or workshops on honest relating, or an astrology reading on their relationship helpful. I’ve found it’s true across the board.

  4. Year 1 is paper: Urban homesteading book(s)
    Year 2 is cotton: Gardening tools
    Year 3 is leather: Gardening/work gloves
    Year 4 is linen/silk: sewing machine? silk worms? 🙂
    Year 5 is wood: chicken coop (with chickens)

    At some point in there, there ought to be a beehive.

  5. I like the above idea of a consensus training. Also, training in non-violent communication; there are ones they do specifically for using NVC for couples.

  6. What a great idea!!! Combining the two facets together – personal experience with urban homesteading knowledge could lead to any number of ideas for workshops, training, classes, etc. I would love to receive this “gift” in the form of shared experience, travel, and knowledge with the Misses.

  7. Year one could be seeds, which come in paper and symbolize the growth of your love for each other. Year two could be aprons and the pocket could contain a voucher for a canning lesson. If I come up with anything else, I’ll let you know.

  8. The first year should be to plant a tree – visual progress. Seed bombing is always fun – watching the flowers riot. Surfing lessons. Home improvement, like installing a new bathroom fan that doesn’t scream when you start it. Discovering new cuisines together is one of my favorites. Taking turns reading a book together. Learning a language. Fermenting. Gee, there’s so much. It’s like every day is an anniversary. +)

  9. Great idea. You wouldn’t believe the ugly brown thing we got from my parents for the “pottery” year. It holds misc crap (kids’ permission slips, etc) by the front door, and makes my mom happy when she sees it. It makes me think “WTF?!”

    We’re not big on gifts at all though. We generally go out to dinner. (Experience!)

  10. How about this?
    1st, paper–class in papermaking and tools/equipment needed for making it at home

    2nd,cotton–canvas bags or a cotton canvas and a sewing machine to make bags

    3rd, leather–don’t laugh, a leather mallet and classes in upholstery…you need a leather mallet to upholster. I bought mine for $1 at a yard sale. And, thick leather gloves will be nice but not needed for upholstery. Okay, I needed leather gloves to use with the tack puller.

    4th, fruit or flowers–fruit trees, flower seeds for edible fruits and flowers. Pecan tree would be my first choice.

    5th,wood–a basket or baskets. Mine were made by a man who cut down the white oak, cut the splits himself, and wove the basket. He gave lessons. Or, cane and lessons on how to cane a chair. I took the lessons and can do the 8-way or the flat, 1/2 inch strips like for caned rockers and straight back chairs. The chair caning teacher bought his cane.

    6th, candy or iron–what a strange couple of choices…okay how about Lodge iron skillets or other iron, such as pots, antique Griswolds. Fill that pot full of chocolate candy.

    7th, wool or copper–nice wool blankets or a loom for weaving a blanket from your own sheep’s wool. and lessons.

    8th, bronze or pottery–all the equipment to make your own pottery or pottery from a local craftsman

    9th, pottery or willow–class in herbal remedies and/or how to id plants

    10th, tin or aluminum–cut tin ornaments for yard or Christmas tree and paint…so tin snips are needed.

    For the history of wedding anniversay gift lists, go here:

    Okay, most of my gifts are very practical and involve some work. Plus, many are life skills that can yield gifts for others or items to sell.

  11. My husband and I kinda-sorta-when-it-fits follow the “gift guide”. The 2nd year (the “straw” year, he gave me a big straw hat (and presented it with a STRAWberry milkshake with 2 STRAWS). The 4th year (appliances) we got ourselves an excalibur dehydrator. The 5th year (wood) we built a better barn for the goats and sheep. This coming year is wood again, so we’ll probably keep building stuff… like fencing. Since bees are generally started only in spring, a gift should be a bee accessory instead so those with summer, fall or winter anniversaries can participate. I think mushroom spawn should be one year. Fruit trees should be the 1st anniversary… shows you’re in it for the long haul. Fencing could be another year. Alternative energy gadgets another. Maybe taking a class together could be every 3-5 years since there’s probably not that many classes one could take but I like that idea. We’re looking forward to your revised list… the current one is getting really lame now. 😛

Comments are closed.