Looking for traditional anniversary gift ideas for a couple who likes to travel? We’ve got you covered. For the first eight years of marital bliss, anyway.

Steve and I were married Aug. 27, 2011, after one year of dating and a two-month engagement. 

Our ceremony at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, began at 10:30 a.m.. Yes, it’s a non-traditional time for a wedding, but that’s what you get when you book the church just eight weeks out. Fortunately, we’re both morning people. And let me tell you, Steve was pretty excited to have piles of bacon served at his wedding reception.

Celebrating our wedding anniversaries

A year later, when we had our first wedding anniversary, we had no idea what to get each other. Having gotten married when we were ages 38 and 42, we had accumulated almost everything we really needed or wanted before we said, “I do.” So, we decided to commemorate the occasion with a photo (in a photo) each year and purchase something together for our home. Here we are back in 2012.

first anniversary photo idea

Then, we added another nod to traditionalism (after all, we had organ music at our ceremony and we didn’t live together until the day after our wedding). We decided we’d try to find something each year that fit the traditional anniversary gift suggestions. You know the ones: paper, tin, china, silver, gold, pearls. Our rule was to keep the cost to under $100 and decided we’d look for something related to our love for travel.

map with pins

So far, we’ve been able to stay within our budget (mostly), the traditions, and the travel theme. Who knows how long we’ll be able to keep it up, but at least for now, we’ve added some unique pieces to our home. We’ve also created lasting memories of our travels. Here’s a look at the traditional anniversary gifts we’ve given ourselves to celebrate our first eight years of marriage.


traditional anniversary gift ideas

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Traditional first anniversary gift: paper

The first anniversary was pretty easy. Paper maps seemed like the most logical travel-related gift and we’d already thought about purchasing maps to document our travels.

first anniversary gift world map with pins

We had gotten the idea from Steve’s grandparents. Bud and Kathleen Teget had displayed a large world map in their den, marking the 70-plus countries to which they’d traveled together.  We loved the idea. So for our first anniversary, we purchased a world map and a U.S. map at a local office supply store. We took both to a local framer who laminated the maps, mounted them on foam core, and framed them in wood. They cost about $100 each (I know, double the budget on the first year).

us map with pins

On our first anniversary, we hung the maps on the walls in our basement and stuck a #1 pin in the first place we traveled as newlyweds: Costa Rica. We just love the maps and look forward to adding pins to them each time we return from a trip. I found the number pins HERE on Amazon.

Another great paper idea would be a gift certificate for a cooking class with The Chef and The Dish. Read about our amazing experiences taking cooking classes in our own kitchen via Skype with chefs from Italy and Spain HERE and HERE.

Traditional second anniversary gift: cotton

For our second anniversary, I found these great hand painted, continent pillow covers on uncommongoods.com. According to the website, the pillows cases are made of 100% cotton and the decoration is applied using Batik. Batik is a traditional Indian art to create patterns on fabric. The company that makes them helps the greater good by providing fair wages and development opportunities for artisans in South West India.

I purchased this set of three continent pillows from uncommongoods.com for about $95.

They fit perfectly in our downstairs living room that has a bit of a travel theme going on already. Sadly, when we updated this post and checked our link to the pillows, it looks like they are no longer sold there. Here are a few other ideas.

 Traditional third anniversary gift: leather

This one was a little tricky, so I just Googled “travel related leather anniversary gifts.” I got quite the array of suggestions but wasn’t really impressed with leather passports covers or luggage tags I saw online. Then I ran across a shop on Etsy called Killogrin Creations, that makes a subway scroll on leather with your life’s journey for about $70. It was perfect!

leather sign

Steve and I narrowed a list of places we’d traveled in our first three years of marriage to nine and sent it to the online store. In a couple weeks, we had a unique, customized piece made of leather and the perfect traditional anniversary gift for travelers like us.

The cities we chose

We included a variety of cities we’ve visited. They weren’t all necessarily our favorites, but they were the places that best summarized out first three years together. We chose our honeymoon to La Fortuna, Costa Rica; our first family vacation to Ketchikan, Alaska. Then we added our three Sine Die Adventure cities (Chicago, Nashville, and San Diego);  Branson, Missouri, near where our daughter went to college;  and destinations from our first trip to Europe together (Monaco and Salzburg).  And of course, we included Rochester, Minnesota, where we traveled the most for my appointments at the Mayo Clinic there.

Traditional fourth anniversary gift: flowers

The fourth anniversary was probably the most difficult one to figure out. The traditional gift is flowers and we had a difficult time thinking of something to purchase that wasn’t going to die in a week to 10 days. Then, Steve had a great idea! “Let’s travel to the Rose Bowl this year!”

Well, that was bit over our budgeted $100, so we scratched that idea. Pinterest and Etsy were dead ends, as well, so I came up with something on my own. I have always enjoyed photographing flowers when we travel. So I went back through my photographs and selected 16 pictures I’d taken of flowers on our travels together — like this one below from our trip to Alaska.

flower garden in Alaska

I arranged them in a 4×4 grid (since it was our 4th anniversary) and for about $60, purchased a framed print of the flower photos from www.socialprintstudio.com that arrived just in time for our anniversary. It turned out great!

flower picture

It includes photographs of wildflowers we spotted along on the highway in the Nebraska Sandhills; the wisteria we saw while on a wine tasting trip to Sonoma; gorgeous flowers we found in Anchorage, Alaska; and even the flowers from a bouquet at our wedding. They all bring back wonderful memories of the places we went during our first four years of marriage and the picture was a great addition to a gallery wall/shelf in our dining room that summer.

Traditional fifth anniversary gift: wood

There were lots of options for traditional anniversary gifts made out of wood for our fifth anniversary. We considered some type of wooden picture frame or custom wooden sign. However, both seemed a bit ordinary and meaningless. Then, a few days before our anniversary, while browsing at a local shop called Home & Closet (a must see if you’re anywhere near Lincoln, Neb.), we spotted this small, wooden box, and we knew it was meant to be.

wooden box fifth anniversary gift

It would fit perfectly in the home office we were in the middle of remodeling. Better yet, it was just the right size for storing some of the memorabilia we’d collected from our first five years. We snatched it up for $25 (or least expensive anniversary gift yet). We filled it with ticket stubs, photographs, hotel keys, and of course, a few postcards.

We save some of the memorabilia from our travels such as ticket stubs, photo booth photos, and postcards.

Traditional sixth anniversary gift: iron

Our sixth year of marriage took us lots of new directions. But the important thing is, we went in those new directions together. We focused more on our blog, we traveled to new places like St. Kitts in the Caribbean and Pawhuska, Oklahoma. And, we got more involved in our church and local community. As you may recall, after 21 years in public education, Steve resigned his position as middle school principal not knowing exactly what his next career move would be. Needless to say, this iron compass wall art seemed like a great traditional anniversary gift that year, as we aren’t sure which direction we’d go next.

gold compass wall art for iron anniversary

We found this metal compass on Etsy in a shop called AlacartCreations. It sold for $79, so it was under our budget. It has been a lasting reminder of the new direction our lives took in our sixth year of marriage.

Traditional seventh anniversary gift: wool

We knew right away that a Pendleton wool blanket was the perfect traditional anniversary gift and addition to our new home in Pawhuska, Okla. Our friend, Jaime, helped us select and order this San Miguel Pendleton blanket.

Pendleton blanketIt cost more than our usual $100. But we figured we’d been well below budget several of the previous years and this was worth the extra expense. When we’re at home, we have the wool blanket on our bed and when we’re gone, we tuck it away for safe keeping. This is because when we’re traveling, we share our Pawhuska home on Airbnb. We call it Postcard Place and you can check it out HERE.

Pendleton blanket on bed

Traditional eighth anniversary gift: bronze

If money were not an object, we would have splurged on a bronze by an artist from Pawhuska, Okla., where we live part of the time. Instead, we thought long and hard about something that cost less than $100 and would remind us of our eighth anniversary year. Since we spent thousands of miles in the car during our eighth year of marriage and bought a new vehicle that year, keychains seemed like the perfect gift.

8th bronze anniversary gift idea

We found a shop on Etsy called Jewelry Everyday that could make us bronze keychains for $19.95 each with a customized engraving. We ordered matching bronze keychains that said, “JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME” on one side. They had our anniversary date, “8.27.11” on the other side. The turnaround was ridiculously speedy! We ordered the keychains from the car (of course we did) on a Wednesday and they arrived in our mailbox just two days later on Friday!

Anniversaries are special for us and we love celebrating them. We both waited a long time before we found one another. Our traditional anniversary gifts are wonderful reminders of just how blessed we are to be on this journey together.

Next year is our ninth anniversary and the traditional anniversary gift is pottery. Any ideas?

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traditional anniversary gift ideas

  • And, we have a baby bird! A cowbird, that is. ⁣
We were so excited when we found eggs in the nest two house finches built in a fern on our front porch in Pawhuska, Okla. When we posted a picture of the nest last week, several readers pointed out that one of the eggs was not like the others - - it was a cowbird egg.⁣
Cowbirds, it turns out, have kind of a bad reputation. It seems that they don’t build nests of their own. Instead, they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and let the other birds raise their chicks. The cowbird chicks tend to develop faster than the other nestlings, and sometimes out compete them for food and resources. Because of this, there are those who give advice to remove the cowbird egg from the nest. ⁣
According to an article we read on the Audubon Society’s website, though, there are several reasons to leave the cowbird egg in place: ⁣
First, cowbirds are native to North America and have been here for millions of years and we are never going to teach them how and where to lay their eggs a different way. ⁣
Second, cowbirds are, like all other songbirds, protected in the US. In short, it’s illegal to remove their eggs.⁣
Third, cowbirds have been known to check the nests where they leave their eggs and will, occasionally, destroy nests from which their eggs have been taken. As a result, all of the resident chicks would be killed, as well, instead of one or two being outcompeted for resources. ⁣
Because of these reasons, we decided to let the natural process play out in our fern. We’ll see what happens. But what we do know is that the cowbird hatched first...and that chick is hungry.
  • 🏡 We've had such a wonderful time at our Pawhuska, Okla., home. It felt so good to actually pack a suitcase again, even if we just went to our house there and stayed put. We walked together every day, drove through the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and chatted with friends from a distance on our front porch. We took time to watch the sunset and see a mama house finch care for her babies in our hanging fern. We also explored a state park and found a waterfall. ⁣
Most importantly, we got to see our daughter, Meghan. She is an ICU nurse in Tulsa and because of her potential exposure to coronavirus, we'd not spent any time together in months. But Ann found a way to create a safe (and decorative) outdoor space for all of us to visit, share a few meals, and just be in each others' presence. We can’t tell you what a comfort it was to see her again. ⁣
In this time of sickness and uncertainty, it was nice to have a clean, safe place to get away. We are so thankful to have found this gem of a town, so many supportive and caring friends here,  and a second place to call home.
  • As we've been home since March 12, Steve has taken up bread making as a hobby. His sour dough starter is looking promising, but he also found the easiest four-ingredient artisan bread recipe that is so impressive. ⁣
We've shared the results a few times on social media and many of you have asked for the recipe, so he wrote a blog post about it. We've included a link in our bio with step-by-step instructions on how to make it. ⁣
If you bake this artisan bread, we'd love to hear about it (and see a photo). Just be sure to tag us @postcardjar. ⁣
We love this bread plain, with olive oil and seasoning, as toast with almond or peanut butter, and grilled for bruschetta. If you use the #Noom app like us, it is about 100 calories a serving (12 servings in loaf).
  • As we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day, we hope you will join us in honoring others in a time of reflection, gratitude and respect. ⁣
Both Steve's grandfathers and Ann's grandfathers all served in the military and fought in WWII. We took this photo a few years ago at Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City, Nebraska, where Ann's grandfather, Donald Shrewsbury, was laid to rest.
  • Today is the day! This afternoon our friends and fellow travel writers @lindseyranzau and @coleranzau are taking over our Instagram stories and we can’t wait for you to meet them.⁣
⁣They are travel experts on everything Minnesota and will also be sharing some of their favorite Midwest destinations in honor of #NationalRoadTripDay! ⁣
⁣Lindsey and Cole have traveled the world and love finding hidden gems and writing about them on their blog, Look About Lindsey (link in bio). You’re going to love their personalities as much as their incredible photography so be sure to watch our stories and say hello.⁣
⁣And, to see our picks for best Midwest road trips, follow @lindseyranzau where we’ll be taking over her IG stories. It’s going to be a blast and we hope you’ll come along.
  • We are so excited to announce that Minneapolis-based travel writers Lindsey and Cole Ranzau of the blog Look About Lindsey will be taking over the Postcard Jar Instagram stories Friday, May 22! In celebration of National Road Trip Day, we are trading places (and IG stories!) to show each others' followers some of our favorite Midwest road trips and destinations. ⁣
We encourage you to check out our stories tomorrow to meet Cole and Lindsey (they are so much fun) and follow @lindseyranzau where we'll be sharing some of our favorite Midwest travel experiences on their Instagram stories. When the time is right and you feel you can travel safely, we hope you'll consider a road trip in the Midwest. ⁣
You can check out the Look About Lindsey blog at the link in our bio. ⁣
@natdaycal @pilotflyingj
  • The @pwmercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, reopened today. We have talked to folks here who said employees have been working hard to clean and sanitize everything. On our walk today, we noticed that hand sanitizer that was readily available, tables were spaced out, and Merc employees were wearing face masks in accordance with CDC recommentations. We hope visitors to our little town will also do their part to keep everyone safe and healthy.

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