Anniversary gift suggestions for budget minded bluegrass couples

Do you have a big wedding anniversary coming up? We just recently celebrated our 30th, and I decided to consult the list of year or milestone-appropriate gifts as a guide for my gift (the 60th anniversary gift, by the way, is an actual milestone, which is very expensive to ship). If you’re like me, you would probably have remembered that the 25th is silver and the 50th is gold; beyond that, I didn’t have a clue, and I found that perusing the list was pretty enlightening and at times surprising.

For one thing, there’s a “traditional” and a “modern” list. In some years, the difference between the two is pretty dramatic: for the 10th anniversary, for example, the designated “traditional” gift is something made of tin or aluminum (such as a can of diet Dr. Pepper), while the “modern” suggestion is diamond jewelry.

I think most bluegrass fans naturally gravitate to the traditional list, out of reverence for tradition, of course, not out of cheapness. Perish the thought. Bluegrass fans, though, especially ones in marriages where both spouses are bluegrass fanatics might want some guidance for ways to express their love of the music while adhering to the traditional anniversary gift protocol. 

Working with the traditional list, I’ll make suggestions for both the high and low budget bluegrass gift-giver:

1st anniversary: paper

High budget: Neil Rosenberg and Charles Wolfe’s The Music of Bill Monroe

Low budget: subscription to the Tri-county Friends of Bluegrass Quarterly

2nd anniversary: cotton

High budget: hand-sewn bass case

Low budget: 1997 “gently used” festival T-shirt

3rd anniversary: leather

High budget: Sorrell custom boots

Low budget: mandolin strap or leather keychain that says “Keys of B”

4th anniversary: fruit or flowers (here again the “traditional” and “modern” gifts diverge drastically: the modern gift calls for “appliances,”)

High budget: new banjo with hearts and flowers inlay

Low budget: a ripe peach

5th anniversary: wood 

High budget: Lloyd Loar mandolin

Low budget: wooden plaque that says, “Pickin’ Partner For Life”

8th anniversary (the 6th and 7th anniversaries are traditionally forgotten): Bronze

High budget: bronze statue of Bill Monroe

Low budget: a set of strings (at this point in the marriage you may want to change strings a little more often)

9th anniversary: willow or pottery

High budget: a set of 5 handmade ceramic mugs, each bearing a different face of one of the Blue Grass Boys of 1946-47

Low budget: a picnic in a willow garden (on second thought . . .)

10th anniversary: aluminum or tin

High budget: an aluminum barn, ideal for holding your own indoor bluegrass festival (next year)

Low budget: a sixpack of Bud Light

15th anniversary: crystal

High budget: crystal moonshine jug

Low budget: Crystal Gayle poster

20th anniversary: China

High budget: Chadwick folding bass, made in China (a stretch, I know)

Low budget: 1997 festival mug, matching 2nd anniversary T-shirt

25th anniversary: Silver

High budget: guitar-shaped silver gravy boat

Low budget: smaller guitar-shaped silver gravy boat

30th anniversary: Pearl

High budget: vintage guitar with mother of pearl inlay

Low budget: download of Flatt & Scruggs’ “Pearl Pearl Pearl”

35th anniversary: Coral

High budget: coral sculpture of Red Allen or Red Rector

Low budget: postcard of coral reef from recent bluegrass cruise

40th anniversary: Ruby

High budget: ruby-studded banjo strap

Low budget: honey, are you mad at your man?

After the 40th, successfully remembering the date at all is a gift in itself, and at this point you’ve earned just letting other people give you couple anniversary gifts.