Wedding Week III: 14 DIY Anniversary Gift Ideas

This post is a little compilation of sorts, with a few never before seen items tossed in for fun. We’re rounding up a slew of personalized and meaningful momentos that we’ve sprinkled throughout our house to remind us of special days gone by. Because you gotta keep the romance alive at home, right? Some of them are homemade DIY projects while others are just things we decided to display (that we previously had tucked away in a closet or drawer). And the good news is that none of them are very hard to do (or hard to swing, for those on a budget). Hooray for easy and sweet home accessories that feel oh so customized – without draining the ol’ bank account of course.

Our first item is the wedding shadow box that we already mentioned in a wedding post a while back. But we figured a bigger (and clearer) photo would better depict the setup. All we did was toss in fabric from our DIY table runners along with our actual place cards, invitation, thank you post card, favor envelope and a save-the-date photo strip along with a lemon & lime napkin from our big day. Voila: our wedding in a box. Learn more about how we put it all together here.

When it came to filling an inexpensive Ikea frame that we picked up to accessorize the three floating shelves in our dining area, we both wanted to hang a bit of food-related art to set the stage. So we looked no further than three favorite wedding photos (one that features the table setting, another that shows off some of the fresh fruit that we served, and one that showcases all of our pretty white wedding cupcakes lined up and ready to be devoured). We love that instead of being tucked away in an album they’re out for us to enjoy on a daily basis.

One of our most treasured wedding remnants are the photo strips that our friends and family left behind for us (we requested that they slide through the booth at least twice so they could take a photo strip with them and leave one for us). We keep all of them corralled in a lovely white leather album, but we selected a few favorites to photocopy and hang on the wall above our console table in the living room in two different frames. Simply taping seven of them to white cardstock (3 in one frame, 4 in another) was all it took to showcase them for less than a dollar. And we love when our friends and family stop to check them out on their way in the door.

A tradition that dates back to our dating days is to step into a photo booth at a restaurant or bar on a special day to commemorate the event. Then we just record the occasion (engagement, anniversary, birthday, found out we’re prego, etc) on the back and stick them in a cup on the open shelves in our dining area to enjoy. Read more about that tradition right here.

And speaking of sticking things in a cup, we also have a tradition of having sushi every single New Year’s Eve that we’ve been together (the first few years were a coincidence, but now we make an effort to grab sushi on the last day of each year). Then we just write the date and the place on a chopstick that we take home from the restaurant and corral them all in a pretty vase to keep track of all the delicious meals we’ve shared to usher in the beginning of each year together.

We’re back to wedding paraphernalia, and this time it’s two stacks of cards that our beloved friends and family filled out for us. The pile on the left is actually a collection of RSVP cards that people sent back with adorable little notes on them to share in the excitement. And the pile on the right is a stack of sentiment cards from our wedding day itself (instead of signing a guest book we asked people to share advice or just leave a simple message on these DIY voice bubble cards that we printed out in our wedding colors). Flipping through each stack from time to time is definitely something I really enjoy- and I often find different cards on top of each pile to indicate that John has been flipping through them as well. Even those quirky wood block printing letters (picked up at a flea market) remind us to stop and smell the roses when it comes to our relationship.

Another cute little tradition we’ve kept going is sending ourselves a postcard whenever we travel. It’s a great way to record special memories from the trip – like restaurant names, and activities that we’ve enjoyed. And instead of tucking them away in a box in the closet, we drop them all into a glass vase on the fireplace mantel in the den that we can glance at to remind us of all the fun places we’ve experienced together.

This is an example of a simple purchased item that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy when we gaze at it. We snagged this print a while back for $35 including shipping, and the soft “thistle” color really complements the sandy-gray paint on the wall of our living room. John is a typography freak, so he adores it for the graphic nature of the print. And I love it for the oh-so-sweet message that we see every time we step in the front door.

Next we have yet another little typography-based collection of two. When we spotted each of our initials at a local shop a few months back, we had to have ’em. Especially because they’re white and ceramic (and we all know how much I love anything white and ceramic- like those birds in the background). Sometimes when I’m watching TV I find myself staring at our initials adoringly- kind of like a fifth grader who scribbles the name of her crush over and over again in her notebook. Sure it’s sappy, but it’s amazing how tiny reminders of our union like these can be so touching- and they really make a room feel extra personalized and special.

Next we have the vintage map (from 1907!) that I scored for cheap on eBay and mounted in a frame without the glass on top of a piece of cork board that I picked up at Target. It was a Christmas gift for John a few years back and it’s been quite a hit. We just use simple map pins from Office Max to track all the places we’ve been together, from the California road trip we enjoyed a few months after we started dating to the big 40 hour drive to and from Texas that we tackled last summer. Check out a video of that crazy trip here.

And recently we added yellow pins to the mix to indicate the places that we’ve been with Clara. In fact she’s already enjoyed a trip to the coast of Delaware (and she’s a great little traveler… thank goodness!).

We can’t forget the framed keys that I whipped up for John to celebrate all the places that we’ve lived since we began dating five years ago. The first key is from John’s Upper West Side apartment and the second is from my apartment in The Village (where we each lived in 2005 when we met). The third key is from our first shared apartment here in Richmond and the last one is the key to our current casa (both from 2006 when we packed up and moved to Virginia).

And it was super easy to make (after I begged John’s old roomie to send a copy of his key my way to complete the collection). I picked up an affordable little shadow box from Target and simply adhered each key with a few dots of Liquid Nails and scribbled the location and date of each key underneath. To this day it’s one of our favorite items in the entire house. The keys are like fun little artifacts of our relationship.

We also filled the sliver of space above our bed with personalized initials which say “J”, “and” (in sign language), and “S.” This free project just called for a bit of googling around for initials we loved (which we customized in Photoshop and printed right at home). Then we popped them into three already-owned Ikea frames that we knew would be perfect for the space.

We love that they even indicate which side of the bed we sleep on. Sweet.

This next project is a more recent one that we shared with the big bathroom makeover. We loved the idea of some DIYed “vintage”signs to fill up some wall space in there, but when it came to what the signs would say, we wanted them to have meaning to us. So since we worked right near Grand Central (where we met) and had both lived in Astoria, Queens at one point, we decided that selecting those locations for our homemade signs was the way to go. Now they’re connected to so many memories, and the fact that we made them together also feels more romantic than anything we could have picked up at the store. Learn more about how we whipped them up here.

Here we have a customized calendar that we made at the beginning of this year. We decided that nothing would feel more personal and sweet than picking a quote that we love for each month of the year. And while some are just plain weird (like April’s “You look like a rabbit” and June’s “And then he ate my brain”), some are downright sweet (like July’s “I do” in honor of our wedding month). Check out the whole calendar making process and download a free template to make your own here.

Here’s another NYC related item that brings us back to the good old days of strolling hand in hand through Central Park or Washington Square Park together. We actually received a box of New York City Walk cards as a gift, and after we moved to Virginia we decided that instead of keeping those cards in a drawer we should frame a few of our favorite walks from back in the day. It was super easy to pop them into inexpensive Ikea frames, and we love that they remind us of time spent together during our courtship in the big apple.

Lastly we have our little vacation jars, which are filled with everything from a hot stone from a massage that we enjoyed on our Alaskan honeymoon to shells, sand, and even a Metrocard from our trips of yore. Simple fifty cent canning jars become charming time capsules when you fill them with items that you’ve collected on each journey and label them with the location and date written on a piece of clear tape in the front of each one. It’s such a cheap-o project, and they’re another set of keepsakes that never fail to elicit complements and interested glances from friends and family. Plus it’s always fun to pick up things for each jar while we’re traveling and sift through ’em to select only the best of the best when we get home.

So that’s how we do our best to inject some romance and a bit of customized personality into our humble home on the cheap. What do you guys do to commemorate special events when it comes to home decor? Any frame collages of family members? Or collections of magnets from trips you’ve taken together? Do tell.

Psst- For more DIY art ideas, check out our How To page (see that tab under the header?) and scroll down to the “Artsy Ideas” category.

Pssssst- As good as John and I think we are together, Burger and Clara have us beat. They’re the cutest little pair that ever lived. See for yourself here.


  1. says

    I love how thoughtful y’all are. It’s amazing how many little bits of your history you have displayed around your house. I wish I would’ve found your blog three years ago when my husband and I first got together. We lived in three different homes before we bought our house so the key display would’ve been a perfect gift.

  2. says

    I love all of the love accessories! :)

    What size is your framed map?

    I love the idea of adding different colored pins for Clara. Cute! She will really cherish that one day. When I was younger my grandparents traveled a lot for them business and they put pins in a map everywhere they went. I always loved going over to their house and seeing what pins they added this time!

  3. Sugar Cookie says

    For our wedding, a family friend gave me and my husband a case of wine made just for us, complete with labels stating our married names and wedding date. Every anniversary, we drink a bottle of the wine in the champagne flutes from our wedding toasts. (We only have ten bottles of wine, so we will have to do something different when we run out after being married for 10 years!) We also watch our wedding video – it’s so fun to relive the day once a year!

    As for sentimental art, we have the framed “reserved” sign from our wedding table (again, complete with our married name), along with a framed invitation and some centerpieces from the reception as well. You guys are right – it’s so nice to have sweet reminders of our wedding day around the house :)

  4. Diane says

    Having 3 children under the age of 7 means we have ALOT of artwork. My very favorite pieces get matted and framed in inexpensive Target or Hobby Lobby frames OR they get mounted on to painted canvas…that gives a multimedia art feel. Other random art that the kids hate to part with, paper our wals leading to the basement (it is unfinished, but has the laundry and my work space) I love being surrounded by things that remind me of family and what is truly important!

  5. Claire says

    These are my favorite kinds of posts. The DIY decor! Thanks for refreshing our memories about all of the neat little ideas you two have incorporated into your home.

  6. Kelsey says

    We have a travel journal that we take on every trip. During our trip we’ll write down what we’ve been up to, jokes we shared, meals we ate, interesting characters we met, etc. over a beer or cup of coffee. We can also look over our past adventures since it’s all in the same journal. You think you’ll remember all those details but when we go back to read we realize how much we’ve forgotten, good thing we wrote it down! I think it’ll be a fun keepsake for our kids to have one day too.

    Love your ideas, we’re just in our 4 month of marriage so we’re still forming our traditions. We plan to write each other letters within this first year of marriage to be opened on our 10 year anniversary.

  7. ErinC says

    I love these ideas.. they are super good for a packrat like me that is scared to throw anything away.. now I have ideas for putting meaningful things on display without cluttering up the place :)

  8. Cara C says

    Fantastic and touching ideas =). The everyday effort you guys put into your relationship is such an inspiration.

  9. Jes says

    I recently found your blog, and i LOVE these ideas! Although i am not married or even engaged (soon hopefully!) i have kept special things like this over the past 4 years of my boyfriend and I dating… They are chilling in a box right now, this gave me some great ideas to display them in the open for everyone to see! =) Thanks! (Burger and Clara are CUTE by the way!)

  10. says

    I love the wedding food picture frame idea! I did something similar with photo coasters – rather than putting our faces in the coasters, I put in pictures of our wedding flowers, cake, etc. But I’m totally stealing your idea as well!

    Oh yes, and happy anniversary!

  11. Kelsey D says

    Happy Anniversary! I love all of your thoughtful ideas! My favorites are the map, the keys and the initials over the bed. I hope to incorporate these in my new home soon! Thank you for continuing to inspire both with your great decor, but also your lovely little family! :)

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