Arrangements for Rejoicing in Romance

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My boyfriend and I are celebrating our 1-year anniversary together. Yay! I want to get him a gift, and I want to keep it small (because we live in dorms) but tasteful. I’ve looked through all sorts of ideas, but I want something out-of-the-ordinary that would make a good anniversary gift. Any suggestions?


Anniversary gifts can be tricky, especially for a first anniversary. As a college student, whole taxonomies of gifts won’t work for you living situation. Personalized cutting boards, champagne flutes, and custom-made curtains might look good in a starter apartment, but dorm life limits the things you’ll need. You probably don’t want your partner to schlep everything in and out of a dorm at the end of every year. Let’s look at some small, tasteful gifts that celebrate your year as a couple.


So, you want to conserve space and maximize taste. What’s smaller and more tasteful than a book? You might want to consider getting him some sort of personalized book for adults. Our society might spend less time pursuing dead trees than it once did, but books make for warm, inviting gifts that have the added bonus of never needing to be recharged. A personalized book will walk you through the milestones of your relationship so that you can reflect on how far you’ve come. It’s like they say: you can learn who a person is by the books they have on their shelf. A personalized book will let them know what they mean to you.


If you’re crafty, you can go with a homemade gift like a memory jar or a crochet scarf. A memory jar, where you write down all of your recollections of a year together, becomes a totem of all the time you sent together. A year, two years, or ten years later, you can pull out the memory jar and relive the important moments of your first year. A variation on the memory jar is the memory photo frame. Instead of screenshotting every Snapchat message, you can keep your favorite pictures in a special place, though including some screenshotted Snaps in your memory jar could be fun.


The obvious advantage of giving your boyfriend a crafty gift is cost. It’s usually cheaper to make something fancy than it is to buy something fancy. The downside of this is, if you’re not great with your hands, the gift can come out terribly. But if it’s not too bad, that wonkiness can be part of the charm. A three-star restaurant may serve immaculate chicken soup, but wouldn’t we rather have Grandma’s? The fact that you made it, that you took your time to build something for him, makes a homemade gift a tender and loving statement.


What about a succulent? The fleshy-leafed plants are a favorite of Instagram and white-tiled coffee shops, but they also make great house plants. A Christmas cactus or a snake plant in a fancy pot would make a unique addition to any dorm room. They’re hardy, so they can withstand the rough and tumble of college life, and for many succulents, it is easy to grow a new plant from a cutting. They don’t need that much sunlight, which would help if you live in a dorm. Finally, they don’t need to be watered too often. In fact, succulents do best with a certain degree of neglect.


Giving your significant other a plant is a gesture that suggests permanence and responsibility, without jumping headlong into the “let’s get a puppy!” phase of the relationship, because puppies, unlike plants, need lots of attention. Just be sure that you place a plate under the plant’s pot, because, like a puppy, a succulent will wet the floor otherwise.


“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” — Mitch Hedberg