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A Material World

Last Minute Gift Guide

If you’re stuck for a gift idea, why not turn to anniversary traditions for inspiration?

Let’s say you’re drawing a blank—and we mean a wall of lake-effect whiteout—on what to give a friend or loved one who has everything, or wants nothing, or who is just, every year, an insoluble cipher.

And the clock is ticking. Loudly.

Here’s an idea: Figure out how long you’ve known this troublesome but lovable person and treat the holiday as an anniversary, to which longstanding (though variable) traditions ascribe materials.

Peccary Gloves with Baby Alpaca Lining, $195
Born in Buffalo sweatshirt, $37

• For example, the first anniversary traditionally calls for a gift of paper. To us, that means a trip to Western New York Book Arts Center (468 Washington Street), where you’ll find all manner of beautiful letterpress works of art and stationery. A book, of course, will also fit the bill, and is as easy to find as a trip to your locally owned, independent new or used bookstore, such as Talking Leaves, Rust Belt, Second Reader, West Side Stories, and many more.

• The second anniversary calls for a gift made of cotton. There are a lot of great locally owned t-shirt and clothing shops out there—too many to list, in fact—but we’ve always been fond of a particular line of clever, Buffalo-themed garb: Born in Buffalo, originator of the “My Buffalo Smells Like Cheerios” and “1 Before I Die” (as in one Super Bowl or Stanley Cup victory) slogans. For the less jingoistic supporter of local design, consider the work of Planet Love (

• The third anniversary calls for leather, and given the robust arrival of winter, a fine pair of leather gloves seems in order. Try O’Connell’s Clothing (3240 Main Street)—pricey, perhaps, but when you buy good goods, you only cry once.

• The fourth anniversary calls for fruit or flowers. The latter is easily accomplished. So is the former—a box of clementines is a seasonal tradition. But, if you’d like to up the ante a bit, how about fruit share for next season from a local farm?

• The fifth anniversary is wood. Take a trip out to the Schoolhouse Gallery (1954 Olean Road, south of East Aurora) and check out the work of Roycroft artisans Ben Little, Thomas Pafk, James Cordes, and the recently retired Tom Harris.

• The sixth anniversary is sugar. You really ought to make something simple and sweet yourself: a cake, a jar of walnuts in honey, some cookies. But the world is full of fine bakeries and chocolatiers…

• The seventh anniversary calls for something made of copper or wool. You don’t have time to knit a hat or scarf, but you can find plenty of warmth at Buffalo Fleece & Outerwear (758 Elmwood Avenue). As for copper, the Roycroft artisans will save your bacon again: Visit the Copper Shop on East Aurora’s Roycroft Campus (31 South Grove Street.)

• The eighth anniversary calls for bronze or pottery. Bronze is hard on short notice (unless you can afford a sculpture by Buffalo maestro David Derner) but pottery is a cinch: You can try the Roycroft again, or Indigo Gallery (74 Allen Street), or Wild Things (224 Lexington Avenue), or any of the dozens of other galleries and gallery shops throughout the region.

• Pottery is also acceptable for the ninth anniversary (relationships fall into a pattern after a while, after all) but so is willow. This is tricky. You could buy a Pussy Willow Pass for Dyngus Day Buffalo (, but Dyngus Day is not until April 21, and that’s not everyone’s ball of wax anyway. Alternate gifts appropriate to the ninth anniversary include poppies and jewelry made of lapis lazuli.

• The 10th anniversary is tin. Your best bet here is a stroll through Allentown or along Hertel, scouring antique shops for suitable vintage tin toys or signs.

You get the idea: The 11th anniversary is steel; the 12th anniversary is silk or linen; the 13th anniversary is lace; the 14th anniversary is ivory, for which gold or pearls are modern alternates; the 15th is crystal; the 20th is china; the 25th is silver; the 30th is pearl; the 35th is coral.

After that, your relationship may grow expensive: 40th, ruby; 45th, sapphire; 50th, gold; 55th, emerald. But you can always use the color, rather than the material, as a point of reference. But for the 60th, the diamond anniversary, you’re on your own…

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