DIY Anniversary Gift

A few weeks ago, my parents celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary.

with Kenton in Telluride

Do you ever struggle with what to get your parents for their anniversary? I always do. For some reason, that’s usually a tough gift for me to nail down. I usually end up getting a gift certificate to a nice restaurant. In the past, I have ordered a nice bottle of wine to be delivered to their table when I know the time/place of their own celebration. In particularly lean years, I’ve just sent a card with a nice sentiment. This year, I came up with a fun, inexpensive DIY crafty gift that was a big hit.

That is a framed piece I created myself in Photoshop, depicting all of the states my parents have lived in since they were married.

Virginia is for lovers.

My parents met and fell in love while my dad was at VMI and my mom was at Radford College in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. They married in Alexandria and I arrived while they were living in Richmond.

Illinois is where my parents lived when my dad was stationed at Scott Air Force Base, where he did his residency in family medicine. It’s also where my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and became a survivor.

Next, my dad was stationed at Reagan Air Force Base just outside of Washington, DC in Maryland.

When my dad got out of the Air Force, he accepted a position at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. (Go, Blue Devils!) We lived here for many years, formative years for me – 3rd to 8th grade.

The next move was a biggie… all the way across the country to the Pacific Northwest and Olympia, Washington. I went to high school here then took off for sunny California. My parents stayed in the rain through most of the time I was in college, until…

…they themselves moved to a sunnier climate, Arizona. This was another job move for my dad – and they’ve loved it so much here they have not left in 13 years (8 years in their current house!). That’s a record for my nomadic parents!

Photo by O’Grace Photography

For their gift, I used free downloadable state art, that I’ve mentioned before – from this site.

I grabbed a simple image of a hearts made out of maps and tiled it as the background in Photoshop.

I resized the maps and arranged them in order.

Then, I ordered a 16×20 poster from Walmart (not the best quality, but the $14 price-tag was nice!).

I tried to encourage the edges to uncurl for a few days, under heavy candlesticks on my dining room table.

That didn’t really work, so I wound up getting a custom-cut piece of foam that I mounted behind the poster in the frame.

That did the trick!

This gift was a hit – but not a hit on our wallets…


  • $29 = Frame
  • $14 = 16×20 Poster
  • $3 = foam board (20″x30″ original size, cut to 16″x20″ for free at Joann’s)

TOTAL = $46

Nice, right? You could probably save even more by getting a cheaper frame at Ikea or a thrift store – or even using one you already have.

Well, now the pressure is on… Jason’s parents celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in a few weeks. Still not sure what I’m going to get them… hmm… I can’t do the same thing because (A) they read this blog and (B) they’ve only lived in Maine (and now also spend winters in Arizona).


About Michelle Fortin

Michelle Fortin is a follower of Jesus, a wife and a mom. She's also an award winning broadcast journalist and public relations professional. Michelle spent nearly a decade working in television newsrooms across the country, both behind and in front of the camera. Training future broadcast journalists in her faculty associate roles at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and at Arizona Christian University was a cherished focus of her post-TV career. Today, she maintains a roster of public relations clients focused on empowering fellow “momprenuers.” She also serves as a speaker for various women's and mom's events. Michelle received her bachelor’s degree from Biola University and Master of Mass Communication (MMC) from Arizona State University. She and her husband, two young kids and English bulldog call Scottsdale, Arizona, home.

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