I can't remember the exact year, but I do remember the place. My husband, Jim, and I were at a dusty baseball field somewhere in Arkansas. We were sitting on hard wooden seats in the bleachers, watching one of our sons play ball. And I turned to Jim and said, "Happy Anniversary!"
Not exactly the most memorable way to celebrate years of walking through life together—years that included the premature birth of a child, a job transfer, the death of a parent … and so much more.
Do you have a similar story? Maybe you handed your spouse an anniversary card while heading out the door to work. Or perhaps your celebration is the same year after year—dinner at a restaurant followed by a movie. Have you ever looked at the calendar and remembered your anniversary—the day after?
Are you looking for some new ideas to help your next wedding anniversary really stand out? Take steps now and begin planning a memorable celebration for the next milestone of married life. Here are 25 ideas that could help your next anniversary be the best ever:
1. Plan a day-long adventure with your spouse—a hike, bicycle ride, hot-air balloon ride … something fun and memorable that you both would enjoy.
2. Take your sweetheart on a "mystery trip." Be creative: Travel to another city for a romantic meal … enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner at three different restaurants in three different towns, etc.
3. Visit some of the places you enjoyed when dating, engaged, and newly married. Stop by the church where you married, or drive by your first apartment or house. Then look through your album of wedding pictures, or watch your wedding video if you have one. End the day with a romantic dinner at home, along with a prayer asking God to help you truly love your spouse (Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Corinthians 13).
4. While dining at a romantic restaurant for your anniversary, slip your spouse a handwritten love note. (Husbands, make arrangements for a bud vase with a red rose to be at your table.)
5. Do you or your spouse enjoy painting? If so, many art studios have classes designed for couples. Register for one and experience your first evening of painting together on your anniversary. Or watch an online tutorial about painting with watercolors or oils. Create your own "masterpiece" together of a favorite memory while playing romantic music.
6. After an out-of-the-ordinary meal, talk about the hopes and dreams that you have for your life together. Then repeat your wedding vows out loud to one another and ask God to bless your marriage.
7. About a month before your anniversary, send your spouse on a scavenger hunt. Put together clues or riddles that lead to items that you've placed around town. The last item will reveal the reservations that you have made at a bed and breakfast for your anniversary. (Be sure to also make arrangements for any needed child care.)
8. Think of your spouse's favorite place to relax in your home—is it on your deck, back porch, in the den? After a romantic dinner, join your spouse in that place and begin a new tradition: sitting down for a one-on-one time to focus on each other. A friend who did this says, "Now every afternoon from about 5-6 we sit on the porch and enjoy coffee together. I just listen as she decompresses her day. Very precious to her."
9. Write a love letter and turn it into a song. Sing your love song for your spouse as you drive to a romantic anniversary dinner.
10. Go on a romantic picnic in a convertible that you rent for the day. Pack a special lunch or dinner and head out to a favorite lake or park. Remember to bring some of your favorite music, plus a camera or phone. While on your picnic, take a picture of the two of you. Then, when you return home, print the photo on your computer printer and put it in an interesting frame.
11. Wives, give your husband a small wooden box filled with handwritten notes about why you love and respect him. Include some pictures of the two of you along with memorabilia from the past year.
12. Husbands, take your wife to the exact location where you proposed. When you get there, tell her that you would marry her all over again and give her some flowers or a piece of jewelry.
13. Make plans to join your spouse doing one of their favorite hobbies or activities (hiking, visiting museums, fishing, shopping, etc.). Also make reservations to end your special day with a romantic dinner for two, at home or at a unique restaurant.
14. Make a DVD or slide show with pictures of your best vacations together. Include background music with some of your favorite songs.
15. With your spouse, plan an anniversary getaway. If you decide to stay in town, ask a favorite hotel or lodge about their romantic anniversary packages. You may want to go out of town for a trip—and it doesn't have to be just for the weekend. Read these ideas from our readers about getaways they've enjoyed. Or for a unique experience, take your spouse to one of FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. It's one of the best investments you could make in your marriage.
16. Jot down a collection of words that tell the story of your marriage. Use nice stationery and pens with different colored ink. Frame it and add a note on the back.
17. Wives, write your husband a check for 100 kisses. Be available to cash the check for him when and where he likes.
18. The day before your anniversary, surprise your spouse with a one-of-of-a-kind crossword puzzle. The answers to the clues will all be about your marriage (where you went on your first date, the name of his best man or her maid of honor, the year you married, etc.). The last clue will be the name of a special restaurant that both of you enjoy. After the puzzle is solved, tell your spouse that you have made reservations at that restaurant for a romantic anniversary dinner. (You may want to search for "crossword puzzle maker" to locate a website that automatically generates crossword puzzles.)
19. Purchase or make a keepsake box. Put a few pictures from your wedding in it, along with notes to one another about why you fell in love. Then, each year on your anniversary, take a picture of just you and your spouse doing something fun. Slip a print of it into the box, along with notes sharing marriage highlights from that year. Carve out time on your anniversary every year to look at the contents of your keepsake box and reminisce about the good times in your marriage.
20. Purchase one of your favorite take-out meals and enjoy it at home together by candlelight. After dinner, give your spouse a dozen notes written on heart-shaped paper. Ask your spouse to jot down 12 reasonable things that they would like you to do or make during the next year, then put these notes in a heart-shaped bowl. Finally, give your spouse a dozen red glass hearts. (These can be purchased online or at many craft stores.) Tell them to exchange one of the glass hearts each month for the fulfillment of one of the notes.
21. On your anniversary, give your spouse a one-of-a-kind coupon book that you've created. Examples of coupons are: back massage … a day at the spa … cleaning the car … a foot rub … making a favorite recipe together … taking a weekend trip to see your spouse's parents, etc.
22. Order matching custom photo coffee mugs with a picture of you and your spouse that represents a special memory.
23. About a week before your anniversary, begin to remind your spouse of your love. For example, leave a love note on the steering wheel of the car or place a romantic card on a pillow. This can also be as simple as writing "I love you" on sticky notes and leaving them on the bathroom mirror.
24. Commission an artist to paint one of your favorite pictures of just you and your spouse. Or, order a canvas print of it on the internet.
25. Without telling your spouse, make hotel reservations for your anniversary. Then, the day before, tell your spouse to pack their bags and to expect a text from you during the workday. In the text give the location and room number of the hotel or bed and breakfast where you will be waiting. Have soft music playing when your spouse arrives and ask room service to deliver your evening meal.
I hope these ideas have given you some new ways to celebrate your wedding anniversary. After all, the day you vowed lifelong love should be more than a circled date on the family calendar.
This year, let's not just sit in the bleachers and watch one more anniversary pass by. Let's get in the game. Let's celebrate!
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