Best Ways to Celebrate Anniversaries in Your Relationship

Affectionate couple embracing

Relationship anniversaries are special days throughout the year when people get to celebrate the milestones they have achieved with the person they love. Celebrating these significant moments in a relationship is a wonderful way to reflect on your time together and grow even closer. Your first date, your engagement, your wedding day — all of these are important dates in a relationship that are worth remembering every year.

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate an anniversary, but if you need a bit of help in the idea department — while keeping finances in mind — here are some different ways to approach your relationship anniversaries.

Don’t Break the Bank Celebrating Smaller Milestones

It can be easy to go a little overboard when you are celebrating the one you love, but if you spare no expense commemorating every single anniversary, you may wind up with a dwindling bank account. You may not know how to approach celebrating them in the right way, especially during the first year of anniversaries. Some anniversaries deserve a grand gesture — like a vacation or special jewelry — to mark the occasion, while smaller milestones can be better served with a nice dinner out, or with a surprise bouquet of flowers.  

When it comes to less traditional anniversary celebrations, try to keep them low-key but special. Just finding a way to acknowledge those special moments will let your partner know that you care, and small gestures will be appreciated.

First-Year Anniversaries Set the Tone for the Rest

It’s in those first years of your relationship that anniversary traditions are set. Whether it’s your first year of dating or your first year of marriage, there are certain milestones you can decide to embrace as a couple. With a little planning, you can not only decide which moments deserve celebration and reflection, but what future celebrations may look like for years to come.

First-Year Anniversary Ideas: What Options Are Available?

If you are still in the first year of your relationship, it can be hard to decide which moments are worthy of celebrating the rest of your life. You might feel embarrassed for wanting to remember the small things, but don’t be! Anything that feels significant to you is worth cherishing as an anniversary. These can range from the first time you met, your first date, first kiss, the day you made things official (maybe even Facebook relationship status official), and the day you first told each other “I love you.”

While all of these are wonderful things to celebrate, you will need to choose the one that signifies how long you have been together — the day you consider to be when you officially started your relationship. This will help you to decide which anniversary is “the big one” and which anniversaries are the smaller milestones that are just acknowledged between the two of you. Of course, if and when you get married, you can add “wedding anniversary” to your list of big anniversaries to celebrate, but it doesn’t have to completely eclipse or replace the rest.

Experiences vs. Tangible Items

There are many ways to celebrate an anniversary, such as with gifts or with experiences. What you decide to do for each anniversary can vary based on how big or significant you decide that milestone is. Different anniversaries call for different approaches that will make them special and memorable.

If the anniversary you’re celebrating is that of your first kiss, you can recreate the experience with your significant other (S.O.) to show that not only do you remember exactly how it happened, but you still treasure the memory. This will cost you nothing (unless dinner was a part of that first special night), but you will both feel closer having relived that first exciting moment.

The more substantial anniversaries, such as the first year of your relationship or your first year of marriage, might warrant something a little more extravagant, like a special piece of jewelry or a getaway for two.

Match Personality and Style

Whether you go with an experience or a tangible gift may also depend on the personality and style of your S.O. Some people gravitate more toward experiences, while others will cherish a memento of their milestone. You know your partner better than anyone else, and you will be able to match the gift or experience to their unique personality and style.

If you’re unfamiliar with the age-old tradition, there is a list of anniversary gifts that correspond to the year/s you’re celebrating. These items include:

1st Year: Paper

2nd Year: Cotton

3rd Year: Leather

4th Year: Fruit & Flowers, or Linen & Silk

5th Year: Wood

6th Year: Iron/Candy

7th Year: Wool/Copper

8th Year: Pottery/Bronze

9th Year: Pottery

10th Year: Tin/Aluminum

11th Year: Steel

12th Year: Silk

13th Year: Lace

14th Year: Ivory

15th Year: Crystal

20th Year: China

25th Year: Silver

30th Year: Pearl

35th Year: Coral

40th Year: Ruby

45th Year: Sapphire

50th Year: Gold

55th Year: Emerald

60th Year: Diamond

You don’t need to simply give your loved one a piece of paper for your first anniversary (although, you could write a sweet note on a handmade card if you like). There are countless ways to get creative with these themes and really make them unique to your partner and your relationship.

Picking Out Gifts to Match the Anniversary

When your anniversary calls for a meaningful gift, there is no shortage of ideas to suit the occasion and person. Pair a small gift with a night out to dinner, and you are sure to have a special day with your loved one.

For those who are still in the dating phase of their relationship, there are plenty of gifts that will make him or her happy when celebrating those early milestones — and at decent prices. Some of these include couples’ coffee mugs, personalized trinkets, candles, and even a DIY date night kit stuffed with “home-cooked meal” and “Netflix and chill” coupons.

What Has Your Partner Mentioned Wanting?

When planning gifts, make sure that you are taking into account your partner’s wants. It’s very likely that in the countless hours you have spent talking to each other and connecting over the course of your relationship, your S.O. has mentioned specific items, or at least discussed their overall likes and dislikes. You need to listen and take to heart these desires when choosing gifts.

If you go out and buy earrings when your partner prefers necklaces, you will be giving away that you haven’t been listening to them at all. On the flip side, if you choose that perfect engagement ring that fits the exact style and preferences of your partner, you will have proven that not only do you have good taste, you also listen to the little things that are important to them.

There is truly nothing wrong with asking, openly, what your S.O. wants or prefers in a gift. The idea that you must intuit your partner’s every wish or whim is difficult to live up to; asking and listening to your partner demonstrates good communication, and that you want to make them happy. If you’re short on ideas or fear you are missing hints, just ask!

Going Out to Dinner or Out of Town

Whether you have a tangible gift or not, getting out of the house, whether it be for dinner or for travel, is a great way to celebrate an anniversary. Going to a nice restaurant or heading to a new destination will make any milestone celebration just a little more special, especially for those who are married or living together.

For those smaller milestones, you may go out to your favorite restaurant or try a new brewery that you have been meaning to check out. You can also choose a place that is significant for a specific anniversary, such as the restaurant you went to on your first date.

A trip out of town is always welcome, especially when celebrating a first-year wedding anniversary, as it can be like a second honeymoon. If you are still recovering financially from the first honeymoon, you can go somewhere a little closer to home. While a trip to a new country is exciting and adventurous, just driving over to the next city or state can still offer you and your S.O. some much-needed quality time in a new place. Find a nice Airbnb, check out some local sites, and enjoy time together without spending a fortune.

Your first year of anniversaries, whether they’re dating milestones or your first wedding anniversary, will be special no matter how you approach celebrating them. Just keep in mind your partner’s preferences and the significance of each anniversary, and you will be prepared to make these moments amazing and memorable. Cherish these first milestones as they happen because, before you know it, you’ll be celebrating milestone anniversaries like your 25th wedding anniversary!

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