Hometown tour: Visit your respective hometowns. Swing by the homes(s) you grew up in and the schools you attended. Share important childhood memories — both good and bad. Then take your partner to your favorite local restaurant, ice cream shop or coffeehouse. The adventure will help you and your partner better understand the places, people and experiences that helped define you.
Do something your partner loves (that you don’t): Make a real sacrifice and do something your partner is crazy about — be it a golf tournament or musical theater. You don’t have to love the activity; just enjoy the happiness it brings your significant other. Or, support your partner in something he or she has always wanted to try. Join in the fun or at least cheer your partner on from the sidelines.
Operation affirmation: Enlist your friends and family in an affirmation blitz for your partner. Have them (discreetly) send you 15 words or less describing something they love about your significant other. Compile the messages onto archival-quality paper. This paper can then be placed in a frame, a scrapbook or a memory box.
Renew your vows: This is a meaningful way to honor your spouse and your commitment. A vow renewal ceremony can be a way to re-create the wedding you always wanted (but perhaps couldn’t afford at the time). But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a lavish or public affair: Consider repeating your wedding vows to your partner as part of a private annual celebration. Light a candle, look into each other’s eyes and reaffirm your love and devotion.
Take your dream vacation: Particularly if you are celebrating a major anniversary milestone, use the excuse to take that trip you’ve always wanted. If you and your partner have drastically different ideas of a dream getaway, take turns. If you plan ahead and are willing to live within a budget, most couples can scrape enough together. Or if you’re feeling especially adventurous, take a road trip without a road map. Pack everything you might need, pick a general direction and then hit the open road.
Go on a “staycation”: Abide by the same standards you would on a vacation to a remote paradise. Disconnect from the Internet. Put your smartphones away. Don’t touch the television. Focus all your energies on your partner and on relaxing together. To make it feel more like an escape, pick a virtual destination: mountain cabin, tropical retreat, etc. Carry this theme through to meal selection, wardrobe and atmosphere.
Start a couple’s journal: Commemorate each year together by writing down what you are grateful for; try to fill an entire page. The things you appreciate don’t have to strictly be about each other. (Although you should definitely throw a few of those in!) But focusing on the positives in your life — including your partner — will help you keep perspective.
Give a personal gift: Give your partner something truly unique, like a digital collection of your favorite songs (or songs that make you think of him/her). Or, write an old-fashioned love letter, craft an original song, poem or painting. It doesn’t have to be fine art; it just needs to come from the heart.
Share your story with the kids: Over a family meal, tell your kids how you first met, why you fell in love, and why you are still in love. Your story is, in a way, their story, too.
Movie marathon: Do the ideas above sound a little too ambitious? Pick your two or three favorite movies and have your partner do the same. Then spend your anniversary weekend relaxing together. Between films, discuss what you love about the movie and why; this reveals something about your respective beliefs, personality, sense of humor, etc. Having your partner’s favorite movie munchies on hand adds a nice, thoughtful touch.