My husband is the most important man in my life, of course, but when it comes to giving him gifts for special occasions I usually do best to do nothing at all. Men are always impossible to shop for when it is an anniversary. Here is a thoughtful gift idea that keeps on giving all year long. A years worth of preplanned dates – one every month – to spend some quality time together.
I like to think of myself as a thoughtful gift giver. I put a lot of thought and effort into gifts that I give to the people that I love. Everyone of the men in my life leaves me stumped when it comes to gift giving. Either I have a failed attempt at being thoughtful and it comes out cheesy and mushy, or I should be buying a fancy car or too big TV to appease their taste. Even a list from them is no help for I can’t afford the newest tool, electronic device, or over the top sports memorabilia that they would like. It seems if they want or need something, they get it themselves, instead of waiting for it to be given to themas a gift. I usually end up giving them some sort of food related item, or wasting time on a photo montage that leaves them baffled and most likely disappointed.
When my last wedding anniversary rolled around this summer I was determined to come up with a gift for my husband that was meaningful, had a purpose, and that would really surprise him (which has proven next to impossible over the last 8 years). I did some research and found two ideas that I thought would be perfect as an 8th wedding anniversary gift for him when I combined them together.
I decided on a years worth of date nights all preplanned and packaged so that each month he would have a surprise and a night that was dedicated to us and our marriage. We have been saying for the last 5 years that we would like to do date nights every month but it has never, not once panned out. By the time we had a sitter, dropped of kids, and decided on an agenda for the date – we were too tired and frustrated to go through with anything. Maybe a dinner out here and there, but nothing overly exciting or out of the ordinary. Since we have had children I think the thing I miss most about us as a couple are those times when we are focused on each other – having fun together and relaxing as a couple. Heck, I would settle for a conversation without interruption, or a full nights sleep in the same bed. We obviously love our children to pieces and we don’t get a lot of family time because of busy work schedules, so date nights are low on the priority list and family friendly nights our usually our choice. On our anniversary I decided that, now that the kids are a little older and the grandparents are always more than willing to spend some time with them, that date nights were a great idea.
So, I found a cute little canvas basket at Walmart for less than $2.00 and a package of medium sized mailing envelopes at the dollar store. That was all I needed to throw this gift together. I then sat down and made a list of ideas for date nights. I included places we had been wanting to go, things we had never tried, and some of our favorite pre-baby activities that we used to do together. I sorted through my long list and picked the top 12 things that I thought he would enjoy most. On each envelope I wrote the month on the outside. On the inside I wrote out a date night activity on a piece of card stock stamped with a heart stamped on the bottom. The first envelope said happy anniversary and was to be opened right away. It explained that I was giving him a years worth of worry free date nights (including babysitter arrangements all made) but that he couldn’t open each envelope until we were to that month.
It was fun to think that he could have a surprise from me each month throughout the year instead of just on our anniversary. I also included things like gift cards (that we already had) or cash that we may need for an adventure. I added little things here and there to keep the gift exciting. One months date night might be pizza and movie night at home while the next might include a new formal outfit and trip to a fancy restaurant. The date nights really ranged and I accommodated them month to month with things that we enjoy and our schedules. This can really be a thoughtful and inexpensive gift depending on the dates that you choose and how you present them. The gift of quality time together! I think this is a perfect give to my husband and the chance to reconnect as a couple once a month is exciting. Here is a list of the date night ideas I used, but certainly tailor them to your spouse:
1. Fondue Night at home and DVR Marathon (of our favorite show)
2. Go on a scenic drive to see the fall colors up north and make a bucket list together
3. Order Chinese Food and go bowling
4. Try a new restaurant and Christmas shop for the kiddos (December date)
5. Crazy dinner – we go to the grocery store together with $10 each and pick up whatever we want then go home and cook together. Then have an old school Chris Farley (our favorite) Movie Marathon
6. Pizza and Wii Game Night at home
7. Try a new restaurant – each of us has to get a white elephant gift for the other to present at dinner – then go test drive a car we can’t afford
8. Out for lunch (write 20 questions to ask me before we leave – I will do the same!) Then a Thrift store shopping game: A friendly competition- Each of us gets $10 at a thrift store or restore and we will see who gets the best find.
9. Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner during a Packer game then go to Best Buy for some dream TV shopping for things we can’t have
10. Cook out and go to a local concert with friends
11. Go to the fair and eat everything we can find then attend the demolition derby (we met at the fair and got engaged there – so this is a special event for us)
12. In the closet there is a new outfit for you – we are going out for a fancy cocktails, a fancy dinner, and to a show. (I got him a brand new formal outfit that he had never seen).
The possabilites are endless and it was really fun to think up ideas with his preferences in mind.
My husband hates cards so I wanted to present the gift to him in an unexpected way. I used an idea that I found on Pinterest via Crossing the Bugger-Dixon Line. I bought 8 balloons from the dollar store and hung notes on the bottom of each one of them – one for each year that we have been married. I took the kids with me to the store and asked the to each pick a balloon to give daddy for his anniversary with mommy. On the end of each balloon I added a favorite memory from that year of our marriage – of course the kids were each the favorite thing on the note on the years they were born (thus the two balloons picked out by them). Each of the notes was a favorite personal memory, but it included big milestones for our family like moving, finding out we were expecting, or facing something hard but coming out stronger on the other side, stuff like that.
Sadly, we didn’t see each other in our actual anniversary but he came home very late that night to what I hoped was a nice surprise. I had all of the balloons and notes sitting over our bed and his date night gift underneath of it. He was definitely surprised and I hope that he enjoyed reading through the notes as much as I enjoyed writing them. I seemed very excited about the date night idea and was super excited to open the first one and see what the date was going to be.
I must say that I am pretty excited to “date” my hubby all over again and am looking forward to our once a month date very much. I think it is so important to make time to be a couple and show our kids what a good healthy relationship should be like. There is nothing about spending some quality time together as a couple that won’t strengthen and better our marriage over the next year. Although I always feel the need to get back home to pick p the kids as soon as I leave, I know that they are having a great time with people who love them and my hubby certainly deserves a few night out with his high school sweetheart instead of the humdrum argument over what we should do tonight.