Maybe you’ve been married for 15 years. Maybe it’s only been four or five. Either way, after a few years, and all of the chaos that comes with kids, homes, work and well, life, it becomes easy to overlook certain things. One of those things is celebrating special occasions like anniversaries. Especially if money is tight, too. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of cheap ways to celebrate an anniversary!
Why it’s important to celebrate anniversaries
Just like anything important, a relationship needs nurturing. There are lots of ways to do this, of course. And throughout the year, we should be actively finding ways to connect with our spouse.
An anniversary is different. It’s a special day and should be recognized! After all, it’s likely the start of everything you have now that’s keeping you too busy and distracted to celebrate.
It’s important to not allow ourselves to fall into a rut and become distracted with the logistics of life. I know, it’s easier said than done, but it is possible. It definitely has taken us a conscience effort to ensure that it is never missed.
We always make sure that we at least do something. Sometimes there are gifts, and sometimes not. Sometimes we go out, and sometimes we stay in. The important thing is that we acknowledge the day. We never let it pass by uncelebrated, even if only in a small way
And the celebration isn’t just for us. It’s for Zach as well. He’s too young to understand now, but he does understand that sometimes Mom and Dad drop him off at Grandma and Grandpa’s so they can go spend some time together.
As he gets older, we want him to see that we value not just our family unit, but also our marriage. It will teach him how a healthy relationship should look. We also want to show him that nothing else is so important that it can’t be put on hold for just a little while to celebrate special moments with loved ones.
It’s okay to be cheap
Because life is crazy expensive (hello mortgage, car payments, daycare, and food!) we are always conscientious about how we spend. $100 dinners for the two of us is just not happening. I think we’ve done that once. It was back when we were dating, and didn’t have kids or a house.
Ah, to be young and have endless amounts of expendable income.
So we get creative and have some of the best times. Not only as a family, but as a couple as well.
Check out the list below to see some of the cheap ways to celebrate an anniversary we’ve used. From small, at home nights, to days or evenings out, there’s something for every couple!
Cheap Ways to Celebrate an Anniversary
The list is divided into ways to celebrate at home and ways to celebrate out. Decide if you want to stay in or go out, and try one out!
I also added a few additional ways we’ve used to save on special occasions.
Celebrate at home:
- Play Board Games: We love playing board games. These days, we’re usually too busy or too tired. So a special night is a great way to reconnect in a way that we used to when we were younger. Video games work too if that’s more your thing.
- Have a Movie Night: We do movie nights regularly, but for a special occasion, you can put some rules in place. No cell phones or other activities! Just focus on being together and in the moment.
- Do an Art or Craft Project Together: Recently we’ve started painting rocks to hide around town as a random kindness act. But we’ve painted glassware and vases for gifts and made things to use as a decoration in our home. Find a craft or art you both enjoy, or want to learn, and spend the evening doing it together.
- Bonfire in the Yard: If your city allows it, have a bonfire in your yard. We usually only do these for holidays and picnics, and usually with a large number of people. So to do it for just the two of us, make some s’mores, and relax and chat, is a special thing.
- Cook a New Recipe: Take the opportunity to try a new recipe that you’d never make with the kids because they wouldn’t eat it. This is all about Mom and Dad.
- Watch your Wedding Video: We all buy the wedding video (and they aren’t cheap!). Then it sits on our shelf collecting dust for the next 30 years, or until one of the kids or grandkids wants to see it. Don’t let that happen! Decide to watch it while picnicking in the living room, or make some popcorn. Relive the day.
- Think of Plans for the Future: Dream about all of the trips you’d like to take, remodelling projects you might do, or goals you want to achieve. Write them down and make them a real list, or just sit and watch a sunset with some wine and discuss.
- Create a Bucket List: Similar to the last one, this one involves dreaming. But this time, make a real list. Not just of trips and goals, but small things you want to do. Do you want to take your kids somewhere special before they’ve grown and gone? How about something you’d like to do in your retirement years? You can make it a lifelong bucket list, a list for just the two of you, or a list for the family. Or, you could make it just a list of things you’d like to do in the next 10 years. Then, 10 years from now, revisit it and start again!
- Go Hiking and have a Picnic: Head out to a national park if you have one nearby and take a hiking day trip. Bring a packed picnic lunch to enjoy.
- Tent Camping: This super affordable option isn’t for everyone. But if you don’t mind camping without all the luxuries and amenities of an RV or cabin, tent camping can be a lot of fun. Cook on an open fire, keep each other warm, wake up with the sun, and enjoy the fresh air. This is also a super cheap way to go out of town or overnight somewhere. You can even combine it with hiking and a picnic!
- Visit a Location Attraction You’ve Never Been to: Every town has something interesting that most people who live there have visited. It could be a museum, a historical village or trail, a goofy roadside attraction, or a beautiful scenic place. Maybe it’s just a diner that is listed as having the best pie in your state. Whatever it is, pick one or two and make a point to go visit!
- Find a Fair or Festival: If your anniversary falls in late Spring, Summer, or Autumn, there is a good chance that there is some sort of fair or festival happening on or near it. Find one that sounds like fun and check it out. Have lunch or dinner eating fair food, and choose one or two rides or games to try. (Any more than that and it might not be a cheap activity anymore!)
- Search for Sea Glass Along the Shoreline: If you live near a lake or ocean, take a walk along the beach. Search for sea glass to take home and turn into something beautiful. Even if it’s just putting it into a vase that you fill up over time. It takes a while to find, but some are absolutely beautiful. And the whole time you can just walk and talk.
- Participate in a 5k Together: You may already know that this is my favorite way for families to be active together, but it’s also a great way to spend time with your spouse. 3.1 miles of time to just walk and talk. You’re being active and yet can be fully engaged with each other in conversation and have each other’s undivided attention.
- Spend $15 on Each Other: Head to a store, give each other $15 each to work with. Split up and find $15 worth of gift that your spouse would love. It could be a movie you think they would like or $15 worth of their favorite junk food. You know your them best. Give yourselves a reasonable time limit and when you’re back together, use some of the stuff to create the rest of your evening if you can.
- Peruse a Local Museum: Most towns have their own little historical museums. Ours also has an art museum. The fees are usually very small and they can be very interesting!
- Get Coffee and Take a Stroll: Sometimes little splurges can be just enough. Stop at your favorite coffee shop and get your favorite drink. Then take it to a nice scenic area in town- a nice park, waterfront, or even downtown- and take a leisurely stroll while sipping and chatting. Just being unrushed and present makes the moment feel more special.
- Attend a Free Outdoor Concert or Movie: See if your town, or a nearby town, offers free outdoor concerts or movies. Ours happen all summer long. Try attending one without the kids, just the two of you under the stars.
- See a Local Play: Every time we see a play we say, “We should do this more often.” And then life happens and we don’t. An anniversary is an excellent time to see what’s playing locally. It’s a nice activity, out of the norm, and local theaters are much cheaper than large shows.
- Lookup Interesting Things in Your Town You’ve Never Seen and Visit Them: Every town has a history and locations the locals pay no attention to. Look up your own town and see what you can find. Then check some of them out together!
Other ways to save:
- Use credit card reward points to purchase gift cards for dining and entertainment. Then, use these for your anniversary to reduce the amount you actually have to spend out of pocket. Our American Express and Discover each offer programs where dollars earned back can be redeemed for gift cards for numerous places. We sometimes save them up and use them for special occasions.
- Eliminate gifts. Consider just doing something together and forgo gifts altogether. You can feel better spending a little more on the time you have together that way since you’ve saved on gifts!
Find cheap ways to celebrate an anniversary; don’t skip it!
Next time you’re considering skipping the celebration of your anniversary, I hope this list helps you to reconsider. Remember that there are lots of cheap ways to celebrate an anniversary that can make it special! Choose one and give it a try. It will keep your relationship nurtured and allow your connection to remain strong. The important thing is that you do something, even if it’s something small and cheap.