Just because the two of you are growing older doesn't mean you can't celebrate your birthdays together and have fun! Celebrating life events like a birthday can be either a private experience or the celebration can include a larger gathering of friends and family. Either way, make sure that the celebration is one that will delight your spouse. Expensive gifts are not necessary!
What's Meaningful to Your Spouse
It's important to create an event or offer a gift that means something special to your spouse. But everyone has different tastes and different ideas about what matters most, so there's no single recipe for an ideal gift. For example:
- Julie was annoyed to receive a sewing machine; she saw it as just another "useful" object that meant more work and less fun for her. Alyssa, on the other hand, was thrilled to receive a sewing machine because she had just started a new costume-making business and the new high-end machine told her that her husband truly supported her ambitions.
- Bob was delighted to receive a single rose and a romantic dinner as a birthday gift from his partner. Sam, however, was disappointed because he had been hinting for months that he wanted to go to New York City to see a Broadway show.
- Sylvia was thrilled to be whisked off to a Caribbean island for her 40th birthday. Angela, however, was annoyed: her husband loved island vacations, but she herself preferred the mountains.
Before making any plans or purchases, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this something my spouse will love, or am I fulfilling my own dreams?
- What message am I sending with this gift or plan?
- Has my spouse been sending me "messages" about his or her preferences? (If the answer is "yes," it's important to listen!)
Gift giving to the person you love most is not easy! To ensure your birthday gift is well received, a few extra tips will help:
- Do not plan anything that will embarrass your spouse.
- Remember you are never too old to have some fun!
- When making your plans for the birthday party, be sure to include food, drink, decorations, and guests that your spouse will love (even if they're not your personal favorites).
- Wake your spouse with a "Happy Birthday." Continue to make the whole day special with surprise notes, little gifts throughout the day, and ending with a romantic date for the two of you or with a birthday party with invited guests.
- Take lots of pictures.
- Ask guests to share words of appreciation and well-wishes with toasts to the birthday person.
Anywhere can be special, but whatever location you choose should be meaningful to the birthday girl or boy. Avoid setting yourself and your spouse up for disappointment by selecting a location because it's pretty, convenient, or cheap. After all, the whole point of a birthday celebration is to splurge on something your spouse will truly love. With that in mind, here are some ideas for locations:
- Local park
- An art gallery or an "art bar" setting where you and your friends can create a work of art while sipping wine!
- A museum, many of which have evening events, gallery tours, and other happenings that make a visit special.
- A favorite restaurant and sure to order a surprise birthday dessert.
- Community theatre
- Somewhere you can dance
- The beach
- Home, but make sure your spouse doesn't have to do any cleaning up after the party!
Not every party needs a theme; "happy birthday" is often enough. If your spouse is into themes, the right one may be obvious. For example, a football fan will almost certainly enjoy a football-themed party, while a Harry Potter fanatic might prefer an evening at Hogwarts.
To help spur ideas, add your own special twist some of these more generic options:
- Movies: Choose the type, era, or star your sweetie loves the most.
- Scavenger hunt. Include clues and items that mean something to your spouse.
- Moveable feast: Work with friends to create a meal with different locations for each course.
- Musical party: Include a DJ or, if your friends are musical, consider jamming together.
- The 50s, 60s, 70s, etc.: Choose the decade when you met, your spouse's favorite decade, or a decade that means something to the two of you.
- Over the hill: Be careful with this one, as it can backfire if it's not done right!
- Picnic: This can be inside or outside.
Because you know your spouse better than anyone, you probably know what they crave, need, or just find delightful. It's also fun to surprise your honey with a gift that they never thought of and an experience or opportunity that's just for them. Here are some ideas to consider:
- A weekend away from home.
- A day alone together.
- A homemade coupon for a day during which your spouse can be totally alone with no responsibilities to you, their job, or the kids.
- A personal coupon in which you'll spend a weekend cleaning, decluttering, organizing, shopping, etc.
- Ask guests to submit a photo or a letter that tells of a favorite memory with your spouse. Put these into a scrapbook. Parents may tell a funny story from your spouse's childhood, old friends will have great tales from earlier years, and you can share a memorable story from your marriage.