Every relationship, no matter how ideal, has its trying moments – and for many couples, that moment can be the realization that an anniversary is just around the corner. Whether it’s been one month or one year of romantic bliss, planning for an anniversary celebration can often be so stressful, that the true meaning of the occasion gets lost.
With any anniversary comes a few immediate questions, many of them related to the subject of gift-giving. How much is too much? When is it too soon to mark an anniversary? What gift will wow her, and what will send her running to the nearest exit?
Rather than let you puzzle through the big questions on your on, we’ve enlisted the help of five women to answer them for you. Read on to hear about their favourite anniversary memories, their ideal gifts, and when they think it’s a good idea to pop the cork on the champagne bottle.
When is too soon to celebrate?
While some women may think it’s important to mark every milestone in a relationship, whether it’s one week or one month, the importance of minor anniversaries seems to lessen with age. Of all the women we talked to, none placed much importance on one-month celebrations.
Laura, 27, said she hasn’t celebrated one-month anniversaries since she was a teenager. She said that these days, “only years count. I think a month’s anniversary might now only elicit a nod of the head or a toast of the pint.”
Heather, 22, says she and her boyfriend prefer more long-term celebrations. “One month is far too soon to get each other anything,” she says. “We celebrated our six month anniversary, the one year, and then every year after that.”
“I’d never celebrate one week or one month anniversaries,” said Erin, 23. “It’s not a challenge to stay with a guy for that short amount of time because you’re still trying to impress each other by looking your best, and that early on his weird little quirks are still cute.”
Sara, 21, is in agreement. “I think a six month anniversary is important to commemorate if the couple thinks it is relevant, but anything else is too soon,” she says.
What’s the best way to mark the occasion?
While an anniversary might warrant a special gift, it doesn’t have to. For some couples, a romantic or exciting evening together can be a gift in itself.
Laura says it’s not always important to give a present on an anniversary, particularly if you’re the kind of person who likes to surprise your partner with unexpected gifts
“Gifts are always nice,” she says. “But as Sean Connery wisely said, ‘the key to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.’”
For some women, presents aren’t a priority. Heather says she and her boyfriend rarely exchange presents on their anniversaries. “ We never buy each other gifts,” she says. “We always go out for drinks or do something we both enjoy.”
If you and your partner do choose to celebrate the occasion with a special activity, don’t draw the line at dinner by candlelight. While this tried and true celebration is often a winner, it’s not your only option.
“For me, something fun that we can do together is what I’d probably appreciate the most,” said Erin, “like going skiing or going to an amusement park or something. The best way to spend an anniversary is doing something fun together that’s out of the ordinary. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just different.”
What’s the ideal gift?
The best gift doesn’t necessarily have to be something for your girlfriend to use on her own – sometimes a gift that can be shared by both of you is twice as special.
Laura said her best anniversary gift was a stay at a bed and breakfast. “Big tub, lots of bubbles, many glasses of wine – too much fun,” she says. “It was an interactive kind of gift, if you know what I mean.”
It’s important to remember that the best present doesn’t have to be an expensive piece of jewelry. Showing her you’ve put a lot of thought into her gift can be far more important than what’s on the price tag.
“Coupons for massages, time to myself (with no questions), those are the things that show my partner is thinking of what I will appreciate rather than thinking of what is he “supposed” to get for me,” says Rebecca, 30.
“I don’t want my boyfriend to spend money on me unless he’s giving me something very thoughtful and personal,” said Heather. “Otherwise, I’d rather he made me a card or took me for drinks so we can talk about our relationship.”
To prove the point, Heather said her favourite gift was “A hand-drawn card that said ‘I cho-cho-choose you’ with a picture of a train.”
“Our entire relationship relies on Simpsons quotes,” she laughs.
Sara cautions that spending too much too soon can be intimidating, especially if you do choose to celebrate an anniversary before you’ve hit the one-year marker.
“Flowers or chocolate are sweet, but a more substantial gift when one has just began to date someone else is too much,” she says.
What’s the worst gift?
While it’s tough to say what specifically makes a bad anniversary gift, most of the women we spoke to said the worst gifts were usually those that seemed last-minute or impersonal.
“I’m not very materialistic, and gifts given out of obligation don’t mean much to me,” says Erin.
“If the gift is power tools for yourself, forget it,” says Rebecca. “You may as well not give anything.”
On a more serious note, Rebecca says one popular gift, lingerie, has its ups and downs. “ Avoid lingerie unless you are positive about sizes and what will be okay,” she says. Rebecca also says it’s also important to check with your girlfriend to see whether lingerie is something she’d enjoy, rather than something you think you’d enjoy.
“Feel her out first, because that can be insulting, since it can seem that the “gift” is really trying to get something for yourself,” she says.
There are also a few other gifts you might want to steer clear of, unless you’re truly dedicated, jokes Laura.
“Tattoos can always get you in trouble,” she says. “Whips send too direct a message.”
Gift-buying pitfalls aside, don’t get too caught up in buying the perfect anniversary present. When the going gets tough, try to remember the reason you’re celebrating – your relationship. The most important thing isn’t finding the nicest bouquet of roses – it’s demonstrating to your partner that being with her is important to you.
And if it’s any consolation, even the worst gift doesn’t need to ruin an anniversary. Rebecca says although her worst gift was “a big argument,” it came with a perfect reward: “lots of makeup sex.”