A couple of years ago because our wedding anniversary fell in the middle of a family vacation, my wife and I made the decision to include our three children in our plans to celebrate the big day. While there were some friends and family members who frowned on our decision, we brushed off their remarks.
When it comes to parenting we agree with comedian Bill Cosby who said, “The only people who are always sure about the proper way to raise children are those who never had any.” Due to the nature of the vacation – a week of camping in a national forest – having the kids along was a perfectly natural decision.
Sharing the Celebration
The biggest misconception about celebrating an anniversary is that it is all about the bride and groom. And while that is true, it’s only true up to a certain point. There is no rule or law that says that the celebration has to be limited to the married couple. You can invite whoever you want to celebrate with you, and that certainly includes your children.
Forget the formal dinner, expensive bouquet of flowers, or less, and overpriced tickets to exclusive events. Small children can wreak havoc in a fancy restaurant. Flowers die, sometimes in a matter of days. And if the events run late into the evening, children can make the experience less than pleasant. Here are some nearly fool-proof ways to include others in your anniversary celebration.
- Cater a Picnic – Part of the problem with picnics is that they take so much work to put together. Arrange for a local restaurant to prepare your family’s favorite meals in take-out containers with some disposable flatware. Take the food to a local park or other picnic spot and enjoy. Because the food is already in take-out containers, wrapping up leftovers has never been easier.
- Movie Night – Taking the entire family to the movies can be expensive. Borrow or rent a digital projector and watch your favorite film in the backyard. You could even watch your wedding video! Make up paper lunch sacks full of popcorn ahead of time. Or better yet, invite a bunch of family and friends over and have them bring over their favorite snacks to share.
- Renew Your Vows – Dress in your favorite casual wear. Get a family member or friend to take candid photos. Carry a bouquet made of ribbon bows instead of flowers. Invite guests to bring a dish for a potluck reception. And instead of using traditional vows, prepare an updated, more whimsical version that includes promises to do things like take out the garbage or serve breakfast in bed.
- Go Fish – Turn off the television, video games, computers, and cellphones and spend time around the dining room table. Learn to play a new type of card game. Pull out a board game that’s been waiting since Christmas to be played. Or work together to put together a puzzle.
- Call for an Early Bedtime – Put the kids to bed early and plan for a simple evening at home. Set the coffee table aside and lay a blanket on the living room floor. Then cuddle up and enjoy a late dinner of Chinese food, eaten with chopsticks right out of the boxes, just like when you were dating.
Traveling with Children
If you can afford to take the kids with you on your out-of-town anniversary celebration, you can be sure that it is an experience that you will not soon forget. The trip will go smoother if you keep in mind that yes, the kids are with you the entire time, and then plan accordingly.
When staying in large cities, look for kid-friendly attractions such as the zoo, an aquarium, an amusement park, children’s museums, and kid-friendly trolley or carriage tours. If your destination is close to the beach, spend a day doing nothing but soaking up Vitamin D on the shore, building sand castles and collecting shells. No matter where you go, just be sure and get plenty of pictures during your trip!
Even if you’re celebrating your anniversary with your children, or with other family members and friends, you’re going to want a little time alone. Regardless if you’re giving your beloved a diamond bracelet, a gift certificate for a mani-pedi, or some other token of your affection, unless the gift is a huge surprise that you want to share with others, save the exchanging of gifts for when you’re alone.
Freelance author Benjamin Baker lives with his wife and their three teenage children in the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado. When writing on the topic of married life, he uses both personal experiences and websites like www.lovediamonds.net to get inspiration for his articles. When he’s not working or spending time with his family, Benjamin enjoys playing his guitar and fishing.