Ask the readers: What should we do for our 20th wedding anniversary mid-June?

So… DH took John Green’s advice and started planning 20 months ahead for our 20th wedding anniversary, only to have Covid come and destroy our plans to go to Portland (with MIL taking care of the children).

Now we’re at home.

What should we do?

I suggested leaving the kids at home and just like driving to a corn field to make out, but it turns out we don’t live in the Midwest anymore and it’s hot and we’re no longer teenagers.  (Disclaimer:  We did not have children when we were teenagers, though we did have siblings.)

There’s not really any beautiful nature to drive to within a 3 hour radius.  We haven’t been ordering take-out mainly because none of the places we would want to order take out from are open for business.  *crying*

I’m feeling a bit more bummed than I ought.  We usually just do a fun or fancy meal out for our anniversary, though some years we have had adventures.  We’d been planning something special which we never do and now we can’t.  And we can’t just go to the city to eat something fun or order something fancy in our town like we would do most years.  I am at a total loss.

A friend recommended renting a movie, but I don’t even know what’s out there.  Also I only like uplifting happy movies that don’t have TSTL characters… and I have a hard time with movies that are longer than 90 minutes (though I did recently rewatch most of Howl’s Moving Castle with the kids, which is 2 hours).

Do you have any suggestions?  What would you do for an important anniversary or birthday or other celebration?

38 Responses to “Ask the readers: What should we do for our 20th wedding anniversary mid-June?”

  1. Anonymath Says:

    We’re having our 12th anniversary this Sunday, so not a major anniversary, but one nevertheless. We’ve got a small child that can’t stay by themselves and no Covid babysitter, so no heading to cornfields. We usually go to a once-a-year level fancy restaurant for our anniversaries too. We’ve resolved to order delivery from a less fancy but meaningful place nearby to be delivered after child’s bedtime. Weather permitting, we’ll spread a blanket and have a picnic in the backyard. We’ve also ordered small gifts to exchange.

  2. Omdg Says:

    Obviously your tastes may differ, but if you’re going the movie route, I enjoyed Knives Out which can be rented from Amazon for like $7 or
    something. I don’t recall it being horribly long and none of the characters was tstl, and I found it mostly uplifting. Maybe a relaxing afternoon free from other distraction? I was thinking of myself and what I’d enjoy under similar circumstances, and honestly? A wonderful gift would be being fully disconnected from work — for both me and my husband. It could be on a trip (though God knows I’ve had plenty of trips ruined by remote work), but you can also get that feeling at home, maybe, with some planning. Idk. I struggle with planning events like these even during the best of times.

  3. Miser Mom Says:

    Low-key: on my birthday, I asked my husband to slow dance with me to a song I liked. Other things we’ve done (with/without kids) to mark various occasions: re-read old letters, look through photo albums/memory boxes, write and read new letters to one another.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Those are all super sweet! I do give DH an online tribute every year and then accidentally (on purpose) leave the blog open on his computer for him to see. :)

    • Debbie M Says:

      Ha, I thought Miser Mom would say you could make your own theme. Since you’re not really going there, your theme can be someplace even more expensive and fancy than Portland. Put on some fancy clothes and the table cloth and a fine drink-of-choice or cheese selection or something. Or guilty pleasures like TV dinner and beer in front of the TV, while giving each other foot rubs.

      I’ve been trying to think of something that you could spend some quality time planning and looking forward to, but I’m not that creative.

      I’m not sure how old the kids are. Could they be camping in the backyard? Or helping serve the fabulous delicacies?

      Whatever happens, congratulations!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        13 and 7.

        Sadly, I am fairly sure I don’t fit into any of my clothes that aren’t pajamas! (I couldn’t even get my wedding ring on when I went for a mammogram (!). Technically I have one pair of DHs old dockers shorts that fit so I wore those to the imaging center.)


      • Debbie M Says:

        Bummer! You *could* make an exotic toga from a sheet. And I bet any fancy earrings or necklaces you have still fit. And of course your birthday suit still fits!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I suppose it’s negative to say I don’t have pierced ears and my only necklace is made out of spray painted penne (DC 2 won’t let me throw it away even though it was obviously made by a preschooler who didn’t have pattern matching down yet).

        Birthday suit definitely fits, but that has to wait until the kids are in bed!

  4. Karen Says:

    Our 19th anniversary is in July so probably won’t be going anywhere. In the meantime, as an early anniversary present, we have ordered some wine from an italian winery and have signed up for their virtual winery tour and tasting in a couple of weeks. It would possibly start a bit early in the day for you to start tasting wine as it is going to be 6pm here in the UK. But, maybe they are recording it? or maybe there is a California winery doing something similar?

  5. CG Says:

    Bummer. So many losses this year, and of course you say to yourself, my family is healthy, we still have jobs, etc., but darn, I really wanted to go on that ski trip, or go through graduation, or have a big wedding. In some ways life is all minutia right now with none of the big punctuating events that give it a narrative arc and help make meaning. I hope you can do your big trip for your 21st. I always joke that for our 10th anniversary we had a third kid. For our 11th we took a 10-day international trip just the two of us and it was amazing. I think it gave us some renewed marital energy for several years afterward. I really wish we could do something like that again but our kids are older and in some ways less easy to entertain at the grandparents’ for a week and our parents are older, too. My SIL offered to come and watch them for a week sometime but we haven’t made any firm plans. So, for your 20th…is there any way for the two of you to have a novel experience together? Those tend to help you appreciate your partner and see them in a new light so provide a sense of renewal. Even something corny like doing an online class together might work–Zingerman’s is doing virtual baking classes, for example. Not in any way a good substitute for your Portland trip, but maybe a way to get a little relationship energy boost right now.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’m not sure that we’re going to try traveling any time soon– seems like every time we plan big trips not connected to work or weddings, I end up causing a pandemic. (#nottheprotagonist) But more seriously, with SIL having twins, we’re not going to be able to ask MIL to take care of our kids until they’re older, so it probably won’t be happening next year. Maybe the 25th? DC1 will be old enough then to watch DC2 overnight.

  6. jjiraffe Says:

    I’m sorry, this is a bummer.

    I don’t know about where you live, but some of the super fancy A-list restaurants here now deliver or have takeout. My in-laws just hired a household name chef to make them a special dinner for my MiL’s 75th birthday. (The trip to celebrate this milestone was cancelled.) It’s a lot less than the refund of the trip, lol. I think they are also toasting with a bottle of Dom Perignon as well.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      They’re not open or not that good. (Crying). One of my colleagues who made over 300k/year (and had a lawyer wife who made something nontrivial herself) would hire one of the local chefs to make dinner for him and his wife for special occasions. Maybe we’ll open one of these frexinets we’ve had in our cupboard since the last time we hosted a brunch party…

      • jjiraffe Says:

        Sorry about the restaurants :(

        I have found since this whole thing began that making a fun cocktail does brighten an evening, and make it more “special.” I think the frexinet idea is a good one!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Does sparkling wine go bad… (I think we’ve had it longer than DC2 has been alive…)

  7. Michael Nitabach Says:

    In the spirit of last post, how about you each cook smthg the other loves to eat & have a nice meal?

  8. bogart Says:

    Oh dear. I have no clever suggestions but am sorry to hear your original plans were dashed, particularly considering their rarity.

  9. ltg Says:

    It’s our 20th anniversary too and we had had a trip planned to our home country with a short stay in Munich. (We go to our home country every summer.) We would have been with the kids, and they were going to stay at the hotel while we were out. Anyway, no planes for us in the summer, so we are bummed as you are. Double bummed, as we won’t be able to see family.
    I’ll come back to this post to see if I can steal any good ideas, because I do need a special something.

  10. Ana Says:

    Our 15th anniversary is mid June and we had planned a trip for when the kids were with grandparents in July. Obviously not happening and can’t even get a sitter for a night out. trying to make special events “special” is feeling really hard, my birthday was just…disappointing, I wanted time with my husband or with friends, instead of being a mom all day.

  11. xykademiqz Says:

    Congratulations on 20 years! DH and I had ours last December (we got married on Xmas Day). I have no idea what we did, probably not much. My guess is I cooked something nice and we might’ve had a cake? Such is life. At some point we were talking about going back to Vegas (where we got hitched), but decided against it on account of cost, laziness, and the fact that Vegas isn’t really kid-friendly.

    Both Smurf (turning 9) and I (turning 47) have birthdays in the second half of June, they’re two days apart. I would maybe do something with a couple of friends, otherwise not much. I’m sorry for Smurf who really wants a party every year. I guess it’s not happening. Not sure what we’ll do. Maybe a Zoom party, with some ice cream, and give him money to buy Robux (money in Roblox, which he plays a lot).

    Anyway, I hope you have a great time (with lots of smooching) whatever you decide to do! Congrats again!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:


      Smooching is definitely on the agenda! (Though we didn’t like, set a specific time for it or anything…)

      We definitely have to plan for DC2’s upcoming birthday as well. I wonder what kind of game systems hir friends have… an online game might be more fun than zoom (which they’ve been doing a couple times a week since staying home started).

      • xykademiqz Says:

        FWIW, Smurf plays games simultaneously with friends on virtual playdates. They call each other on the iPad/phone and set it up o they watch each other’s screen while they play on the desktop/laptop. They also draw in parallel while chatting or play with Pokemon figurines. Not sure how this would work for a party, but works 1-on-1.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I guess they all probably have minecraft on the computer– I was just thinking that DC2 only played console games, but that’s not actually true. (It’s just that DH got himself a switch for his birthday and DC2 has been really into pokemon on DC1’s old handheld.)

        DC2 and friends are totally in love with drawing on the zoom whiteboard. It’s insane.

  12. Lisa Says:

    CG, I can one-up you: we had a third kid for our 20th anniversary! Because… we’re crazy? Also got married really young and waited a long time to have kids. It’s too late for #1 because that requires some advance planning.

    But, I feel you on the anniversary angst. My parents are celebrating my Mom’s 70th birthday and their 50th wedding anniversary this year and best laid plans will not be taking place. For my Mom’s birthday, we organized a drive-by parade and invited tons of her old friends. It worked out way better than I could have imagined and she had a great time standing out in front of her house and talking with everyone who came by. The anniversary is a bit harder, though. My thought is that, although we humans like to celebrate round numbers, there is nothing more special about 50 than 51 (or 22 or whatever year you are able to celebrate). So perhaps you do the best you can this year (since it’s all family time all the time, enlist your kids to make dinner for you and sing you a song a la Parent Trap?) and plan something special for the random number anniversary of your choice. It might be fun to get a small group of old friends together for an online game night or something. Maybe I’ll plan that for my birthday this summer?

  13. becca Says:

    Congrats on 20 years! I’m sure by 25 you’ll be able to have a *some* kind of get away, and you’ll probably look back via your letter to DH and not be so sad. But it assuredly does suck to try to celebrate in these times. There are so few options, plus emotional exhaustion and/or whiplash to consider.

    Random aside/perhaps idea for DH to give you for anniversary: Have you already done the Zingerman’s cheese of the month club?
    Also, I don’t know if there is a “quality cake by mail” option, but Grand Traverse will send you pie by mail that would be my preferred way to observe a birthday, for my own tastes.

    There are some pretty crazy things people have done with zoom for parties. You probably don’t want a llama at your anniversary (although honestly I think that’d make a great story), but maybe there are actors or musicians you can hire to come to your own living room? They aren’t getting a lot of gigs right now. I don’t know how much of “a thing” this really is, but it seems like it might be.

  14. First Gen American Says:

    A day of nothing sounds great to me.

    No chores, no projects…just all day leisure.

  15. TodayWendy Says:

    Congratulations! My parents just ‘celebrated’ their 50th. The big party has been postponed until next year, but they did a whole series of Zoom calls with different groups of family & friends. My brother & I were both invited to drop in to all the calls. These calls all turned into my Dad sharing photos of their wedding, which he’d recently put on the computer, which turned into other people sharing stories about the folks in the photos, and arguing about who a particular person was when all you could see was their hat, or the back of their head. It was surprisingly entertaining. Probably also helped that they only had about 30 photos, but getting to hear my aunts & uncles tease each other about old hair styles, and which girl my uncle was flirting with in that one photo…

  16. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I went away to ponder this because I couldn’t think of anything for our anniversary this year either. We usually just go out to our once a year steak dinner and that’s our big thing. I just about came up empty until I remembered ogling this Goldbelly site and wondered if you had any favorites from Paradise you might enjoy having in again for your anniversary dinner. I spotted it because an old LA favorite, Phillippe’s, caught my eye:

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