When it comes to celebrations of any kind, "try as often as possible to hit a sentimental note," says Jenny Rosenstrach, creator of the popular food and entertaining blog Dinner: A Love Story. Whether it's a birthday party or a holiday meal, it's less about the food and décor being perfect and more "about infusing meaning into those moments and connecting them to either the past or the future."
The secret, she says, is approaching events with intention. "It's asking yourself 'how can I slow down, and make sure that I'm not taking this moment for granted?'" Rosenstarch has found that little rituals and traditions—be it a weekly trip to the farmers market with her children or baking the same Christmas cookies each year—have added richness to time spent with her own family and, in her new book How to Celebrate Everything ($30, Ballantine Books), she offers stories, recipes, and tips readers can use to develop their own traditions for both major celebrations and the day-to-day.
Your anniversary is the perfect opportunity to start a ritual the two of you look forward to each year, and it needn't be complicated or expensive. Here are some simple-yet-meaningful ways to mark your time together.
Revisit a Place That's Important to You Both
For your anniversary, make it a habit to revisit a place—a city you love exploring together, a park where you had your first date, a restaurant where you had a fantastic meal—that you both love and that you'll look forward to visiting again. "On my husband and I's first anniversary, for example, we went back to the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner," says Rosenstrach.
Create a New Tradition
"If you don't have a nearby restaurant that's meaningful or don't want to spend money to go out, start your own ritual," Rosenstrach suggests. "I have friends who went to a Thai restaurant on their first date, and now on special occasions they replicate the meal. For their first anniversary present he gave her all the ingredients for the dinner wrapped up in a grocery bag and then they cooked it together." You can also begin a new tradition focused around an activity you can see yourself doing annually and loving it. "Go on a hike to a mountain you've always wanted to climb or find a dish you've been meaning to make and do it together."
Start a Collection
"My husband's aunt and uncle love vintage things," says Rosenstrach. "For their first wedding anniversary he bought her a vintage cordial glass from Baccarat for after dinner drinks. Then on special occasions he would add to the collection. By the time I met them they had this beautiful collection of crystal glasses. If there is something you want to collect maybe there's an annual way to add to that. Or, you can gradually complete your wedding registry."
Documenting your lives together doesn't require lengthy diary entries. "I have a journal called "Bits and Pieces" where I just write down a sentence about each day and that information is so important for being able to see the day-to-day texture of my life," says Rosenstrach. You can do the same for your anniversaries. "For example, on my blog, I have a list of places that we've gone for our anniversary and the restaurants we ate at, and a few thoughts about it. They all have these little stories that you won't always remember if you don't write it down." Another way to keep records is through photography. "Try taking a picture with your spouse on your anniversary in the same place each year." Regardless of the ritual, the important thing is sticking with it. "It makes your days and your years more meaningful when you look back at them."