I love gifts. When I first came to the realization that one of my love languages is gifts, I thought that made me materialistic and selfish. Although I'm sure I struggle with those qualities at times, I have learned to embrace my love for giving people creative gifts and the joy I feel when someone takes the time to make or buy something personal for me. One of my favorite gifts to give was my wedding gift to Jeremy. I copied my friend Leslie and an idea I saw on Pinterest to create a gift that has lasted through our entire first year of marriage: the one-year box of dates. (P.S. He bought me a new digital piano for my songwriting. It is a joy and something I will use for years to come.)
Dates are fun. And when you marry someone, you get to date them forever. I knew that in our first year of marriage, we would sometimes find it difficult to afford date nights as we pinched our pennies and learned to budget, so I saved up in advance and pre-paid for 12 dates--one for each month of our first year of marriage.
Here's how it worked.
The week before our wedding, we exchanged gifts, and he opened this box filled with twelve envelopes. Each envelope was labeled with a month, and he was instructed to wait until that month to open the date. I spent quite some time planning out dates for each month, and whatever was needed for that date was included in the envelope. Some were simply an instruction card and the correct amount of cash for the date. For example: Others were pre-paid Groupons with the printed Groupon and information about the event. I also purchased a few gift cards.
Here were some of the date ideas: - August - The right amount of cash for tickets to go to the Nashville Sounds (minor league baseball) game. Jeremy loves baseball, but we had never been to a Sounds game together before. So much fun! - October - An overnight date. We road-tripped to Kentucky and stayed at an adorable winery to which I had purchased a Groupon in advance. We drove up through Lexington and saw a few sights. Then we stayed at the gorgeous vineyard and enjoyed an escape. We drove back down through Louisville and went to the Louisville slugger factory. - November - Horseback riding for two. This might have been our favorite of all. It was a beautiful winter day, and we got to go on a private guided ride for the two of us. - December - A gift card to Maggiano's Italian Restaurant. Sometimes a simple nice dinner out is the best kind of date. - March - Tee time for two. I just included the right amount of money for a round of golf. Jeremy is actually a decent golfer and he loves being out on the green, and he doesn't laugh too hard when I fail miserably. We haven't actually taken this date yet, but we are excited to go soon! - April - Gift card to Panera Bread and money for a yard sale. As you obviously know, we love to thrift and shop at yard sales, so I thought it would be fun to set aside a little money to visit some yard sales and then treat ourselves to a cinnamon crunch bagel or two. We lucked out with Disney Scene It 2 for $3 and a piece of pottery for $0.10. Win.
Obviously, every couple's date preferences are unique to their interests & personalities. It was fun picking things that we could enjoy as a couple. A few things we discovered throughout the year are:
1. It's important to choose dates that are not time sensitive. You never know what your schedule will be like in any given month. In July, I purchased a Groupon for rock climbing without realizing that it was 45 minutes from our house, but it expired at the end of the month, and we were not able to find a time to drive so far away, so we didn't use the Groupon at all. There are also several months that we had to do later than the month it was assigned.
2. Be flexible. The whole point of this idea is to provide pre-paid dates...but they might not always go exactly as you planned. For example...I provided cash for one date, but it turned out to be something we weren't able to do, so we used that cash toward tickets to a Texans game...which turned out to be even more fun that what I planned originally.
As we rounded the corner on June and Jeremy opened this last month's gift, it is a little bit bittersweet knowing that our first year of marriage is coming to an end...and we don't have pre-paid dates coming down the pike anymore. I guess it's takeout and a red box movie for us! :-) Goodbye first year of marriage. Hello to many more years of dating.