Photograph by ©petair- stock.adobe.com
1. GO OLD-SCHOOL
A declaration of love doesn’t get more old-fashioned than initials and a heart carved into a tree. I asked several local arborists and tree professionals and, although they don’t recommend taking a knife to your favorite backyard tree, they did concede that if you are compelled to do so, you should look for a hearty maple or birch (both of which have skin that can handle a little impact). And remember, this is like getting a tattoo, your carving will last forever so make sure it’s on your property.
Take it to the next romantic level and hang globe lights around the tree, lay out a blanket with wine and cheese and you’ll have yourself a lovely private evening in the backyard.
Don’t want to carve into a tree? Check out the personalized faux tree-carved coffee mugs on etsy.com. And for the beer or wine connoisseurs, Uncommon Goods sells glasses with a similar look. uncommongoods.com
2. WHEN IN DOUBT
Etsy and Uncommon Goods are two of my favorite websites for unique gifts. Check out their anniversary and wedding sections for inspiration. One of my favorites on Uncommon Goods is The Intersection of Love—a framed photograph that they create showing the intersections of two streets that you name, such as his and her last names.
3. PICTURE THIS
Plenty of websites offer easy and affordable ways to get those photos off your phone and into a hardcover book of memories. Most have easy navigation tools and offer a variety of layouts—helping you create a professional-quality book. Blurb and Shutterfly are just two services.
4. TOAST A VERY GOOD YEAR
Think of a year that means something, whether it’s the year you met, were engaged, married, had a child, etc. Go wine shopping with several possible years and let the professionals help you find the best wine. Newlywed or recent years are most likely going to be whites or champagne; for a decade or more look for a red.
Another idea is to buy a bottle and set it aside to be savored on a significant future anniversary. Buy a great red now while it’s too young to drink. One of the most special presents we received was a case of wine to be opened at my daughter’s wedding. It was given to us when she was a toddler. She’s fourteen now, and it still makes us smile when we see it in our cellar and think about that future day.
5. GET OUTTA TOWN
There is no better way to reconnect than to hit the road. Whether it’s in a gondola in Venice, dinner at Le Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower or in a beachside hut in Bali, take the time to talk about your travel dreams. And it doesn’t have to be expensive—just memorable. If you’re into the outdoors, here are two great options.
Star Gazing There is a growing list of Dark Sky Parks (DSPs) in the U.S. where you can time your travel to witness the magic of shooting stars and meteor showers. The International Dark Sky Association can help you find the best spots, darksky.org. Our closest Dark-Sky Park is Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. There are also DSPs in Ohio and Michigan. (The annual Geminid meteor shower peaking on December 13 should provide a good show.)
And you don’t need to venture to Iceland to see the Northern Lights. Maine, Michigan and Wisconsin all boast parks where, with a little planning and good weather, the Northern Lights are visible. Check out NOAA’s Aurora Forecast Model swpc.noaa.gov.
Hop on a Bike Backroads and other outdoor tour companies offer unique ways to see the countryside here and abroad all from the seat of a bike, arranging travel along the way. Not a Tour de France cyclist? Most outlets offer an e-bike option, which has a motor to give you a little help on those uphill stretches. backroads.com
6. GET A LITTLE CHEESY
Head to Tod’s Point with a custom prepared basket of cheese and charcuterie from Greenwich Cheese Shop in Cos Cob. With so many ideal vistas for picnics, you’re sure to find your own little private slice of heaven. fairfieldcheese.com