There are plenty of reasons to surprise your partner. The fun is in the planning…and then there’s more fun in the surprising! In our house, our wedding anniversary, our son’s birthday, and my birthday all fall within one month’s time. That time is also when my husband is busiest at work. Go figure. But with this situation alone, there is a lot of room for surprises. He can surprise me with something very thoughtful, but less costly so we don’t run dry for the month. I can surprise him to alleviate some of the pressures he feels at that time, or to show appreciation for all the attention he’s had to dole out. Whatever the reason, a surprise can amp up the energy for any celebration.
Last year, my husband surprised me for my birthday and I thought it was a lovely plan. I want to share some of his ideas, as well as throw in some of my own (in case he reads this before my birthday next week!) These local, budget-friendly surprises may even grow into a new tradition for your family!
Become a walking tour guide
This is so much fun, and it’s free! To surprise your partner, pick a few local spots and learn all about them. Then take your partner on a tour of your own town. (This is particularly nice to do with places that have some history to them.)
My husband took me to West Side Park (with focus on the fountain), the old Train Depot, the bell tower at Altgeld Hall on campus, and finally the Japan House gardens. He learned about their history and we walked around each place (though we often had to drive to get from one to the other). He told me their stories and I learned, not only about the history of C-U, but also that my husband is smarter than I realized!
This is a nice way to spend time together, go for a walk, learn about your city’s history, and see your partner in a new light.
Plan a visit to an out-of-the-ordinary location
Perhaps you want to keep it low key, but don’t want to do the same old thing. Take your partner somewhere you don’t usually go.
Walk the Boneyard. The Boneyard Creek project has turned this watershed into a winding walkway park that really surprises! There is some amazing work being done in downtown Urbana right now, and it is scheduled to be complete in October. As well, the area around Springfield and Second Streets is particularly nice with places to walk, sit, and even spin (at the playground!)
Bake a cake together
Again, my husband pulled this one out of his hat a few years ago. We had just moved to upstate, rural New York and didn’t really know anyone yet. I really needed some comfort for this birthday.
He set up a scavenger hunt for me and at each new hiding spot was a different line from the recipe to a traditional birthday cake. He already had all the ingredients and that night we baked my birthday cake together.
Now, each year, I get to chose whatever type of cake I want and we bake it together. We have a section in our recipe binder that holds the recipes from each year’s cake.
*It should be noted that the year I wanted to bake a chocolate-raspberry cake, I had just had our son a week before. That year, we bought my birthday cake from Pekara!
Give the gift of time…alone
For me, a surprise is such a lovely gift because of the way a person can say “I think about you when you’re not around and I really know you”. I don’t need money to be a part of the equation…just time. And sometimes, time alone really hits the spot! So set your partner up and get out of the house. Remember the kids, if you have any…that’s kind of a deal breaker for this one!
Some gender-stereotyped ideas are:
For the ladies: A spa at home (morning, noon, or night)
First of all, wash the bath tub. That is very important. A clean bathroom all around will make this experience much more enjoyable! Your lady might already have everything you need to set her up, and if not, you can run out to the closest drug store for anything additional. Lay everything out for her: candles arranged, bath salts or bubbles, a face mask, extra towels, a bath pillow (or another towel for this purpose), a little table next to the tub, music, and if its chilly – a space heater. You don’t necessarily need to draw the bath ahead of time, unless the situation makes sense. You could, however, have a glass of bubbly waiting for her (with the bottle on ice nearby) if you’re feeling extra nice.
For the gentlemen: A ‘man cave’ pop-up
I generally dislike that trendy term, but let’s face it. Guys like their space. And they often have a hard time finding it. You know what your man likes, so run with it! For mine, I would put beer in the fridge and pizza on the menu (he will love frozen or nice take-out...just as long as its pizza). Depending on how good of a mood I’m in, I might even have a bottle of whiskey waiting for him. Order a movie or two that he doesn’t have or even get a video game ready for him. He’ll guide his way from there.
However you choose, show your partner that you know what they really like and really need. Show them that you think of them and you know they love to be reminded that they are special to you…they are number one.
Tina Whobrey moved to Chambana with a friend in 2000. Since then she has attended Parkland, ISU, and finally the U of I, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Education. She taught middle school Social Studies for five years, married her favorite person in the world and moved to NY state. They decided C-U was “home” and moved back to have their son, who is now 1 ½ years old.