Long-distance relationships are difficult at the best of times. Even a humdrum nothing-special day can be tough. Feeling too far away from each other, feeling lonely and disconnected from the person you love, it’s hard.
Throw in an anniversary, a day that should be extra special and exciting and definitely spent together, and you’ve got a recipe for the blues.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! A long-distance anniversary might never quite live up to an in-person one, but it can still be really fun, moving, and special.
There are loads of ways to celebrate together that will make that distance seem smaller and keep the flame alive until you’re reunited. All you need is a little bit of planning, some compromise, and some creativity.
Even though this day is about you as a couple, you still want to prioritize yourself in the run-up to it, especially if you haven’t had a long-distance anniversary before.
Prepare for the day to be different from your expectations. You might be sadder than you thought, or not sad at all. Give yourself a bit of emotional leeway, and plan some things that will cheer you up generally, like your favorite breakfast, or an extra-long lie-in.
Arrange to see your best friend or family so that in the moments you aren’t talking to your partner you’re not just dwelling on the anniversary that could have been.
And if you can’t actually communicate with your partner on your anniversary and you know that will get you down, be sure to fill your day with distractions. Make plans with friends, book yourself a massage, or go to the movies, anything that will help get you out of your head.
How do you celebrate your long-distance anniversary? What can couples do together long-distance? Despite the potential for melancholy, it should be a happy day and I’m going to run you through some of the best long virtual anniversary celebration ideas and I promise they’ll put a positive spin on the situation and even make it super fun.
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1. Cook Together
This is a super fun and sweet date and is perfect whether you’re experienced and love cooking, or are a novice chef. The idea is simple. You both cook the same meal from scratch! Choose a meal that is special to you as a couple, your classic favorite, or something you ate once at a memorable time, maybe on your first date?
Set each other up on a video call in the kitchen and follow the recipe together. If you want to you could even go as far as grocery shopping for the ingredients while on the phone or facetime.
This date is perfect because it means you get to do something that feels normal and every day together, which can be rare in a long-distance relationship. Making the meal something special to you as a couple gives it that anniversary twist.
Once the meal is cooked, eat together, and if you want to you can do the whole shebang. Candles, a glass of wine, a nice outfit, fancy table setting. Super romantic.
2. A Movie Date
Maybe this is an obvious one but it’s a classic and a great date. Think of little ways to make it special. Watch a movie you both love or really want to see. Order your favorite takeout and eat it together, or buy all your favorite movie snacks.
If you watch the movie on a laptop with headphones, you can have a video call at the same time and you’ll be able to chat through the movie without the audio messing up, otherwise, you can text during and video chat after. Talk through your thoughts on the movie and let the conversation flow into the night.
3. Make a Video for your partner
Got a computer? Got iMovie or any other basic editing software? Got average to good computer skills? You can probably make a short film for your partner without too much trouble.
The basics of video editing are pretty easy to learn. You could cut together footage of you both from when you were in the same place, and add in some of yourself declaring your undying love. Or you could film places around your city that you think your partner would like or that remind you of them.
You could get more creative and film a love story meant to represent the two of you, or just something unrelated to your relationship that you know they would get a kick out of. Add music over the tops, some snazzy transitions, and voila, a romantic personal movie.
Send it to them on your anniversary, or watch it together, and they will love that you’ve put so much effort into their gift.
4. Play Games
The options for playing games online with people have skyrocketed in the past couple of years, thanks to Covid. There are endless different types of games for different tastes. You can play silly drawing and word games. You can hang out on Second Life.
Or if you’re interested in a more classic game experience, you can play board games! Tabletop Simulator hosts pretty much every board game you can think of, from Chess to Boss Monster. It even has a ‘flip the table’ option for when your competitive side takes over… be careful using this on your anniversary though, play nice.
Playing games is a great way to spend time together, it’s sociable and most importantly, fun. Problem-solving together or competing with each other is a bonding experience, unless competition brings out your worst… then maybe avoid this one.
5. Write and Illustrate a Story
1. As a surprise gift.
This one is great if you’re a bit more creative, but you don’t have to be Picasso or Hemingway or anything. Give it a shot and I’m sure the results will be worthwhile.
Write a story about your perfect day together and make sure you add in lots of details and include every moment that would be really special if you were actually living that day.
It could be imaginative, like a day where money is no object or a date to Mars! Or it could just be a day you would genuinely have if the distance wasn’t keeping you apart.
If you want to put in even more effort, illustrate your story. The visual element will add a lot to the experience of reading it. This gift involves so much thought and time, it would make any weak at the knees and happy to be with you.
2. As a collaborative activity
A second option would be to create this story together! Get on Facetime and plan your perfect day, use a joint google doc to write your story together. This is a fun couple of hours where you can express the things you wish you could be doing, and a creative exercise with a resulting beautiful, or ridiculous, story. Each illustrates different sections, and you will end up with a collaborative masterpiece that you can treasure forever.
6. Take a Class
If you guys are an activities couple, always looking to learn a new skill, keep fit or otherwise stay busy, this is the one for you. These days there are endless online workshops and classes. You can learn anything under the sun. And probably about the sun too!
Check out Eventbrite for inspiration. You could do a sensual yoga class, a life drawing class, a cooking class, there’s something for absolutely anyone.
Granted, you might not be alone for this one as they are usually group sessions, but still a really fun thing to do together and then unwind afterward chatting together. Or if you’re feeling flashy, put some extra cash into a private lesson.
7. Write a Love Letter
A love letter is one of the ultimate romantic gestures, I’m pretty sure that anyone would love to receive one. From someone they love I mean, I’m not including unexpected love letters here. Those can be nice too, or not, but that’s a different conversation!
What I’m trying to say is that writing down all of your heartfelt feelings and emotions about your partner and the year you’ve had will never go unwelcomed and is a great way to celebrate your love on your anniversary. You can also use the letter to talk about future hopes and plans for the year(s) ahead.
8. Send a Care Package
What’s nicer than receiving a package of all your favorite things? This is a super sweet thing to do for a long-distance anniversary.
Fill a box with your SO’s favorite snacks, and add in some thoughtful gifts like books, games, or snuggly toys. Try and remember snacks that will remind them of particular days you’ve spent together. You could also include a love letter and some romantic gifts like scented candles or bath products. Include some photos of the two of you that you love.
If you really want to lay it on thick you could include one of your shirts or a hoodie that smells like you. Make sure everything is presented nicely and this is one thoughtful long-distance anniversary gift.
The night sky is objectively romantic. For this one there have to be a few things that make it possible, like that it’s nighttime for both of you at the same time, and that it’s a clear night. It might not work that great if one of you is in Tokyo and the other is in New York, peering up into the city smog at totally different times. But hey, when it goes right it’s great.
Go for a walk around the neighborhood or if it’s nice weather lay a blanket somewhere outside, and compare the skies you can see in front of you.
Download an astronomy app that lets you point your phone at the sky to identify the different constellations. See if you can both find the same ones and discuss where they are in the sky above you.
The night sky is of course pretty dreamy, and while gazing up at it, tell your partner how you feel about them and about how great the year has been.
10. What I Love About You Journal
This gift takes a bit of forethought. You can buy journals online that have a plethora of questions and prompts, to help you write down all the things you love about your partner and your relationship.
Buy one a couple of months before your anniversary and really put time and thought into making the book something they will treasure, and that will make them feel good about themselves.
Whether this means soppy adorations, in-jokes about your first awkward Tinder messages, or even apologies, personalize it in a way you know will be meaningful. Post it to them on your anniversary and they will definitely love reading it on the day.
11. Make a Joint Playlist
If you’re a couple who like music this is a great way to bond and enjoy time together on your anniversary. Music is totally intertwined with experience and memory and a moving way to remember great times, whether they were in person or online.
Hang out on facetime, reminisce about the gigs you’ve been to, the songs you’ve sent each other, the places you’ve danced. Craft a long playlist that will always remind you of each other and that you can listen to any time you’re feeling the distance.
12. Scavenger Hunt
This is another one you have to set up in advance. Before you part ways hide a handful of small gifts around their home and write riddles or clues about where you’ve hidden them.
On your anniversary read your partner the clues and watch them tear their house apart looking for the secret presents! You can either make the clues simple and easy or really cryptic, depending on what you think your partner would enjoy most.
It’s super fun seeing them open gifts they didn’t even know existed, that was right under their nose. This one works best if you won’t be apart for too long. If it’s going to be weeks or months until you see each other again, it would only work if you’re really good at hiding the gifts! The last thing you want is for them to find a gift prematurely and ruin the whole thing.
13. Quiz Book for Couples
A book like this one is a perfect way to grow closer to your partner on your anniversary. It’s full of quizzes to take about each other and will help you learn more about one another and your relationship. While on the phone or video chat choose quizzes from the book and answer them separately.
When you’re done, compare answers. It can be pretty interesting and sometimes really fun or touching to know what you’ve both answered.
If you don’t have time or money to get the book, you can also find quizzes online that will do a similar job! You could even hop back onto Bumble despite already being together officially to have a go at Night In. It’s always nice to feel like you’re forming a deeper bond with the person you love.
14. Get Help
If you have any friends or family that live close to your partner, see if they would be willing to get involved and help make your anniversary special. Get someone to decorate their office, home, or car as a surprise.
They could leave gifts, flowers, baked goods on the doorstep, or show up in tuxedos to sing a song and deliver a heartfelt message from you. Or anything you could think of that would make an impact on a special day. This can be a whole load of fun and really make you feel present in your partner’s day.
15. Push it Back
When it really comes down to it, your anniversary is just a day. The day itself means nothing compared to your whole relationship, the first contact you made on Bumble, and the hundreds of days you’ve spent committing to each other and building a life together.
If you prefer it I think it’s totally reasonable to move your plans to the next time you see each other if that’s what would make you happier.
It’s all well and good to try and make the day special, and sure, for a lot of people that would be ideal, but if that’s not you and you would prefer to put the effort into an in-person date, just do that! After all, you make the rules of your relationship.
I hope I’ve given you some food for thought on virtual anniversary ideas for your long-distance relationship. And might I say congrats!
Long-distance isn’t easy so you’re clearly doing something right to have made it this far. I know that any of these ideas will make your day super special and memorable.
If you need any interesting date ideas for when you and your beloved are back in physical proximity, but maybe are feeling a little frugal, I’ve just written a guide to some budget-friendly dates that you should check out.