How to celebrate milestones in long-distance relationships

Remember when we used to think online relationships weren’t real? Or that meeting someone on the internet was cause for concern? Me neither. Since the pandemic, online interactions and relationships have grown in legitimacy because for a while, it was all we could do.

Over the past two years, we’ve all had to adapt to the unsatisfactory nature of long distance communication — a Zoom chat with awkward delays, remote raves followed by a massive silence once you left the call and the weight of an unmanageable inbox. As these connections progress, we naturally encounter milestones along the way: anniversaries, birthdays, big geographical moves, career successes etc. 

Through it all, the value of online or long-distance relationships has to shift. When you’re reduced to texting, emailing and calling, that suddenly has to count for something: your closest friends become ones that you haven’t seen in months and months but stay in touch with nonetheless. This digital upload of relationships can feel overwhelming so here is a breakdown of tried and tested methods to celebrate your long distance relationships in big and small ways. 

Send your person pastries/ delicious goods to their house

I’ve done this internationally, facilitated by the beauty of home deliveries and online banking. You only need the recipient's address and some savvy googling and you’re good to go. The beauty of finding a surprise at your door is like no other. Rainbow Bakery in London offers St:Lucian desserts and goodies with delivery, the Biscuiteers do a delivery biscuit box for all your tea time pleasures or go all out with Dear Friend Bakery

Send them the results of your personal hobbies

Got really into knitting, painting or colouring? Send it! We’re all good at something and sharing the results of your joy can be a rewarding way to bring your long-distance bestie or significant other closer. Generally speaking, the post office is going to be your best friend in this pursuit because receiving a package from someone you love is the most beautiful feeling in the world.

To celebrate a big move, organise a clothes swap

This takes some logistical finesse but is well worth the trouble. That pile of forgotten garments that’s been sitting in the corner of your room or under your bed needs to go and preferably given a new life with someone you care about. With a quick video call and an address, you can get rid of clutter and receive some goodies in return. 

Keep a spreadsheet of everyone's addresses, birthdays or other important dates

Personally, I’ve traded the sterile feeling of an Excel doc for the efficacy of letting my people know they are important to me. My memory is shot to pieces by a global pandemic so this alleviates the pressure of having to keep all the details in my head and saves the embarrassment of forgetting important dates. If a spreadsheet isn’t your vibe, set reminders on your phone and keep your contacts updated. You will thank yourself later. 

Actually send physical letters/postcards to them

I bought stamps the other day and the guy behind the counter looked at me with a surprised and impressed glint in his eye. Not entirely warranted (people do still send letters), posting a letter has a particular sentimental loveliness to it. They don’t need to be long. In one of my favourite shows, a character sends their love interest a postcard that simply says: “You look good in red.” Needless to say, you can have fun with this and they are beautiful (and hot) keepsakes to treasure. 

Compile your favourite memes/TikToks and send them to your person

Humour is 9 out of 10 reasons I stay on the Internet. It’s become the currency of much of my online interactions and told me so much about what my friends find funny. There’s a particular care that goes into curating an experience like this that will make the recipient feel seen and hopefully giggle. These can also be themed according to what you’re celebrating. 

Plan a physical meet-up

Marking an important event with a trip is one of my favourite ways to celebrate. This may seem obvious, but having something to look forward to is an excellent way to bring you closer to your person. It will take planning, funds and the equal participation of both parties but if you can swing it, the pay off can be great. What places do you dream about in your relationship? Where’s the midpoint of your respective locations? 

Whatever your budget, situation or distance, taking the time to mark special events in your relationship is important for its longevity. Our lives get busy, the unread messages pileup or go unanswered, all of which can be death rattles for any relationship but particularly long distance ones. For example, to celebrate your long-distance besties housewarming by sending plants or making a mood board according to their favourite styles/colours. If you’re celebrating a wedding but can’t physically be there, take on the task of making a video with well wishes from all the other long-distance guests. Generally, organised fun is one of the beautiful and infuriating modalities of adulthood and, when invested in reciprocal relationships, can yield life's most delicious treats. 

Photo of author Rosel Jackson Stern
This blog was authored by Rosel Jackson Stern, a journalist and artist whose work primarily covers culture, politics and art. They are currently based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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