This post is brought to you by Hope Springs starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell. In theaters August 8th.

Our wedding anniversary comes next month and I’ve been thinking about what I want to get for Ben Blair. Some years we do something awesome (like climbing a Fourteener for our 14th anniversary — the photo above is us on the top of the mountain). But other years are more laid back. I remember one gift exchange when we were still newlyweds that totally bombed. We both tried really hard to come up with something amazing, while keeping within our tiny, still-in-college budget.

Ben Blair had recently received a gorgeous certificate from an honor society (I no longer even remember the name), so I secretly had it framed — with touches of gold! — to hang in his future office. And for me, knowing my love of design, Ben Blair went to a used book store and combed the racks till he found a big volume from Architectural Digest.

When the gift exchange happened, we both tried hard to act like the gifts we received were awesome. But really, they were both a total fail! Turns out Ben Blair can’t stand anything that draws attention to his accomplishments. Though I didn’t know it at the time, there’s no way he would ever have an office hanging with certificates. It’s just not his style. And as for the book, it was filled with out-of-date, out-of-touch homes of celebrities that we’d never heard of. It wasn’t old enough to be cool. It was just depressing and the opposite of fresh and inspiring. By the end of the evening, we were laughing about our ridiculous gift choices and vowing to do better next time.

Since that little fiasco, our gift giving surprises have almost totally disappeared. We’re much more likely to discuss a gift ahead of time or make a wishlist. Doesn’t that sound so practical and un-romantic? Hah! Oh well, it seems to work for us.

How about you? Has any gift ever come as a surprise to you? Do you prefer surprises, or do you like to make lists and request something specific?

P.S. — Have you seen the trailer for Hope Springs? I’m such a Meryl Streep fan!