I normally like to relax at home when I’m not working, but it is nice to change things up and have a “date night” with the husband. It is summertime, so it is definitely the season for having a few nice evenings out.
We try not to do fancy dates too often because they can get expensive and we try to save for more important expenses (like a house). With the limited amount of money allocated for dates, one of the hardest things to do, is come up with something fun without spending a fortune (goodbye theme parks, goodbye über fancy restaurants, and expensive concerts). We have coffee dates and dinner dates, but planning anything beyond that takes more energy than it sometimes is worth (i.e. we thought something would be fun but it ended up being not-so-fun).
So, in order to create a handy list of inexpensive and creative date ideas (to eliminate poor, last-minute suggestions), I decided to brainstorm a date-night list with you here, so please feel free to list your ideas in the comments!
1. Picnic – I love to cook, so this gives me the opportunity to put together some fun snacks to munch on while relaxing outside on a nice day. If weather doesn’t permit, have a picnic on the floor at home!
2. Fondue Night – We are huge fans of cheese and so one not-so-diet-friendly date we like to have is bread and fondue night (with a good, but not too expensive bottle of wine). It’s a nice stay-at-home date. And for some reason, cooking with a fondue pot (if you can call it cooking) is much more enjoyable than more “traditional” cooking and it’s something we do together.
3. Wine Tasting or Beer Tasting – Wineries, wine bars, and breweries are popping up all over. If you look up local wineries/bars in your area, you may find a fairly inexpensive opportunity to do some wine tasting. You can do a variation of this with friends at home (double date!) – buy a few bottles of inexpensive wine, cover the labels and do a “taste test.” Be sure to buy wines you’ve never had.
4. Take a Hike – enjoy the outdoors with your partner by taking a walk in a local park, in nearby hills/mountains to get a better view of your town, or walk along the beach.
5. Happy Hour – A lot of different restaurants offer discounted food and drinks during certain hours (even on the weekends in some cases). Get an inexpensive late lunch/early dinner. Our favorite “local” Japanese BBQ place has a great happy hour and even though it’s a bit of a drive, we occasionally like to make it out there for lunch.
6. Dinner by Candlelight - Turn what would be a “normal” dinner into a romantic evening. Eat dinner by candlelight or in front of the fireplace if you have one.
7. Photo Date – I once brought my camera along on a lunch date. My husband and I laughed hysterically taking silly pictures as everyone stared trying to figure out why we were having so much fun. Being relaxed and acting goofy made the photos fun – normally my husband doesn’t even like to be in photos!
8. Museum – It is somewhat easy to find inexpensive museums and exhibits. Change it up and make it interesting by visiting a space or science museum.
9. Try a new activity together – borrow your parents’ old tennis rackets and head out to the local park to try your hand at a new sport or find a place to go stargazing and pack a blanket.
10. Game Night – teach each other board games the other has never played or revisit the classics. Be sure that the competition stays friendly so that the date is fun! My husband, brother, and his girlfriend recently enjoyed a fun night of Catchphrase with homemade peach margaritas.
11. Take a Factory Tour – factories may not be as far as you think and can make an interesting day trip!
12. Movie Marathon Night – we do this one too often! Pick a series of films (Batman, Spiderman, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc.) and watch them all in a row. We’re currently in the middle of another Star Wars marathon since I bought it for M for Christmas on Bluray. A variation on this would be the TV Show Marathon where you watch an entire season of a television show together.
13. Visit a new restaurant – Check out your local coupon book (you usually receive them in the mail) and try a restaurant you’ve never been to before. We discovered a few of our favorite restaurants this way.
14. The Newlywed Game – I found this one at the Dating Divas. You can download their free copy of the newlywed game here. Another variation of the game, also from Dating Divas is the “Let’s Talk” game where you can ask each other questions and try to guess your partner’s answers.
15. The Sherlock Holmes Scavenger Hunt – If you have some time alone at the house to do some preparation, this is a fun game to play with your partner. Create a series of clues and hide them around the house for your partner to find with some sort of reward at the end (a dessert, a bottle of wine, a gift, etc.) Make the hunt as long or short as you like.
16. The Dessert Only Date – Go out on a date and just get dessert. You still get to have a night out, but for far less than an entire dinner.
And then I found this – It’s this fantastic idea that requires eating a WHOLE lot of Popsicles to achieve (okay, well you can buy a pack of them at the store) to create a fun and somewhat spontaneous date experience. Color code all of your date ideas by cost and planning time (three categories ranging from super easy to plan and inexpensive to requires a lot of planning and/or expensive) then place them in a jar to be drawn at random. Find out more about the date night jar.
In my version, I didn’t use Popsicle sticks – I actually used scrap wood my dad had from his reed case and guitar pick case making business and I just color coded the tops of the sticks.