I’ve been happily married to the same man for over two decades. What is our secret to marital bliss? Besides the biggies like communication, respect, kindness, compromise, commitment and shared values, the answer is HAVING FUN! Especially now that we’re parents, we find it helpful — no, necessary — to set time aside for one-on-one time. We schedule weekly date nights.
We’ve found that a lack of planning leads us to overspend on our dates. Without a plan, we find ourselves drifting to an expensive restaurant, then leaving with our wallets $70 lighter. But date nights don’t need to break the budget. To prevent indecision and consequential overspending, I like to keep a list of fun and frugal ideas. Hopefully I’ve come up with a few you can use, too.
Tip: Eliminate babysitter fees by co-oping with family friends: you watch their kids one night a week and in trade, they reciprocate.
1. Always a winner– wine, cheese, and a sunset.
2. Play Frisbee golf.
3. Create an “International Night”. Decorate your home with an international theme, dress up, prepare ethnic foods, listen to appropriate music, and watch a foreign film on DVD.
4. Try letter-boxing or geocaching.
5. Enjoy an art walk, gallery to gallery.
6. Watch a high school play.
7. For a reduced price, attend a matinée movie. Bring your own popcorn.
8. Play a rousing game of Laser-Tag.
9. Spend an evening playing board games by candlelight.
10. Attend a book signing at a local bookstore.
11. Go bargain shopping at a flea market or garage sale.
12. Take a hike.
13. Design a scavenger or treasure hunt. Write clues on pieces of paper and leave them all around the house, neighborhood park, or town. Design each clue to lead to the next. Place a small gift, bubble bath, or picnic basket at the end of the hunt. It’s best if the places and clues are particularly meaningful to both people.
14. Pedal a tandem bike. Culminate the ride with a picnic.
15. Attend a free concert or festival. Check the local newspaper for an upcoming event schedule.
16. Go to a free library event.
17. Go for a moonlight swim. Check with your local Parks & Recreation Department for pool hours, or hit a favorite lake.
18. Check the university schedule (if you live in a college town) for lectures, films and concerts.
19. Attend an independent theater engagement.
20. Try Glow Bowling.
21. Play Miniature golf
22. Visit a 4-H fair or carnival.
23. For group dates, create a thematic dinner club.
24. Participate in a progressive dinner.
25. Join a book club for couples.
26. Hold a private fondue party.
27. Attend a wine tasting. Check with local restaurants and liquor stores for schedule.
28. Take a factory tour.
29. Visit the zoo or museum on a free or lower admission day.
30. Sign up for Tai Chi classes.
31. Scramble at an indoor rock climbing gym.
32. Star gaze. Ponder the mysteries of the universe.
33. Dance the night away with ballroom or salsa dance lessons.
34. Check with the local home improvement store for free do-it-yourself instruction classes.
35. Create a fairy garden.
36. Sculpt a bonsai tree or topiary.
37. Watch an anime movie.
38. View home movies, scrapbooks and photo albums. Reminisce.
39. Craft a new scrapbook page.
40. Make homemade gifts or greeting cards.
41. Go to a drive-in movie. Bring popcorn and beverages.
42. Take a drive through the countryside.
43. Give one another facials or pedicures.
44. Create a time capsule and bury it.
45. Share a book by reading it out loud.
46. Take a stroll through downtown.
47. Go sledding with a thermos of hot apple cider.
48. Bake and decorate cookies, then deliver them to friends.
49. Play around: Visit a quiet playground (without kidlets). Share secrets or interview each other.
50. Fly a kite.
51. Go fishing.
52. Enjoy a classic movie marathon. Serve fresh buttered popcorn and snuggle under a big blanket.
If you’re fortunate enough to share love, make a conscious choice to nurture your relationship. Don’t wait until circumstances change. Make a standing date with your partner today. Have fun!
Please share your favorite cheap date ideas in the comments!
Relevant, recommended books:
10,000 Ways to Say I Love You (Paperback)
Romantic Antics: Creative Ideas for Successful First Dates, Adventurous Saturday Nights, and Playful Long Weekends (Paperback)
RoMANtic’s Guide: Hundreds of Creative Tips For A Lifetime (Paperback)