“What do you want to do?”
“I dunno… what do you want to do?”
It was our monthly “Date Day” but we were completely clueless as to how to spend the time. All the articles and books on keeping a marriage healthy seem to give the same advice: date your spouse. Most go further and recommend a schedule: an evening once a week, a day once a month, and a weekend once a season. That’s all very well and good, but what does one do on those dates?
I’m sure many couples have no problem coming up with plans for the evening. For starters, there’s always the old stand-by—dinner and a movie. I’m a bit odd in that respect. I don’t usually like movies. It’s not that I have anything against movies. It’s just that I’d rather do something else. During a movie, everyone watches the movie. It annoys both your spouse and those sitting around you if you make comments on the film. You sit there, next to each other, breathing the same air, but not really connecting. Our schedule is busy enough that we want maximum “relating” during our dating. So, with rare exceptions, we veto going to movies.
Dinner out is better in that you can talk during the whole evening, and no one minds at all. We love going out to dinner… the more exotic, the better. Unfortunately, our budget isn’t quite as excited about this as we are. Even with coupons and two-for-one deals, we can’t afford to go out all that often. (Let me interject here that you should always tip on what the meal would have cost without the special prices—it’s not your server’s fault that you have a coupon.) We try to save restaurant dinners for major occasions—birthdays, our anniversary, etc.
So, where does that leave us? Needing to be creative, that’s where. What can a couple do for fun that stays within budget, allows opportunity to interact, and is lots of fun? I’ve listed 30 suggestions (in honor of our 30th anniversary this coming week) to get your started. We’d love to hear from you—what do you like to do on a date?
Stay at Home Dates
These are handy when you’re both too exhausted to go anywhere, the weather outside is frightful, and/or you’ve been gone a lot lately.
- Watch a movie. I know, I said we don’t do movies. But you can talk all you want when the movie’s at home.
- Watch old slides/movies of your earlier years.
- Enjoy a meal in front of the glowing fireplace… bring out the camping pads and a quilt for this one. If cooking isn’t romantic, pick up something easy on the way home from work. You can even toast marshmallows for dessert.
- Clean out that room/closet/garage you’ve been avoiding. It’s a lot more fun if you do it together, and you’ll feel so relieved afterwards.
- Put on some oldies from your teen years and dance.
- Plan your dream vacation. Even if you never get to go, it’s fun to research all the exotic destinations you could visit.
- Make and decorate cookies. If you don’t want to eat them all, share some with the neighbors.
- Go through your closets looking for things to eliminate. If you’re keeping something because of a fond memory, reminisce about the person or event, take a picture of the item, and then add it to the discard pile. Sell or donate items of value and trash the rest.
- Play games – anything from Yahtzee to cards to Scattergories.
- Go to the “beach.” Set up a kids’ wading pool in the backyard, spread your beach towels, and fill up some squirt guns or water balloons.
Go Someplace Dates – Indoors
What do you do when you’d planned a picnic and it’s pouring, or you wanted to hike but it’s 10 degrees outside? Here are some indoor options:
- Go out for breakfast. It’s usually a lot cheaper than dinner, and can be just as romantic.
- Go out for dessert. Again, it’s cheaper, and what’s more romantic than chocolate?
- Audubon and other organizations offer free programs on birds, wildlife, and conservation issues. Check the paper or look online.
- Volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
- Visit a museum—art, history, natural history…. Many city museums have free days, so check online to plan.
- Visit one of your local tourist traps. Bring a camera and pretend you’re from someplace else.
- Check the local listings for low-cost or free entertainment… civic organizations, churches, and schools often have plays or concerts you can attend.
- Go to your local country/western hangout and learn to line dance.
- Learn something new at a lecture series. Try the library or a local college or university.
- Go bowling. Things have improved since the says of bowling alleys filled with cigarette smoke. Afterward, the winner can massage the aching arm and shoulders of their mate.
Go Someplace Dates – Outside
If the weather is gorgeous, take advantage of it!
- Go to the zoo. Take pictures of the animals. Go home and laugh at the pictures.
- Go for a walk. Try a different neighborhood, and guess what the people are like who live in each house.
- Play miniature golf. Who says that’s only for tourists?
- Try snowshoes. You can rent them cheaper than skis, and there are no lift tickets to buy.
- See if your town or city has a walking tour or an historic district you can explore.
- Support your local high school at a football game—all the excitement, some wild plays, and none of the commercialism of pro sports.
- Go fly a kite or toss a Frisbee. Pack a picnic and head for the park.
- Go canoeing or sailing. Many lakes and reservoirs have rentals at reasonable prices. Check local swimming regulations before falling overboard.
- Go for a bike ride.
- Go hiking. Look for wildflowers, birds, or count the squirrels you see.
Great advice! Coming up with date ideas is a hard thing for me, as I tend to be extremely unoriginal and/or completely indecisive. Worse yet, if I come up with an idea, I always assume it needs to cost money. Although taking Teri away for a weekend in Estes Park was nice, not every date needs be expensive or even cost money at all. Some of my favorite dates have been when I’ve surprised her after work by having massage oils, a bottle of wine and a movie or something. Or, if you want to enjoy one another even more, scratch to movie =)
Just to play devil’s advocate though, my yard is too small for a kiddie pool (and given my backyard that would just be creepy), I don’t have a fireplace, and Teri and I would just argue if I tried to clean out a closet. I”m really bad at pretending, so every time I go to a local tourist attraction and pretend I’m from elsewhere, I pretend that I’m from the city it is actually located in… going somewhere in Denver and pretending I’m from there instead of Erie just doesn’t do the trick =P And apparently, allowing Teri to watch me play Playstation for hours on end doesn’t count as a date. Odd…
You could also have a bbq in the backyard and play games like badminton or croquet. Another fun and practical thing to do is wash the car. fun!! If you’re a crafty couple, you could do building projects (ie- make a bird house or build a bench for the back yard). In the winter, sledding is always a fun activity, along with snowball wars, fort building, and of course, making snow-people. There’s lots that you can do!! You know how lots of people make wish-lists through the year as they thing of things? Why not make a date list of ideas as you come up with them, and then when the day arrives, you’ll have lots of ideas to choose from.
One more idea…
If you have an afternoon to spend together, you could cook! You mentioned cookies, but you could make, like, 4 casseroles (easier with two people, and more fun!) and freeze them. Then, the next time you come home from work all exhausted but can’t afford to eat out, dinner is already done — which leads us to date #2.