Sunday, July 31, 2016

20 Date Nights on a Budget

With two under two and a crazy calendar, Joel and I are doing our best to soak up all of the time that we have just the two of us. We're doing our best to keep things interesting and somewhat spontaneous by getting out of the dinner-at-the-coffee-table-with-the-TV rut and spicing it up with some out-of-the-box budget dates... because that's how we roll.

WARNING: Some of the following events are dangerously lame. Please use these as suggestions and cater them to match your own needs!

1. Go geocaching - I have never felt more like Indiana Jones in my life. Bring a phone or GPS (something to track your coordinates), a couple of small trinkets, and a pencil... and let the treasure hunt begin ;)

2. Home Hotel - As much as we'd love the chance to run away on vacation , the budget and work schedules don't always allow it. But that doesn't mean we can't make it feel like we're away! Hang pictures of far off places in your room, print out a "do not disturb" door hanger, order some room service (a.k.a. delivery served on a fancy tray with an upside down bowl or cover over it), and if you want to get real crazy you can turn on the Travel channel, burn a candle with a coordinating scent, or play some background sounds of waves crashing on the beach (or whatever). If you want to make it feel legit, don't forget fresh towels and pillow mints.

3. Picnic (Indoor or out) - You have to eat dinner anyways, so might as well do it on a blanket in the yard or on the floor. It automatically makes it more of an occasion, so you could even get away with PB&J's ;)

4. Treat your town like a tourist - We live in a pretty small town in the middle of not much, but every town has at least SOMETHING somewhat historical or noteworthy about it. I'm all about costuming to help get in the mood, so I am totally one to wear the island print shirt and carry around a camera and map of the town. Who knows, you might learn something or find a cool spot you didn't know was there before!

5. Hold a fancy wine and cheese party - You can google/Pinterest search pairing guides or just pick your favorites. Depending on how much wine you have, you might have to keep this one at home. Unless there's more wine and it's a group date or something... you get it. You're an adult. You can figure it out ;)

6. Be a kid again (playground, sidewalk chalk) - Nothing brings out your inner silliness like racing down the slide or outlining your date in chalk on the ground.

7. Take a walk in the park - Simple, cheap, and good for you. Win, win, win. (Bonus: the fall we met, Joel and I bought a couple coffees and went on a walk through a beautiful historical cemetery in my town. It was so peaceful and serene. I highly recommend it!)

8. Have a candlelit dinner - You have to eat anyways, right? Might as well dim the lights and have a little ambiance. Spotify/Pandora "dinner" playlists also work well here. Almost any dinner can become romantic with the right music and lighting (there are probably exceptions, but I'm choosing not to spend time thinking about them. For now let's stick to spaghetti and meatballs or something).

9. Hold a game night - This is probably easier as a group date than a one on one, just because there are a lot more game options with more than two players. However, there are always classics like Sorry, Life, Monopoly, Trouble, Chess, Checkers, Backgammon, Hive, Scrabble, lost of card games... need I go on?

10. Go camping (indoor or outdoor) - You can either make your own tent (see #14, although I don't recommend this for outside), use a real one, or sleep under the stars (super romantic in the movies, but most movies don't include mosquitos. You might want to take that into account if you live somewhere like, oh, I don't know, Iowa).

11. Create a movie theater at home - Movie you both agree on? Check (unless you're taking turns, which can make for a series of movie theater date nights!). Copious amounts of popcorn? Check. Candy? Check. Huge drinks that are probably terrible for you? Check. Perks here: no one blocking your view, texting during the show, and you can pause for bathroom breaks. And blankets!

12. Take on a Supermarket Challege - dinner for $5/$10/$20 - We have talked about this one, but haven't actually done it yet. We still need to iron out the details. In theory, we each have a small budget, shop separately (at the same time), and prep food for each other. However, we still need to figure out if one person does the entree, the other does the side and dessert? Two dinners back to back? We each make a meal for the other person at the same time? Point is, keep the budget small and the food delicious. How would you do this date??

13. Dance party (Club 1019) - Supplies needed: something to play music at a decent volume. If none are available, singing acapella always works too ;)

14. Build a blanket fort! - This was actually the activity of choice the weekend that Joel and I met in person. He flew out to meet me, and we used whatever we could find in my apartment to build our fort (including but not limited to a broom, hula hoop, duct tape, couch cushions, and plywood). We tried watching a movie in our fort on one of our computers (the other displayed a fake fireplace), but unfortunately we did not account for ventilation and after about 3 1/2 minutes, we overheated and broke it down. We had a blast building it though!

15. Play video games - Ok, this sounds lame, but if you play light (children's) games and you're free to be silly with it, this can actually be a lot of fun. I'm terrible and very competitive, so we kinda of stick to kids' games, but whatever works.

16. Go stargazing (or sunrise or sunset watching) - Nature is beautiful, and so is love. Nuff said. Just make sure to be prepared with a blanket and some bug spray! (or a mosquito candle... those are romantic too, right??)

17. Find a drive-in movie - You can bring your own food and drinks AND you don't have to leave your own car. Personal temperature and volume control, plus semi-privacy with your date? Yes please!

Technically this is from a Halloween party, but it's theme-y, so I'm counting it.
18. Have a theme night - This one is super easy. Eat dinner, enjoy a couple of drinks, watch a movie or show, or even go all out with costumes... as long as they revolve around the theme of choice. Here are some suggestions:
  • Old West (steak, potatoes, baked beans; John Wayne movie; black coffee or whiskey/beer)
  • Southern Charm (fried chicken, pie; Gone With the Wind; lemonade or mint juleps)
  • Sock Hop (burgers, fries, milkshakes; and classic movie; pop or beer)
  • The 1% (some food that's super fancy or unpronounceable, White Collar/Pretty Woman/Downton Abbey, wine)
  • Sports Fan (hot dogs, nachos, ice cream cones; any sports movie, Gatorade or beer)
  • Any fantasy/Sci-Fi/period movie
19. Attend free events in town - Our town is small but full of pride. There are local street fairs, movie nights hosted by the library, parades during the summer, and so on. Most towns have at least a little something if you know where to look!

20. Make a YouTube video - Make up a dance routine (still working on Joel to agree to this one) or a short film (like when you were pre-teens and given free reign of the new family camera with the flip screen... we were all directions/actors/producers back then!). The whisper challenge is a thing right now, and if its that hilarious to watch other couples trying it, I can't wait to experience it myself.

How do you date on a budget? Is there anything I should have included? Let me know!

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