Most marriage and relationship experts suggest making date night a weekly ritual in order to keep the spark alive in your relationship, to encourage communication, as well as to continually add to your bond by remaining apart of each other’s current lives. But going to dinner and the movies each week could easily add $150 to your monthly budget, and most of the other traditional dating venues are just as expensive. I’d like to offer some fun and frugal alternatives that will keep date night in your budget (in other words, money should not be the reason to ax date night with your partner or spouse).
- Antiquing: Map out a cluster of antique shops and window shop on a Sunday afternoon. This is delightful!
- Beer Tasting and Wine Tasting: Find a vineyard, distributor, or restaurant that has wine or beer tasting, and you will be in for a treat. This sophisticated pastime typically is quite cheap, and even free in some cases. Create a memento by taking a pad of paper or journal with you so that you can keep track of the wines you taste and how you like them.
- Free Zoo and Museum Days: Most zoos and museums have at least one day a month that is free of charge (it may be in the middle of the week, in which case you can meet one another straight from work). Take advantage of this day. Instead of trying to cram in the entire museum or zoo, focus on one wing at a time over several months/several free days.
- Reading and Book Signing: Check out ads at your local library, coffee store, and bookstore to find out when a favorite author is in town. Ahead of time, read parts of one of their book out loud to one another (borrow from the library if you don’t already own one).
- Pick Fruit from a Farm and Bake a Pie Together: Cooking classes are super trendy right now and a lot of fun for dates. However, they are super expensive! Instead, locate a farm to pick and purchase fruits together, and then take your bounty home to use in a recipe you’ve picked out ahead of time. The end result is wonderful, and the intimate time in the kitchen will be worth it.
- Meet at a Coffee or Tea Shop: On a rainy Saturday or lazy Sunday afternoon meet up with one another at a coffee/tea shop and order your favorites. You can chat, read each other tidbits from your books and newspapers, or even bring along a board game to play.
- Outdoor Movie: Many cities and towns sponsor outdoor movies for free. If this is not the case, locate an outdoor movie theater (hint: scroll down once you get to this website). Bring your own snacks, pop the seat back, and tune into a fun night. Or create your own outdoor movie night at home: a projector and some Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are a winning combination
- Dessert and Coffee: Who says you have to go out for dinner? Meet your partner for a piece of cheesecake, cupcake, or a shared ice-cream sundae and some coffee in the afternoon, or go out to your local cupcake boutique/cheesecake/chocolate factory after a homemade meal. Paul and I recently did this; we met each other after work at the Chocolate Bar, and had a magnificent piece of pumpkin cheesecake, followed by some great conversation.
- College Theater Productions: Don’t have the money to shell out for the theater or symphony? Try your local college or university. You can call the school directly, or look for flyers and pamphlets around campus.
- Witness Rare or Annual Migrations/Nestings: Whether it is the turtle nesting season in Florida/Texas, the bat migration, or the monarch migration, take the time to borrow some binoculars and experience these timeless acts in nature as a couple.
- Placard Walk Through History: Drive to the historic district of a nearby city or town, park, and grab a map from the local tourist place. Walk around the area locating placards and read them out loud. You will learn the historical significance of buildings, walkways, and moments in time that you normally would just drive past.
- Karaoke: True, there are not karaoke stations around every corner like in Japan, but you can certainly find them (bars sometimes host one karaoke night a month). This is a really fun activity, and certainly will help break down any barriers you may have.
- Movie Tourism: Find out if any movies have been filmed around the area where you live or even a few hours from where you live. Rent the movie and watch it as a prelude to finding the various locations on a walk/bike/car trip. Take turns taking pictures of one another as you act out the various scenes.
- Go Horseback Riding: This is such a fun experience! I have found many a farmer who wishes someone would take their horses out on regular rides. Find a local farm that has a trail you can follow on your own or with a group. For places that charge, prices are generally quite reasonable, especially if you want to muck a horse stall or two.
- Dollar Movie Theater: You will be watching older movies, but it beats watching them on your small television at home! Do a google search for “dollar movie theaters”; I found one right on Westheimer called Windchimes Dollar Cinema 8 where tickets are $1.50 each.
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