37 At Home Date Night Ideas for Married Couples (WITHOUT the Television). Find romantic date ideas for married couples.
Looking for at home date night ideas for married couples? Ones you'll actually have time to use?
A year or two ago, my husband and I felt huge time constraints. We had an infant, and felt like there was no time or energy to plan at home date nights.
So – not wanting to throw in the towel on date night altogether – I conducted a time audit using toggl.com several months ago. I wanted to find out where the heck all of my time was going to (as if the answer wasn't crawling around, babbling in front of me…hint – our 1-year old baby), and if it went to places that were actually a priority for me.
Like continuing to date my husband, at home.
I accounted for almost every minute (except sleeping time) of my day for three whole weeks.
That might sound like a big giant task on top of all the other tasks I've taken on, but it wasn't that bad. Toggl is a free time + website-tracking service that I used to track my website usage as well as actual time usage, and it has an app so I could just start/stop the same activities I was pursuing each day as I went along.
I learned a ton.
But one of the biggest nuggets?
How much time my husband and I spend together in front of the television.
Mindlessly turning on the television in the evenings or in the mornings has long been a gripe of mine, but I didn't have any data to back it up (what can I say, I'm a numbers geek!). I mean, we have our shows together that I just adore. But the rest of it? Not so much.
So, for three weeks I tracked our couple's time two different ways (you can create as many categories as you want and name them whatever you'd like with toggl): couple's time with television, and couple's time without television.
The results were…well, bad.
Now, we're on a mission to get more couple time together that doesn't involve a television (even just in the background).
Importance of Date Night for Married Couples
I cannot stress enough the importance of date night for married couples. Consistent date nights.
We went through a free online challenge to enhance our marriage at around the same time that I made the discovery about how much television was intruding on our couple's time, and the HUGE takeaway for both of us: we need to plan date nights in our marriage.
So, we decided to plan a date night every single week, and take turns with who was in charge of it.
That was about two years ago, and I can't tell you the difference it's made in our relationship, and in each of us.
Twice a month, I get to just “show up” to date night with my husband, and twice a month he gets to come home from work to a planned evening together. Just the act of coming up with little surprises for the date night for one another has reaffirmed our love.
We're in a season of life where most of our date nights are fit in at home after the baby has gone to sleep (we probably get a babysitter just once every other month).
But First, How Date Nights Work in Our Household
Before we start, just wanted to give you a little outline of the important date nights in our household. Thanks to wisdom from The Dating Divas, about 14 months ago we figured out that a weekly date night just had to happen for us. No matter if we had an 8-month old at the time, or not.
We set the following parameters:
- Divvied Up Responsibility: Our weekly date nights are on a rotating schedule. Every first week my husband is responsible for setting it up, and every other week I’m responsible for setting it up.
- Got Flexible on What’s Considered a Date: We’re not prepared to find a babysitter every week. Even if we were, I’m not sure we’d like to leave the home that often with the little guy (though as he’s getting into toddlerhood…we’re getting more comfortable with the idea?). So, we decided that date nights could be either in the home, or out of the home. Whatever the person chooses.
- Date + Time: We also decided some general ground rules for date nights. Our date night will be on Wednesdays. But it’s totally fine if the person wants to reschedule to a weekend night if we get a sitter, or another night if there’s a special event. It’s just helpful to know in general what to expect. Also, again “in general”, date night starts after the youngin’ goes to sleep. Which is pretty much like clockwork at 7:30 p.m. (what a blessing!).
We have over two years of experience with coming up with at-home date nights, so I'm sharing some of our favorites with you! These are cheap date nights for married couples.
Below is your at home date night ideas for married couples list – use these ideas for when you're setting up what I call “money quickies” (money meetings with your spouse that end with a date night) to discuss your marriage and money.
Psssst: Can't afford a babysitter for the night? If your kiddos are a bit older than ours, try out this idea for Babysitter in a Bag to keep them occupied. While this particular article is about leaving this Babysitter in a Bag for your ACTUAL babysitter to use, what you can do instead is to create a similar bag but ONLY bring it out on nights that you're carving out time for you + your spouse. That way there's some novelty to keep them more interested.
Date Night Ideas After Kids Go to Bed
Date nights look…different after kid(dos) come along.
Sure, we could get a babysitter once a week and make things proper by going out on the town. Truth be told, we probably DO get a family or friend to babysit for us about once a month to do just that.
But doing this every week for the first 22 months of our child’s life? It just wasn’t in the cards for us. There’s sleeping schedules, sleep deprivation, feeling comfortable with leaving your baby at night with someone (did I mention, your FIRST baby?), etc.
So, while we’ve had some hellacious-ly fun dates out on the town since baby was born, the majority of our weekly at home date nights for married couples (that's us!) have been in the comfort of our own home (er, well, at least in the comfort of within baby-monitor-distance. You’ll see more info on that below).
With the help of ideas from others, we’ve managed to come up with some really unique ways to create an experience that feels just like we’d been out on the town.
I’d like to pass those along to you in your quest to keep the intimacy + romance + fun alive with your partner after baby comes along.
Pssst: Yes, these are all tested by me and my spouse, Paul, over the last 11 months. Boy did we have some fun! A note on the ones that took place outside – you need to just be within comfortable distance from your baby so that you can hear them and/or check on them in case something’s wrong. This could be by opening a window near their bedroom so you would hear them cry, or using a baby monitor with a decent distance, or checking in on them every so often by opening the back door to your house and seeing if you hear a peep. It’s all up to your comfort level!
#1: Love is Art Body Painting
You cannot believe the look of surprise on my husband’s face when I presented him with this Love is Art kit (once he figured out what it is we were actually about to do).
That’s right – you get naked (or in swimsuits – whatever you prefer), and you create a canvas work of art! Instantly a memory we’ll always cherish and definitely something we’ll never forget.
Did I mention might actually frame this and hang it above our bed (maybe for an anniversary gift)? It’ll be an awesome inside reminder of our relationship.
#2: Spend the Night in a DIFFERENT Room
Got a guest room? Or an office you hardly use + an air mattress you only break out for the guests? Make this date night special by spending the night at a “hotel” in your own home.
Breakfast in bed? Why, yes, pleassssseee.
Our own twist for this – we actually built a fire, and laid out blankets/pillows in front of it on Christmas Eve. That is a cherished memory we’ll always have (nope…I’m not sharing any of the other details!).
#3: Create a Cheaper Version of the Game of Love
The Game of Love – a really saucy, but totally fun date idea for couples, once the kiddos are asleep! – costs $55, but this woman has a way for you to make it yourself for much less (she calls it the Between-the-Sheets Game). Hint: many dollar stores sell sheets as well, and that will work just fine for this!
#4: Painting with a Twist (at-home version)
Painting with a Twist is a really fun night out where couples go to little art studios, listen to music, drink wine, and learn how to paint a painting. However, it typically costs around $35/per person (so $70, plus the cost of a babysitter!).
You can create your own, at-home version, by buying the supplies at stores like Michael’s (don’t forget to look for a 40% off coupon to their store), and then painting along with YouTube artist tutorials.
#5: Create a Graffiti Wall
Ever just wanted to do some graffiti…you know, the kind that easily gets cleaned up?
Could be a fun release of stress, artistic expression, and whatever else!
You’ll need paints (who says you can’t use up all those old paint cans and spray bottles in your garage? We have about a bazillion from all the paint jobs we’ve done over the years), a way to protect your wall (I’ve got a tarp we used to use for our wood pile out back that will work perfectly), and paper or a cloth canvas.
Move your furniture and anything else that could be spattered away from the wall – I would do several feet away – and hang both the protective layer as well as your “canvas”. Don’t forget to protect the floor! You could use trash bags, or anything else that will keep the paint from bleeding through.
Then…have some FUN with painting a huge graffiti mural with your partner!
Best part is? You can roll the whole thing up and trash it before the kids wake up the next morning.
#6: Couple’s Yoga Session
Do you want to get a bit…physical with your partner during your date? How about a rockin’ partner yoga session? From the comfort of your own home, you can mess up and giggle your way through without any weird looks.
Hint: don’t have yoga mats? Just use towels.
#7: Couple’s Massage Date Night
This guy, Denis, is the MAN to go to for couple’s massage tutorials and tips. I’m a member of his email list AND his FB group (he’s not currently accepting new members), and I can’t get enough of his techniques!
His videos are not only entertaining, but you’ll pick up enough massage tips to make this night pleasurable for you both. (Hint: he sells an almond massage oil called Melt – the only ingredient is almond – and I bought us a set to use on our couple’s massage date night!).
Fast forward to my personal pick for videos to check out (warning: he has lengthy intros to his videos – keep watching!):
#8: Star-Gazing in an Inflatable Pool
Several years ago, I came upon this awesome, quirky idea on Pinterest: to use your child’s inflatable pool as a star-gazing venue for you + your beau.
I can officially say, it’s a really cool idea!
Take yours up a notch with this free printable date night under the stars.
For us? It was surprising my husband with the blankets and pillows already set up, snuggling under a star-studded sky (yes, we were both surprised by how many we could see, even though we’re in the city), and listening to the bugs chirp. Just wonderful.
#9: Chocolate Bar Tasting for Dessert
Over the course of several afternoons, I took our little guy on a date-night mission: we went to several stores to source exotic and indulgent chocolates of all kinds for a date night.
Honestly, the act of sourcing chocolates I would never normally think about buying because of the high price tags felt really good (Hint: the place where there was the most selection? Whole Foods.). Total cost was just $15.86 (I somehow walked into a Buy-1-Bar, Get-2nd-Bar-Half-Off sale).
I chose 6 bars to correspond with The Dating Divas’ FREE Chocolate Tasting Date Night Setup:
- Divine Dark Chocolate with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt: This one ended up being our favorite!
- Green & Black’s Organic 85% Dark Chocolate: This one was wayyyyy too bitter for both of us.
- Theo Chocolate Organic Chili Dark Bar: We both enjoyed the bit of heat; however, it tasted of cumin to us (even though that’s not on the ingredient list).
- Endangered Rain Forest Dark Chocolate (72%) with Forest Mint: Yummy.
- Divine White Chocolate Bar: Paul really liked this one, I thought it was okay.
- Endangered Tiger Species Natural Dark Chocolate (72%) with Espresso Beans: This was our second favorite!
Why was this seemingly simple date night successful? Because it brought a new experience – tasting various chocolates from around the world – right into our living room. It was engaging, and sparked conversations + playful debates. Did I mention it took care of dessert as well?
#10: Drive-In Movie…in Our Driveway
You heard me right. We had a right and proper drive-in movie…in our driveway.
And let me tell you, it made all the difference. We really felt like we were getting “away”, even though the baby was soundly sleeping just half a house away from us.
Pssst: add these awesome Cuddle Car Date free printables to your own date night!
How we set up this date:
- Charge Up Your Laptop: I charged up my laptop + then propped it on Paul’s car dashboard (his car is the one that doesn’t house the car seat).
- Get Some Theater Candies from the Store: During my bi-weekly grocery trip, I picked up several of our favorite boxed theater candies.
- Add a New Movie to Your Netflix Queue: I made sure to add a new movie we would have loved to see in theater pre-baby to the top of our queue (we’re theater buffs), and sent back the last movie to give plenty of time for it to arrive.
- Get Out the Blankets: I grabbed some blankets from our living room to make the back seat of his car cozy.
- Figure Out How to Hear the Baby: We’re lucky in that there’s a window directly overhanging the driveway that I could open so that we’d hear the baby if he cried. Fortunately, it’s been 6 months since he cried in the middle of the night (WOW is that nice to be able to say; it was a tough first sixteen months!), but just in case, it made us feel more comfortable to be able to hear him.
#11: Solar Eclipse Two-Part Date
This one was a blast to set up and keep secret (though offering emoji clues throughout the week) from Paul.
I scouted out free, NASA-Approved solar eclipse glasses from a library in Houston, and actually found several pairs!
Then I rolled through the movie rolodex in my mind. The only movie I can remember seeing that has a solar eclipse in it is Dolores Claiborne, by Stephen King. We both happen to be King fans, so it was perfect.
Here’s how I set this up:
- Got the Solar Eclipse Glasses: I got my butt in gear about a week before the eclipse happened and felt lucky I still found these!
- Added the Movie to Our Netflix Queue: I made sure to add the new movie to the top of the queue a week ahead of time, then send back one of the DVDs we had.
- Setup Movie Night for the Night Before the Eclipse: The eclipse was on a Monday, so we actually had the “dinner and a movie” on Sunday night after our son went to sleep.
- Stash a Pair of Glasses + an Eclipse Schedule Printout in his Lunch Bag: So the super-surprise, Part II of this date was actually experiencing this solar eclipse “together” …even though he was going to be at work. I printed out a schedule of when it would hit Houston, wrapped the glasses and put them in his lunch bag with a note for him to open it at the time the eclipse would begin, and also told him we’d be watching it together. Fortunately for us, the eclipse began when our son naturally took his nap anyway (I’d have to duct tape those safe solar glasses to his head to have him not rip them off).
What an awesome (emphasis on the “awe”) experience this was for us. Even though we weren’t together for the entire part of it, it really brought us closer. Reminds me of those long distance date nights he and I used to have when he was living in Japan and I was living in Florida.
#12: Tea and Crumpets…On the Bedroom Floor
I had never in my life had an indoor picnic. But after cleaning out the tea portion of our cupboards and stumbling upon tea I had purchase while in London, I decided tea + crumpets (or, rather, finger foods) was just the ticket!
Pssssst: a round of strip poker may or may not have followed. We’ll never tell.
Here’s how I set this up:
- Made Finger Foods: I used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Garden Spread Finger Sandwiches(these were the hit of the night!), and Giada’s recipe for Mini Frittatas, and Six Sister’s Stuff’s Gingerbread Cookie Cups.
- Made a House Tea: Paul surprised me on my first Mother’s Day by taking me to a tea house. The waitress actually told me their secret to their house tea: brew it in orange juice. Inspired by this, I picked out vanilla chai-spiced tea bags and brewed them in some apple cider I had frozen (leftover from a recipe). Can I just say, delicioso?
- Cleaned Off the Floor: You can imagine (or you might not have to) the clutter that comes with a 22-month old. Stuff everywhere! So, I cleared our bedroom floor of everything. As Paul was finishing up in the bathroom, I snuck in and put a blanket down. Then I told him to sit on it and the date night would come to him.
- Put Out the Spread: I put the tea pot + tea cups on the blanket, plus each of the foods. We had ourselves a lovely, finger food-feast.
- *Ahem* the Activity: And if you’re up for the strip poker? Now would be the time to introduce it to your partner.
#13: Wedding Album Date Night
Get out your wedding album and/or video. Stop off at your local bakery or cupcake boutique, and pick out the most wedding-day-looking cupcakes you can find.
Serve them up for your spouse while you both look through your wedding photos and watch the day again, together.
Seriously, each of these date nights are memorable to both of us. Who knew you could have so much fun at home?
You may have noticed something: these are all dates I set up for my husband. Don’t worry – his specialty seems to be in setting up on-the-town dates outside of the house (complete with finding us a babysitter). I’m a lucky girl for that! My specialty seems to be creating really unique experiences at home. What can I say? We work well as a team.
Psst: these are awesome at home date ideas to set up for when you have your money quickie meetings — you know, where you discuss marriage and money with your partner.
Fun Printable Games for Couples
Looking for the best fun printable games couples can play for an at-home date night? I’ve curated my top-hit list of MUST-DO’s.
#1: Intimate Recipe Game for Couples
Can I just tell you how flipping excited my husband was when I whipped out this intimate recipe game for couples…and he got to pick out what he wanted from my non-mentionables drawer for me to wear? Lawdy, me, that was a fun night.
Hint: It’s even more fun when you let your spouse pick something out for you earlier in the day or while the kids are still awake. Build that anticipation for date night!
#2: Spouse Scattergories
Get to know your spouse better and have a few laughs with this free, printable Spouse Scattergories game. It's got tons of questions for you both to try out, plus printable letters so that you randomly choose one. All you'll need is a timer.
With a Twist, Please: Use the blank answer sheets to craft your own 12 questions for a personalized round. You can, *ahem*, come up with anything you're curious about or think would be hilarious
#3: All-About-Us Charades Printable Game
How about you guys act out facts about your relationship in a game of charades? Use these free printables to bring some giggle-fests to your date night.
#4: Couple’s Truth or Dare Pack
Print out this free game of couple’s truth or dare and play a round…do you dare?
#5: Play Escape Room in a Box
Escape rooms are pretty awesome – my husband and I did one together about a year ago – but did you know you can create that kind of experience at home?
There are several escape-room-in-a-box options that will really spice things up.
- Free Escape Room Printables: I just love these! You’ll find audio files for the missions by downloading the free iPhone app or free android app, and you’ll need to get some materials together before your actual date night (like scissors, pens, single-sided printed copies of the free missions, etc.). Solve puzzles, decipher morse codes, and deactivate bombs – all while working together.
- Free Love Escape Room Printables: The Dating Divas have done it again, with their free printables to set up your own escape room in your home! (Hint: you might also want to check out their CSI: Love Edition free printables, which is kind of like an escape room).
- Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment: Go beyond just paper puzzles and into the realm of physical puzzles (with locks) with this cool escape room in a box! A mad scientist is on the loose, and you’ve got to solve 19 puzzles together or else…you turn into werewolves (that mad scientist sounds cranky! He probably just couldn’t get his kids to sleep…). Did I mention, you have just one hour to accomplish this? No setup required! (Do you have Alexa? You can sync it up, and Alexa can actually host your game plus provide hints, just like you’re in a real Escape Room).
Cheap Date Night Ideas at Home – Stay at Home Date Ideas for Couples
Perhaps you're looking for not only date night ideas that are at home out of convenience (it's a lot to find a sitter), but you also want them to be cheap, too.
I totally get you!
That's why each of these ideas listed below is with that in mind.
Date Night Plan #1: Mini Wine/Beer Tasting
Pick up those hotel-like small bottles of wine and single bottles of beer you can get in liquor stores so that you can get a large variety without breaking the bank. Then pick up an assortment of finger foods, or have fondue night (cheese + wine = yum!).
With a Twist, Please: Go to your local warehouse-type alcohol store, and pick small wine bottles and single beers from each of the countries you've visited as a couple together. Not stepped outside of the great ol' US together? Choose beers and wines from states you've visited, or even local breweries and vineyards.
Date Night Plan #2: Impromptu Photo Sesh
Ready for giggles? Ready to see your beau in a whole new light? Target your loved one through a lens. Try different backgrounds (don't be afraid to hang some sheets!), try different yard locations, try lots of different things.
Funny selfies? Totally acceptable.
With a Twist, Please: Why not make a private photobook of your photo sesh together? You know, for your eyes only? Or just print a few out and include them in their lunch bag one day. What a lovely way to commemorate a fun evening.
Date Night Plan #3: Pokemon Go Hunting
Wait…I didn't say screen-free, right;)? Download the Pokémon Go app on your smart phone over your lunch hour (one that you actually take!), play around with it for a few minutes. Better yet, find someone under 4′ tall − they'll likely be able to show you how to play it.
And if you have a really little one? You can venture away from your backyard by taking them on a walk with you in the stroller while you guys get your hunt on.
With a Twist, Please: Make this competitive by having both of you download the app on each of your phones and seeing who can capture the most Pokémon in a set amount of time.
Date Night Plan #4: Cook a New Recipe Together
My husband loves to cook just as much as I do. It's rare when we're both in the kitchen together (usually the other person is wrangling our 13-month old or decompressing for a few minutes after a long day).
Make a point to research a new recipe or meal, gather the ingredients during your next grocery shopping trip, and work on it together in the kitchen. Oh, and music is key here. So, create a mixed CD or load up your MP3s and have those playing in the background.
With a Twist, Please: Each choose a few recipes you've been dying to try, then set up a tasting station for one another a la The Taste.
Date Night Plan #5: Read Aloud to One Another (Double Points for Kids' Books)
Have you ever read aloud to one another? Paul and I love doing this.
We sit in the library and read excerpts from what we're reading that we think the other person would find shocking or interesting, or we read a chapter or two together.
With a Twist, Please: What's even more fun than reading out loud to each other? Reading a kids' book to your spouse. I know, sounds crazy. But it's comforting and the pictures are lovely. Share one you find particularly endearing from your own childhood and your spouse will learn something new about you as well.
Date Night Plan #6: Backyard Picnic
Sometimes just changing things up with new scenery to look at makes it feel special. So choose your meal for the night, but instead of eating at the dining room table or in front of the tube, dedicate an area out back where the two of you can eat.
Use a blanket, a picnic table, or really whatever you've got. You could even wait until the stars come out (especially helpful if your little ones don't go to sleep until it's dark). We find that just going outside on our back patio after putting our baby down gives us enough separation from him to feel like we're alone.
With a Twist, Please: Tent it up. Pitch your tent in the backyard and spend the night somewhere new! Got a baby? Set up some monitors so you can completely disconnect from the house but still have your ear out in case they need you.
Date Night Plan #7: Midnight Backyard Picnic
The next time there’s an amazing event happening in the skies at night (eclipses, shooting stars, meteor showers, aurora borealis siting, etc.), *actually* set an alarm or stay up to witness it.
Prep your food + picnic area ahead of time so that you can sleepily grab a box or plate from the fridge, a couple of drinks, and lay outside at 2:00 in the morning.
If nothing else, this will be one the two of you won’t forget!
Date Night Plan #8: Take-Out Sushi + Marie Kondo’s Netflix Episode
Okay…so an occasional tv-oriented date night IS going to slip in on this list😊.
I was blown away when my husband watched our kiddo, sent me to our favorite take-out sushi place to pick up dinner, put our little guy to sleep, and I got to come home to eat sushi + watch Marie Kondo on Netflix with him.
What a fun date night which had particular significance for us, as we met one another in Japan.
Date Night Plan #9: Cultural Date Night
Alright…my husband and I might be geeks, but we totally have these cultural at home date nights together. What does that mean?
It usually starts off with one of us getting interested in a culture or area of the world. For a while, we were really into Russia, then it was India, and eventually the Nordic region.
How do you make a date night home special?
There are several tricks to keep date nights at home just as exciting as ones where you get a sitter and go out on the town.
- Get a Bedtime Schedule: First of all, you’ve got to have a bedtime schedule with your kids. You don’t want to plan something out, only to have your kids thwart all those good efforts! Take some time to consider how to get the kiddos off to bed in time for both of you to actually get 1-2 hours together.
- Schedule in a Little Prep Time: Whoever is in charge of date night has got to set aside time to prep for the date night. It will go much more smoothly and will make your partner feel SPECIAL when they see you didn’t haphazardly pull something together in the 3 minutes while the kids were going to the potty for the last time (fortunately for you, the options above make this pretty easy to pull off).
- Make Some “Engaging” Food: Date night food should be different than regular night food. What do I mean by selecting “engaging” food? I mean choosing recipes and food displays that will ADD to the specialness of your night. For example:
- Fondue (try cheddar-beer fondue, or traditional Swiss)
- Build-Your-Own-Food-Bar (baked potato, ice-cream sundaes, chili, etc.)
- Outdoor fire food (from simple camping hot dogs to foil packets)
- Table of tapas (lots of tapas ideas here)
- Table of appetizers (a few of our favorites include Jalapeno Poppers, Cranberry Pepper Jelly Dip)
- Pull-apart foods (like these Pesto Cheese Bombs, or Pull-Apart Pizza Bread)
- Make it and forget it (Crockpot meals have been a huge budget saver for our family − a few of our favorites include this Slow Cooker Chicken Curry, and this Hoisin Ginger Beef)
Come back to this list of cheap date nights for married couples and mix'n'match to keep things spicy + interesting. And please tell me about your own ideas below! We're always looking for new at home date nights for married couples to keep things interesting.