Whether you’re just starting out on your dating journey as a couple or you’ve been married for several years, ensuring that you make time for date nights is an important contributing factor to the healthy growth and success of any relationship. By being purposeful in your planning to spend quality time together (without allowing any of life’s distractions or stressors getting in the way), not only provides the opportunity to reconnect as a couple; but, to also explore and learn more about each other in the process. Here are a list of five fun, inexpensive and insightful date night activities to get you started on an enjoyable evening together at home.
There is just something very romantic about being together on a moonlit night, and staring up at the night sky. Enjoy the stillness of the night and the beautiful bright stars by preparing your own date night planetarium experience for you and your partner. Lay out a blanket in your backyard, set up some tea candles or lanterns, bring a pair of binoculars along and enjoy a beautiful evening together. The wonderful thing is you don’t have to be an astronomer or have a science background (or even own a telescope for that matter) to enjoy this date. There are a lot of stargazing applications that will help you both to locate and point out various stars and planets (and maybe even get a chance to spot the Big Dipper!). All that is needed is a smartphone with a built in camera and a stargazing application. Some free apps worth downloading are Star Chart, Sky Portal, Sky View or Night Sky Lite, which are all compatible with both Apple iOS and Android operating devices. Just point your camera to the sky and the app will pinpoint what stars or planets are visible in your area. Plan ahead by making a playlist of relaxing music to listen to in the background while you’re looking up at the celestial sky. Create your very own playlist from an iTunes library, Spotify or one of the many soothing radio stations you can find on Sirius XM. One of the playlists I created on my iTunes is titled “Moonlight,” and it’s a compilation of songs that references either twilight, the moon or stars. From instrumental tunes of Chet Baker’s “Moonlight Becomes You” and Glen Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade,” to vocals by Nat King’s Cole “Stardust” and Frank Sinatra’s “Moonlight in Vermont,” having an enjoyable playlist of songs in the background just further enhances the peaceful and romantic ambiance. This date night activity will certainly reveal whether you and your partner are able to relax and be present in the moment. Is the silence a source of awkwardness for either of you? Or are you able to unplug, clear your mind and just be comfortable in the peace and quiet? It can be a beautiful shared experience to unwind and enjoy each other’s company (and maybe even catch a shooting star or two!). In the midst of how big life’s current challenges seem to us, when we can take the time to reflect how infinitely greater the universe is, it produces an overwhelming sense of calmness and peace (which certainly makes for a relaxing and enjoyable date).
2. Dinner and a Movie
Dinner and a movie remains a timeless, classic date night experience for a reason. From so many movie streaming devices all vying for your attention, to digging through your own DVD collection, you are bound to find a genre of movie that you both will enjoy watching. You can narrow your options down even further by making a theme night out of it, and have the type of cuisine coincide with the particular setting of the movie. If you’re in the mood for watching Leap Year, prepare a traditional Irish dish or enjoy a Roman Holiday, and cook up some Italian food. While the act of watching a movie together may be limiting in conversation, you can add more communication, intimacy and fun by preparing dinner together beforehand. You don’t have to be a Michelin 5-star chef or come from a culinary background, so immediately release those high expectations of having to cook the perfect homemade dinner. If one of you is more inclined to cook, have the other one be the sous chef. If neither of you are naturally gifted in this area, try to have fun with the process of putting the ingredients together, chopping and stirring away. There are many meal delivery services that can also help alleviate some of the stress of cooking by providing you with all the produce and ingredients you need, as well as the recipes, to guide you along every step of the way. You can even avoid the grocery run by accessing sites such as HelloFresh, where you can find quick, simple recipes based on the ingredients you already have in the fridge. HelloFresh, in particular, has a variety of recipes listed by categories such as "One Pot/One Pan" meals and "Quick Meals," which are prepared in less than 30 minutes. There are also countless recipes you can find online, which are tailored to specific dietary lifestyles (e.g. vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, etc.). Browse sites like Pinterest, Instagram or Youtube for helpful step by step video tutorials as well. If you two are further pressed for time, you can always have food delivered from your favorite restaurant; and, create a romantic ambiance by setting the table, lighting candles and having some dinner music playing in the background. The process of cooking and preparing a meal together will demonstrate if you're able to communicate effectively, exhibit patience and practice good listening skills. It can also reveal if one is prone to being easily frustrated, stressed out and/or tense under pressure. It’s important to affirm and encourage one another in these times because even if the meal doesn’t turn out as deliciously as you had hoped or expected it to be, being able to display a sense of humor in the process is key! Remember to not take oneself or each other seriously, and share lighthearted laughs along the way for an enjoyable and delectable evening together (no matter how the zucchini pasta turns out!).
3. Play Games
Regardless of one’s age, playing a game together remains an entertaining and fun activity to engage in. From the classic board games (e.g. Monopoly, Scrabble, Battleship, Clue, Jenga) to tabletop air hockey/foosball, or simply a deck of cards, allowing your minds to concentrate on a shared activity and channeling your inner kid at heart, is a great way to be playful with one another. There are also entertaining and insightful card games like You Think You Know Me, Table Topics or Our Moments Couples: 100 Thought Provoking Conversation Starts, which provide great conversation starter questions to help you learn more about each other. Since getting to know someone is an ongoing learning process, there’s always something new to discover, and these games help you do just that! Whether you’ve been dating for a few months or have been married for years, you will be amazed by how many questions you never thought to ask or subjects that never came up in conversation. This date night activity will provide you the opportunity to strengthen your bond and exercise your active listening skills. It will also highlight if either of you has a competitive streak or is able to be gracious in defeat (or a gloater in victory). Ultimately, the point is to seize the opportunity in letting out your playful sides, be more carefree and lighthearted; and, most importantly, have fun!
4. Indoor Picnic
Preparing a picnic is another fun date night activity and doesn’t have to include a full three-course meal either. For those with a more savory palate, prepare a cheese board with fresh fruits (e.g. grapes and berries), and display it with other healthy or lite appetizers (e.g. hummus with a side of carrots and cucumbers). For those with more of a sweet tooth, have your partner’s favorite bite-sized desserts and snacks on hand. You can even make indoor s’mores by using an electric and flameless appliance like Nostalgia's Electric S’mores Maker. It comes with handy roasting forks for roasting the marshmallows; and, convenient trays and compartments for the graham crackers, chocolates and marshmallows. This activity will certainly highlight how easygoing and down to earth (or high-maintenance) one is; and, whether you’re able to just enjoy the simple pleasures of life. It will also definitely earn you bonus points for your thoughtfulness and preplanning beforehand!
5.Get Artsy & Crafty
Whether it’s assembling a jigsaw puzzle or trying your hand at drawing or painting, get creative and exercise those crafty muscles together. There are many convenient online drawing and painting tutorials to help you follow along with various artists and instructors. In the beginning of the tutorial, the artist will usually inform you beforehand what materials and supplies are needed (which can be easily picked up at your local art supply and hobby stores). One of the beginner’s painting tutorials that I enjoyed viewing involved using acrylic paint for a beautiful ocean scene. It was surprisingly fairly simplistic to follow along, and not as intimidating for a fellow novice like me. At the end of the project, you both will have a pretty landscape or a still-life painting to remember the evening by (or even gift each other with). There are also ceramic figurines you can find at dollar stores, which you can easily paint as well. If you decide to work on solving a jigsaw puzzle instead, you can preserve your artwork by picking up a bottle of Mod Podge and gluing the pieces together upon completion. Art certainly has many therapeutic benefits, and allows you the opportunity as a couple to take your time, exhibit patience and de-stress. This activity will highlight how well you are able to work together on a project, and your commitment in seeing it to completion. It’s important in this task to also affirm and encourage one another in accomplishing the shared goal.
There are plenty of budget-friendly, leisure activities to engage in as a couple (in and around the house) that will suit both of your interests. The important note to remember that it’s not so much as the specific activity; but, rather the company you’re with that makes for a fun and enjoyable date. By designating quality time for date nights, you’re not only communicating to your partner that they are a priority in your life; but, you’re also actively contributing to the continuous nourishment and growth for a healthy relationship. We’ve all heard the old adage that “times flies when you’re having fun,” so get going and have an enjoyable date night!