My husband and I have been married 25 years now, and we know that sometimes you feel like you’ve done all the budget friendly dates before, but after brainstorming this list, I have the idea that perhaps even we still have a lot to experience together.
Tired of plopping yourselves in front of the television and playing on your phones? Has it been a while since you’ve had a real conversation? No worries, you’ve got this! Here are a few ideas to give you something to tell the office on Monday when they ask, “So how was your weekend?”.
A few new twists on the traditional, but new and different ideas as well. Read on….
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1 – Dinner and a Documentary
Assuming you have already bought groceries, this would then cost you an additional zero dollars. Ironic, isn’t it? Traditionally, we can spend so much on this on a first date. Later, though, when we’ve been together for years, a calm and quiet evening at home without breaking the budget can be just as memorable.
Not Your Average Night In
This is not just a normal night in; make it a true date. Light the candles, work together to make the meal (which is half of the fun, especially with good tunes), then eat it on the good china. Don’t have good china? No worries, just look for creative ways to plate your meal on your everyday dishes.
Discuss your dreams and goals for the future, and figure out together how you can work toward them as a team. Reminisce about the good times, the funny stories, and how each of you has contributed toward the success of your relationship. Give each other well deserved kudos. Conversation, if you may remember correctly, is what made your first date the gateway to the couple you are now. It is also the key longevity.
Speaking of undivided attention, silence or turn off the cell phones if you can. If not, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, with the exception of the babysitter and work, or any other priority numbers. You’ve spent all week helping Aunt Edna through her ordeal with her sick hamster. Not that this hasn’t been important and all, but she can get through a few hours without you. Your first priority right now needs to be each other (with true emergencies being the exception).
Dinner now finished, don’t make the mistake of arguing over how to load the dishwasher. Clear the table together, and while one rinses and loads the dishwasher, the other can get the movie ready. Doesn’t matter who does what. Dishwasherless? Let the dishes sit until the morning. Trust me, they’ll still be there, and it’ll be worth it.
Find a documentary about something you both find fascinating. Learning together is a great way to have more to talk about than the weather or what the neighbors wore to the golf course. I hate to tell you this, but…. your neighbors are boring. (for the sake of their egos, don’t tell them! They can’t accept not being the center of attention. After all, did you see what they wore to the golf course yesterday!?!)
Choose topics that make you think, that create a communicative spark. Scientific discoveries, the beauty of creation… something significant enough to bring you both to the conversation.
2 – Art Appreciation
If you live in a mid-sized to larger city, there may be a few art galleries to peruse for inspiration. If you live a little farther out and a trip into an appropriate city is out of the question or inconvenient, make your own. While some feel special paper and special pencils are needed, what you have lying around can do just fine. After all, a date night is about the shared experience, not the resale value of your art.
You can find free drawing videos on the internet. If you are a beginner, amaze yourselves by trying this one, which teaches you how to draw a realistic eye. I was shocked at how good mine looked, considering my stick figure pinnacle prior. Just don’t ask me to draw two matching ones! Perhaps that is a lesson for another time.
A similar thing can be done by hitting your local Dollar Tree (or other value minded store) for mini canvases, acrylic paint and brushes. Find a picture you think you can paint and try it, or again find a video on the internet geared for mini art. Add a partition between the two of you so you can’t see the masterpieces until their done (alleviates micro-managing and keeps the mystery alive), then have a grand reveal. Only talk about what is good about the other’s art. After all, the value is in how you see it, so if you can’t see the value in their effort, the problem isn’t them.
Not only do you have a great art night, but you have souvenirs to boot!
We did this one for an anniversary date night, and the pictures made it to the wall in our hallway. Shopping for the supplies and scouring the internet for inspiration were half the fun! The supplies were less than $10, which made it memorable on a budget.
3 – History Walk
Get to know your own neighborhood. Spend an evening or two ahead of time at your local library learning the history of your town. Is your town smaller than that? Interview an older, lifetime resident, or check with the school for stories about past students.
Then go for a walk. One of you gets to talk about the businesses in one part of town and the other gets the rest. Teach each other the experiences that make your hometown yours. Find out the history of immigration to your town, and how you and your families fit in. Find a small diner that’s been there for years, and while sharing an appetizer, ask the waitress or manager for the history of the diner.
Not only will you bond with each other, but also with your surroundings. All this for the cost of an appetizer!
4 – Dinner and Music in the Park
Often a city will have free music in the park. Check your local community web pages for dates, times, and locations. Bring, if allowed, a blanket to stretch out on, pillows for comfort, and snacks. If there’s room off to the side, don’t be afraid to dance. The musicians will feel appreciated, and even if you’re not very good at it, the worst that can happen is that you will entertain others while expressing your inner ballroom dancerista!
No free park music? This is why they make portable speakers, transistor radios, and headphone jack splitters. Or, even better, make the music yourselves. For about $10 or less, you can order a “>recorder, “>tinwhistle, or even “>tambourines on Amazon. Don’t forget, you can use spoons, “>drumsticks, or even jugs to make music. If you make it up as you go along, you can’t even play it wrong!
5 – Night Sky Watching
No telescope, no problem! Meteor showers make them useless, anyway. Grab a blanket, hit a dark sky park near you (or a spot out in the country), and ponder the universe together. To find the right time for this kind of date, check out https://www.amsmeteors.org/meteor-showers/meteor-shower-calendar/ .
6 – Dance Lessons
Break out your dance shoes – or socks, if you prefer!
Dance lessons can be had right in your own living room, for free! Get your 10 minute lesson here. Your date includes as much practice as you’d like once you get the basic idea… pause it, rewind, and watch again as often as it takes. No one will be watching you awkwardly step on each other’s toes, which makes it the perfect environment in which to learn.
Not gonna lie, one of my favorite memories is my husband and I trying to get this right in our living room. At the time, we learned a few dances, but we get the chance to dance together so rarely that we can only remember the box step. At least when we go to weddings, we know we are actually dancing, even if it is only the most basic of steps.
7 – Design Your Dream Home
Eight bathrooms and four bedrooms in your underwater home? Looking to have the Great Barrier Reef view in the atrium? How about a three-story library off of your secret lab, a mere 13 stories beneath the surface of the earth? Maybe you prefer a made-by-your-own-hands cabin on a mountaintop? Money and time are no objects when building a dream home! Have fun designing and choosing furnishings for your fantasy domicile while learning about each other’s ideas of what makes a home.
8 – Hike a trail
Load up the backpack with bug spray, bottled water and a compass, and head out on the pedestrian highway! Bring a camera and a selfie stick, so you can get both of you in the picture with some amazing landscape backgrounds. Make sure you are ready to deal with any wildlife you may encounter, and know which plants to stay away from, or your date may not end well.
9 – A Day at the Beach
So you can’t just go and lay there…ok, you can, but why not make it a little more memorable? Bring a disk to toss, make a sand castle, or even better yet, do some real sand sculpting. This is a great date for when you really need to relax together.
Plan it just right and you can either watch the sunset or the sunrise over the water.
Make sure to bring your beach blanket, sunscreen, lots of drinking water, and you know it – snacks!
10 – Make a Documentary
This is one of my favorites. Assuming you have either a smartphone or a video camera, make a documentary about how and where you met, where your first date was, and how you got to be the couple you are now. Take turns being the camera operator and the narrator, and save your story.
Every year, you could add on the highlights of the last year and keep your story going for as long as you do (hopefully forever)!
No matter what you decide to do on your date, don’t put too much pressure on it being perfect. Sometimes the best and most endearing experiences are those that go just a little awry.
So get out there, and have a great time!