Television programs like “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” show couples that go on these ridiculously extravagant dates, like dining in the middle of a secluded beach in the Caribbean or dancing along to their own private concert from Luke Bryan.
As much as I wish these were realistic dates, they’re just not (unless you’re willing to shell out the equivalent of a down payment on a house). Luckily, you can plan a date night that is just as intimate, romantic and spontaneous, while living on a budget.
Here are a few of my favorite date night ideas:
Is there anything more romantic than looking up at the stars with your significant other? Head off to a remote area with your other half and spend the evening gazing at the stars. Try downloading SkyView—a free app that identifies stars, constellations and satellites.
All you have to do is point your phone at the sky. If you or your significant other has a truck, you can fill the bed of it with pillows and blankets for a cozy spot to star gaze. If you don’t have a truck, simply bring the blankets to the ground, which is just as good … unless it rained.
Attend a Fitness Class
Get in shape together by attending a fitness class of your choice. Think of a class you’ve always wanted to try, like Zumba, Crossfit or kickboxing, and cross this “first” off of your list. Many gyms and studios offer discounted introductory classes that you and your other half can try. You can even get out of the gym and do yoga in a park.
I personally would recommend this option for couples who have been dating for a little while. If it were me, I wouldn’t really want to be profusely sweating on a first date. But hey—if you don’t mind, go for it!
Make Fondue for Dinner
Fondue is simple and inexpensive to make, and extremely delicious. Cut up some florets of broccoli and cauliflower along with cubes of bread, carrots and any other veggies you like to dip in a vat of melted cheese.
If you and your date have a sweet tooth, opt for chocolate fondue instead. You can dip anything from pretzels to marshmallows and fresh fruit like strawberries and pineapple.
Create Your Own Craft Beer Tour
Instead of going on an actual craft beer tour, which can be pricey, make your own! Pick out a few local bars that you would like to try and sample stouts, ales, IPAs and lagers. You can even pick out beers for each other to try instead of selecting your own off of the menu.
Organize a Game Night
Going on first dates can sometimes be awkward, but the situation can be made a lot more laid-back and comfortable when transformed into a group setting. Consider organizing a game night with a few other couples.
This way, you can get to know your date in a much more relaxed atmosphere. If you’re hosting the game night, you can ask guests to BYOB (bring your own beer [or beverage]) and provide all the games, like Jenga, Catch Phrase, Apples to Apples and Scattergories.
Sit By the Fire
This is one of the most simple and romantic options on my list of date night ideas. Whether you’re sitting by the firepit in apartment community or in front of the fire in your apartment, this is the perfect relaxed setting to get to know one another.
Make some hot cocoa to sip on as you chat, or go with the classic s’more route by picking up some graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients you put on your s’mores, adding tasty mix-ins like peanut butter cups, chocolate syrup or cinnamon. Don’t forget to put on some music in the background to set the mood.
Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Spend the afternoon volunteering at your local animal shelter. It will feel great to help out these furry friends in need. I used to do some volunteering for an animal shelter, and let me tell you, it’s impossible to have a bad time when you’re in a room surrounded by happy dogs and cats.
Plus, seeing your date with an adorable puppy or kitty will absolutely make your heart melt.