10 Ideas for a Successful Date Night + How to Budget for It
I recently wrote in an instagram post about why it is so important to date your spouse. Keeping the spicy flame of love alive is critical to a healthy relationship and marriage-- in fact, that's one piece of advice that we have heard over & over again from all sorts of wise couples. So, it must be true! We've experienced the fruit it bears when we stick to an intentional "dating life." On the other hand...we've also experienced the dry spells that often occur when we put each other by the wayside-- whether it's for our jobs, kids, finances, etc.
If you prefer to order pizza and watch a movie after the kids are asleep or like to spend hours dressing up to get out of the house, I've comprised a list of 10 ideas that will help you & yours have a successful date night and keep the flame alive!
Stay-In and Get Cozy
DIY Wine Tasting Wine tasting is such a fun way to relax, enjoy delicious snacks and re-acquaint yourself with the person across the table from you. Unfortunately, going to a winery tends to be a little pricey, but at home...the sky is the limit (and you control the budget)! Go to your local store and grab a few bottles of your favorites or something you haven't tried before. One red, one white, and one rosé is a simple place to start! Our favorite place to go for some cheap, but yummy wine and a DIY charcuterie board is Trader Joe's, but you can make do with whatever is near you! Bonus Activity: add some board games to the mix for fun & competition. Or, to keep in line with the romantic approach, re-watch your wedding video together and write out your top 5 hopes+dreams for your future together.
Take-Out by Candlelight Imagine this: he's putting the kids to bed and comes out to find you in a pretty dress, the table set with candles and dinnerware, and a stack of your mutual favorite food waiting to be gorged on in the center. Now that's what I call a romantic at-home date night! Sure, it's fun to sit on the couch eating your take-out noodles with your favorite movie playing, but there's something a little more intentional to this approach, and intentionality is KEY. So whether it's Olive Garden to-go with a bottle of champagne or pizza&wings with your favorite beers, set the mood with candlelight and nice music to spend intentional time with your spouse at home. After Dinner: take it to the dance floor. Nothing beats ending the night with a few slow dances in your living room.
Master Chef This one is simple. Make dinner together. Try a new recipe or maybe one of those "copy-cat" recipes from your favorite restaurant that you can find on pinterest! If your kitchen space allows, make two recipes and see whose turned out the best! Easy Couple Cooking Ideas: pizza night (great for competition) , breakfast for dinner, a Mexican fiesta (with margaritas along the way, of course)
Ready, Set, Bake "Bakers, get ready. You have two hours to create this amazing masterpiece. You're on the clock!" Find a recipe that sounds delicious to the both of you, choose an individual spin to take on it, and get started with the baking competition. The winner of the best dessert gets to pick the movie you watch that night! Holiday Bonus: every year we do a gingerbread house competition with each other. Set the mood with your favorite Christmas playlist, grab your favorite snacks and drinks, sort out your supplies and get into competition mode. Ours usually doesn't revolve around whose looks the best (we all know it's mine), but rather whose doesn't fall apart along the way! Winner chooses the themed movie for the night.
It's Spa Time, Baby A couples massage? Not today my friend. It's time to save some money and recreate a special spa-like experience at home. Maybe your spouse has had a really rough week at work, or the past month has really tested the both of you. No matter what, you both deserve some rest & relaxation! Dim the lights, put on some spa music, get that essential oil diffuser going and welcome each other to your new household spa. This can be anything from face masks, body scrubs, and massages to wind down from a hectic week. Add a glass of wine to the mix and get ready for a luxury, intimate spa-experience!
Get Out of the House :
don't forget the babysitter
Plan a Picnic It's simple and very cost-effective but still gets you out of the house. Again, intentionality is key! Find a sweet spot. Maybe it's a park, botanical gardens or a nearby hill-top. Plan a meal with your favorite goodies, pack it up and get going. Spending time with your spouse outdoors while munching on your favorite treats is a no-brainer, happiness-booster! Bonus Tip: plan the picnic meal for sunset. Bring a board game or activity to play together until it gets dark. Then, cozy up and star-gaze for a while.
Adventure Outdoors Kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing...the outdoors = endless *possibly free* opportunities. Clear your heads with a vigorous hike and stop for an afternoon drink on the way back home. Rent a kayak and spend as long as you want on the water. Whatever it may be, make sure it's something you both enjoy. Bonus Tip: Make a day of it. Start out with your favorite brunch spot or end it with some splurge-worthy happy hour drinks.
Romantic Dinner for Two New restaurant in town? New dress sitting in the closet? Dying to get your hands on a juicy steak? Romantic, "fancy" dinners aren't just for celebrations! When is the last time you both got all dressed up in each other's favorite outfits and spent your money on a dinner worth every penny? Sure, this idea is quite the treat that needs to be budgeted for properly, but it. is. worth. it. You deserve to pamper each other. Bonus Tip: One of my favorite ways to have a night out on the town is to "restaurant hop." Start out with happy hour + appetizers at one place. Spend your money on the main course at another. Then, end the night with drinks or dessert somewhere else. This is also an easy way to "wine and dine" yourselves and keep it a little more budget-friendly!
Recreate Your First Date Chances are you don't live in the same place where your first date occurred, but that doesn't mean you can't re-create it with the essentials! For example: our first date was in La Jolla. We walked along the beach and laughed at the cute seals at sunset. Then, we went for Thai food and ordered calamari, pad thai, and panang curry. Afterward, we went to a local church for Adoration and spent some time with Jesus in prayer. So, if we were to recreate this in a new city (without a beach), maybe we'd take a walk around town at sunset and stop in a couple shops, have reservations set for a yummy Thai restuarant, order the same thing, then end the night with some Adoration. It doesn't have to be an exact replica, but it will be special nonetheless. Bonus Tip: If you don't remember your first date (it happens), recreate your FAVORITE date! Oh, and another thing that's super sappy but sweet: write a letter beforehand to give to them. Reminisce on how far you've both come since that first date.
Day Trip Near You If you live in a bigger city, then you need to take a day trip to explore some of the cute & quaint towns near you! Taking the trip to a little oasis doesn't have to be far or elaborate. Get your favorite donuts and coffee for the road trip there. Spend the day visiting local shops, landmarks, churches, gardens, whatever peaks your interest! Find a sweet spot for dinner and drinks, and make sure to grab some dessert for the drive home. If you love mini road trips like me, then you know jamming out during the car ride there and back is one of the best parts! Holiday Bonus: there's something magical about spending the day in a small town during the Christmas season. Grab some coffee or hot cocoa, visit a Christmas tree farm, pick out a holiday trinket from a local antique shop, and stop to look for Christmas lights on the way home!
Finances seem to be one of the biggest reasons why couples don't make time for themselves. Don't get me wrong, I understand that 10000%. I'm a stay at home mom and married to someone who works for the Church. We ain't rollin in the dough by any means! But, we've learned to prioritize this need for a married "dating life" and have come up with a way to always keep it within our budget.
Get a Budget App If you don't have one of these already, then I won't lie...how the heck do you mutually manage your money?! One of the easiest, most effective apps out there is Every Dollar by Dave Ramsey (of course!) We've been budgeting "Ramsey Style" since the beginning of our marriage and Every Dollar makes it organized and virtually seamless. We tell everyone we know about this app because it WORKS. Honestly Dave, sponsor us already!
Do a Monthly Meeting This ought to be a whole blog post (and likely will be someday), but it is so important to be on the same page as your spouse when it comes to finances. The easiest way to ensure that is to set a monthly budgeting meeting. This is where you re-set your budget, hash out what needs to be spent and saved, and make decisions about the "extras" you're going to spend for the month.
Put it in the Budget Putting a date night in the budget can be done a few ways, but I'll just tell you what's worked for us. We both get $100 "allowance" for the month. That means we each get $100 to spend on anything we please: random iced coffee, new clothes (if you didn't put it in the clothing budget), meeting a friend for lunch, etc. Chase and I will usually both spend part of our separate allowance on a date night for each other. Sometimes he's an angel and uses his whole allowance on a surprise date-night for me (yeah, he's amazing). Now, if it's a special month like a birthday, anniversary, or something that calls for a bigger celebration night, then we budget for that separately--apart from our $100 allowance. Which means, maybe we don't spend as much from our own allowance or we cut down on non-essentials like household miscellaneous items for the month. Whatever the case, we're willing to sacrifice a little something to make that special night happen. In any case, putting it in the budget means it has a place and you are committing to making it work!
I hope that this was helpful for anyone out there looking to re-vamp and re-prioritize date nights! Be sure to like, subscribe, pin, and share this with a friend (or your spouse, hint hint)!