Having date nights is such an important part of maintaining a healthy marriage, particularly after children come into the picture. But keeping up with regular and consistent date nights can be challenging, particularly in present times when everyone is tightening their belts to ride out the economy. Finding qualified babysitters can present its own challenge, and even if you find one you trust, paying for the sitter plus a night out can put a considerable strain on the bank account. Though fancy, romantic dinners are lovely on occasion, it’s a good idea to have a list of free or cheap date night ideas at the ready. Here are a few that my husband and I have come up with over the years.
#1. Cook dinner together (after the kids are in bed!)
One of the best ways to spend quality time together is by cooking a meal together. You can take turns preparing ingredients, cooking the food, and setting the table. We love having this time together. It gives us an opportunity to work as a team, and we always love discovering what conversations pop up while we work. Set the mood with candles or this rechargeable LED touch lamp on the table and around the room.
#2. Have a romantic picnic
You can create the same magical atmosphere outside as you can at your kitchen table (and let’s face it, sometimes you just can’t be in your house one second longer). Picnics are a great way to enjoy good weather and good food together while getting out of the house. You can pack a lunch or dinner to enjoy in your local park or even in your own backyard. I LOVE this wine tote picnic set up. It has room for one 750 mL bottle of wine and comes with two short stem wine glasses, a corkscrew, a bottle stopper, and two gingham napkins. Perfect for setting the atmosphere!
#3. Visit a museum
Museums can be interesting and educational, but they can also be romantic. Spend some time walking around hand-in-hand, admiring the art work or exhibits that interest you most. If you’re both history buffs, museums can also be a great place to learn more about each other’s interests. I think this kind of thing is especially great if you and your spouse tend to sink into a routine of talking only about work and the kids on date nights (it happens to us all!). Museums provide fertile ground for sparking interesting conversations without the pressure of coming up with topics yourself.
#4. Take a trip to a book store
If you and your partner are both bookish types, date nights at a book store can be wonderfully romantic! I love that Barnes and Noble usually has a Starbucks inside so that you can sip a tea or coffee while you stroll the aisles. I like to load up a basket of books and take them all to a seating area to pour through them together. We always end up with one or two to bring home with us. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about each other as you discover what interesting topics you’re both drawn to!
#5. Have a game night in
Nothing brings out childlike fun as much as a game night at home. This could be anything from board games and card games to video games or trivia games. It’s a great way to have some friendly competition while also spending quality time together. I like fun and flirty games like We’re Not Really Strangers, Truth or Dare: The Sexy Game of Naughty Choices , and Loopy.
#6. Attend a community event
Check your local paper or website to see if there are any events happening that you could attend together. This could be anything from a concert or play to a museum opening or art show. It’s a great way to support your local community and enjoy some time together at the same time. Some of our favorite pieces of art and household decorations have come from local artists who sold their creations at art festivals in our community!
#7. Attend a class together
One of the coolest things I’ve seen crop up over the last several years have been businesses that provide date nights where you do something. You can find date night classes of just about any kind these days: learning to cook a meal, learning to bake, creating pottery or canvas art, even axe throwing! My husband took me axe throwing for one of our date nights and I can’t lie … it was the most fun I’ve had in awhile!
#8. Just the dessert
A great way we’ve learned to save money is to have dinner at home with the kids, and go out for dessert alone. It’s astounding how much we save this way. We like to go either to a fancy bakery or for coffee and sweet treats, or to a restaurant or bar where we can split a bottle of wine and a charcuterie board.
Start incorporating some of these cheap and practical date nights into the mix and watch your connection (and maybe your bank account!) begin to grow.