Some of the best marriage advice we received after we were married was to never stop dating. We knew it was good advice from the get go, but we didn’t really realize how hard it was going to be to keep dating regularly. After all leading up to our wedding we spent every waking moment we could together – how hard could it be!
Well of course life had lots of crazy plans in store for us, and time started to become a premium. We did great for the first 4 years of marriage always making it a priority to spend quality time together. But somewhere along the line, we had some serious problems on our plate, and time all of a sudden disappeared.
We’re both workaholics, so we did what any strongly motivated person would do and tackled each problem head on. However what we started to notice was we no longer went on dates, and every waking moment was spent dealing with problems. And what’s more… the problems just kept coming.
Luckily we noticed this was becoming a disturbing pattern, and we decided we had to do whatever it took to reign in the craziness of life, and get some time back. So we both made a pact to get our date nights back in 2016. And well now that we’re into 2018, I can happily say we’ve been making great progress. It might have taken us a full 2 years, but date night every week is now officially a habit!
So today I have compiled together 15 of our favorite date night ideas from the last couple of years. And as a bonus, they’re financially friendly too which is always nice since dating can be expensive.
- Sunday Brunch – this has been a new favorite for us, but brunch at home has been an awesome addition to our dates. We love making some sort of baked good like these Glazed Cinnamon Streusel Apple Muffins or these Lemon Blueberry Scones. And when we’re not in the mood for something baked, we do savory brunches like the Potatoes O’Brien pictured below along with over easy eggs, and sometimes sausage or bacon to go along as well. I think brunch makes a surprisingly great date because a lazy Sunday afternoon spent together is always needed since life seems to be so busy! And if you’re not in the mood to cook, brunch out is much more affordable than a fine dining dinner.
2. Any activity you like – such as ice skating, hiking, or simply going for a walk. We’ve always had some of our best talks and times to catch up while climbing a mountain. Maybe it’s because we spent most of our time dating hiking up mountains. But it always takes us back, and this one is by far our favorite way to spend a date. It does require a bit more time to climb a mountain, so sometimes it’s just a walk around the neighborhood to catch up.
3. Vacation planning – this one is always a blast because you get to think about something fun in the future to look forward to, while reminiscing about all the the fun you had in trips past, (see photo below).
4. Couples massage night – because who doesn’t need a back rub to ease some of life’s tension! This one is fun to alternate with one person getting a back rub one night and the other taking turns the next time. That way if you’re the one getting a massage you don’t have get all relaxed to then have to give a massage in return.
5. Italian Night – or whatever cuisine you like the best. We both love Italian food, so we’ll pick something Italian inspired and cook dinner together. And since we don’t always have much time to cook, this year I came up with a new solution. I made a huge batch of classic Bolognese sauce (with 10 pounds of ground beef). We both love Bolognese but since it takes hours to simmer, we rarely make it. But once I spent a Sunday making a huge batch, I then had 20 packages of pasta sauce in the freezer, and we’ve been having Spaghetti Bolognese dates all winter long. The great thing about already having the sauce done, is you only have to cook the pasta, and a vegetable – it doesn’t get any easier than 15 minute dinners for date night!
6. Stargazing – is always fun if you live somewhere you can see the stars, (see photo below). Since we live in the country, we like to get out stargazing at least a couple times a year. And if you’re really lucky, (and download and app to help you) you might even get to see the aurora fill the sky with color (2 photos down). We’ve seen 4 of them together now, and I really can’t describe the feeling of seeing the sky light up with color only to glance over and see your own look of wonder reflected. The last really good one we saw was in Iceland, and it was an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life!
7. Cheese party – this really is the ultimate no cook date night! For recipe inspiration you can check out my Antipasto Platter or my Easy Summer Cheese Board. You can do as little or as much as you’d like with this one, but in the effort of keeping things simple just choose 2 cheeses, a couple cured meats, and something in the vegetable department like grilled asparagus, or a simple tossed salad. The beauty of a cheese party date is you just nibble and snack for hours which gives you a chance to catch up, and talk about things you’re both into at the moment.
8. Hot chocolate and a crossword puzzle – ok I’ll admit at first glance this doesn’t sound like that much fun, especially since I’ve never been into crossword puzzles myself. But here’s the thing, it’s actually lots of fun! We started the tradition of this date years ago when we lived in Calgary. We happened to live within walking distance of our favorite coffee shop. So often when Tyler would get home from work, we’d have dinner, then take a walk to the coffee shop and order a hot chocolate for dessert. At that time of day, the coffee shop was always quiet, so we’d find a corner, sit down with the crossword and sip on our hot chocolate. Funnily enough I found myself loving those times laughing over a simple crossword puzzle, and it’s become a permanent fixture in our date nights!
9. Sunrise/sunset with your choice of drinks – we love coffee sunrise dates, and hot chocolate sunsets. Sometimes the views are stunning, and sometimes it’s just our local park where we hike up to the top of the hill with a thermos, and enjoy the views with something warm and yummy!
10. Mini road trip – this one is similar to vacation planning but much less involved, and you can also repeat it often. Vacations only happen once or twice a year for us, but mini road trips can happen whenever you have a weekend. On our list for this year is visiting the gold mining ghost towns here in Montana, hot spring hunting, and maybe even another quick pop back into Yellowstone National Park. We also love to make plans for road trips to go hiking during the summer months.
11. Cook dinner together – this one is probably the most practical date. But you do have to eat, and when time is at a premium, we’ve found an easy way to spend time together, is just to cook together. Tyler doesn’t know much about cooking, so he helps me prep and keeps me company. We have one recipe we always make together now, and it’s my Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad. We make it pretty much every single week, and we never get tired of having chicken caesar salad dates!
We’ve made it so often now, we never look and the recipe, and could make it in our sleep. I’ve found this to be a great way to cook together and still enjoy it. If you don’t even have to look at the recipe, you can spend most of your time together talking, rather than stressing out trying to follow a new recipe!
12. Ice cream sundae night – just channel your inner child and skip dinner to have a fun making over the top ice cream sundaes! Our favorite combo, pictured below, is my Homemade Coconut Ice Cream, Strawberry Sauce, and Hot Fudge Sauce on top.
13. Go out for live music and have appetizers – just having appetizers out is much more affordable than a full scale dinner, and it’s fun to get out of the house sometimes, (see the first photo). There’s a place here locally that has live jazz, and we go every so often to listen and get a couple appetizers. In the summer you can always find live music in your local parks where you can take a picnic as well.
14. Recreate something from your wedding dinner – this one is pretty easy because we had a caesar salad at our wedding at it’s our favorite thing to make together. But whenever I want to put in a little more effort, I make the pasta dish from our wedding, or sometimes the chocolate cream pies as well!
15. Picnics of any kind – we love taking along our cheese dates mentioned above to the beach for a picnic. There’s just something nice about having a date away from your house, and your normal life. The picnic pictured above is from a date we had last summer where I had pre-packed my Easy Summer Cheese Board for a weekend of hiking.
We headed out to Glacier National Park to climb some mountains, (see #2) and we had this beach picnic on the way home along the shores of Lake McDonald. We also sometimes pack up my Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with the chicken, pine nuts, dressing, cheese, and lettuce all separate for a picnic after a long day of hiking.
And there you have it, all 15 of our favorite date night ideas from the last couple of years. I hope you’ll find some inspiration here, and I’d love to hear your favorite date night ideas!