In addition to eating out on the cheap, The Hubby and I also like to think up fun ways to spend our date nights (which are actually often date days) with activities we can do before we eat. It keeps things fun, and we have a blast brainstorming ways to entertain ourselves without adding too much to the “entertainment” category on our budget.
Here are some of the ideas we’ve come up with so far:
Bar games. I know, it’s not really glamorous (none of these ideas really are!), but the point is finding cheap entertainment and then having a great meal thanks to our savings skills. Before our nice dinner out, sometimes we’ll “pre-game” with some fun at the bar around the corner. A beer or two there is still cheaper than a martini at a nice restaurant, and we love playing each other at the dart board and the pool table. (We’re very competitive against each other and like to make bets like “loser has to do the dishes this week” to up the ante.)
Outdoor activities. Rollerblading in the park or riding bikes down by the water in the summer…apple picking in the fall…sledding in the winter. There are all sorts of ways to have fun outside that are free or very cheap, plus you get the bonus of getting some exercise and getting out into nature after all those hours crammed in an office during the week.
Art galleries. We’re lucky enough that our local art gallery has Free Fridays, but you can also find inexpensive (or free) showings at places like local colleges or independent galleries. The Hubby actually enjoys art, of all kinds. I’m the sort that only really likes art I can understand…most modern art escapes me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still have fun pretending I know what I’m talking about. Sometimes it drives The Hubby a little crazy, sometimes he joins in and we pretend we’re snobby art critics who really “get” what the artist is trying to say.
Garage saleing. During garage sale season, grab some change and hit up all the garage sales around your neighborhood. Sometimes we make rules like “you’re allowed to buy whatever you want with your money, no matter how tacky the other person thinks it is” or “use your money to buy a surprise gift for the other person.” It can be hilarious seeing some of the things people own, and you never know…you might even snag a bargain or two! (P.S. Estate sales are the jackpot, if you can find them.)
Open houses. This is one The Hubby agrees to largely to make me happy, although he does get a kick out of it once we’re doing it. I’m obsessed with HGTV and home décor, and there’s just something about seeing how other people decorate their houses. (Especially houses in your own neighborhood that are similar to yours. We live on a cookie cutter street, so all the houses are laid out the same on the inside.) You have to have a little guts for this one, especially if you’re snooping around a neighbor’s house, but it can also be kind of fun to pretend you’re home shopping and make comments like “I don’t know, honey; I’d really prefer a double sink in the bathroom…” Or maybe we’re just weird. Probably we’re just weird.
Date night in. Sometimes there’s nothing like not going out…especially after a week that’s been really crazy. We love to get into our PJs at 6:00 and snuggle in with some great takeout and a few Redbox movies. Now that the weather’s starting to turn, this can be especially cozy. I love cuddling down under a throw blanket and watching a movie while the snow blows around the house outside.
What cheap but great ideas have you come up with for dates?
photo credit: Wendy Nelson Photography