EVERY RELATIONSHIP EXPERT will tell you that one of the keys to keeping the spark alive in a long-term relationship is continuing to court your significant other, even after you get hitched. They’ll tell you to set aside a regular date night to reconnect and revive your feelings of romance and love.
Pretty much every couple sees the wisdom of this advice on the face of it. But the execution is sometimes easier said than done – especially when kids come into the picture. Maybe things are crazy busy for you right now, and it’s hard to fit a whole night out into the schedule. Or you’re on a tight budget and paying $100+ for dinner, a movie, and a babysitter just isn’t feasible. Or you’ve got a newborn in the house, and you’re just not ready to have someone watch her while you go out.
Rather than feeling like your hands are tied by these obstacles and that you can’t make date night happen at all, consider an alternative: the ‘stay-at-home date.’
The Concept of the Stay-at-Home Date
The concept of the at-home date is simple: if you can’t go out on the town, get creative and adaptable and come up with a fun, one-on-one activity you can do with your significant other without having to leave the house – or even the living room! If you have kids, your date starts once they go to bed.
Stay-in dates don’t require much time or money to execute, but they can make a big impact in rekindling feelings of romance and helping you reconnect with your wife or girlfriend.
Things like splitting a bottle of wine and having a movie night, or engaging in a little hanky-panky, are easy go-to activities once the kids hit the hay … but you also want to get creative from time to time in coming up with new things to do.
So below, we offer 14 ideas for enjoyable, easy-to-plan, inexpensive, stay-in romantic date night ideas you can try with your lady love. So the next time you can’t get a sitter or afford a night out, instead of throwing the idea of date night entirely out the window, stay in and have a fun and romantic evening anyway!
1. Have a game night – offline
Video games are great, but board games, card games, and other analogue games allow you to connect in a really positive way. So, break out the Boggle or Jenga. A little friendly competition can get the sparks flying again in your relationship. Of course, if your gal is a little too competitive, and those sparks might turn into an incinerating rage, you’d probably be better off trying something else.
2. Eat take-out by candlelight
It’s amazing what a little change in atmosphere can do to transform a normally ho-hum experience into something special. Sure, maybe you eat takeaways in front of the TV all the time, but put a tablecloth on the table, light some candles, turn on some jazzy tunes, and really take the time to talk! You’ll be surprised how rejuvenating and date night-esque the meal will feel – regardless of whether you eat fondue or ice cream sundaes.
3. Make dinner or dessert together
Making dinner on a weeknight can be a rushed and stressful affair. But cooking together when you’ve intentionally blocked off time for the task and the kids are in bed can be a lot of fun and a nice way to reconnect. Make something you haven’t tried before that’s hands-on in preparation – like sushi or homemade pasta – or if you need something simple, just make your own pizza using a store-bought base.
If cooking dinner is too involved, or your kids go to bed so late you’d have trouble holding out for it, whip up a dessert together instead.
4. Paint night with watercolours
When was the last time you busted out some art supplies and tried your hand at painting? It’s just as fun as you remember. So get some cheap watercolour sets and some big pieces of paper and sit together to paint your best masterpieces. Don’t forget to dab in some happy little trees (Bob Ross, anyone?).
5. Ask each other questions
There are tons of ‘questions for couples’ books and card decks out there. And there are also ones that are not specifically couple-focused but simply offer fun conversation starters for everybody. If you feel like you and your wife haven’t really talked in a long time, and have trouble discussing anything other than work or your kids, a list of interesting question prompts can get you laughing, conversing, and learning new things about each other again. Break the ice by engaging in a rousing game of Would You Rather?
6. Do a puzzle together
Like playing a board game, doing a puzzle together is a nice, relaxing activity that helps you chill out and have a good conversation. Pick a puzzle you can finish that evening – something like 200-300 pieces.
7. Have a backyard picnic
Lay a blanket in your backyard, set out a lantern, and eat dinner or dessert under the stars while you snuggle and stargaze. Baby monitors have a nice long-range these days, so you can bring it along and be sure your little one isn’t freaking out inside while you’re munching on brownies.
8. Make a craft together
Another fun idea for a great date at home is to get crafty, and it need not mean doing something lame or involving ‘bedazzling’! Pick a project you’ll both enjoy, and that’s fairly easy. Do things just for fun, or create a new piece of décor for your house. You could create a picture frame for your favourite photo or turn colourful crayons into a romantic candle. The internet is full of creative craft ideas for couples!
9. Watch a movie outside
Mix up your usual routine of parking yourself on the couch in front of the TV by bringing your movie-watching outside. Set up a sheet and projector (or drag your TV outside!), bring out a couple of chairs, some snacks and drinks, and enjoy a fresh air flick.
10. Have a tasting party
Wine tastings are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to buying a few different wines, you can also try different ciders, whiskies, or even cocktails, and do a tasting. There are plenty of non-alcoholic options as well. Sip ‘em and savour the flavours; discuss your favourites. You can even do a tasting of foods – getting some different cheeses, or better yet, sausages and cured meats – and sample the fare.
11. Have a vinyl listening party
Music doesn’t need to be a mere backdrop to your at-home date; it can be its centrepiece. Vinyl (records) makes for a warm and truly immersive listening experience. Mix up some cocktails and take in the full narrative arc of an album while you lounge and cuddle with your main squeeze. As soon as you hear the pop of the needle hitting the grooves of the record, you can let all your cares fade away.
12. Take a bubble bath
Plenty of people have a bathtub that they rarely ever use; in their busy life, they rely exclusively on the efficiency of their shower. So take a break from the routine, slow things down, and have a spa night. Get romantic by lighting up some candles and soaking in a relaxing bubble bath with your lady love.
13. Create a bucket/travel/micro-adventure list
Sit down and scheme and dream about the things you’d like to do together. You can make an ultimate bucket list — all the things you want to do/see/experience as a couple before you die. Or you could create a list specifically of the places you’d like to travel to; you might consider actually planning out a vacation — whether a dream one or a more realistic trip. You can also keep things down to earth by committing to doing one microadventure each month, and drawing up a list of all the possible ideas you can come up with (see Grapevine issue 1, 2016).
14. Listen to a spooky old-time radio show
This has become a Halloween tradition for Kate and me, but is something you can do any old time. Especially on those dark, chilling winter nights. After the kids go to bed, we make a fire in the fireplace, lay a blanket in front of it, and put on an episode of an old-time spooky radio show. Best of all, we have on-hand apple cider donuts to snack on as we listen! Try starting with Orson Wells’s War of the Worlds – it’s a classic!
Life gets hectic. If you’re finding it difficult to make time to cultivate love between yourself and your significant other, get creative and pull off a DIY at-home date night to rekindle the magic. Skip vegging out with Netflix or Amazon Prime, and instead try one of these stay-at-home date night ideas.
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