My primary reason for creating this list is that my husband and I need help in the dating department. We rarely go on dates, for multiple reasons: busy lives, large family, the cost of babysitters and then the cost of the date itself. It is completely normal to have hills and valleys in a marriage, so don’t despair over finding yourself in a valley.
However, do not get stuck in that rut! Your relationship with your spouse is, next to your relationship with God, the very most important in your life. And it’s like so many things in life — if you don’t nourish and cultivate it, it will decline in health.
We decided to prioritize dating and make it happen every week. Well, to be honest, I sort of decided and Kendel looked terrified, ha, ha, probably mostly because I told him our date budget, $0, until we’ve finished saving for a construction project that needs to be completed this summer.
He would happily take me to dinner and a movie every week, but I mostly dislike movies and find them to be a waste of time and money. We do go to dinner and movies occasionally, like maybe 4 times per year, and those are our only dates. I’m asking for more dates, and free ones. That’s why he was terrified.
I created this list as a Valentine’s gift to my husband, in hopes that a gigantic list of fun, free activities would help him feel more confident and excited. We’re going to alternate weeks; he chooses the date one week, I choose the next week, so as to share the responsibility. The person who chooses the date also has to plan it completely, packing the picnic and blanket, etc… There are 52 dates here, exactly one per week for a year.
We are lucky to now have older kids we can leave in charge, which is SO wonderful! Parents with only tiny people, don’t despair. Instead, find a way to make it work. Include your littles in the date, or find another couple to trade with, or primarily use the at-home dates. Make dating a priority, but make it work for you and your family.
“Marriage is a gift from God to us; the quality of our marriages is a gift from us to Him.”
—L. Whitney Clayton
1. Go on a hike. Head to the closest trail and go on a hiking date. Be sure to take your camera. Morning hikes are especially fun — enjoying the sunrise together. I particularly like to take my sketch book, when we have enough time.
2. Make your own fondue. We love the Melting Pot restaurant, but we can never seem to get out of there without spending $100 or more, just for the 2 of us. You can make fondue with a few ingredients you probably already have on hand and your crockpot, using this Easy Swiss Cheese Fondue recipe and this Easy Chocolate Fondue recipe.
3. Visit model homes and open houses. The more upscale the property, the better. Dress the part and pretend you are looking (though don’t lie to any realtor’s–you can tell them you are on a date, pretending to be buyers) for a new home, discussing the merits of each home for your own family.
The Parade of Homes is such a fun date, but you do have to purchase a ticket, while the model homes are free. If you can find a brand new subdivision, they often have several model homes grouped together.
My favorite part is writing down what you do and don’t like about each home and incorporating cool things into my own dream home.
4. Find a free concert. No matter where you live, there’s usually a good, free summer concert going on. Plan a date around it, and soak in both the music and the summer rays. If you live near Salt Lake City, the summer twilight series is very worthwhile. Google ‘free summer concerts’ and your own city to find some near you. We like to take a blanket and snacks with us and actually hold hands without interruption.
5. Find a farmer’s market. Play the alphabet game, competing to see who can find something that starts with each letter. Try all of the free samples during your search, so you won’t have to splurge on a restaurant afterward.
6. Be a tourist in your own city. Find out what tourist attractions are in your city and spend the night acting like tourists—don’t forget to take lots of cheesy pictures and be sure to break out the fanny pack.
7. Volunteer together. Whether you decide to play with the puppies at an animal shelter or help out at a soup kitchen, volunteering with your date is both fulfilling and memorable.
8. Try geocaching. This modern-day real-world treasure hunt is the perfect adventure. Visit geocaching.com to begin your active escapade. Who knows what you’ll find!
9. Fly kites. You can usually find them at the dollar store, or make your own for free if you have the materials.
10. Go on a bike ride. You could even pack a lunch and call it a picnic.
11. Plan a game night. This is the perfect group date activity to share with some other couples. We love to play Wherewolves with large groups. You can even play it with just the free app.
13. Go roller skating. Strap on some roller skates and roll around town or a nearby park. Roller skating is one of my favorite activities and not one of my husbands. Make concessions for one another and do things you don’t love, but know your spouse does, in order to show love to your spouse.
14. Have a movie marathon. Pop some popcorn, share a blanket on the couch, and start up a movie marathon. Take turns picking what to watch.
15. Build a slip ‘n slide. Set up an adult sized slip ‘n slide in your backyard. Not only is this silly date a sure-fire hit, but it’s refreshing way for the two of you to cool off in the summer heat. I guarantee you, though, that your kids won’t let you enjoy that much fun alone!
16. Go to a park. Swing on the swings, play Frisbee, and feed the ducks. Name the ducks and try to remember them later.
17. Play 20 questions. Write a list of 20 questions to ask each other. Here is a fun list of questions to get you started, if you need help.
20. Learn a new skill together. Take a free class at your library or community center in something neither of you are good at.
21. Wander art galleries or visit an art museum. Check out local and up-and-coming artists on display at galleries in your area. The Universities in my area have extensive, and free, art galleries with wonderful rotating exhibitions, so you can visit many times a year and see different things each time.
22. Learn each other’s love languages. Take the 5 Love Languages Test to see how to improve your relationship. End the evening making and eating chocolate-dipped strawberries together.
23. Watch a movie in the backyard. This is the classic dinner and a movie date with a (free) twist! Hang a sheet from your house, bring out your projector, and pack a picnic. Warning: if your kids are home with a sitter they will try to join you.
24. Play some DIY karaoke. Even if you are a terrible singer, karaoke is always a great way to loosen up and have some fun. If you don’t have karaoke equipment, search the app store for free apps you can download and sing along to.
25. Shoot some hoops. There’s nothing better than letting your competitive spirit out now and then, so head outside and challenge that special someone to a one-on-one showdown.
26. Try a new sport together.
27. Cook together. Have a Chopped competition to see who can make the best dish out of whatever you already have in the fridge.
28. Go to a thrift store. Pick out outfits for each other and take pictures. Hold a vote on facebook to see who wins.
29. Host a poker night. Can you keep a poker face? Find out by playing a game of poker with your date, waging with anything other than money.
30. Have a theme night. Pick a theme for the night and center everything around it. For Cinco de Mayo, you could eat Mexican food and learn salsa dancing from a youtube video.
31. Test drive your dream car. This would not be a super fun date for me (car salesman, ugh!) but my husband would enjoy it. So honey, if you’ll take me roller skating, we can test drive your dream car. Unless they get a Tesla dealership here and then we can spend every date test driving, ha, ha!
32. Go stargazing together. Pack a blanket, pillows, and snacks and go somewhere to see the stars. Do some research before you leave so you know which constellations to look for. Invent new constellations and name them after your inside jokes.
33. Take a drive. Get out of the house and take a drive. Take a look at nature or local scenery. Find changing leaves in the fall, flowers blooming in the spring, and so on. Remember to bring some treats in case you get hungry.
34. Play Truth or Dare. Revisit the infamous childhood game of Truth or Dare by walking around town taking turns asking each other the age-old question. You’ll learn tons about each other and have a total blast!
35. Take glamour shots of each other. Remember those from back in the 90’s? Pick out glamorous outfits, do your hair and makeup large, and don’t forget to unfocus the lens.
37.Visit the bookstore. Try to find books each other would enjoy, the find a cozy, quiet corner and see which of you did the best job. Be sure to write down any titles that strike your fancy so you can look them up at the library.
38. Explore local landmarks. Be a tourist in your own city, but only hit up landmarks that don’t charge an entrance fee, like statues, museums, or other places that you’d go if you were only in town for a day.
Would you like to turn this list into a gift for the love of your life? Download the FREE, printable coupon book below. I hope you have as much fun with this list as we have!