The coronavirus pandemic put a halt on a whole lot of awesome things, not the least of which is date night. If you’ve been with your sweetie for years, it can be tough to find something special to do when you’re spending most of your time at home together. And if you were just getting started dating, it’s hard to connect if you’re apart.
But there are still free and low-cost ways to keep up the date night tradition.
Although they’ve been married for almost 14 years, Kenny and Celina Beaumont have always realized the importance of romance — especially after having kids.
“If we’re not happy and having fun,” Celina told us in an interview, “our household’s not going to be happy and having fun.”
So they’ve kept their long-standing date night tradition alive through the pandemic with some pretty adorable dates — one of which you may even have seen a glimpse of on John Krasinski’s “Some Good News.” (Look for the fine dining experience around 7:55!)
But dinner dates are just the beginning. Here are some of our favorite at-home date night ideas.
Date Nights if You’re at Home Together
If you were already co-habitating, there are plenty of ways to set aside some special time for each other.
1. Fine Dining
Remember restaurants? Like, the kind where you sat down and were waited on? The kind where you maybe even dressed up for the occasion?
You can definitely recreate that experience at home, which is exactly what the Beaumonts did. According to Celina, Kenny and the kids had been conspiring about the idea for several days before surprising her.
They printed real menus, got dressed up and dined al fresco on a three-course meal at “Jack & Olivia’s” — so named for their kids. Kenny cooked up the steaks, while the kids made the salad and dessert.
2. Ballroom (or Any Other Kind of) Dancing
You might not be able to make it out to your local Arthur Murray studio, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to dance. Some couples’ counselors suggest that a tango or two can be as good for your relationship as it is fun.
Crank up a YouTube video, clear out a spot on the living room floor, and give it a whirl. After all, nobody except your SO — and maybe the cat — is watching.
3. Game Night
It might not sound like the peak of romance to some, but sitting down to a game of Scrabble or Chess together is a great way to spend some quality time while also giving your brain a workout. If you’re really geeky, you might even take on a match or four of Magic: The Gathering.
We recommend adding fancy duds to the equation to make it feel even more date-y.
4. Virtual Hometown Tours
If you didn’t grow up in the same place as your SO, and you’ve yet to show them around in person, Google Earth offers a great date night opportunity: a virtual tour of your hometown, complete with stops at all the most important places.
Even if you hail from the same place (or have already gone home to meet the parents), you could use Google Earth or Google Maps to show your sweetheart around your college campus — or pregame exploring a city you’re hoping to visit together someday.
5. At-Home Spa Services
Treat yourself — and your beau — to some DIY indulgence. Whether you give each other manicures, facials, or massages, it’s bound to be a whole lot more affordable (and considerably more fun) than it would be in a salon.
Tips for Successful At-Home Date Nights
Even with the best of intentions and lots of planning, it’s easy for an at-home date night to feel like … well, just another night at home.
Here are some tips to keep it feeling romantic.
- Put away your phone. Celina and Kenny say they make a point of putting their screens down during dates.
- Wait until after bedtime. It’s fun to get the kids in on the action — but if they go to bed earlier than you do, those couple hours of quiet can be a great time to rekindle your connection.
- Look for the silver linings. Although staying home is hard in a whole lot of ways, it also offers a lot of opportunity for closeness, especially in a world where we’re usually running all over the place.
“We never get to spend this much time with each other,” Celina said of her family. Try to look at your at-home dates as an opportunity to slow down and enjoy yourselves.
Date Night Ideas if You’re Apart
Thanks to technology, there are some ways to recreate a date experience even if you’re miles apart.
(Bonus: Most of these can be easily repurposed into isolation date night ideas for couples living together, too.)
6. Virtual Coffee (or Cocktails)
Video call applications like Zoom and FaceTime make it easy to recreate classic low-stakes, first-date ideas like grabbing a drink or a cup of coffee.
7. Reading to Each Other
This one’s super romantic whether you’re at home together or apart. If you’re not in the same place, you can read to each other over video chat or over the plain-old phone.
The options are endless: You could pick a book neither of you have read before or revisit an old favorite.
8. Live Streaming Concerts and Events
From superstars to local up-and-comers, lots of entertainers have transferred their live shows to streaming services. Many are free, though it’s nice to drop a tip for these struggling artists.
Recreate the concert experience at home with a cocktail and maybe a band T-shirt, and enjoy unlimited bathroom breaks without having to snake through a pushy crowd.
9. Virtual Movie Nights
There’s nothing quite as cozy as snuggling up with your sweetheart for a movie, whether at the theater or on the couch at home. But even if you’re stuck apart, you can spend time in front of the silver screen together.
A browser extension called Netflix Party easily syncs Netflix videos for multiple parties while also providing a scrolling text chat along the right side of the screen.
If your movie or TV show is on another service — or if, quaintly and adorably enough, you’re going to watch the same DVD in separate houses at the same time — you can always hop on the phone and queue up the video. Don’t forget the popcorn!
10. Art Therapy
A seriously romantic idea for the bold: recreate each other’s likenesses while on a video chatting application like FaceTime.
If that’s a little too intimate, you could simply spend time together being creative, whether that means knitting, cross-stitching, painting or something else entirely. You could even make plans to gift each other the products of your art therapy session once the quarantine is lifted.
Tips for Successful Date Nights Spent Apart
Here are some tips to make it feel more like you’re actually together.
- Get dressed. It’s all too easy to lie around the house in pajamas all day… and even attend your dates that way. Wearing real clothes can make you feel more like you’re on a real date.
- Connect often. If you can’t be with each other in person, spending digital time together is extra important. Maybe try to move your date night tradition from one night a week to two or three.
- Remember: It’s only temporary. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and although we don’t know when this pandemic is going to end, end it shall.
Jamie Cattanach’s work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Huffington Post, The Motley Fool and other outlets. Learn more at www.jamiecattanach.com.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers nationwide to make smart decisions with their money through actionable and inspirational advice, and resources about how to make, save and manage money.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.