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As we approach winter we also approach cuffing season, the time of year we partner up so we don’t spend the long, cold, dark season alone. And if you’re looking for a partner, you need some things to do. We’ve got you covered with 12 cheap, fun date ideas for cuffing season.
Dating Isn’t Cheap
If you take the dinner and drinks route, dating can cost a small fortune. And because it can take a few tries (or several years!) before you find the right person, those fortunes can add up. But dating doesn’t have to be expensive and spending more money doesn’t mean you have more fun.
1. Spa Night
This is a good one for a cold night or rainy afternoon. You can choose whatever treatment you want, facial, massage, a manicure. Washing your partner’s hair is also romantic.
Gather all of your supplies, you don’t even have to buy special things. You can make skin and hair masks out of stuff you already have in your kitchen.
Coconut and olive oil make edible massage oils; you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil if you have it for an extra dose of relaxation. Turn down the lights, light some candles, play soft music and you’re all set.
You don’t have to be an expert facialist or massage therapist to make spa night enjoyable. Your partner isn’t expecting you to extract their pores or work all the kinks out of their back. It’s the intimate, relaxed evening that you’re going for.
Finish up the spa evening with a bubble bath for two.
2. Happy Hour Hop
Going out for drinks and dinner is expensive, but you can have a similar experience for much less when you go out for happy hour. To make it more interesting, map out some good happy hour deals that are near each other and try a few.
Some places only offer special drink prices, but some offer specials on food too. This is especially romantic if you can find a happy hour that serves raw oysters which are thought to be an aphrodisiac and usually cost a few dollars each outside of happy hour.
3. Cook at Home
My idea of a perfect evening is going food shopping, turning on some music, opening a bottle of wine and making dinner together. The meal doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate but it can be nice to get a special appetizer like caviar or smoked salmon to nibble while you cook.
Split up the work. One person can be the prepper while the other cooks or one can do the main dish while the other works on the sides. If you want to make this experience extra sensual, choose foods that can be eaten with your hands and feed each other.
Think oysters, shrimp, artichokes dipped in melted butter, strawberries and cream, juicy peaches. You get the idea. A bit messy but that’s part of the fun.
4. Play Hooky
Both of you arrange to have a day off work in the middle of the week. Sure, it’s nice to have a three day weekend, but lots of other people do that.
When you take off a random Tuesday or Wednesday, it feels like the two of you have the whole city to yourselves, it feels naughty, like playing hooky and that heightens the experience.
Do something that is usually crowded on the weekends, go to a museum, or the park or a zoo. Or go to something that is more expensive on weekends and evenings. Many expensive restaurants offer lunch at a much lower price than dinner. The portions are sometimes a bit smaller, not always, but the food and the atmosphere are the same at a much lower cost.
Matinees for plays and movies are less expensive during the day as well.
5. Play Teacher and Student
What are you good at that your partner is not so good at or has never tried and vice versa? Spend a day teaching each other whatever that is. It could be photography, cooking, pottery, playing an instrument.
Learning from and teaching one another is an excellent way to bring you closer. It gives you each a new appreciation for the other’s talents, and it’s fun to play teacher and student.
6. Tis’ the Season
Each season has something special it’s known for. Whatever season it is at the moment, do something with your partner that captures the essence of it.
In the spring it could be going to the botanical gardens to see the plants and flowers wake up after their long winter naps. Summer is the time to hit the beach or have a picnic.
In the fall you can go apple and pumpkin picking, take a hay ride or visit a haunted house. In the winter you can cut your own Christmas tree or drive around the neighborhood with over the top decorations.
7. Be a College Kid
Both of you may be well out of college, but you can still spend the day like a college kid. Many college campuses are beautiful places to spend an afternoon walking around. Some have art collections you can visit for free and low-cost events like concerts, plays, and sporting events.
Because many college students don’t have a lot of money, most college towns have plenty of inexpensive bars and restaurants to choose from so you can make a whole day of it.
8. Off the Beaten Path
Going to a museum is always a fun date idea, but you have probably been to the prominent institutions near you plenty of times. There is nothing wrong with that; you can’t go to the Met or the Getty too many times. But prominent museums can be expensive, worth every penny, but costly.
Check out some of the smaller, quirky museums near you, maybe in a small town an hour or two away. Many of them have a nominal entrance fee and are often uncrowded so you can stroll around leisurely. Some of these museums offer guided tours too.
I recently went to a rice mill/museum in New Iberia, Lousiana. We got a guided tour, just the two of us, and learned all about how rice is milled and the systems that particular mill uses that make the process almost entirely green.
I promise it was more interesting than it sounds. Afterwards, we got to sample the rice, were given free coffee and looked around the gift shop. The whole thing took about 90 minutes, was fun and educational and cost $10.
These little museums are hidden gems, and if you find a few close to each other, it can make for a fun day.
9. Pick a Project
If you and your partner live together, pick a home project to do. Now, be cautious. Make it a small project that will only take a few hours and doesn’t require a lot of specialized knowledge or skill. Unless you want to end the relationship. Then decide to renovate the bathroom together.
Choose something simple and fun like building a raised flower bed to plant flowers in or buying an old piece of furniture cheap from a second-hand store, stripping and refinishing it. It’s a fun way to spend a few hours together, pick up a new skill, and improve the home you share.
10. Treasure Hunt
Spend a day collecting small beautiful items from nature. Things like sea shells, pretty stones, tiny pine cones, decorative dried leaves or wild flowers. You can save these things in a jar or press leaves and flowers in a book as a reminder of a day the two of you spent together.
11. Build a Fort
This one is kind of silly, but there is nothing wrong with that. Remember when you were a kid and you built a fort out of couch cushions, kitchen chairs, and blankets? Do that! But you can make your fort a little more grown up and sophisticated.
Turn on some LED candles, (no real, open flame candles in the blanket fort please), string some Christmas lights between the chairs, fill a champagne bucket with ice and open a bottle of bubbly.
Make some grown-up snacks like canapes and have a little picnic in your fort while you watch a romantic movie. It’s so much fun you might decide to leave Fort Romance up for a few days.
12. Share Photo Books
Did your parents keep photo albums of you, the kind where there is a picture for every year of your life? Or maybe a baby book? Dig those out of the closet and go through them together.
I love looking at pictures of people when they were little. And looking at those old photos always brings up stories.
Be prepared though. While some of the memories and stories will be funny, some can be painful too. This is not an idea for the first few dates. Save it until you know each other a bit better.
13. Make a Photo Book
This is another one to do with someone you’ve been seeing for awhile. You both probably have tons of photos of the places you’ve been and the things you’ve done together. Go through those pictures and pick out some to make a photo book using a service like Shutterfly.
Not only is it fun to relive those memories but it’s fun to make up silly captions for the photos you’ve chosen, and the book itself is a lovely keepsake.
14. Put it Up
Putting up is an old-fashioned phrase meaning to can or preserve food. Go to a local pick your own farm or farmer’s market and choose a fruit or vegetable to turn into jam or sauce. Canning is a bit more complicated so unless you have some experience you might want to leave that for another time.
But it’s pretty simple to make blueberry jam or turn tomatoes into tomato sauce. It’s nice to have produce that was picked at the peak of the season during the long cold months of winter and eating what you made is an excellent way to relive the memory of the day you made it.
15. Take a Booze Tour
You don’t have to live in Sonoma or Lynchburg to do a tour of a winery, brewery, or distillery. There are lots of small mom and pop operations all over the country that are open for tours, and there is typically no charge. Often you will get to tour both the grounds and the factory.
Most places will have a tasting room where you can sample the drinks for free, and some have tables on the grounds so you can buy a bottle and have a picnic.
16. Take a Dance Class
Dancing together is so much fun, but not all of us are great dancers. You don’t have to be but why not improve your skills while spending time together? Lots of organizations offer free or inexpensive dance lessons.
It doesn’t have to be stuffy, formal ballroom dancing unless that appeals to you. Find something a little more lively and fun like a tango, salsa, or Zydeco lesson (Zydeco is pretty specific to Louisiana, but I included it because I’ve done it and it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever tried).
Most of the other participants are beginners too, so there is no need to feel self-conscious. And even if you have two left feet, everyone else is busy concentrating on their own moves so they won’t notice.
17. Grab Lunch
Sometimes no matter how much we want to see a person, our schedules can get in the way. If the two of you are having trouble finding a free evening or weekend and you work relatively close to each other, meet for a lunch date.
It’s not quite as romantic as a two or three hour dinner where you linger over a few glasses of wine but it is cheaper (you might not want to have a drink since you have to go back to work) and a lunch date can be a nice way to grab a little of each other’s time if the rest of the week is very hectic.
18. Double Date
If you and your partner have “couple friends” it can be fun for the four of you to get together. We want to keep this inexpensive though so make it casual. You and your date can host, and it doesn’t have to be some elaborate dinner party.
Order some takeout and put it on your nice china. Or just order a pizza and buy a few bottles of wine. Choose a board or a card game to play, the kind that doesn’t require much concentration so everyone can enjoy chatting.
The most fun part of this evening is gossipping about your friends after they go home!
19. Story Time
If you have not had someone read aloud to you since you were a kid, you’re missing out. Having your partner read aloud to you is very intimate and romantic. Snuggle up in bed or lay your head in their lap on the couch and listen to the sound of their voice.
Even if you pick something light and funny to read, it’s still a romantic way to spend some time before bed winding down but depending on what reading material you choose, things could get steamy.
20. Write a Story
Write a story for kids together, even if you don’t have or want kids. Did one of you have a nick name as a child?
That nickname is the name of the protagonist of your story. And the character doesn’t have to be human; you can turn them into an animal or an alien or a ghost or anything you want.
It sounds silly but I’ve done it, and it’s cute and fun. If one of you has any drawing ability, even better. Your little book can be illustrated!
Takes a Little Magic
Dating is fun but it can be expensive, and it can be exhausting trying to come up with new ideas all the time. Many of the date ideas on this list can be done for free, use things you already have at home, or cost less than $30.
And they’re a little outside the norm, some things that you might not think of when you’re scrambling to think of something to do at the last minute. If you’re dating a new person, they will think you’re fun and creative.
If you’ve been dating someone for a long time, these dates can help put a little spark back into things that might have been a little flat lately. Whatever the case, have fun.