Before the fateful month of March 2020, my husband and I had a running babysitter every Friday night. It was something we both looked forward to each week. We knew that come Friday evening, we would be on our way to one of our favorite restaurants for an amazing dinner, followed by a concert or a party with friends. I’d have my outfit planned and do my makeup with a glass of wine in hand, giddy that we were able to take off our ‘mom and dad’ hats for a night. I’d spend the entire week looking forward to this quality time together, laughing and connecting, just the two of us. It was the best way to transition into the weekend and to connect one-on-one in a way that felt impossible during the week. Needless to say, things have changed, and our same date night ideas require a refresh. If you’re looking for a little inspo, look no further. Keep scrolling for special dates that’ll shake things up.
But first, time to address the elephant in the room. If you’ve been partnered up for years or are disillusioned with the idea of dating (meeting people in a pandemic can do that to you), you might think there’s no need to go all-out. And while it’s true that even the most casual of outings can still feel special, there’s no denying that dates are important in any relationship to keep the sparks flying.
Scheduling and committing to date night during this new normal is so important to maintain a healthy relationship. Being locked in the house together means we all have to find creative, intentional ways to spend time with each other. “Whether it’s a game night, movie night or something more romantic, nurturing your relationship and cultivating meaningful connection, especially in the midst of a world crisis, is critical,” says Dr. Racine Henry, a marriage and family therapist in New York.
“Connection can happen no matter what stage your relationship is in, whether married, newly dating, long distance, and everything else in between. Since physical connection isn’t an option for some couples at the moment, the focus should be on deepening your emotional intimacy,” Dr. Henry notes.
For you and your partner, it’s important to remind yourself why you’re together, support one another, and try to create good vibes and happy memories as much as possible. Throughout quarantine, I’ve realized that date night doesn’t just need to be one night during the week that we devote to one another. It’s been fun to play with different ideas for what date night can look like, and we’ve actually surprised ourselves with how much fun we’ve had at home together. Plus, we’ve invigorated our relationship as a result of getting creative and changing up our norm.
Read on for 23 exciting ways to spice up your dates with your partner. While my husband and I haven’t tried all of these (yet), at this point, we’re up for anything. Have any fun ideas of your own to add to the list? Leave them in the comments!
Set up a backyard picnic.
Coordinate your WFH calendars to have lunch at the same time. Pack a small meal to eat outside together, whether at a nearby picnic table or in your own backyard. If you have a garden and the weather for it, you’re sorted, but this picnic date idea is transferable to balconies, living room floors, or even the bed.
Do an at-home workout together or if you both feel comfortable, hit the trails for a bike ride or a jog. Getting outside for some fresh air and exercise will improve your mood and productivity levels when you get back home. My husband and I have had some of our deepest, most meaningful chats while walking our neighborhood, and it’s one of my favorite ways to start the day.
Although many museums, galleries, and theaters are closed to the public, some places have free virtual tours you can explore from the comfort of your sofa. Make some cocktails and digitally walk through Main Street in Disney World, virtually view the Guggenheim Museum, or watch this aquarium’s live feed of its adorable marine critters. If you have ever talked about taking a trip to Paris together with the aim of looking out from the top of the Eiffel Tower then you can do that too, and save yourself the flight. There are thousands of museums with virtual tours right now, and you can take turns choosing which city or country you’d like to visit.
If your state parks are open, plan a weekend camping trip (just make sure you are social distanced from others who may have had the same idea). If you’d rather stay home, pitch a tent in the backyard and cuddle under the stars. Or, set up that tent in the living room or basement and microwave some s’mores.
Start a two-person book club.
Choose a book that you’ll both enjoy and read it at the same time. Then pick a date to finish it by, and schedule an in-person or virtual book club discussion (cheese and wine optional, but highly encouraged). It’s similar to watching a show together but will provoke more in-depth conversation.
Have a spa day.
It’s now easier than ever to recreate a relaxing spa experience in your home. Some scented candles, face masks, bubble bath, a little massage oil, plus some relaxing music, and you’re on your way.
Have a cook-off competition with random pantry ingredients.
The beauty of this time together is that it doesn’t have to look fancy, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, yet it can still be a great intimate and romantic time together. If you have a few random pantry supplies to spare or groceries you need to use, blindly select your ingredients and assign a time limit on each other to make something of it. Points for effort and creativity can be awarded at judges’ discretion — you just need to decide who the judge is.
Plan a wine tasting.
Choose four or five different wines of various price points and have a blind tasting. Have your partner guess which wine is which label. You may be surprised to learn your favorites are not the most expensive.
Do an art project.
Paint and sip, anyone? Who needs a roomful of other people in plastic aprons when you can do it yourself at home? Just pick a famous painting for you both to paint and go to town, then compare your finished pieces. Or try your hand at a craft like embroidery. Some craft stores like Brooklyn Craft Company are doing virtual classes, so check out the shops in your area. (Some will even mail you all the supplies you need a few days in advance.)
Set up a shared photo album and both add your favorite pictures and videos together. Set up a video call or cook dinner together and go through the album to recount memories of good times pre-quarantine life (and have some hilarious laughs!) This is a good way to increase emotional intimacy and remember how much fun you have if you two can’t physically be together right now.
Dress up for fancy cocktails.
Make it an all-out cocktail affair date night at home—because sometimes, being all dressed up with nowhere to go is a fun way to remind each other how good you look. Use this date as an excuse to put on some makeup and slip into your fave dress (because we all know the temptation to opt for some form of comfy loungewear at home all day every day is tough.) Honor the occasion by shaking each other up some craft cocktails with pretty garnishes. Don’t forget to set the mood with some sexy music and lit candles.
Do breakfast in bed.
Make the most out of your mornings by having a breakfast date pre-working from home. Breakfast is when most of us usually generally get up, rush, and get out of the house. But this could be a really romantic time in the morning together where you can surprise your partner with a home-cooked breakfast in bed.
Have a dance party.
You can finally learn to salsa together without the crippling fear of humiliating yourself in front of others. Or if you’re missing dancing your heart out on Saturday nights, set up a club in your living room. Many DJs have since taken their sets to Instagram Live — a popular one has been DJ DNice’s recurring sets, which he actually dubbed “Club Quarantine”. Turn the lights down low, put the speaker up high, add a disco ball and some lights if you have them, and pop a few bottles to get that real nightclub feel.
Take a personality quiz.
A global pandemic is as good an excuse as any to skip the small talk and dive right in. If you’re still getting to know each other or want to go a bit deeper, plan a personality test-themed virtual date and take all the online quizzes you can find. Take the tests separately to discover your love language, Myers-Briggs type, Enneagram number, emotional intelligence score, Harry Potter house, Holland code, and Big Five score, then discuss your results with each other — a surefire way to get the conversation flowing. Whether you strengthen your bond or unearth some glaring incompatibilities, the date won’t be wasted. It’s an exercise in getting to know yourself better, too. Plus, you can finally chime into convos with your Enneagram-obsessed friends by sharing your number.
Engage the wanderlust.
Fully plan that trip you’ve been dying to take together. Go through all the details and make a complete itinerary, but just don’t book the tickets or hotels yet. Having it planned and ready to book will give you both something to look forward to when all this is over.
Plant a garden.
Getting your hands dirty and planting some flowers, plants, veggies, or herbs does wonders for relieving feelings of depression and anxiety. There’s some great budget-friendly sources to buy plants and gardening supplies online and have them delivered to your door so you don’t have to leave the house. On the next sunny day, get to work on your garden and enjoy making something beautiful together outside. The date that keeps on giving!
Pretend you’re different people.
Add a little variety to your life with some role play. Put on a costume and a blonde wig and ask your partner to call you “Suzy” all night. See if that doesn’t make date night special…
Visit a local museum.
If you and your S.O. are craving a little culture, here’s a surefire way to get it. Museums are an amazing way to immerse yourself in art, culture, history, or science. I guarantee you’ll both walk away feeling inspired and energized. And if you want to plan a longer date, pick out a café or restaurant where you can retreat to afterwards and share your favorite takeaways.
Take a road trip.
While road trips aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, for the more adventurous among us, they can be a great way to spice things up. Plan a day trip or dedicate a weekend to exploring your desired destination. Once you’ve mapped out a route, pack plenty of snacks, make a playlist, and get ready to make some memories.
Explore the farmer’s market.
There’s so much about going to the farmer’s market that makes it the perfect date. You get to browse all the fresh, in-season produce, enjoy the feel-good energy of everyone around you, and you leave with plenty of inspiration for your next colorful meal. Conclusion? Avoid the stress of the supermarket and opt for a stroll through your local farmer’s market instead.
Ask The New York Times‘ “36 Questions That Lead to Love”
Break out a bottle of wine or brew some tea and pull up this list of 36 questions on your phone. Famous for fostering intimate conversations between strangers, these questions are designed to establish a basis of connection. As you work your way through the list, the questions become more and more probing, diving deeper into your childhood, your relationship to your family, and your personal perception of the world.
Get on the water.
If you live in a warmer climate or aren’t afraid to strap on a wetsuit and get in the water, here’s the date for you. Pick your pleasure: Kayaking, windsurfing, stand up paddling, surfing—the list goes on. Never done a water sport before? Even better. Learning a new skill alongside your partner is a great way to develop and grow your relationship together.
Build up an arsenal of future dates.
Brainstorming a list of future dates while you’re on a date? Meta, I know, but stick with me. This is a great way to get cozy and cuddly at home while being able to get creative and think beyond your four walls. Dream up a list of dates you can do all throughout the year. Whether it’s winter, summer, spring, or fall, you’ll always have an answer to the inevitable question: “What do you want to do tonight?”
This post was originally published on May 11, 2020 and has since been updated.