If your budget doesn’t account for lavish date nights out on the town, or if you simply like the idea of staying in, there are plenty of creative ways to make date nights at home fun and memorable. And as you’ll find, sometimes it’s just nice to not have to be anywhere but with each other.
Here are 11 stay-at-home date night ideas that my husband and I cycle through and love:
1. DINE-IN DESTINATION
Experience France, Italy, or any other culture you love with a destination inspired dinner and movie night. Channel The City of Lights in front of the TV glow of Chocolat or Amelie with a fresh baked or (let’s be honest, who has time for that) bakery-bought loaf of French bread, a cheese plate, and a bottle of French wine. Or, if you’re in the mood for a musical try Mama Mia! paired with a Greek salad and some take-out lamb gyros. Or, if you and yours are looking for an excuse to eat pasta, try an Italian vibe by cooking spaghetti and meatballs and turning on Eat, Pray, Love, Under The Tuscan Sun, When In Rome, or The Tourist.
*Bonus tip: If you prepare the food at home (rather than order take-out, which is more than acceptable), turn on a Pandora or Spotify station that matches your culture of choice. It’ll set the mood for the night and encourage pre-dinner dancing in the kitchen.
2. GAME NIGHT UNPLUGGED
This might sound crazy, but for this date night idea, try turning off the TV! I know, I know… this is maybe your only window of the day to wind down, Netflix and chill, BUT playing a game with your significant other instead of always mindlessly sinking into TV land will build a stronger bond over time.
To make this date more attainable, grab take out for dinner beforehand. That way you won’t waste any brain power or energy on cooking before the competition starts. Some favorites in our house are pizza, Chinese food, and Chipotle, but pick whatever suits your fancy. When you’re done, pour a couple glasses of wine and get your game face on.
Great games for two are: Guess Who?, Uno, Twister (try folding the mat in half since there’s only two of you). Amazon also has a great “games for two” selection worth checking out.
3. WHEEL OF “RECIPE” FORTUNE
Grab a cook book and flip through the pages while the other person (with his or her eyes closed) says when to stop. Whichever recipe you land on, no matter what, is what you’re making for dinner. OR pick a page number in the cook book that is the day or month (or both, depending on the size of the book) of your first date. (Ex: You started dating January 22, so go to page 22 or 122.) You’ll most likely need to go to the grocery store to get all of the ingredients, but do it together. Shop together, cook together. Hopefully you’ll love this new meal and you’ll be able to add it as a staple to your recipe repertoire. If not, hey at least it was an adventure.
4. BLAST FROM THE PAST
The gist here is that you each choose your favorite childhood dish, prepare it, and then eat it while watching your favorite childhood movie. You could do two movies in a night, or make this into two separate date nights. You might end up with PB&J as your dinner entree while watching Aladdin, but it will be such a fun and easy way to get to know your significant other. Expect nostalgia and forgotten memories to follow—it’s a sure way to jog each of your memories and bring up old stories you’ve maybe never shared with each other.
5. STAR CANDLELIGHT
Fill your house with as many candles as you have or can find. If you don’t have many, the dollar store or nearest grocery store should carry large sets of tea light candles for a cheap price.
Then, prepare an exquisite dinner for two. Place it in the oven to keep it warm, then go change. Dress to the nines as if you were going out to the most expensive restaurant in town. Light all of the candles, turn off the lights, and enjoy the magic!
6. PANCAKES & PJs
Breakfast for dinner! In your PJs! This is one of my personal favorites.
There’s nothing quite like bringing a Saturday morning to a weekday night. Together, cook up some pancakes and bacon (or whatever your favorite breakfast food is) in your PJs, and then kick it on the couch with a movie, Netflix, or Hulu.
Decaf coffee or mimosas optional!
7. JAM OUT (INSIDE)
For this date night in, it doesn’t matter if you grab takeout for dinner or whip something up at home, as the focus of the night will be music. Each of you should pick your top 5-10 favorite songs of all time (current or old) and listen through all of them together. Tell each other the reasons why you love each song and the memories you associate with each one.
Couples who jam together stay together.
8. BACKYARD CAMPOUT
If you’re more of a cabin-person, this might sound uncomfortable or like too much work. You’re probably thinking you’d rather sleep in your own bed, but I promise—each new and unique memory you make together will strengthen your relationship. So, pitch a tent (if you don’t have one, try to find a friend who will lend you one), get some blankets and/or sleeping bags (ok fine, you can use your air mattress), make some s’mores or popcorn, and fall asleep under the stars. You can watch a movie on your laptop, or just cuddle up as you listen to the crickets or the city buzz.
9. CHRISTMAS IN JULY (or whenever)
If you love Christmas as much as Buddy the Elf, this is a great way to get a taste of the magic out of season. Make some hot (or maybe iced) cocoa, bake and ice some Christmas cookies together, curl up on the couch, and put on each other’s favorite Christmas movies.
Who says you can catch the Christmas Spirit in 90 degree weather?
10. HOME VIDEOS & FAMILY ALBUMS
Try to dig up a couple of old home videos of yourselves to show each other. Gone are the days of VHS, so if you haven’t converted your home videos yet, call your local photo counter to see if they can do it for you. Your mom will thank you.
Then, pull out an album and reveal your baby pictures and.. dare I say it.. the awkward 6th grade ones too. This is guaranteed to make you laugh, and probably fall even more in love with who the other person has become.
11. ROOFTOP DINNER
This unique date night idea challenges you to think outside of the box for your eating location. Enjoy your meal together somewhere in or around your house that you’ve NEVER eaten before. If it’s a nice night, and it’s safe, try a blanket on the roof. If that’s not an option, maybe try a fort on the floor in another room. Or in the yard. Or, how about the top of the dining room table instead of sitting around it? The change of environment will create humor and new conversation. And maybe since you’re switching things up, eat dessert first, then dinner. 🙂
What are your favorite date night in ideas? Comment them below!