When you’re in a long term relationship, it’s easy to fall into a routine. Life is busy and we all always have something going on, so once the “honeymoon” is over, sometimes we find it hard to make time to spend quality one-on-one time with our significant other.
But spending quality time together is so important for a healthy relationship. Making time for each other when you are not worrying about work or your kids or thinking about the laundry that needs to be folded, time when you just enjoy spending some time together is crucial to a happy and healthy long term relationship.
A long time ago, my husband and I decided we would try to have a “date night” at least once per week. Granted, when he was working in a bar, that date “night” might be a Sunday afternoon but the point is, for quite some time we have made a conscious effort to dedicate some time every week to spending quality time together.
Sometimes it’s dinner and a movie, sometimes a trip to our local comedy club (we’re on their mailing list so can often get free tickets last minute if an event has not sold out) or sometimes it’s simply a night in with some takeout planning our next vacation. Either way, it’s something we try to do together every week.
The thing is though, depending on what you have planned, a date night can be very expensive. For example, with the cost of dinner, cinema tickets and treats like popcorn and soda, a standard “dinner and a movie” date night could easily set you back 60-80 bucks!
As we’re trying to buy our first home, we’re trying to save as much money as we can, so we’ve made an effort to find free (or nearly free) date ideas and I wanted to share my favorites with you. We still typically do a “paid” date once or twice per month but we’ve saved a tonne by trying these free ideas.
1) Spend An Evening Playing Wii
Remember when the Wii first came out? It was a huge novelty and it seems like every second home bought one. But then the novelty wore off and people moved on to other gaming consoles or group activities. However, if like us, you (or your friends/ family) still have a Wii in a cupboard gathering dust, pull it out, set it up and spend a night trying to kick your partner’s butt at Wii Bowling or Mario Kart. Trust me, you’ll laugh until you’re breathless and see why the Wii was such a phenomenon in the first place!
2) Go To A Free Museum
When was the last time you visited a museum in your hometown? Seriously, we love to travel and my hubby is a huge history buff so we always visit museums while on vacation. But I recently realized that neither of us had visited any of our amazing free local museums since we were brought on school trips as children. It’s been really fun working our way through a list of them and honestly, I’ve even learned a few new things!
3) Take A Picnic
OK so technically not 100% free because you’ll need to buy some groceries, but when you can fill a big picnic basket with yummy food and treats for a fraction of the price of a meal out, it’s practically free. So gather together your favorite picnic staples, grab a cozy blanket and head off to a secluded spot at your local park or beach to enjoy some quality one-on-one time together.
4) Take A Bike Ride
Do you have a bike sitting gathering dust? If so, dust it off, oil the chain, put air in the tires and generally clean it up so you can go for a bike ride. If not, can you borrow one or take advantage of your local city bike scheme? Most city bike schemes will allow you to rent a bike for a few hours for just a couple of bucks (can vary a lot by the city so do your research).
Once you’ve got some wheels under you (and a helmet and hi-vis vest – safety is important people), go for a bike ride together. Make a point of exploring somewhere new and enjoy some exercise and fresh air together!
5) Backyard Fire, Hot Dogs & S’mores
Sometimes you don’t need to go anywhere to enjoy some quality time together. You can easily build your own backyard fire pit or if you’re renting like us, you can buy a prefabricated one like this fire pit I found on Amazon. As a date idea, why not light a fire, skewer some hot dogs and roast them over the fire for dinner followed by delicious ooey gooey s’mores for dessert!?!
6) Take A Walk On The Beach
If you’re lucky enough to live near the coast or a lake, a walk along the beach or shoreline is a great way to spend some quality time together and the best part, it won’t cost a thing!
7) Watch A Community Sporting Event
Basketball, soccer, American football, roller derby, and Gaelic football are just some of the sports played near us every week. We discovered that you can usually watch local games for free or a very nominal entrance fee. While watching professional games is fun, it can be expensive, but you can get the same excitement, if not more at a local game for a fraction of the cost!
8) Cook A Meal Together
If you enjoy cooking, cooking a meal can be a very enjoyable activity for you to do together. I would encourage you to try something new like making Mexican food for the first time or trying to make homemade pizza as a fun experiment you can do together!
9) Attend An Art Exhibition
Art and Photographic Exhibitions often have free admittance and spending a couple of hours browsing through some beautiful pictures is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening. You can also extend your date by spending some time debating which ones you like best over a coffee or glass of wine when you’re finished at the exhibition!
10) Go For A Hike
I’m lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world (OK yes I’m biased but despite its rather moist climate, Ireland is a country with amazing scenery). With its green fields, rocky coastlines and sandy beaches there are so many options for beautiful hikes in the Irish countryside but we love hiking when we travel too. It is a great way to clear the “cobwebs” from the foggiest mind, so regardless of where you live, take some time to get outdoors and spend some time together enjoying a hike!
11) Attend A Local Festival
If you’re looking for a free date idea, do a little research on what’s going on in your hometown. We’ve discovered that at least once per month there is some sort of free festival on around Dublin. They’re a great way to get out and do something new without spending massive amounts of cash. Check out what might be going on in your area and take advantage of the opportunity for a fun free date!
Whether it’s volunteering at a soup kitchen, helping pick up trash on the beach or walking dogs from an animal shelter, there are so many worthwhile causes you can get involved with. Take some time to volunteer together and you will be able to give back to your community while also spending some quality time together.
So those are my favorite free (or nearly free) date ideas. What about you? Have you got any great date night ideas on a budget? Let me know in the comments below!