Do you think it’s hard to plan an impressive a date on a limited budget?
Well, think again!
After all, creativity and thoughtfulness can’t be bought at any price.
These ideas can be used whether you’re dating someone new or the same old fart for the last 20 years.
You don’t even have to have a “Special Someone”. There’s no reason not to treat yourself, your friends and family to a special date.
Are you ready for some free or practically free date ideas?
Let’s get started!
Plan a picnic!
Pack up a fun meal and get out of the house! Go to the park, to a lake, the beach, the desert. What’s near where you live? You can even plan a beautiful picnic in your own back yard. No back yard? Spread a blanket on the floor and Voila! Instant picnic!
Winter picnics – Picnic aren’t just for summertime. It’s so cozy to cuddle together over a thermos of hot soup and warm sandwiches wrapped in foil. Or just hot chocolate and cookies. Dress warmly and go somewhere to enjoy the winter landscape.
Surprise lunch! Surprise your date with a picnic lunch. Even the simplest sandwich is special when served with love. Say “I’m coming to kidnap you for lunch” and show up with a basket of goodies and head to the park. If you’re picking up a date for a work day lunch just be sure to get them back in time so they don’t get in trouble. Nothing ruins a picnic like getting your date fired. Well, maybe food poisoning . . .
How to pack a picnic for a date
- Bring a blanket to sit on. If it’s been damp bring an old shower curtain or several large plastic bags to put on the ground to keep the blanket from getting wet.
- Bring plastic or paper plates.
- Choose foods that are easy to eat using your hands and not too messy.
- Keep the hot stuff hot and cold stuff cold because food safety is important.
- Bring paper towels and wet wipes.
- Bring a beverage even if it’s simply water.
- If it’s appropriate, bring wine and some unbreakable glasses, don’t forget the corkscrew!
- Bring a bag to collect trash for easy disposal.
- Pack two bottles of bubbles with wands to amuse yourselves.
Diva Tip: Out of the box picnic food ideas – Hard boiled eggs and a shaker of salt, fruit, crackers and cheese, sandwich wraps or burritos, cold pizza, pasta salad made with vinaigrette, peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies. Fried chicken (wet wipes!) meatballs on tooth picks, hand pies, fresh fruit, Chinese food, Mason jar salads.
Have a BBQ at home or in the park. Many parks have BBQ grills available for public use. Everything tastes better when eaten outdoors and slightly charred, LOL! You don’t have to have steak, just some hotdogs will do the trick. Bring marshmallows to roast for dessert.
Go somewhere! Do something!
Pretend you’re tourists in your own town. Start by going to the visitor’s bureau, they will usually have maps and tourist information. It’s fun to learn new things about the city together.
Go for a walk or a hike together. Explore local parks and trails. The bonus is that you get to hold hands and talk. Don’t let the weather stop you. You learn a lot about a person by the way they walk in the rain.
Hot wheels! Go roller skating or bike riding. It’s like walking together only faster and harder to hold hands.
Go nowhere! Get in the car and go for a nice drive. It’s more fun if you don’t have a destination in mind and just go where the road takes
you. Flip a coin, heads you turn right, tails you go left. Stop anywhere that catches your fancy. Use your camera to record your day. If a car is too expensive then hop on the bus. It’s an adventure!
Go swimming. Someone you know has a pool or there’s always a community pool. Perhaps a day pass to a health club? You can even go splash in a fountain somewhere!
Be a Sport! Find something you can play a sport together like one-on-one basketball or swing a tennis racket for a while. Bowling is another sport that’s fun and if you go during off times it’s very affordable.
Be a sports fan. Attend a free sporting event. Check out your local school’s football, basketball or baseball teams and go cheer on young athletes.
Meet for coffee. Coffee and a cookie shouldn’t break the bank. If you have a laptop computer bring it along. Most coffee shops have internet available so you can surf the net or watch YouTube together. Cuddle up in a cozy corner.
Have an Instagram date. Pan to go somewhere photogenic like a park, farm, a landmark or even a high-end department store. Take interesting photos and post to Instagram throughout the day.
Visit your local museum. Museums sometimes have days where admission is reduced or even free! You can find coupons too. Perfect for a rainy afternoon. Hold hands and be inspired by art, history or science.
Have a Groupon date! Check out Groupon for great deals on restaurants and events.
Volunteer together. If you want to get to know someone while you make special memories – here’s how! Look for volunteer opportunities to help others. Check your local food pantry, soup kitchen, animal shelter, church or favorite charity. They’ll be so happy to see you.
Look for free or nearly free concerts. This is especially easy if you live near a college. Try something totally new to both of you. Listen to baroque music or a poetry reading. Most cities have a “Music in the Park” series. Check your local newspaper.
Go to the Zoo or Aquarium. It might bring out the animal in you…
Take a free class. It’s a great first date to learn something together because it takes the pressure off having to make conversation. After class, you’ll have plenty to talk about. Check out Home Depot or Lowe’s for DIY classes, check your local library and community center. Sometimes dance studios offer free first classes for ballroom dance.
Go to the Library. It’s not as grim as it sounds. Find fun books you can both enjoy then cuddle up and read together. Look up common interests. Perhaps you both enjoy architecture, or travel, or theater or cooking, or health and fitness. Whatever brings out your passion for living. Plus – it gives you an excuse to whisper in each other’s ear.
Find a cheap movie theater. Check matinee prices and look for coupons. Now that movie tickets are so expensive it’s no longer the “go to” date idea but there are still bargains to be found.
Go to Movies in the Park – most communities offer movies in the park in the summer. Check your local newspaper.
Go hit a happy hour. Ask around if you don’t know where to find happy hour bargains. For the price of a beer you can get snacks to nibble on and live music to enjoy.
Go People Watching. Head downtown, to the airport or shopping mall – anywhere there’s a steady stream of people. Take turns making up stories about the people you see. Let your imagination go wild! Which person is an international spy? Who is a famous actor in disguise? Which one is 24 hours away from winning the lottery? Or give people titles from high school yearbooks; most likely to succeed, most popular, most artistic. Just keep it funny and positive. A date is no time to damage your karma with negativity.
Get beautiful together for cheap! – call your local beauty school and offer to be models. You could get haircuts or manicures or pedicures. You can get your eye brows waxed and he can get his beard and moustache trimmed.
Find free samples! The ultimate cheap date. Go to food markets and grocery stores that have samples and shamelessly snack. At Costo you can practically have dinner.
Get dressed up and pretend to be rich. Start by visiting open houses in expensive neighborhoods. Next, head to a car lot and test drive your dream car. The trick is walking in like you own the place, just don’t get carried away and try to actually own the place! Finish up by going to an expensive restaurant, take a seat at the bar and splurge on one glass of Champagne (check the price first!). Then go home, change into something comfortable and have pizza and beer and thankful for the life you have.
Go Geocaching. A modern day, real world free treasure hunt. Go to www.geocaching,com on your smart phone to start your adventure.
Tour a brewery or winery. Most tours are free and there is often a free or nearly free tasting involved. Wineries are beautiful places to have a picnic *see picnic tips above*.
Go fly a kite. I mean this in the nicest way possible. Next breezy day make a DIY kite from stuff you find around the house and head to a park or field and see what takes flight.
Go star gazing. Brush up on your constellations and look up at the night sky. Choose a night with no moon, find a place with dark skies and dress warmly. Go for a walk or bring a blanket and pillows and make a wish on every shooting star. You can also go to a local observatory for an up close and personal look at the stars.
Go fishing. Find a local fishing hole and cook what you catch.
Feed the ducks or birds. Raid your day-old bakery discount shelves and head to the park.
Pick fruit in season. Spring through fall you can go to your local farms that offer “U-pick” and come away with a bounty on the cheap. Research a few recipes to use what you pick together. Don’t make this a “canning for Armageddon” thing. Just pick enough for a couple of pies or a lovely cobbler.
Think you can’t afford theater tickets? If you know someone in a local production, ask about tickets to dress rehearsals. Or sign up to usher. For a little bit of effort helping people find their seats you get to see the show for free. This is quite popular so you need to plan well in advance.
Go in search of snow. If you live anywhere near the mountains go up to the snow line and make a snow man, go sledding or have a snow ball fight.
Just Stay Home!
Plan a Virtual Vacation Day. Have you always wanted to go to Paris or Tahiti or Hawaii? Start by asking “Where have you always wanted to go?” Then plan a day as a virtual vacation to that place. Get coffee table books and travel videos from the library to drool over. Find maps of the desired location. Cook an appropriate lunch or dinner to fit your destination. You can even decorate to fit your theme. Put twinkle lights in a tree and set up a bistro table to have dinner al fresco in Paris. Set out lounge chairs, wear grass skirts and make Mai Tais, put your feet in a wading pool and pretend you’re in Hawaii.
Unleash your inner artist! Create some art together. Get some inexpensive painting, clay or jewelry making supplies and have a starving artist day. Or look into inexpensive one session art classes at your local library, college or parks and recreation service. If you’re not so artistically inclined pick up one of those giant color by number posters or an adult coloring book and a pack of colored pencils and just have fun.
Puzzle me this. Do a puzzle together and talk. Really talk. Don’t make the puzzle too hard or you could be stuck for days. You can check out puzzles for free at most libraries. Or buy them for pennies at thrift stores.
Write your summer/winter/lifetime bucket lists. Depending on the season or stage of your relationship; write a list of things you wish to do within a certain timeframe. It can be simple as “go to the beach this summer” or “visit all 50 states before I die”. Take the opportunity to dream together.
Have a game night. Plan to play board games or video games, computer games. whatever your games of choice may be. See who has the best poker face. Or play solitaire, together. Plan some yummy snacks and appropriate beverages.
Cook a romantic dinner for two together. Pick something that suits your level of expertise or do something challenging you’ve never made before. Like a soufflé or a pie with pastry from scratch. Go to YouTube for video demos for new techniques. Have a pizza in the freezer just in case it bombs. This recipe can get you started: Diva’s Easy Salmon Soufflé
Have a fondue night. Whether you have beef fondue or chocolate fondue it’s a very romantic evening. Look for recipes online, there are plenty! You don’t even need a fondue pot. Cuisinart CFO-3SS Electric Fondue Maker
My pizza is better than your pizza night. Make or purchase pizza dough and gather some traditional pizza toppings and each create your specialty pizza. Cut them in half and share. Add a bottle of chianti and some romantic Italian music . . .
Stage a Chopped challenge! See who can make the best dish with what you already have in the fridge and pantry. This is best when your cupboards are bare as Mother Hubbard’s. Add to the challenge by limiting the number of ingredients or choosing ingredients for each other.
Become mixologists for the evening. Look up some fancy drink recipes and make some that look especially good.
You could also get a bar tending recipe book and open it to random pages. Making cocktails is fun, as is the process of getting tipsy together. As always, drink responsibly. Sizzle and Pop – Sparkling Lemon Sangria with Lemon Raspberry Popsicles
Dinner and a Movie at Home.
Create the whole experience, dim the lights and make popcorn. Borrow a neighbor’s child to kick the back of your chair and blurt out how the movie ends. Or not.
Make it a theme movie night – Lasagna and “The Godfather”, Beans and Weenies with “Blazing Saddles”, Pizza and “Moonstruck”, Marshmallows and “Ghostbusters”, Vespas and James Bond, Anything blue and “Avatar”, Breakfast classics for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” or “The Breakfast Club”, Martinis and any Film Noir, Hot Dogs and Cracker Jack for “Field of Dreams” or “A League of Their Own” Mexican food and “The Mexican” Get creative! You can even dress the part.
Binge watch Netflix, or Hulu or whatever. Find a show that interests both of you and plan a marathon session. It doesn’t have to be a TV series, it can be documentaries on a particular topic, travel shows, YouTube or TED talks. Put together a Binge Basket ready with great snacks, drinks, and warm socks to keep your tootsies cozy.
The Ultimate in Free Entertainment – Watch the Sunset!
Hold hands and marvel at the beauty that surrounds us every day.
Remember Divas and Divos – Don’t be embarrassed to use creativity instead of cash. That’s a quality people of substance find very attractive. Money comes and goes but creativity, charisma and connection remain.