Things to Do for a Date Night That Don’t Require Money

As Valentine’s Day has long been prized as a consumer holiday in the United States, it can put pressure on couples to spend money – even if it’s money they don’t have. But Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about expensive dinners, flowers and chocolates.

Things to do for a date night that don't require money - Realistic romantic ideas that couples can do together without spending a penny
Photo Credit: Rebecca D. Dillon, author of Soap Deli News Blog

It seems like so many things have changed now that technology has replaced books and libraries, land line phone conservations, and play time has become indoor video game time – even television has replaced family time. Additionally, as a society, many of us have become so focused on consumerism we have lost sight of the important things – those little things we had and did together before technology made everything immediate and easy. Lots of people don’t seem to appreciate the simple everyday, mundane things the way our parents and grandparents did. We have forgotten how to appreciate life for the gift it is and don’t feel fulfilled unless we own more than we can actually afford. This lifestyle of easy credit, technological advances and living beyond our means has become the norm. And now that we are in a recession people are feeling their pockets pinched or have lost their jobs and are struggling to continue living beyond their means.

Knowing so many people are still out of work despite continuing look, the families that are working or on a fixed income but still struggling, and even those of us who have all we need and even the things we want, but want to remember what’s really important in life and get back to basics – to the way things were before the noise of telephones, computers, video games, and television. I wanted to find ideas for couple date nights that really truly didn’t require any money at all and at the same time didn’t leave anyone feeling slighted because they don’t own a tv, a computer, or even a car.

So I posed the following question to friends and family through my social networks.

“What date night ideas do you have for couples who have only the basics and no room for a budget budge? I want to hear your date night ideas for a couple that does not own a working television or computer, cannot do outdoor activities due to bad winter weather, cannot drive anywhere as either gas is too expensive or they don’t own a car, do not own board games and have no money to buy them – not even a deck of cards. Money is also out for grocery trips and alcohol. What are your ideas?”

Some of the responses I got were as follows:

DIY Ideas for a Romantic Date Night That Don't Cost a Dime
Photo credit: Lime Lane Photography

  • Read a book to one another – either one on hand or borrowed from the library.
  • Assuming you own a deck of cards, play strip poker. 
  • Listen to music – like the “golden oldies” of your childhood and dancing.
  • A dinner of beans and rice, Hollywood music, dancing under the moonlight and a candlelit massage.
  • From my sixteen year old son – writing or drawing your feelings for one another or – and this shows you how awesomely geeky my son is – write a computer program that does the same.
  • Sex. (You had to know that one was coming.)
  • Asking one another more intimate questions about their lives.
  • Make your own board games or a deck of cards with paper, pen and everyday objects. Play charades or Pictionary with pen and paper. The person who loses makes the winner and him or herself dessert.
  • Painting. (No paints? Is there something in the house – like paprika – that can be added to water to create a pigment?
  • Plan a dream vacation together – even if it’s not an option in the near future.
  • Camp out in the living room with a tent – either real or one made from furniture and sheets. Light candles, make smore’s or whatever is on hand, and tell ghost stories.
  • If musically gifted, craft a song together.
  • Have an indoor picnic with sandwiches and cocoa and discuss creative ideas.
  • Invite over other couples and have a mystery murder night where you organize a cluesque play. These are fun and you can do them in any time period for little or no more as they are more about imagination and intrigue with your closest friends. A reader would hold hers in the Victorian period.
  • Work on a diy project together.
  • Give a spaghetti dinner an Italian theme and play Sinatra or Dean Martin and cook a spaghetti dinner together. Decorate the kitchen or dining room like an Italian Bistro.
  • Think bath tubs and massages and let your imagination run wild.
  • Take a bunch of old photos out of storage – whether digital or hard copy – and make a memory scrapbook of your time together. Remembering better times and even leaner times can help acknowledge strong bonds and overcoming challenges together.
And of course I have been brainstorming for ideas of my own. When I was trying to come up with ideas I went back to the things I did as a child for ideas. I could take nothing and turn it into a happy world of fantasy and play.

I remember digging up dirt and mud in the yard and mixing it together with grass to make pinch pots that I dried in the sun. Then I’d serve dinner with large leaf weeds as salad and the seed tops of plants as beans. I also made grass dolls.

I would draw out foods on paper along with dishes and silverware. Then I’d create menus that I gave to my family and would serve them dinner in the hallway on the floor where I’d created my restaurant. 

I took newspaper and masking tape and aluminum foil and made a mermaid’s fin to fit myself – it was the 80s and Splash was huge! – and then wore my bikini with my mermaid’s tail to start off a magic show that I invited all the neighborhood parents to. I introduced the show by jumping out the tail and becoming a “human” and then me and all of my friends performed magic tricks right on the back deck of my house. 

I even created my own science museum once by gathering interesting objects I found in the woods behind my house – including an opossum skull! I displayed everything in my tree house neatly lined up on a table with cards that stated what each object was. 

I loved playing with Hot Wheels cars too, so I would tape pages and pages of paper together and draw roads and houses and parking lots for them to drive on. 

I made my own paper dolls for myself and my friend, Jenny, that we could cut out and play with. there were even scenes to cut out and set up. We each had a character – one was Autumn and one was Benita – and I think (it was a long time ago) my character was named Autumn and hers was Benita. 

For a class project in elementary school Jenny and I created a slide show together of a story we wrote and illustrated. We photographed the illustrated pages of the story and had them made into slides – film strips were so big back then! – and then recorded the story onto cassette tape. I made the “beep” that indicated when the next slide was to be shown using my Magical Musical Thing. (Does anyone else remember those?) 

During good weather I’d take chalk and draw roads all over the cul-de-sac for my friends and I to “drive” on with our bikes. I even drew parking lots and houses that you saw from a bird’s eye view so every room in the house looked like you could interact with it. I had so much fun drawing couches and toilets that you could sit right down on!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could regain that childlike enthusiasm in our everyday life? I thought it would be so I pulled some of my own ideas from my past experiences and thought of ways to apply them to the here and now. But I also pulled from things I’ve experienced as an adult that always make me smile. 

  • Dance like no one is watching. It’s a popular saying, but if you really consider it and can actually do it, it feels so amazing. I used to dance in my bedroom with the music blaring but I never danced in front of anyone at all. I was that girl that stood shyly by the reception table or sat on the bleachers during a school dance. I was a wallflower – though I imagine that the people who know me now that didn’t know me back then might find that hard to believe. I did not dance publicly in front of anyone until I was in my 30s. And once I started, I didn’t want to stop. I literally started dancing for me and danced like no one was watching. And now I have the best time dancing when I do. So just dance. If you and you’re partner can’t dance – do it anyway. Learn together. There’s no better way or better time to dance then in the here and now with someone you love. Do it dressed up like you are going out, but then stay in.
  • If funds don’t allow springing for a special date night dinner, make a regular dinner special. Eat by candlelight. Design your own special place mats – together – for the event even if it’s on paper. Serve paper lobster tails with your beans and rice. Dress up your dishes for the occasion by drawing your favorite memory with your partner onto your mugs or dinner glasses with a Sharpie. Drink water out of wine glasses. But for every step you take to create dinner, do it together. Want a surprise for one another? Create your surprises in separate rooms at the same time. Then play twenty questions to see if you can guess your partner’s surprise before the reveal!
  • Bring summer to you by covering the windows with paper and then drawing a spring or summer scene – whatever your favorite season – on the paper together and color it in. Then camp out indoors or pretend you’re at the beach.
  • Do what you usually do but explore ways of doing it without any electricity or modern conveniences. How many creative ideas for day to day living can you come up with and execute together? Dig out that book of survival skills you have in case of a zombie apocalypse and learn how to become more self sufficient together. 
  • Create crossword puzzles or word searches for one another with words and clues that are relevant to your relationship together. 
  • Write a radio “play” together that includes homemade sound effects. (I remember doing this when Star Wars came out. One of the children’s magazines I read had a script to go bar and instructions on how to make the sounds so they sounded realistic.)
  • Turn books and other everyday objects into building blocks and see who can build something that stands the tallest.
  • Give one another tattoos with non-toxic markers. (I actually did something similar to this once and took my colored Bic markers to a local bar on karaoke and let people color in my tattoos. Everyone ended up drawing their own tattoo creations onto everyone else.)
  • Work on DIY project together. See what kinds of materials you have around and research fun things to make with those materials. Or raid the pantry and cook up something you’ve never made before like marshmallows or caramels or creative jello desserts.
DIY Zentangles Valentines Projects - Create Zentangle Hearts with Your Significant Other and Decorate Your Home for Valentine's Day
Photo Credit: Punk Projects Blog

  • If weather permits, use chalk to draw a game board – chess, checkers, etc. – on a sidewalk or stoop and use rocks and other items as game pieces. 
  • Use pages from old magazines to piece together your dream home room by room.
  • Make weapons from office supplies and have a pretend war. (There is actually a free ebook available right now on this very subject called Office Weapons.) 
  • Create a paper fish aquarium and fill it with hand drawn paper fish and coral. Each of you can make a kissing fish then pair them together! 
How to Make Banana Oxidation Art - Source: Instructionables.com
Photo Credit: Instructables

  • Draw images of one another as a couple onto bananas then photograph and frame. You can easily draw on a fresh banana with a toothpick and your image will “magically” appear later. There’s also a video tutorial on how to do this at Instructables. Don’t have bananas? Draw caricatures of one another.
  • Create a comic strip or comic book together about some of your amazing adventures – real and imagined – that you’ve had together. This is a creative way to document your favorite memories without photography or the expense of a scrapbook and supplies.
  • Create a “museum” of your memories together by finding objects that are sentimental to you, arranging them on a bookshelf and attaching little notes to them in regards to the event or why they are special.


The possibilities of things to do while staying in are endless. You just have to have a little imagination, an appreciation for the little things, and be fearless in the face of silliness!

If you’re looking for ways to save money either to necessity or by desire to simplify your life, I highly recommend the book, How to Save Money at Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to Cut Spending, by Kim Parsell. It’s currently available as a free ebook download from Amazon. (You can download the free kindle reading app if you don’t own a kindle. I use the app on my macbook.) You can also find a few ideas in my blog article, Frugal Ideas for Saving Money

If you’re looking for homemade Valentine’s Day gifts to make and have the extra room in your budget, I hope you’ll check out my diy ideas for homemade Valentine’s Day gifts. And remember that by buying and shopping locally and from small business owners, you are helping families and communities right here at home to live better lives.

Do you have other creative ideas for a winter weather date night that doesn’t cost a penny? Then please share your thoughts in the comments for the benefit of others looking for things that they can do together!

Comments

  1. It’s really cool that you got so many ideas and posted them here! Brainstorm with friends and you get such a nice, long list! There are really great suggestions here, so thank you for the post.
    ~Kim

  2. Forgot to mention…I think one of my faves is the “give each other fake tattoos” one – sounds like fun!

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