A couple of anniversaries ago, I was really straining my brain to come up with something special to do for G for our anniversary. We don't really do gifts (as in things), but we usually plan or create something for each other to make the day unique.
I came up with an idea that would not only let G know I thought he was pretty keen, but would solve a huge problem that we seemed to be faced with just about every weekend.
Has this ever happened at your house?
Well, embedding is disabled on this video, but you can click here and see it. It's only a minute long, and one of my favorite clips from this (or any) movie!
We would want to get out and do something special together, but by the time we searched the Internet for events and festivals and other free things that were happening around town that we might like to do, time had slipped by and what remained was only enough hours to stick a movie in the DVD player and pop up some popcorn.
Now, we do enjoy a good popcorn and movie night, but we longed to get out and explore, to try new things, and to do something that provided better opportunities for fun and conversation.
So I came up with the idea to pre-plan dates throughout the year. It took almost two months of searching the Internet to come up with ideas for things we could do, but it was completely worth it. And now, I've done half of the work for you, because I've given you 52 ideas for your own dates. You'll just need to look up the locations and dates for the parks and events in your area, which shouldn't take you too long to do.
I wanted G to have something to open (and also serve as a reminder), so I bought a mini calendar from the dollar store (it came in a 2-pack with a larger one) and wrote the details in so he could hang it by his desk and have something to look forward to. I actually wrote the dates in on the larger calendar, as well, so that I could hang it up at home and have something to look forward to, too! I'd originally planned to type everything up on calendars I created on the computer and then just print them out, but we'd run out of ink and I just wanted to get the project done (we order our ink online).
I also sent a list of the details to both his email account and mine. That way, I was able to include the links to the parks and events and when that date arrived, we could just click and find out all the details.
I think if I were to do this again, I'd still write on a physical calendar (this one looks cool), because there's just something about looking up on the wall and seeing what's coming up that's pleasant. But, I would probably also create a Google Calendar that matched the handwritten one and then just include the links on it instead of an email. This is probably the best route to go if you and your spouse rely on your phones to keep up with appointments and things, because I know most people prefer to have everything online.
Although I call these ideas "dates," for the most part they're really things you can do with your whole family, so whether you're interested in ideas for date nights alone, or for fun things to do all together, this list should easily help you fill your calendar for the year.
Oh, and one more tip: I knew that I didn't want to overload our schedule (because plenty of other things like birthday parties and other events pop up all year long anyway), so I tried not to put something on every weekend. It's no fun if your present has you stressed out and feeling over committed!
I also highlighted the events that had to be done on a certain date. An art festival, for example, or annual Christmas parade. That way, we could be flexible with all the other ideas. If one of us was sick, or just not in the mood to go do something, we knew we could easily make a note and then just try that activity another time. I'd cross out the items as we did them, so that it was easy to see what we still had to look forward to sometime in the future.
This method worked out really well, because we ended up having quite a few weekends that we just needed a break. So many that we're still working through the activities on this calendar two years later, which is fine, because the whole point was to eliminate the stress of trying to figure out what to do when we were in the mood to get out.
So grab your calendars and see which of these 52 Date Ideas you want to include on your special gift!
52 Frugal Date Ideas
- Choose a new local restaurant to try out from restaurant.com
- Go berry picking
We've picked strawberries & blueberries around here
- Hang out with the animals at your county or state fair
- Scout out a new state park (your state will probably have a main website for this, like www.floridastateparks.org)
- Explore a national park (find one at www.nps.gov)
National parks can get you out into nature, or make history come alive!
- Investigate water management land (we have several here in Florida and many offer free recreational opportunities, like through www.srwmd.state.fl.us)
- Load the car up with pillows, blankets, and snacks, then find a drive‐in movie theater in your area for a double feature.
- Check out a local county park
We've gone to so many county parks in the area, but have yet to put a dent in the total list!
- See what parks the surrounding cities offer.
- Often cities and towns will have free entertainment throughout the year, like movies on the lawn, free concerts, art & music festivals, as well as other activities. Do some searching around local websites to see what's available in your area
A chalk art festival was one of the more unusual events we found
- Search for festivals and activities specifically grouped around holidays in your area. This might range from strolls through decorated historic homes at Christmas to wild Carnival‐type parades.
- Scope out a state forest (Our state site is www.freshfromflorida.com)
- Explore a national forest (www.fs.fed.us is for national forests)
- If your budget allows it (or you can finagle a free pass somehow), then visit local attractions like zoos, aquariums, museums, planetariums, and theme parks
Finding Nemo at Sea World
- Spend an evening looking through interesting books at the library or a bookstore
- Put together a jigsaw puzzle.
- Go bowling.
- Take ballroom dancing lessons, or just get a good instructional DVD.
- Play games (card games, board games, outdoor games, whatever you think is fun. Need ideas? See this post for our favorite resources.)
- Go on a picnic.
- Have a spa night.
- Go swimming (Find a community pool...or a friend with one in the backyard!)
Grammy & Grandpa's pool is loads of fun!
- Any walking or biking trails in your area? Go burn some calories together.
- Get outside and hit the beach or take a hike in the mountains
I was happy G was the one wearing Gv on this trail!
- Tour a winery.
- Run through a corn or sunflower maze at a nearby farm.
- Enjoy a weekend getaway and go camping (or find an interesting bed & breakfast, if that's more your speed)
We've camped with Gv right from the start!
- Do something artsy together (one thing we've done is to create a painting that represents a special Bible verse we've read or movie we've seen recently).
- Play music together (if you don't play instruments or sing, just play each other some of your favorite tunes).
- Go on a "samples" date (Warehouse clubs, grocery stores and farmer's markets usually have plenty to share).
- Have a progressive dinner at different restaurants.
- Go to a concert together (don't forget your local symphony or outdoor free concerts, and if you have a college nearby, you can usually attend their student concerts for free!)
Our favorite concerts are the "Pops in the Park" series our local symphony holds
- See a play or other live performance.
- Go skating (I, of course, suggest ice skating, but roller skating would work, too)
Gv's first spin on the ice
- Get massages (either professionally, or at home with each other).
- Get out in nature somewhere and just read.
- Camp in your backyard.
- Download some vintage radio shows and listen to them while doing chores.
- Run (or walk or ride a bike) in a race.
- Take a scenic drive (you can often find dial & discover cell tours of these).
- Go find out what museums or other treasures your area colleges and universities offer.
- Have a scavenger hunt (see my Pinterest board for ideas).
- Cook something new together.
- Try letterboxing or geocaching (www.geocaching.com & www.letterboxing.org)
- Take an exercise class together.
- Come up with a theme and then wander around town trying to capture photos that represent it.
- Go play on a playground (even if you don't have kids)
It's fun to swing!
- Take a class together at a store and learn something new (like at Home Depot or JoAnn's)
- Sign up for an adult ed course together or even register for a college course (maybe even online).
- Take a simple walk around your neighborhood.
- Reorganize or redecorate a room in your home (not everyone's idea of fun, but it can be).
- Plan out (with details) your dream home, vacation, or jobs. Write this down and look at it again sometime in the the future.
Would your husband get excited about having a full year of dates on the calendar? No more sitting around trying to come up with what to go do and then see the opportunity to spend time together slip by! I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.
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