Fun & Unusual Date Night Ideas (At Home or Out) on a Budget

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As busy parents, it can be hard to find time together for a date night. Life and kids happen, and while it’s wonderful, all these things make it a little harder to spend quality time alone. Not only is it hard to find the time to get away, but it can be costly between sitters and money for the date. Here are some fun (and affordable!) date night ideas for your next night out. 

Experts agree weekly date nights help couples have more intimate and lasting relationships. It’s important to find ways to keep your relationship healthy by spending time together. Maybe even rekindling some of the early dating spontaneity you once had (before kids)!

Since spending time together is important for a relationship, I’ve put together some fun date night ideas you can use to plan a great date.  Even better, they don’t require a lot of work or a lot of money. Some are cheap date ideas for you to do at home, while others involve going out. Try some of these ideas when you are looking for your next date night idea.

Date Nights: Then vs. Now

Before kids, if you wanted to go on a date, you just went! There wasn’t a lot of planning involved, and it didn’t cost as much because you didn’t need to pay a sitter. It was easy to grab dinner and a movie or listen to some live music. Life wasn’t as demanding, and dates didn’t require much planning or prep work. It was so easy to be spontaneous!

Now that kids are involved, dating takes more thought and planning. These days, it seems like going on a date is more of a ten-step process:

  • Decide to actually go on a date, check the family schedule, and then ask your significant other if they want to go
  • Call 3-5 potential babysitters until you finally find one who’s available
  • On the day of the date, make food for the kids to eat so they’re are well-fed (or make it even easier with these premade healthy meals!)
  • If the date is at night, also bathe the children so the babysitter doesn’t have to
  • Remind kids to clean rooms, do chores, etc., before the sitter comes over
  • Find something to wear… if you’re an overachiever, maybe even put on makeup and jewelry
  • Make a list of all instructions and emergency contacts for the babysitter
  • Finally, get out the door to go on the date
  • Almost fall asleep during dinner/movie/etc. because you have small children and aren’t used to staying awake after 9:30 PM
  • Come home to find all the kids are still awake, and drive the babysitter home

And then there’s the cost. Date nights before kids were much more affordable. Because there wasn’t a need for a sitter, the night wasn’t as expensive. Sometimes, having a sitter and actually taking the time and energy to plan a date raises the pressure to have a perfect date. This also means doing something nicer (that can cost more money).

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to get out kid-free. You’ll just want to find some creative and low-cost ideas that don’t take a lot of work. But if staying in for a date is more practical, the good news is there are still ways to make it special (and without doing the same old thing).

20 Creative and Fun Date Ideas That Don’t Cost A Lot

Want to make date nights with your significant other a priority, whether it’s weekly or monthly? The first thing to do is come up with some creative ideas that don’t cost a lot of money. Often, that means home date nights. Not only are you saving money and time, you don’t have to stay out late!

Other times, you might be able to leave the house, and you’ll need some fun (and inexpensive) date night ideas. The ones I’ve included are more creative ideas for dates out of the house instead of just the typical dinner and a movie. These are especially nice if you happen to find a friend you can swap babysitting with.!

At-Home Date Ideas

These cheap date ideas don’t require much money at all, and you don’t even have to leave the house. Put the kids to bed early and enjoy some time alone together at home, reconnecting and sharing. You can find plenty of fun things to do at home.

1. Couples Massage

As a mom, this is one of the best dates. Being pregnant, nursing, and carrying around toddlers create a huge demand on the body, and every mom could use a good massage. And there’s a lot of research about the healing properties of touch and how important it is to our nervous system. Unfortunately, a good 60-minute massage can cost at least $80 plus tip in most locations.

While there are some great massage devices to use at home (this is my favorite), a much more romantic way is to try an at-home massage course. This Melt Massage for Couples course is taught by a husband and wife team in a really easy-to-learn format. It’s the gift that keeps on giving since you’ll actually know how to give good massages to each other at any time.

2. Game Night

Games are so much fun to play together! This is the time to break out the board games that you aren’t able to play with the kids. Think of anything that requires attention and skill. Chess, Mancala, or Battleship are fun games of skill. Or take a stroll down memory lane and play Monopoly, Scrabble, Yahtzee, or Life.

 Try a new game like Ticket to Ride or Forbidden Island. Or try a trivia night at home and test each other’s knowledge of certain topics. Not only will you have some laughs, you might even learn some new strategies!

3. Rekindle the Fire (Literally)

Do you have a fire pit in your backyard? If so, it’s a fun way to enjoy a date night at home. You can make smores, drink some wine, talk, and do some stargazing. And twinkling lights aren’t just for Christmas.! Hang a few strands up or make these homemade tiki torches to create a romantic and cozy backyard atmosphere.

4. Documentary Date

Do you and your significant other enjoy watching documentaries together? This can lead to a good conversation about a controversial topic. There are so many great documentaries available on Netflix or Amazon to stream online.

Find a topic you’re both interested in and pick a show. Or, come up with something you don’t know much about and would like to learn more about. Then, spend some time talking about it afterward, sharing your thoughts and observations.

5. Personality Quizzes

Sitting on the couch in your living room tonight? Try one of these free personality tests you can take online, either just for fun or to learn something about each other. This is definitely a unique date idea. And you might learn things about your spouse that you never knew, which is always enlightening and fun!

6. Watch a New Show

It’s not a groundbreaking date idea, but it’s still relaxing and cheap.! Spend time together on the couch watching a show together. Love to laugh? Watch a comedy show! Interested in drama or mystery? Find something suspenseful to enjoy. Poll some friends to get some recommendations on their favorites to find some new ones to try. 

You can even make a homemade charcuterie board, churn some ice cream, or pop some popcorn while you relax together.

7. Cook Together

Feed the kids early, then spend time in the kitchen cooking together after they’re in bed. Try a new recipe or even take an online cooking class. This is a great chance to try new cuisines your kids might not enjoy. If you love wine, you can even pair this idea with a nice glass of my favorite wine to sip on as you cook.

8. Around the World at Home

Going out to an ethnic restaurant can be difficult with little ones. Plan a fun date themed around your favorite ethnic foods to enjoy at home once the kids are in bed. 

Make your own sushi and eat on the floor. Make healthy Mexican food and watch a movie in Spanish, or eat fondue by candlelight. Or do a combination of all, serving a different ethnic group for each course. Whatever you choose, set the mood with music and decorations to make it fun!

9. Paint Each Other’s Portrait

Feel a little funny staring into each other’s eyes? Painting a portrait is the perfect excuse. Reconnect in an unusual way by reviving or learning a new skill. Lots of laughs will be had, I promise! It’s ok to just have fun with it, but I also recommend an online class from Udemy if you really want to learn some new skills.

10. Just Do Nothing!

Seriously… all parents know it’s harder than it sounds! Once the kids are in bed (and repeatedly asked to return to bed), choose to de-stress by ignoring everything else that needs to be done. Ignore electronics, too… hide them if you have to!

Dim the lights, light some beeswax candles, turn on your favorite playlist of relaxing music, and just hang out together. Talk, laugh, cuddle, explore each other… just like the old days.!

Going Out Date Ideas

Do you have a friend you can swap childcare with or have family who live in town? Or do you have a babysitter your kids love that they beg to see? These creative date night ideas include heading out of the house, but most don’t cost a lot of money.

11. Get Outdoors

Love to spend time in nature? Go for a hike! Go kayaking or paddleboarding. Hop on your bikes and take a spin. Spending time outdoors and disconnected from technology is a great way to reconnect. Look up local parks and try a new spot you haven’t yet explored.

12. Exercise or Do Something Active Together

Exercise can be fun as a couple! Pick a new sport to learn: tennis, pickleball, basketball, or swimming… just pick something you enjoy. For an active activity, play mini golf or laser tag, try axe throwing, take a dance class, enjoy bike riding or canoeing, or go horseback riding. These are often the best times to talk, and you get the chance to develop a new hobby or skill.

13. Breakfast Date

Typically, dinner is the date meal, but why not try something different?! Breakfast is a healthier (and cheaper) meal to eat out. Head to a diner or local restaurant for an early morning brunch, and reserve the rest of the day for some good couple time. It can also be easier to get babysitters on a Saturday morning or set up a playdate at a friend’s house.

14. Embark on an Adventure

This is a fun way to share experiences instead of gifts when you give a gift to your spouse for a birthday or Christmas (or another holiday). It’s fun getting out of your comfort zone when you have an adventurous date. Visit an indoor rock climbing gym, go kayaking, race go-karts, try ice skating or roller skating, visit an escape room, or if you’re really brave … go to a karaoke bar and sing your heart out!

15. Go Camping

This certainly isn’t for everyone, but it usually promises to be a bonding experience and is really healthy for you too. Always fun as a family, but if you can sneak away for a night, go camping as a couple. The alone time around the campfire will give you a chance to really catch up and look at the stars. And the potential for unforeseen circumstances (wild animals, rain, etc.) makes it an adventure.

16. Volunteer

This is a great way to get closer as a couple. Focus on a cause you both believe in and volunteer together. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, raise money for a cause or pick a service project at your church. It might make you grateful for what you have and there will certainly be some quality time with your love! Another advantage… spreading the love doesn’t cost a thing.

17. Visit a Local Attraction

We often forget about the things that others come to our town to see. Make a bucket list of things to do in your area and act like a tourist in your own city. Visit a drive-in if your town still has one. Tour the art gallery or local museum to see beautiful works of art. Find an arboretum or botanical garden and walk around. 

You can even just browse a local bookstore together and read excerpts from your favorite books, then chat over a cup of coffee. If it’s in season, visit an orchard or pick-your-own farm or take a tour of a local brewery or vineyard for a wine tasting. Check out the local amusement park if you’re feeling adventurous!

18. Recreate Your First Date

Want to travel back in time? A fun way to relive your first date is to visit your first date spot if you can. If your date spot is in another city (or no longer open), find something similar to enjoy together and talk about your memories. Share what you felt when you first met each other. You can talk about how you’ve grown and all the hopes and dreams you have for your future together.!

19. Visit a Farmer’s Market

A date that also has another benefit… healthy food! Check out the farmers’ markets in your area to find fresh foods. Walk the aisles together, finding new things you can make and exploring farmers and ranchers in your area. Sample some food from the food trucks before heading home with your bounty.

20. Do a Scavenger Hunt

Another fun way to check out your city is by enjoying a scavenger hunt. There are lots of online options for inexpensive deals on scavenger hunts in lots of cities. Don’t have one in your city? Create a DIY one! When you’re done, visit a local food truck for lunch or dinner to finish off your date.

Most Importantly: Turn Date Ideas into Reality

Making time to spend as a couple can be much more challenging than it should be, especially with kids. Make the decision to make your relationship a priority. Take the time to brainstorm new date ideas and make them happen… no need to wait for a time like Valentine’s Day to have an excuse to spend time together!

What was your best (or worst) date ever? Would you try any of the date ideas above?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


11 responses to “Fun & Unusual Date Night Ideas (At Home or Out) on a Budget”

  1. Gina B Avatar

    We did an archery course on my birthday this year. This Saturday we’re hoping to try cross country skiing which I’ve never tried before. Hopefully it’s not too cold ?

  2. Betty Avatar

    Love these ideas and found we have done almost all of them with the exception of sushi. Katie, your articles are always fun and interesting–love your natural approach to life and have adopted many of your ideas. We are of retirement age so child care is no longer an issue, but many of these ideas would span the generations and find the simpler the better: an easy walk up to the orchard above our home, checking out deer, wild turkey, fox or even red-tailed hawks (my favorite) at dusk. Also love 2-wheeler rides to the same orchard. Walks at the nearby Finger Lakes (our town of Geneva NY hosts one), we also like to take our bikes down to the visitors center and ride the full length (4 miles) stopping to sit on a bench, enjoying the free concerts the town offers during the summer, or taking our favorite book along. We often pick up a fish sandwich (Dougs Fish Fry To Go is in our area) and take it to the canal. How about reading books together? We gave up TV years ago, you can do this by merely cutting the cable connection–painless, because of the stuff that was routinely coming into our home that we would normally never allow and TV is such a time sucker. We always have a book on hand ranging from Louis L’Amour, my husband’s favorite, to Randy Alcorn, just finished his Safely Home, oh my goodness, so well written and different from the other things we have enjoyed together. We love historic fiction, biographies, non-fiction testimonies, and now have a wide range of tastes and authors we know by name. You can load books on your Kindle when you travel, share books with the entire family at the table after meals and during car rides or as an incentive for getting our 4 children ready early for the school bus when they were all home. We do home improvement projects together–my husband is more of chain saw carpenter, so close supervision is always a good idea when he is working inside the home. Another all-ages idea is calling friends and go visiting. Can’t tell you what wonderful responses we have gotten from that one. People are thrilled you would bother and wish they had thought of it first. I often take a desert that I would not want the two of us to be fully responsible for at home, or homemade soup ready to heat. Gives you opportunity to get to know people you normally only have time for a “hi” when you run into them. How about Sunday evening bond fires and cooking your supper over a wood fire. A simple popcorn feast over the camp fire turns a boring evening into an event. Far too long, but you get the idea. Scheduling fun has become a very important part of every day/week for these two cancer-fighting warriors, and we find doing so has done a wonderful thing for our working as a team. Thanks Katie for your wonderful website and blog.

  3. Hélène Avatar

    My fav date is simply a seafood dinner, a movie and discussing it afterward over ice cream, then heading home together 😉 Just getting away and talking or sitting uninterruptedly for 6 hrs is heavenly.

  4. Nathan Avatar

    You suggested eating sushi. Do you guys eat rice or do you make sushi with a rice substitute?

    1. Hélène Avatar

      Spread nori with softened cream cheese mixed with s&p and canned salmon, sprinkle with minced onions or scallions and lay on thin carrot, celery, cucumber, avocado sticks, whatever. Roll up and slice. Sprinkle with an organic tamari, dip in wasabi, serve wih pickled ginger. Never miss the rice. Rich n satiating, unlike rice sushi.

    2. Eleanor Avatar

      You can also use quinoa or brown rice to excellent result.
      My friend loaned us a tipi and we like to hang out near the fire over a glass of something. Bike rides are nice too.

  5. Wendy Cartright Avatar
    Wendy Cartright

    These are super fun date ideas! I have found that my husband and I fall into a routine and we either don’t go on a date for a long time, or we just order pizza and call it a date. There’s nothing wrong with ordering pizza and watching a movie, but I think it’s time to liven it up a bit. I really liked your idea to do an activity together. I think it would be really fun to do archery together. It’s something neither of us have done before.

  6. Dijana Avatar

    A few days ago we decided to skip going to a concert and instead use that money for multiple small dates. Thank you for these great suggestions, they will be added our date list for sure :).

  7. Tacey Avatar

    Great ideas! My husband and I love volunteering together, we do door-to-door Bible education work and landscaping at our local Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses several times a week. Seeing him help others reminds me of why I love him so much and keeps things in focus. 🙂

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