You don't have to break the bank (or leave the couch) to plan a fun date that neither of you will forget

By L’Oreal Thompson Payton
October 23, 2020 01:22 PM
Fun Date Ideas
Credit: Getty Images

Has date night has taken a back seat during the pandemic? You’re not alone. With the normal options for a couples’ night out largely unavailable and quarantine bubbles making it tough to schedule a Saturday night sitter, the usual ways to reconnect tend to be off the table. A date night at home is more doable, but with peoples’ homes now serving triple-duty as living spaces, home schools and offices, it can be tough to reimagine them as romantic venues – which means that time together can end up being pretty blah. (Is it possible to hit the end of Netflix?)

“If you're in a healthy relationship, use the down time as a way to reignite romance and reconnect with your partner. Think about it: before the pandemic, when was the last time you had dinner together, communicated without being in a rush, or had this much literal time together to explore each other emotionally and sexually? Use the time you have to grow and date each other again, even if it's indoors,” says Sujeiry Gonzalez, a New York-based romance writer and educator. “This pandemic isn't going anywhere any time soon, which is why we need to continue to date and keep connected. We just have to get creative on how we do so when dating.”

How creative are we talking? If you loved to reconnect on romantic trips and are lamenting that your U.S. passport is mostly useless at the moment, try touring the world without leaving your sofa. Put in a little work and watch how you reap the rewards – both in terms of you own mental health and your partner’s happiness.

Take It Easy In the Big Easy

If you’ve been craving some Cajun cuisine but aren’t quite ready for Mardi Gras-level crowds, you can bring the flavors to you. Order the World Famous Hurricane Mix from Pat O’Brien’s (add the signature glass if you want to get fancy with it) and sip on them while you await the takeout from your favorite NOLA-inspired eatery.

You can’t go wrong with a shrimp po’ boy, gumbo and blackened catfish. Then top off your meal with the infamous beignet mix from Cafe du Monde. Engage all your senses with a big brass band playlist in the background; if you close your eyes, you’ll swear you’re on Bourbon Street, if just for a second.

Escape to Paris

Grab your picnic basket, a picnic blanket, a charcuterie board (you can make your own, or pick one up from a gourmet grocery store if you want to #TreatYoSelf) and a bottle of your favorite bubbly for an outdoor date with some je ne sais quoi. Bring your bluetooth speaker and cue up a Parisian-themed playlist to truly set the vibe.

Take A Bite Out of the Big Apple

"My wife and I took a trip to N.Y.C without leaving our living room,” says Matthew Larimore, a Columbus, Ohio- based client data analyst. “We ordered Brooklyn-style pizza from Domino’s, watched the movie Serendipity, and we had “Big Apple” pie with Serendipity-brand frozen hot chocolate ice cream to finish things off.”

Lunchtime at home
Credit: Getty Images

Around the World in 80 Museums

To make a virtual rendezvous feel a little more special than your average Zoom meeting, “my date ‘scouted’ museums that were allowing virtual access or viewing and for each painting we looked at we traded off telling stories - the funny version of the paintings history we made up, or a story it made us think about in our lives,” says Michael Donnelly, a Chicago-based marketing consultant and founder of FWD (For Women & Diversity) Collective. “He sent wine and chocolates via delivery ahead of time so we both drank and snacked and laughed ... It was impressive.”

Foodie Scavenger Hunt

If you’re down for exploring your hometown, AmazingCo hosts “Mystery Picnics” in 35 cities across the country. Choose your location and receive a "scavenger hunt" list of clues that will lead you to pre-paid pickups at local eateries, plus other fun ideas for your route and conversation starters to ensure a fun connection worthy of The Bachelor.

“It's proving to be the perfect way to stay connected - both to the people that are important to us and the communities we live in,” says AmazingCo. co-founder and CMO Nick Brozovic.  “Small businesses who have been impacted by COVID and are doing all they can in a difficult environment. And we’re doing all of that in a COVID-conscious way, since it's a small group activity and mostly outdoor-based experience.”

Balling on a budget? Surprise your beau with a DIY scavenger hunt complete with your local eateries. Make it sentimental by including places meaningful to you, such as the location of your first date and dessert from your favorite sweet spot.

Fun Date Ideas
Credit: Getty Images

Leave It to The Pros

Just don’t have it in you to plan something fun? Hand the reins over to Happily Co., who will deliver curated home date night experiences directly to your inbox (or delivered to your doorstep, if you opt for the company’s Datebox).

“My husband and I have a subscription for Happily Co. and one month they sent us a cruise ship escape strategy game,” says Kandice C., a Houston-based wellness consultant. “It came with materials and online clues. We also had a recipe that we cooked together. We enjoyed it more than we thought we would!”

“When you have kids and you’re trying to work from home, it’s difficult to carve out time with the person you love most,” says Happily Co. co-founder and CEO Brett Kolomyjec. “The DateBox is a built-in reminder. It’s a great way to try something new and spend time together and it’s budget-friendly, which is great for parents who don’t have to worry about hiring a babysitter.”

When You Want to Splurge

“My fiancé’s birthday took place around the time restaurants were first beginning to open up, but we didn’t want to risk it. My friends and I have a great relationship with private chef Lauren Owens, so I figured, why not surprise him with a meal cooked by a professional -it had been a while!” says New York-based digital content creator Aisha Beau Johnson. “I didn’t think he’d be able to top that for my birthday, but he did by tapping our friend and sommelier, Charles Springfield. He came to our apartment and treated us and a friend to an amazing at-home wine tasting. Just because we’re stuck indoors didn’t mean we needed to give up on unique experiences!”

Cook with Italian Grandmas

Is there anything more delicious than homemade pasta? Learn authentic traditional Italian recipes, such as lasagna, gnocchi and ravioli, from five real-life Italian grandmas on Airbnb Experiences.

Couple having coffee together in living room
Credit: Getty Images

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?

Test your world knowledge with GeoGuesser. Founded in 2013, the “web-based geographic discovery game” uses Google Street view images to help players guess the locale. Up the ante by challenging each other to beat your best time. Winner gets to pick your post-pandemic vacation destination.

Read a Romance Novel

Sure, romance novels may get a bad rep in the literary world, but for spicy date night fun, they sure beat fireside readings of War and Peace. “Romance novels can get your heart racing due to the sexual undertones,” explains Gonzalez. “Put on some mood music, grab a bottle of wine, and read to each other.”