My husband and I have been together for 10 years. We started dating when we were teenagers and recently realized our idea of date night hasn’t changed much in the past decade. When we first met, we were in college, living at home with our parents, and didn’t have a lot of cash on hand for fancy dates. While these days we have a lot more options when it comes time to plan a date, we realized we that more often than not, we choose to have dates at home. Maybe it’s because we’re homebodies or maybe it’s a pandemic side effect, but we really do enjoy staying home together. There’s nothing wrong with skipping the pricey restaurants and crowded movie theaters, but even we could tell out at-home dates we’re getting a bit stale (hint: one too many movie nights).
With a little bit of creativity and planning, we were able to makeover our at-home dates. Here are a few fun ways we’ve been mixing things up:
1. Embracing our green thumbs
In 2020, when all those homeowners started posting about their lush gardens, we admittedly felt left out of the fun. Not only do we live in an apartment, but we aren’t allowed to plant in the ground around our patio. My husband was dying to start his own garden so for his birthday, I ordered a really convenient garden growing kit from The Works Seattle. It had everything we needed to start a basic veggie and herb garden. I bought some large planter bags that are easy to move around our patio and we started gardening on the weekends. We really look forward to these day dates where we get a bit of sun and get to watch our efforts pay off.
2. Getting out of our culinary comfort zones
Speaking of ruts, until recently we were in a big culinary rut. Because we mastered quite a few recipes that became go-to meals for us, we gave up on learning how to cook new meals. This may sound weird, but neither of us loves going out to eat, which means if we want to try something new, the odds are we’re going to make it ourselves.
To avoid the Valentine’s Day crowds in the past, we ordered this Truffle Lovers cooking kit that comes with everything we need for a romantic night at home (including wine). It’s a bit of a splurge, but still costs less than it would cost to get a fancy prix fixe meal at a nice restaurant. We’ve always wanted to make risotto at home, but have been too intimidated to try, so this kit has helped us get out of our comfort zones.
3. Tuning in to audiobooks
At the end of a long workday we love to spend time together, but both of us get a bit tired of looking at screens. Is anyone else so over Netflix? In the summer we usually go on walks at night to pass the time and catch up, but in the winter that option is a bit less appealing. Lately, we’ve been listening to audiobooks together at night, and it’s the date that keeps on giving. When we aren’t listening to an audiobook we can discuss the book we just listened to or plan which one we want to download next. Our eyes get a break and we end up with new things to talk about.
4. Pre-planning trips
With so many travel restrictions, flight cancellations, and just general uncertainty around traveling right now, we haven’t been able to travel much these past two years aside from the occasional road trip. To help scratch that travel itch, we’ve been having travel-themed date nights at home. We’ll sit down and pre-plan a whole trip for somewhere we want to go when things go somewhat back to normal—itinerary, hotels, restaurants, activities, the works. We will also pick a movie, documentary, or some travel videos to watch about the location to spread out the fun. When it’s time to travel again, we’ll be ready, and in the meantime, we have a lot more fun pre-planning than just scrolling through social media or rewatching The Office.
5. Trying each other’s hobbies
While I’m all for couples having their own hobbies and being able to spend time apart, it’s nice to share your passions with your partner. Before the pandemic hit, my husband loved to rock climb at indoor rock climbing gyms. It wasn’t my favorite activity from the get-go, but we ended up getting into a habit of going on Friday nights and I really looked forward to that time spent together. It was fun seeing my husband so excited about something.
This compromise was a good lesson in embracing each other’s hobbies from time to time. Because we are spending so much time at home, I’ve been hit by the DIY decor bug and we’ll carve out some time on a Saturday afternoon to work on projects together. When we’re looking for a more low-key, at-home date, I’ll play a game or two of chess with my husband. We still enjoy our hobbies separately, but it’s nice to come together to share what we’ve learned or been working on.
6. Going tech-free
Again—we get really sick of the screens by the end of the day, and even more so by the time Friday night hits. Sometimes we plan tech-free nights where we open a bottle of wine, read books next to each other, or just sit and chat on the couch. We’re lucky that after 11 years, we still really just enjoy being in each other’s company and sometimes you need to get away from all the shiny tech distractions to remember that!