I wish I could tell you that among holiday shopping, party planning, social events, end-of-year deadlines, family obligations, and checking my list twice, my partner and I still make time to go on dates, but the truth is that we don’t. Even though I’m well aware that spending time with your partner and finding chances for connection (especially among the chaos of this season) is crucial in maintaining a happy and healthy relationship, it seems almost impossible to fit a date into our already overwhelming shared calendar. However, you better believe that if I find any opportunity to spend time together, I’m taking it and suggesting mini-date ideas to take advantage of those short pockets of time.
Mini dates are exactly what they sound like: short and sweet dates. Some quality time is better than none, so these are great for either doing spontaneously when you have time (because they usually require little to no planning) or squeezing into your schedule. If you too are racking your brain trying to figure out how you can connect with your partner this season, count on these 12 mini-date ideas.
1. Grab a coffee before work
If you feel the stress of Q4, you’re probably spending a lot of time at work, thinking about work, or both, making it almost impossible to see your partner or even talk to them without being distracted by your inbox. If this is you, or your partner, suggest going for coffee together in the morning before you jet off to the office or taking an intentional moment at home to enjoy a cup of joe together. This doesn’t have to take more than a few extra minutes, but having a moment in the morning together can make a big difference.
2. Get outside together
Whether you both work from home and decide to take a walk on your lunch break or you walk the dog together after dinner, getting outside and away from your screens allows you to chat, laugh, and relax together. Plus, the endorphins and crisp fresh air are enough to get you through even the most stressful days of the season. Try taking a walk, going for a bike ride, going ice skating or sledding, or even playing a quick game of pickleball!
3. Do an interactive activity
Especially in a busy season, doing things just for the fun of it seems unrealistic between all your “real” responsibilities, but playing a card or board game, working on a puzzle, or even challenging your partner to a game of tic-tac-toe can give you a little bit of much needed carefree time together. May I suggest trying one of these while you wait for dinner to cook or instead of watching another episode of TV before bed? It might be your new favorite way to end the night together.
4. Go for a drive to see holiday lights
This is the only time of year when it’s not weird to drive aimlessly through neighborhoods. Take advantage of quite possibly the easiest (and most festive) mini-date ideas on this list by taking a drive with your partner to enjoy the lights and listen to holiday music! Since it gets darker earlier now, you have more hours at night to fit it in when it works. For example, if you only have 30 minutes before your dinner plans, leave a little early to admire the lights!
5. Take a workout class together
I know what you’re thinking: Working out when my calendar is this booked and I’m this exhausted?! No, thank you. But hear me out: We all know the feel-good benefits of exercise and when we’re so preoccupied with work, family, and the holidays, we need those endorphins more than ever—and I can’t think of a better accountability buddy than your partner. To spend some time together and keep each other consistent and feeling good, book a workout class together, go for a run outside, or do an at-home workout video in the living room.
6. Bake a treat after dinner
Holiday treats are the best kinds of treats, and they’re even better when we make them at home with people we love. This week, pick a recipe that both of you will enjoy and decide when you’ll bake it together. You don’t have to be a pro to bake something from scratch, either. Even if you’re a total novice, it’s fun to learn and try something new together. Tip: This is a great time to put music or a holiday movie on, light a candle, and fight over who gets to lick the spoon.
7. Have a no-phone evening
I know that mindless scrolling at the end of a long day is a lot of people’s guilty pleasure (myself included), but how many times have you caught yourself sitting next to your partner while you’re both silently scrolling through your phones? If you’re anything like me and my partner, you spend an alarming amount of evenings just like this. Challenge each other to a no-phones evening, and you’ll be shocked at how much quality time you actually will spend together. Maybe you decide to play a game, watch a movie, or do something crafty like DIY gifts.
8. Watch a movie
Picking (and agreeing) on a movie is a lot more work than just throwing on another episode of your comfort show. But let’s face it: Watching a movie, whether it’s one you’ve never seen or one you both know every word to, can transform your night from the same-old-same after-work routine to something you both can feel excited about. Plus, it creates the perfect opportunity to put your phones away, enjoy your holiday treats, and cuddle up on the couch together.
9. Take a shower together
You know… you both have to shower anyway, so why not shower together? Before work, after a workout class, before you have to get ready for a holiday party, or after a long day to unwind, the opportunities are truly endless. Plus, since you’re going to shower anyway, it’s not like you’re adding another thing to your to-do list to spend some fun and sexy time together. Put some music on, try a new position, and spend as much time as you have available getting steamy.
10. Dance in the living room
There’s something about dancing in the living room (or the kitchen) that feels so wholesome. It makes you feel like you’re in a real-life romantic comedy falling in love for the first time. This no-spend, no-planning mini-date idea can happen spontaneously, or you can plan it by texting your partner to tell them to prepare their dancing shoes for after dinner. Trust me, mini-date ideas like this one will always beat sitting on the couch.
11. Create your own weekly book club
If you’re both readers, now is a good time to start your own mini book club! Simply choose a book that you two will both enjoy, decide on a reading schedule, and pick a day of the week when you two will discuss what’s going on in the story and what you think about it. This might be the only time when you have a chance to talk without anything else getting in the way. And because it’s one of the only standing date ideas, you can guarantee you’ll have at least this small pocket of time together.
12. Run your holiday errands together
We all know how hectic holiday errands can be, but hey, we all have to do them no matter how bad traffic is in the Target parking lot. Instead of dreading facing the crowds, romanticize your holiday errands by doing them together. Start by getting a holiday drink from Starbucks before knocking out your to-do list store by store together. Trust me, it will be a lot more fun navigating the chaos when you are together. Plus, you can celebrate at the end with a much-needed holiday-themed cocktail.