I’m going to take a wild guess: Your current date night routine involves eating out at a cool new restaurant you saw on TikTok and drinking espresso martinis while chatting over the highs and lows of your week or maybe you and your partner always go to the same restaurant around the corner because, well, it’s easy and you like it. You might hit up a movie or grab a late-night dessert before heading home, and that will wrap up the night. While these are all perfectly wonderful outings, it’s easy for date night to feel a little too routine—but it doesn’t have to. Whether you’re prepping for your first date or you’ve lost count, we are sharing eight ways that you and your partner can come up with new date night ideas so you never fall into a rut.
1. Craft a date night jar
What if we told you that there’s a way to make sure date night never gets stale and anxiety doesn’t loom over your head when your S.O. asks, “What should we do tonight?” Enter the date night jar. There are a few different ways to go about a date night jar, but my personal faves are with A) color-coded sticks or B) plain ‘ole pieces of paper.
For option A) Grab some popsicle sticks, a mason jar, paint supplies, and a Sharpie. Color-code the sticks by activity (orange for adventure, pink for eateries, and so on). Then, brainstorm ideas and experiences to write on the sticks once the paint is dry. Follow the same rhythm for option B, except there’s no need to color-code the pieces of paper. Grab a bottle of wine and takeout pizza and spend the night at home cozied up with your S.O. throwing around potential date night ideas. Bonus points if you get extra creative with ideas like, “Go rock climbing” or, “Take a pottery class.” When it’s time for date night, you’ll have a whole jar of stellar ideas to pull from.
2. Create a shared document
If you like the date night jar idea but want a little more control to pick your ideal night out based on your and your partner’s moods (or you’re lazy, like me), a shared document is the way to go. My boyfriend and I started a shared document shortly after moving in together and trust me, we’re never asking each other the dreaded, “What do you want to do this weekend?”
To do this, choose between the iPhone’s Notes app, Google Keep, or even a notepad that you leave in your kitchen if you’re more of a pen-and-paper person. Create a section for restaurants, bars, and cocktail lounges, experiences, hikes—you name it. Then, browse TikTok for the best eateries and experiences in your area and jot down the ones that inspire you. This method is literally so simple if you have just 30 minutes to spare, and it doubles as a list of things to do when friends and family are in town.
3. Download the DUO app
If you’ve ever wanted to date like a contestant on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette (minus all the drama, of course), this one’s for you. Created by Lauren Burnham Luyendyk and Arie Luyendyk, the DUO app brings everyday “date-spiration,” elaborate surprise date nights, and group date plans straight to your phone. It’s free to download the app and sign up, but if you want the inspiration behind two former contestants to plan for you, then it costs just $25 to bring your Bachelor Nation fantasy to life. We can’t promise your next date night will be an all-expenses paid trip to the Maldives, but what is in store is endless creative date night inspiration that fits your budget and lifestyle—no thinking necessary.
4. Use a couple’s card game
If DIYing ways to come up with date night ideas isn’t your thing, leave it up to the cards with this scratch-off Date Night Ideas game. Not only is the deck filled with 35 secret planned dates, the individual cards include important details like an estimated budget and ideal time of day for the date so you and your S.O. know exactly what you’re getting into. Plus, you get to see the type of date, like if it’s outside or if serious adventuring is involved, before scratching off the card. Seriously, date night planning literally could not be easier thanks to this genius card game.
5. Try the ABC method
Don’t let the name fool you—this is nothing like the “anything but clothes” party you probably attended in college (if you know, you know). With the ABC method, the alphabet acts as your personal date night planner by brainstorming experiences that start with the next letter in the alphabet. Think axe throwing for the first outing in the ABC date night series, brewery hopping for “B,” cupcake decorating for “C,” and so on. This method is ideal for keeping the spark alive and adventure ripe for the taking!
6. Play the Pick a Card game
If you’re on social media even a little bit, you’ve likely come across the “pick a card” date night idea game. One partner holds two cards in their hand, each with an activity written on them. Whichever one the other partner picks holds the fate for date night that evening. It’s basically a “choose your own adventure” experience, and goes on for three rounds to create the “perfect date.” (Disclaimer: This one does take a tiny bit of planning beforehand to come up with what you’ll be doing for each card, but trust me, it’s worth it.)
Activities written on the cards can be as simple as where you’re going out to eat to more involved things like taking a cooking class. Spend 30 minutes with your S.O. each writing down three ideas that fit into the following categories: Restaurant, activity, and dessert. This way you have enough to play three rounds, resulting in a very, very successful date night. The cards that aren’t chosen will serve as your next date night, too. Not only does the layer of mystery add some much-anticipated excitement, but it also ensures you and your S.O. each have some say in the date night.
7. Consult the group chat
Before starting a new project, or in this case, coming up with new date ideas, it’s never a bad idea to gather your research. As simple as it sounds, asking the group chat to spill their absolute best date experiences could spark serious inspiration for your next several outings. And no, it doesn’t matter if they’re in a relationship or not—every piece of info matters here! Don’t forget to ask all the details like: “What was the dress code?,” or “How did you start and end the night?” and “Why do you still remember this date?” These are all valuable bits of information to gather when collecting your data.
8. Sign up for The Nudge
When all else fails and you need a super low-effort way to come up with next week’s date night, sign up for The Nudge. Available for daters in Chicago, Denver, Nashville, Austin, DC, New York, Los Angeles, and more, The Nudge is a free planner that sends you a text (aka a nudge) twice a week with ideas for your next date, girls’ night, or solo outing. I first signed up for The Nudge when I moved to New York City post-college and still have it two years later where I now live in Denver. Ideas range from ice cream joints based on your vibe to where to pick flowers and the best hikes. It’s basically like having a date night planner in your pocket and requires zero brainpower.