Spending quality time with your partner strengthens your relationship not only as friends, but also as lovers. In fact, a new study by the Marriage Foundation found that married couples who plan monthly date nights are 14% less likely to break up. Bottom line—date nights are good for your relationship.
However, even though getting dressed up to live it up with the your partner can be fun, sometimes you’re exhausted at the end of a workweek… and that’s okay. You don’t need to leave the house to do something memorable, but you do need to put in a bit of effort.
Here’s a list of four at home date night ideas to help you keep the spark alive:
1. Host a tasting party for two.
When the Great American Beer Festival came to town this year, my husband and I decided to save the money and host our own little festival, instead. We picked an assortment of beers being served at the festival and did our own small flights at home. If you’re not a beer drinker, don’t worry. This one’s easy to do with wine, food, or any other beverage. Bonus points for sprucing things up with appetizers and music.
2. Create your own Food Network Challenge at home.
Whether you cook, bake, or (struggle with) both, planning and competing in your own Food Network style challenge is just plain fun. The best two shows to model your competition off of are probably Chopped for the cooks and Nailed It for the bakers. Don’t worry: you don’t have to be an expert. If your creation is unrecognizable, you’re doing it right.
For the Chopped challenge, each person is given a basket with four odd ingredients that don’t traditionally go together, like watermelon, chocolate, yams, and yucca. You have 30 minutes to incorporate these ingredients into an entree or dessert. You and your partner compete on taste and plating, then decide if your dish works. If not, you’re chopped.
For the Nailed It challenge, you have to recreate a semi-complicated baked dessert, like cake pops. It’s a challenge, and, I hate to say it, but you’re meant to fail miserably. Give yourselves two hours to recreate the dessert, then judge who nailed it and who failed it. Convinced you don’t have what it takes to bake? Check out this list of the most triumphant failure from Nailed It. It’ll boost your confidence, I promise.
3. Have a game night.
My personal favorite at-home date night is a pitcher of skinny margaritas, a bowl of popcorn, and a night of party games with my husband. These are my top three:
Cards Against Humanity
In this card game, you complete fill-in-the-blank statements with a cycling hand of politically incorrect words or phrases, while a rotating judge picks the funniest combination. Warning: this game is risqué and should probably avoid playing with your significant other’s parents. This game is best for four or more people but can be modified for two players.
What Do You Meme?
This is the party game for the social media generation. A textless meme is displayed, and each person attempts to out meme their opponent by coming up with the best caption from a selection of cards. The funniest pairing is chosen by a rotating judge. This game will have you splitting sides in no time and is perfect for a night in.
The Jinx Challenge
This is a game Jimmy Fallon plays with guests on his show. It’s perfect for two players or a small group, and the best part is you don’t need to buy anything. The way it works is you and your partner pick several categories and shout out a related word on the count of three. If that category is fruit and you both shout orange, you win the round. If you shout something different, well, you learned that maybe you and your partner need to get in better sync. Watch Fallon play with Chris Hemsworth to get a better idea how this game plays out.
4. Go living room glamping.
There’s no need to worry about sleeping on rocks when you glamp out in your living room (or the backyard for you daredevils). To go glamping, all you need is a small tent or pillow fort, a mattress on the floor, some pillows, and blankets. You can stick to the soft glow of flashlights and lanterns and flashlights to up the romance factor.
Of course, no glamping trip would be complete without gourmet snacks. Grab some dried fruit, sourdough pretzels, and popcorn to satisfy those midnight munchies. For those without fireplaces, you might have to cook your s’mores on the stove.
Date nights can be fun and romantic without being expensive. The point is to spend time together mindfully. While it’s easy to Netflix and chill, a true effective date night in requires at least a little bit of effort. They’ll thank you for it.