Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cheap, Fun Date Ideas (Part 1)

Life can get a little drab at times from too much penny-pinching, but that’s when you need to get creative — especially when it comes to dates! We’d all love to get whisked away to some far-off metropolis for dinner and a night at the opera (a la Pretty Woman), but in the real world, most of us end up parked on the couch every night (if you’re lucky, with a Love of your own), watching What Not to Wear instead of La Boheme.

No offense to Stacey and Clinton (the show is a guilty pleasure of mine), but the art of saving becomes quite fun when you start to look at it as a challenge rather than an impediment.

Those dinner and a movie nights may be a distant memory now that you’re saving for the down payment on that fabulous new house you’ve had your eye on, but why completely quit date night just because you’re a forward-thinking guy or gal with a smart financial plan? Keep putting off date night now, thinking you two will end up “doing it up” when you’re older, and yes, you’ll eventually partake in opera nights and fancy dinners (you earned it, after all), but you’ll also be riddled with the all lovely little traits that come along with age (wrinkles, white hair, a lack of youthful energy and, quite possibly, a case of arthritis). It’s a whole lot better than being riddled with debt, but what’s a saver to do in the meantime?

In the words of Tim Gunn: “Make it work!” Below I’ve compiled a list of cheap, fun date ideas that won’t break your piggy bank, and (gasp!) might even bring the two of you closer. (Isn’t that the fundamental point of any kind of date in the first place?)

Ideal Scenarios vs. Creative Solutions (Part 1)

Ideal Scenario: You and your significant other are laughing and holding hands, as you stroll along the Champs Elysee in Paris, discussing the Mona Lisa painting the two of you just saw at the Louvre. The smell of warm croissants and frothy cappuccino wafts out the front door of a Parisian bistro, inviting you forth from the cobblestone street. While you’re not that hungry, the two of you say “What the heck,” you’re in Paris after all, and take a seat at an outdoor table. An hour later, you’ve ordered $150 dollars worth of fancy little French pastries and designer water, but the two of you don’t care. Paris is the city of love, and part of that is a love affair with its food.

Creative Solution: While the above would be perfection for most, it strays far from the reality of many. Instead, get all gussied up in a cute Spring dress as if you could be out strolling the streets of Paris, and take a little trip to the nearest local garden, beach, pond or lake. Before you go, pack a gourmet picnic lunch fit for amore (Trader Joe’s has lots of yummy picnic foods for very cheap). Pinot grigio salami slices wrapped in basil leaves, Jarlsberg Swiss cheese and crackers, Artichoke hearts drizzled with olive oil and garlic, and grapes and strawberries are all fun finger foods for you and your Love to eat and feed one another (I’m a romantic sap and I proud of it). To make it even more fun, try finding a cheap wicker picnic basket, with slots for food and plastic dishes, utensils, cups and a blanket. (Try, they have good finds for $50 or under. Remember, this is something you two will use over and over again). And don’t forget a good bottle of wine, a staple for both Parisian bistros and American picnics alike. (Try Trader Joe’s for wine — you can get a solid Italian white for under $4!).

Ideal Scenario: You and your soul mate are sitting FRONT ROW at an Aerosmith concert. The amphitheater is sold out, thousands of screaming bandanna-clad fans are facing the stage that is DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF YOU, and you and yours are holding hands and gyrating to the blaring vocals emanating from Steven Tyler’s outlandishly large boca. While it's fun now, the real fun begins after the show, when you two join Steve & Co. backstage for beverages and post-concert socializing, naturally.

Creative Solution: It might not be as cool as seeing the real thing, but cover bands can be quite underrated. With ticket prices being a fraction of the price of seeing the real band, and all the same songs you know and love, all you have to do is sing along and have fun just being together, listening to good, live music. I know, not all cover bands are phenomenal, and seeing fake versus real performers is like buying Juicy Couture when all you really want is Prada, but have you ever seen a good Journey cover band? ’Nough said. To get some ideas on who to see and where, visit

Ideal Scenario: You’ve never been that big of a fan of golf, but in this case, you don’t care. Standing on the Pebble Beach golf course, feeling the cool ocean breeze against your matching argyle sweaters and khakis as you wait to tee off, the two of you couldn’t be happier. A caddy boy has just brought you spots of champagne to enjoy as you wait to begin (hey, this is a fantasy, anything goes), and you two begin laughing at something George and Brad (Clooney and Pitt, respectively – they are members here, after all) just said. The four of you often golf together at Pebble, when you’re not all sunning on Roberto Cavalli’s yacht off the island of Capri or vacationing in your Mexican villa on the beaches of Acapulco.

Creative Solution: For about $8 for 80 golf balls, visit your nearest driving range, rent a bucket of golf balls and a couple drivers and practice your swing! For even more fun, get all suited up in a cute golf outfit and, if you’re like me and don’t know the technique that well, have your Love stand behind you, with his arms around you and hands covering yours on the driver, showing you how to golf like a pro. How cliché date stereotype can you get? For under $20, who cares?!? For ideas on where to go, try Not only is it something cheap the two of you can do together, it’s also a fabulous workout for your arms and upper body — perfect preparation for when you eventually do need to don that bikini on Cavalli’s yacht!

Tune in next time to read Cheap, Fun date ideas (Part 2).

1 comment:

Jim said...

Here's another picnic - tons of picnic baskets and cool totes that are under $50. Enjoy!!!

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