When you first start dating, everything is exciting, new, and slightly uncertain. You are still figuring out if you are going to mesh as a couple for the long term, and the best way to do that is by sharing memorable experiences together (read: lots of date nights). It’s easy because everything you try together is a “first” and you are still in the honeymoon phase.

After you get married, it’s easy to fall into a routine. Date night can become watching a movie at home…every single time. It’s not that things are worse, it’s that they are different and more comfortable. This isn’t to say that married life can’t lead to fun and exciting adventures because it certainly can. It’s just that it takes more planning.

Another challenge is that after couples get married, they often have new things to worry about, like a mortgage, which can cause some financial strain. Your priorities shift from expensive nights out to household appliances, which is completely understandable. However, I think injecting some date night fun back into your marriage can only lead to good things, like passion, laughter, and romance.

In honour of my 7 year anniversary with James, below are my suggestions for cheap and fun date nights (and yes, we did go out to celebrate last night). Check out Instagram for a picture of me right after we got engaged (plus lots of bonus Buster cuteness). Don’t forget to follow our hashtag #authoropwrites, turn on our post notifications, and show Buster some love with a like or follow!

Cheap Date Night Ideas

Please share some of your own date night ideas in the comments below!

Cheap and fun date night ideas

Go on a picnic. Pack a picnic basket and take a drive, walk, or bike ride anywhere you choose to share it. Bonus points if you watch the sunset together.

Volunteer together. James and I are both passionate about the environment and animal rights, so volunteering for our preferred causes is something that we would like to start doing together.

Host another couple at your place. James and I love to host “dinner parties” (it feels too grown up to say that with a serious face) and socializing with our closest friends. Bonus if you play the best adults only game ever.

Get sweaty. No, that is not what I meant (although if that’s where date night ends up, you can thank me later). I was thinking more along the lines of working out together or going for a hike.

Play a game. James and I have taken to playing cards lately, but any game will do! Get those competitive juices flowing.

Look for free festivals. Our city has tons of local events, many of which are free. I’m sure that yours does, too. We tend to ignore the things going on in our own communities and we shouldn’t!

Look at the stars. I’m not saying that you need to be an astronomer or buy fancy equipment. You can do this in your own backyard (or a local park) with just your eyes or a basic telescope.

Go pick your own fruit. James and I have raspberry bushes in our backyard, but going apple or strawberry picking at a farm is tons of fun (and you can try out new recipes, like jam or pie!).

Go bird watching. Confession: I am terrified of birds. However, I love hiking and being outside and I know that other people love birds, so I’m suggesting it anyway. All you need are binoculars.

Check out some local talent and attractions. I have heard a lot of terrible bands in bars, but I’ve also heard some good ones. If bars aren’t your scene, how about your local community theatre? You can often get discounted late admission or even free admission on certain nights of the week to many local attractions.

Fun date night ideas at home

Attend a trivia night. You could even host a competition at home with friends!

Recreate your first date. James and I walked around Toronto for our first date, which makes me laugh now because we both hate the city and would rather be at the cottage. I had also injured myself earlier in the week, but I forced myself to grin and bear it (while somewhat limping) because, well, he’s pretty cute. Having said all of that, we do go back to the city on occasion and have fun together!

Find an outdoor activity for the winter. My outdoor activity of choice in the winter is snowshoeing (for those lucky people who have sun year round – well, lucky you. Go swimming and enjoy the sunshine).

Head to the book store. Browsing bookstores, both new and used, is a great way to spend an afternoon (and one day I hope you’ll find my books there).

Make a scrapbook of your relationship. How sweet and romantic would your love story be in a scrapbook?! James takes amazing pictures, we really need to do this!

Go to farmers’ market. Buying local, organic and non-GMO is very important to us, so farmers’ markets are a natural fit. To make it a special day, head to the country rather than a parking lot at your local mall.

Have a campfire in the backyard. We are lucky that we can have campfires at the cottage every weekend, so please check your local bylaws before you follow this suggestion (or use a propane fireplace, which we do when we’re home in the ‘burbs). Bonus if you roast marshmallows and eat s’mores!

Go treasure hunting (no pirate map required). There is an outdoor antique market near our house, which we love to explore. You can also check out local garage sales and flea markets. One man’s trash…

Fly a kite or play frisbee. Whenever we play games (literally any game), James always wins. One day, I will find a game he’s terrible at #goals

Have a video game marathon. I used to be a hardcore gamer (yes, seriously), which JP finds absolutely hilarious. However, even if you’re not an ex-gamer, it can still be fun to get  some competitive juices flowing and play games together.

Date night on a budget

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