So who besides us loves a great date night? Fantastic! I knew there were a least a few of you out there!

Tiffani and I sure do cherish our rare dates. Having four children under 11 in the house can often put a damper on regular times out for the parents. We “get that”… we REALLY do! Our oldest children are 26 and 24, so we have already been at that point in life where you can leave your kids and take off for the evening without worrying. But as the result of much discussion, prayer and pastoral counsel throughout 1999/2000, we decided to return our fertility back into the hands of God, where we had become convicted that it belonged. (That story may possibly be the point of another post – someday! But not today!)

Today, I’d like to talk about spending time with each other in various ways that won’t break the bank, or require Herculean efforts in logistics and planning. Many of these ideas you can do right in the comfort of your own home – just get the kids bathed, their teeth brushed and off to bed either right on time, or even a little early… and have at it!

Let’s start off with the ideas for things you can do at home, and then we’ll move into ideas for heading “out” for an evening.

GAMES
Our family has always loved games! Games of just about every sort… board games, card games, video games, thinking games, and most recently iPod/Pad games. This love can very easily translate into fun, intimate time with your spouse!

Some of our favorite card games are Uno, Skipbo, and an oldie but goodie… Mille Bornes. This is a French card game with an auto-race theme. (My mother blessed us with her original boxed copy from 1971, but I just googled and found it available all over the internet for purchase.) There are also thousands of card games you can play with a plain old deck of 52 cards, and plenty of books available with rules and instructions on how to play them. The possibilities are literally endless! And… for a sexy twist just between you and your hunny (in your private sanctuary, of course!)… play “strip poker” style – for every hand/round lost, something comes off. Or just go for broke and PLAY NAKED!

A few of our favorite board games are the good old standards like Monopoly, Life, Triple Yahtzee, and so on… but for a bit more “playfulness”, feel free to indulge in a rousing (arousing?) topless and/or bottomless game of CandyLand or Chutes & Ladders! It’s just the two of you, loving each other and having FUN together – so lose the deadly seriousness and cut loose!

Have you got two iPods/iPads/iPhones between you? There are hundreds, perhaps even THOUSANDS of games available in the app store that are playable by two players through bluetooth or wi-fi. Battleship and Uno are two that I can think of right off the top of my head that we have on our phones. Find several that you like and have a ball! There are so many choices available for 99 cents… Agree to spend 10 bucks and find several games that you both love. I promise you it will be 10 bucks WELL SPENT, and an investment in your marriage! Allow me to advise you to first read the reviews before you spend money and end up disappointed… look for games that have great reviews and have made the players happy. I know that other brands of phones (Android, Blackberry, etc.) have their own app stores, but I have no recent experience with any of them so I will leave those for the experts among you to decipher.

COOKING/BAKING
Do you both love to cook or bake? How about an evening spent baking a cake that’s NOT from a box?  Look around the internet for some ideas, and consider making a wedding cake “fit for the king and queen” (of your own kingdom) – from scratch! This might require a little planning if it’s outside your normal comfort zone, but the fun you could have for $20-30 bucks is immeasurable! Even if your cake doesn’t turn out exactly the way you envisioned it in your head… the idea is to have fun in the CREATING! Enjoy coffee, reminisce over past happy experiences, leave flour-handprints on each other, LAUGH together! Then frost your cake, put a little husband and wife decoration on top, and celebrate your wedding all over again! Perhaps you could even freeze a piece to eat next year… Ok, maybe not! (Who ever thought of that strange tradition anyway??)

The cake in the picture above is called a “Topsy Turvy Cake”, and you can find pictures and tutorials all over the web. This particular one comes with a nice instructional. Have some fun and get creative!

WORSHIP
Here’s one that won’t cost you a single penny… but is worth much more than precious gems or jewels in the Kingdom of God. Are there musicians among you? Grab your instruments and lift your voices together to the Lord! He would LOVE to hear it! But on the flip side, is there not an ounce of musical talent between you? That’s ok too… Put on your favorite worship CD, or a worship concert DVD (I can recommend several great ones!) and SING TOGETHER! Seriously! Who cares what it sounds like? Even if the two of you together sound like Archie and Edith Bunker, the Lord loves to hear songs from a joyful heart! Psalm 100 is a fantastic encouragement to praise!

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

GOOD MEMORIES
How about an evening reopening the family’s historical photo albums together with some coffee and a favorite dessert? Talk about the pictures and what memories they spark in your heart.

So now we’ll move on to the ideas that will take you out of the home and into the great beyond…

FOOD
Dinner at a favorite restaurant is always a classic, and we welcome this one as often as we possibly can. Unfortunately for us, we’ve only gotten to do this 4 or 5 times in the past year and a half. And at least 3 of those have been because of the blessings of others upon us. Yep, the economy affects us too!

Have you ever gone to a great restaurant, just to look at the dessert menu after you’re already stuffed? What a drag! So why not on a future date night, have a small but reasonable dinner at home with the kids, let it digest while you get the kiddos ready for bed (and discuss any last minute stuff with whomever will be taking care of them while you’re out), then grab your hunny and head for the car. Go back to that great restaurant and ask to see the dessert menu from the get-go… enjoy your beverage of choice with the awesome, rich dessert that made your eyes bug out on the last trip, and have some deep conversation with your spouse!

Here’s one of our favorites… we happen to live in a town with a fantastic ice cream place sitting in the same parking lot as the putt-putt golf course. We’ve been known, on occasion, to do these two things side by side, but not necessarily always in the same order. Makes a great summer outing for a couple of hours! I am dearly hoping to be healed up enough from my August 29th surgery to get to play a game with my lady soon, before they close for the season.

WALK/DRIVE
Anybody for an evening stroll? How about a “moonlight & streetlamps” walk along a downtown part of your nearest big city? Hopefully you’ve got a place where you can walk along perhaps a quarter to a half-mile of stores, shops, & cafes… a street where you can enjoy the lights and the sights, the smells of baking bread, and perhaps find a great cup of coffee (or whatever else you enjoy!) You don’t necessarily have to spend a boatload of money on a trip like this… a few bucks for a drink and something to snack on, and you’ve got each other for company and conversation. Walk & dream together about your future, enjoy a little window-shopping, hold hands, and BE together!

Have you ever taken a scenic drive together? Living here on the east coast, we have numerous mountain ranges with scenic mountain parkways along their ridges. We also have lots of country farmland and historic areas to drive through. Tiffani and I have almost always found this enjoyable, and we like to stop at historic sites and walk around to view them up close. You probably have some places within a reasonable driving distance to your home that this could become a reality for you. Pull out a map and give it some thought! This one is a bit more of a “day-trip” type thing, and might require a bit more planning if you still have small children that you would need care for.

Most of these ideas are things that wouldn’t require a huge outlay of cash. The main point is that they allow you and your spouse to spend quality time together… time spent holding hands, arm in arm, side by side… enjoying each others’ company, smiling, talking & laughing with each other. These things are critical to creating and maintaining the emotional bonds that keep the two of you woven tightly together.

So get out there and find some games, find some baking ideas, think on what songs you might like to sing best, where you might like to go for a walk or a drive, and consider which of your favorite restaurants has the most incredible dessert menu… then GO FOR IT! Have some fun and reconnect with your spouse! For those of you who worry about the bottom line, the returns you will get on these MINIMAL investments in your marriage can never be measured in earthly terms!

And lastly… how funny that I’ve been working on this post for several days, to wake up this morning and see that our good friend Debi Walter from The Romantic Vineyard has posted “A Dozen Daytime Date Ideas“… I guess (as they say…) great minds think alike! Thanks Debi! We’re going to have to try out some of your ideas!

All photos are courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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2 thoughts on “Simple Date Ideas

  1. Jennifer says:

    Some of our earliest date memories are walks and that has been a continued tradition throughout our marriage…before kids. It’s a little harder now and usually our walks look like the following: Baby moby-wrapped to me, toddler on her trike being pushed by me, hubby directly behind me with the dogs. We love it though. It will pass and one day it will be us again. We like to steal walks whenever we have a sitter.

    1. Jason says:

      We love walks too! But as we live out in the countryside, we can’t really walk down the road for fear of getting killed by crazy drivers who come hurtling down our road (45 mph speed limit) at 60-70 mph! So our walks are simply strolls around our 2.5 acre farmlet. We take a slow walk to the barn to hang out with the chickens for awhile, then we mosey on over to the pig field and watch them for a bit… maybe throw them some acorns, which they dearly love. But no matter where we walk, Tiffani and I are usually found hand in hand, being best of friends. We have two older kids (26 and 24) and 4 that are 11 and under. So we have been to that place where we could disappear for a weekend, not worrying about the kids – and then we handed our fertility back over to the Lord. Many thought we were crazy for doing that… but we were obeying what God called us to do. People today have a very hard time understanding the meaning of “conviction”. Enjoy the time with your little ones, it will be gone in a flash.

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