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The web abounds with cheap date night ideas. Just check out lists of tons of practically-free date night ideas at SmallNotebook.org, Huffington Post, and Marie Claire. You won’t lack for great ideas for going on a date.
But here’s the deal: sometimes you need to make a date night investment. Basically, a one-time expense that will benefit you for many date nights to come. And I’m not talking about lingerie!
Still not sure what I could be talking about? Well, then, without further ado, here is my list of the top five best date night investments:
1. A great board game
Maybe you think you aren’t the board gaming type, but hear me out. Board games, especially really good ones, are a great way to spend a date night. They invite more conversation than vegging out in front of the television, and that element of competition can help heat things up.
As a board game geek, I would tell you to steer clear of “family classics” like Monopoly and Sorry! unless you adore them. If you don’t already love them, check out strategy games that are popular among board game geeks.
There’s more to learn with these games, but they also offer infinite possibilities and better playability than a game based solely on chance. Here are a few of my husband’s and my favorite options to try:
2. A stovetop popcorn popper
At-home movie nights are some of my personal favorite date nights. They’re cheap, and we don’t even have to get a babysitter! But, let’s face it, boxed microwave popcorn is expensive. And who even knows what’s in that delicious buttery coating!
So instead of paying a fortune for popcorn, buy a stovetop popcorn popper. We have one like this, and it’s great. It takes only a little more time than microwave popcorn, and it’s delicious. I’ve also used an air popper before, which is great, too. It’s just harder to get a coating of butter or oil on your popcorn (which, I guess, is the point!)
Regardless of which option you choose, making a big bowl of buttery (or, sometimes, I use olive oil) popcorn for a date night in is practically a must. And it’s way cheaper in the long run if you make this date night investment.
3. Access to an epic movie or television series
Again, movie nights in are some of our favorite date nights. And even though we aren’t huge movie hoarders – hello, Netflix and the local library! – we do keep a few of our favorites on hand, just in case. For us, that means Lord of the Rings, extended cut, and the Harry Potter movies. (Like I said, geeks!)
For you, that probably looks different!
The point is that sometimes it’s nice to have a movie – or a TV series – on hand that we reliably love. That means no one has to spend forty minutes finding a movie at Redbox, and we don’t have to wait for the inter-library loan to get us our new release in time for date night.
If you don’t want to buy actual DVDs (or Blurays, as you will) to have on hand, consider subscribing to a cheap monthly service. Currently, we’re Netflix fans, since we like watching re-runs of some older shows. But some of our friends swear by Hulu, where they can watch new shows at their convenience.
Just beware! Those TV services can quickly eat up all your date night time, so make sure you plan some other, non-screen dates, too.
4. A babysitting co-op
If you’ve got kids, you know that babysitting can be one of the worst parts of date night – especially if you’re not nearby to grandparents who would just love to take the little one(s) off your hands for a few hours. But, take heart, the babysitting co-op is catching on!
This is more of a time investment than a money investment, though it could save you both the time of finding a babysitter and the money to pay on for date nights.
To start a babysitting co-op, find two or three other couples who are interested in free date night babysitting. Then, arrange it so that you’ll each watch all the children one night per month. That way, everyone gets several date nights out of one insane, child-filled, hectic babysitting night.
Setting up a co-op can be tough at first, since you’ll need to lay out expectations. But it’s a great way for your kids to have fun and for you to get free date night babysitting!
5. A class to take together
Paying a hefty up-front fee for a weeks-long class can be a great way to have pre-planned date nights for a while. Whether you take a financial class like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University or an artistic class to learn to use your fancy schamncy digital camera is up to you.
Classes like these can come with steep fees, but, again, it’s an investment. If you choose the right class, you’ll learn something that will help you fund or come up with ideas for future date nights. For instance, Dave could teach you how to budget better so you’ll be able to afford better dates, and a photography class could lead you to lots of photo-taking date nights around town.
These are just a few date night investments that could help you have better dates in the long run. What else have you made an investment in for date nights?