Sick of the same old date options but too tired and time-poor to plan something different? With Valentine’s Day on the way, we’re here to help with some fresh, fun and affordable alternatives to guarantee a great night out (or in).
1. Record party night
An easy one to try at home. Banish the Wiggles and Frozen albums for one night and celebrate the soundtrack of your relationship. Start with a cheese platter and a glass of wine and queue up your records (or if they’re too dusty, craft a streaming playlist). Share the songs you fell in love to, tunes from your top five concerts, old mix tapes, new favourites. Throw in your old make-out tunes and who knows, you might end up making sweet music together.
Avoid if: you used to be into hardcore techno or death metal – you don’t want to wake up the kids, or the neighbours. Also be wary if you don’t have locks on the door. It’ll be embarrassing getting busted by the kids getting randy to the Romeo & Juliet soundtrack.
2. Recreate your first date
Forget your favourite restaurant or the hippest new bar and go back to the place where sparks first flew. Sure it might be a cheap and cheerful diner, an old man pub or Sizzler, but it’s bound to bring all those wonderful old memories – ones long forgotten under a pile of nappies and dirty bibs – back to the surface. Retrace your steps, laugh at your old haircuts / clothes / pick-up lines and marvel at how far you’ve come.
Avoid if: your first date was getting hot and heavy in your mum’s car in a Macca’s carpark. Maybe skip to date two?
3. Small bar crawl
What’s better than drinking at one cool bar? Drinking at many! Instead of doubling down on dinner and drinks in one spot, turn your date into a rolling adventure with multiple stops along the way. Beforehand, have fun plotting your path from bar to bar (a few new ones might have popped up since you last partied). Stop in for one drink at each and graze on food tapas-style along the way. It makes for a unique adventure and gives you plenty of ammo to drop bar names next time you’re talking to your cooler friends.
Avoid if: your kids wake up at 5am. If you can’t read maps, or you’re a lightweight that will fall asleep by bar two.
4. Art class / photography night
These days ‘art’ usually means helping your kid colour between the lines with glitter pens, but it’s worth remembering there’s a whole world of adult art out there to enjoy. Visit a gallery at night, grab a glass of wine and laugh that you both don’t get ‘modern art’. Or better yet, attend a class and laugh at your own art. Alternatively, head into town on a photography adventure. Whether you’re an SLR specialist or an iPhone amateur, it’s a fun, creative way to spend an evening with plenty of souvenirs to take home. Plus, it should fill your Instagram feed for a month. Like like like.
Avoid if: your partner might mistake ‘adult art’ for something else entirely. Same goes for ‘photography night’. Keep it clean and creative, people.
5. Mutual massage club
Remember when you first started dating, how you’d light incense, buy essential oils and massage each other for an hour? Well, life’s too short for that now, so if you can’t be arsed and can afford to outsource, consider going on a day spa date with your dearly beloved. Get a couples’ massage side-by-side and get them to iron out all the kinks caused by rocking a baby to sleep for 18 hours, or wrangling a squirming 20-kilo kid into school every day.
Avoid if: your partner is likely to misinterpret the term “couples’ massage” and get way too excited.
6. Video arcade night
Ladies, want to see your man truly smile ear from ear? No, we don’t mean that – get your mind out of the bedroom and into the arcade. Grab a stack of $1 coins and drive each other crazy playing Daytona racing, bust out your best moves in Dance Dance Revolution and see if you can finally finish Street Fighter 2 twenty years on. It’s great, silly fun and he’ll be in your debt for days. So much so he’ll do anything you want – like say, a week’s worth of daycare pick-ups?
Avoid if: he’s only recently got out of gaming rehab and become human again. You don’t want to lose him to late-night multiplayer missions in his man-cave all over again.
7. Beach time for two
Let’s be honest, going to the beach with the kids is fun but it’s also freaken hectic. This time, leave the tribe (and the floaties, bucket, spade, vests, inflatable rings, snacks, water pistols et al) at home with the folks and hit the water as a two-piece. Relax, soak in the sun, take your time. Or even better, go for a sunset swim and follow with a cool coastal walk. That sea salt and ocean breeze will do you wonders.
Avoid if: you’re not a strong swimmer or there’s a monster surf. Hugs and kisses in the ocean can be hot, performing CPR not so much.