15 Affordable Date Night Ideas

February 10, 2023 by Spectrum Credit Union

If rising inflation is putting a cramp in your date night style, you’re not alone.

Since the pandemic, restaurant meal costs have jumped 17% while buying a drink away from home now costs 12% more. That is a big chunk of extra change to put toward a special night out.

But you don’t have to give up spending time with your loved one altogether because of rising inflation. There are plenty of cheap — or even free — activities you can do together to spark some romance (and some fun).

Free date night ideas

With a little creativity, you can still have a great night out — or in — without spending a penny.

Camp in your backyard

Set up a tent in your backyard, bring out some cushions, blankets, fun games and books, and you’ll instantly have a glamping experience you didn’t have to pay for or travel to.

Volunteer for an afternoon

Pick a cause you both love like animal rescue, city cleanup or senior care and spend the afternoon volunteering together. Not sure where to start? VolunteerMatch, United Way and American Red Cross can help you find an experience you’ll both enjoy.

Have a cook-off challenge

Create your own reality TV show cooking competition. Using only what you already have at home, challenge your partner to create a new dish within a time limit. Film each other cooking and plating your dishes and watch the results at your next date night.

Turn the library into a scavenger hunt

Go to the library and challenge each other to find a certain book. For example, you could look for the cheesiest romance novels and take them home to read to each other. Or you could borrow your favorite childhood book and swap for a quick read.

Take a free DIY class

Several places offer free DIY classes. Check out your local library or community center. National home improvement chains like Lowes and Home Depot also offer free in-person classes.

Cheap date night ideas

Want to keep things as affordable as possible? These ideas only cost a few bucks to create great memories.

Turn movie night into a gourmet snack night

Turn streaming movies at home into something fun with food. Create a popcorn sampling menu by adding spices and sweet toppings to different batches. Create snack boards for each other out of the movie snacks you most loved as a kid. Or head to Costco and grab a meat and cheese tray you’ve never tried.

Paint each other’s portraits

Those painting and wine classes are a lot of fun, but not always cheap. Instead, set up your own craft night at home. Pick up a few canvases and inexpensive paint kits at a local hobby supply store and then spend the night painting each other’s portraits.

Have a photoshoot in thrifted costumes

Glamour Shots may not be around anymore, but you can make your own fun photoshoot at home for cheap. Thrift stores are treasure troves of fun pieces like boa’s, oddly patterned suits and vintage dresses for a few bucks each. Grab a bunch of fun items and spend the night dressing up in silly outfits and taking pictures.

Visit local museums on discounted days

Many museums host a discount day for residents, usually for $10 or less per ticket. You’ll need a valid, local ID to get in, but the experience will be the same.

Host a couple’s only potluck

Want to get everyone together? Challenge your friends to create one dish each and share with each other at a potluck.

Affordable date night ideas

You don’t have to splurge on an expensive dinner and a bottle of wine to have a good time.

Go mini golfing

Haven’t been mini golfing since you were a kid? The prices haven’t gone up much. You can still play a round or two at many places for less than $20.

Try bowling

Rented shoes may not scream romance, but bowling is an affordable activity that can still be a lot of fun. Bonus points: Many bowling alleys have theme days, such as “disco night,” to add another element for the same price.

Build a picnic basket of appetizers or desserts

Don’t feel like cooking? Pick up a handful of single serving appetizers and desserts from the prepared food section of your local grocery store and head out to the park for a fun afternoon date.

Rent a cabin for the night

You don’t need to commit to a hotel or pricey Airbnb for a quick getaway. Many state and national parks rent cabins by the night. Pick a park near you, pack some hotdogs and marshmallows, and chill out under the stars. Check out this list of national parksfor ideas.

Go to a local comedy club

Local comedy clubs are often incredibly reasonably priced and who knows, you might see the next big thing just learning the craft.

Want more ideas on how to stretch your budget this year? Check out the Spectrum Credit Union blog for ideas on everything from trimming expenses to earning more on your savings. 

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