My boyfriend and I are relatively simple people. We enjoy binge-watching “Hell’s Kitchen,” and while we sometimes dabble in the occasional happy hour or 90s night with friends, you’ll mostly find us staying in, trying our hand at cooking new recipes, or falling asleep to Netflix.
We are both big believers in bonding over an experience rather than spending cash frivolously. An expensive dinner date is a grand gesture and, of course, exciting and fun, but it’s a treat, not a staple of our routine.
In fact, one of the most “exciting” things we do together is pretty weird: We donate blood. It doesn’t cost money, and, in fact, if you’re a frequent donor, you can make money. Blood donation centers offer rewards in the form of Amazon gift cards for those who regularly donate blood and platelets.
Donating blood isn’t the only date idea that won’t break your budget this spring. Now that the weather is finally resembling something like springtime (amen to no more freak snow storms!), there are so many things you and your significant other can do as a fun, inexpensive date idea.
You don’t have to get poked with a needle in order to volunteer with bae. Join a nearby beach cleanup or adopt-a-highway program. Plant a garden at a local school or start a clothing drive for charity. There are so many great volunteer options that allow you to give back to your community and share the common bond of volunteer work with your partner.
Pack a picnic
Find a park (or a beach) and pack sandwiches! This idea’s great (and cheap) because it’s a two-parter. You and your partner get to bond over making and packing lunch and then you actually get to have the picnic. My go-to picnic foods include cheese, crackers, cucumber sandwiches, and of course, a box of wine!
Another one of my favorite things is to have a bagel breakfast overlooking the water. Drive your car right up to the shoreline, and if it’s warm enough, sit in the car while you and your babe choose cream cheese or butter.
Take your pet to the dog park
Fido needs exercise! My boyfriend and I try to take the dog to the park at least once a week. It’s great for the pup to not only run around and play in an open, gated safe space, but it’s also an opportunity to bond together over your pet and get some fresh air, too.
Set up an at-home wine tasting
Wine tastings are a staple springtime experience, and while you can usually find great discount opportunities on Groupon, it can sometimes get a little pricey. Why not set up your own wine tasting in the comfort of your home? Pick up a few boxes of different kinds of wine (boxed wine is cheap and delicious!). Set the mood by adding cheese, grapes, and chocolate into the mix. Enjoy the fun of a wine tasting without the added worry and hassle (and Uber price) of getting home afterward.
Take a walk during sunset
Even if it’s the most cliche date idea in the book, it’s still a goodie. It’s free, timeless, and encourages you to get deep into conversation with your partner. There’s no movie on-screen or food on the table to distract, so you can really focus on your walk and the topic of conversation.
Hike your local trails
Getting moving is a great way to create memories together! You don’t have to join a gym — after all, memberships can be expensive. Take your fitness into your own hands and find a local trail to hike. You don’t have to go crazy and scale a mountain. Just wear your Nikes, a hat, and bring some tick spray. Hiking poses physical challenges that can be fun to work out together, as a team.
Visit a nature sanctuary
It’s cheaper than a movie and dinner date, and there’s animals and pretty scenery. Nature sanctuaries are great because they’re local establishments rather than state-funded zoos or aquariums, which means most of the wildlife will likely be native to the area. Plus, most sanctuaries have a bottle-feeding space where you can feed and interact with baby goats and cows. It’s such a great, grounding bonding experience to be amongst animals together!
Originally published on May 8, 2018.