What are Some Inexpensive Creative Date Ideas?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Plenty of people feel the pinch of economic times and look to ways they can pursue romance without it costing a bundle. While no one wants to appear “cheap,” especially on early dates with a new girlfriend or boyfriend, there are plenty of things to do that won’t break your piggy bank and will be thoughtful and romantic. Whether you are dating a spouse or long-term partner, or just starting a new relationship, inexpensive creative date ideas can be very satisfying, putting emphasis on thoughtfulness and togetherness, instead of on luxury and expense.

A visit to a local farmer's market that was followed up by a meal that was cooked from scratch might work with some couples.
A visit to a local farmer's market that was followed up by a meal that was cooked from scratch might work with some couples.

You may have to think outside the box a bit to come up with creative date ideas. The old standard of dinner and a movie will hardly do, when movies at night can easily cost $40-50 US Dollars (USD), especially if you add concession items, and dinner out can add up quickly. Lots of people don’t have $100 USD or more to spend on every date night. But who says movie night has to be so pricey, or that dinner has to take place in a restaurant? Especially in summer, your town may host free open-air movie nights. If these are available, consider packing a picnic (homemade says you cared!) and having a date in the romantic warm evenings that summer brings. This can easily bring date cost down to $20-30 USD for an evening, or less depending upon how well you can cook.

A picnic is an inexpensive and thoughtful date.
A picnic is an inexpensive and thoughtful date.

Picnics remain a means to many creative date ideas because they can take place in so many locales. A state or regional park may offer the perfect setting, and don’t forget that packed lunches or dinner may be perfect when you attend fairs, festivals, or free concerts. Locale may be just as important as picnicking, and it’s a good idea to get a sense of what is going on in your neighborhood.

Playing darts at a pub is an inexpensive date idea.
Playing darts at a pub is an inexpensive date idea.

Check your local paper for events to see which ones fit within your budget, and those that inspire creative date ideas. Well-organized cities and towns often have a variety of free or low cost events that will satisfy all your dating needs. Look for community sponsored events like local farmers markets and festivals, but also check out things like free days at museums, gallery openings, or free concerts. These all provide conversation points and are definitely more creative than the standard dinner and a movie. Don’t forget the benefits of things like walking, biking or boating in local parks as a way to enjoy time with another person.

Creative date ideas may include bird watching.
Creative date ideas may include bird watching.

If you want yet more creative date ideas, consider some of the following:

Baking something sweet is an inexpensive date idea.
Baking something sweet is an inexpensive date idea.

Spending time together stargazing is an inexpensive date.
Spending time together stargazing is an inexpensive date.
  • Meet somewhere with a few of your favorite poems or songs and discuss them.
  • Go wine tasting at your community’s best-kept wineries
  • Have a swim at a community, apartment or privately owned pool
  • Go out for huge and decadent ice cream sundaes
  • Take a walking tour (self-guided) of some of the prettiest neighborhoods in your town or a town nearby
  • Pull out the binoculars and bird watch at a local park or a bird sanctuary
  • Tour a really expensive open house on the market and pretend you’d like to buy it
  • Window shop at a very luxurious store or a very eclectic one
  • Play darts at the local pub, or play any other sport in which you share a mutual interest
  • Create a home cooked romantic meal together and have either a formal dinner or a picnic on the floor
  • Reconnect with your inner child and play on the slide or swings at a local park
A bottle of white Zinfandel wine can be an inexpensive addition to a date.
A bottle of white Zinfandel wine can be an inexpensive addition to a date.

Let your interests and those of your date guide you toward more creative date ideas. You’ll also find great ideas in various books, which can help you when you’ve run out of creative juice. Don’t forget to let your date (or spouse) suggest some of the dating ideas; two heads are definitely better than one when it comes to developing creative date ideas that will be memorable and fun.

Creative date ideas may include hosting a romantic dinner.
Creative date ideas may include hosting a romantic dinner.
Spending time together in front of a fireplace can be an inexpensive date.
Spending time together in front of a fireplace can be an inexpensive date.
Inviting friends over for a movie night can make for an inexpensive double date.
Inviting friends over for a movie night can make for an inexpensive double date.
Creating romance can be as simple as lighting a fire and having some wine.
Creating romance can be as simple as lighting a fire and having some wine.
Meeting for a cup of coffee is an inexpensive date idea.
Meeting for a cup of coffee is an inexpensive date idea.
Taking a walk and having a picnic are among the options for going on an inexpensive date.
Taking a walk and having a picnic are among the options for going on an inexpensive date.
Going for a jog is an inexpensive date idea for couples who enjoy fitness.
Going for a jog is an inexpensive date idea for couples who enjoy fitness.
Inexpensive dates put more focus on the couple instead of the activity.
Inexpensive dates put more focus on the couple instead of the activity.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

indigowater

Fun date ideas can also include friends and neighbors. I love progressive dinners because my date and I can concentrate on making one dish (saves a ton of money) together and then enjoy the whole night of a six-course meal with a group of friends who also love cooking.

The cost of doing this is the same as making one dish for 10-12 people. Very practical and so much variety every time you do this.

seafoam

A romantic idea my boyfriend and I had turned out to be one of our favorite free date nights (except for the cost of the food and wine, which wasn't bad).

We packed up shrimp cocktail on ice, wine, cheese and crackers, chocolate-covered strawberries and drove over to the beach for sunset.

Not only did we enjoy the meal, but some nice people walking by offered to take pictures of us (with our camera, of course). Later on, my boyfriend gave me one of those photos in a frame which I still have on my desk today! Great memories!

sunnysideup

Date night ideas should include both free and low-cost outings to balance out the high cost of restaurant dinners these days.

One of the first dates I had with my husband was not only free but fun. We washed our cars together and then cooled off in my apartment's community pool. It was a perfect way to be playful and still get our cars cleaned for free!

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