8 No-Planning-Needed Dates

Want some get-together ideas that don’t require lots of planning and preparation? Try these spirited suggestions.

By Maura Kelly

o the holidays are long over—but your reserves are still tapped when it comes to planning social events? Then these date ideas are just what you need to add a little easy zest to your courtship. None of them require much time or effort to prepare for—so you can put all your energy into having a great time with that special someone!

1. Make a (pre-made) dinner
There are times when you have the energy to braise, broil, and flambé your way into your honey’s heart. And then there are times when you really don’t have the wherewithal to plan that
For an animal lover who doesn’t have a pet, a dog-park date can be a warm and fuzzy experience.
kind of a meal. For those moments: Here’s a minimalist plan: The next time you happen to be at the grocery store, pick up the ingredients for the most low-maintenance dinner of all time. Get unbaked pizza dough (available in most grocers’ freezers); pre-cut toppings like pepperoni and sliced veggies; grated cheeses like mozzarella and parmesan; pizza sauce; and whatever else your stomach desires. Then invite your favorite person over. Roll out a few mini-rounds of pizza dough… and the two of you can design your very own specialty pies. They take about two minutes to prepare — a sprinkle of cheddar here, a handful of pepper slices there — and bake up in under ten minutes. And it’s lots of fun to get creative in the kitchen together… and to take turns feeding one another your custom creations.

2. Put on your poker face
Nobody wants to play games in a relationship—unless they’re ones that involve kings, queens, spades and clubs. Who doesn’t love the retro, back-to-your-childhood fun of breaking out a deck of cards and trying to defeat your date? Says dating expert Liz Kelly, author of Smart Man Hunting, “Get creative and play poker or blackjack using Reese’s Pieces or Skittles instead of betting chips.” While you’re at it, pull out some old visors so you two will look like real card sharks. For more of a bonding experience, teach your date how to play a new game (may we suggest Hearts?). And of course there’s always Strip Poker, for those of you who really like to gamble!

3. Get in your car—and go!
What could be more romantic than the two of you cruising into the country and taking in some new sites? So plan a little road trip—with the emphasis on little. It couldn’t be simpler — ask friends or co-workers where, within a, say, 1-hour range, they like to go in your area — or do a little searching online. Maybe it’s a mountain-top vista, a waterfall, or a little-known lake—or a great bakery or café that’s worth the trip. Before you set off, make sure you have a few good CD’s in the car—then enjoy the day, wherever it takes you. See an interesting side road? Go ahead and take it… you don’t have a set schedule. Just to go exploring with your sweetie.

4. Try a dog-park date
Man’s best friend can make for a fun, no-fuss date. Ask your date to walk your dog with you, says Cyndi Haynes, author of 2002 Things to Do on a Date. We know, we know: If you’re a pooch owner, taking Spot out for a stroll might seem about as thrilling to you as brushing your
Your local bookstore is a great spot for a date that will stimulate your brain.
teeth, but for an animal lover who doesn’t have a pet, it can be a warm and fuzzy experience. It’s also a sure-fire way to make your date feel more included in your life. If there’s a cute place along your walk where you can stop to pick up some hot cider or a cookie, so much the better. (Of course, we recommend checking with your date first to make sure this plan sounds fun; you want to make sure he or isn’t allergic to canines or dog-phobic.)

5. Have a picnic—at your place…
Everybody loves picnics—but packing 27 different plastic containers (plus lids), hauling ’em to the car, and then carrying all of it out to some idyllic spot can be a big hassle. (Not to mention the fact that in many parts of the country right now, it’s cold outside). But whoever said you had to leave the comfort of home for a great picnic? Simply spread a red-checkered tablecloth out in your living room, grab either some bread and cheese or a bucket of fried chicken and some potato salad, and dig in. Light some candles if you’re dining in the dark, or turn on all the lights and play a game.

6. Or have a picnic in the park
Maybe you’re the kind of person who just doesn’t think a picnic is a picnic unless it’s in the middle of a park or field. If that’s the case (and the weather’s warm enough), make it easy on yourself by skipping the whole food-prep part: Pick up take-out from your favorite Chinese or sushi place along the way, and enjoy your stress-free meal as you watch the sun set.

7. Get culture and coffee at the bookstore
Here’s a great date for those “I dunno… what do you want to do?” evenings: Your local bookstore is a great spot for a date that will stimulate your brain and satiate your sweet tooth. “Listen to a visiting author read from her new book, and afterwards get some dessert at the coffee bar,” says dating expert Steve Nakamoto, author of Men Are Like Fish. To make planning extra-easy, simply plug your zip code into the main Barnes & Noble web site, to find out about literary events near you. At a reading, neither you nor your date will have to strain for conversation since you can talk about the book… or the inane questions people asked during the Q&A session!

8. Do a drive-in
We can’t think of anything much better than a drive-in movie on a Saturday night—much more romantic than the same old local movie house, right? Setting up this kind of date can be almost spontaneous: Let your fingers do the walking to, which lists outdoor theatres around the country. All you two have to do is snuggle up in the front seat and enjoy the show!

Maura Kelly is a freelance writer who has written for Glamour, among other publications.
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