Champagne Dates On A Beer Budget

Even when times are flush, you don't have to spend a lot to have a romantic, rewarding evening out. Here, a guide to whipping up a date worth writing home about.

By Jim Sulski

n other words, keeping a date relatively inexpensive — but creative — can make it feel extra special and memorable. Think of it as a champagne date on a beer budget. And timing-wise, this especially makes sense right now, as any remaining holiday high has evaporated and we're left struggling in an uncertain economy. What follows is a guide to creating reasonably priced, yet unforgettable rendezvous.

The best things in life are free
One of the most terrific activities a couple can enjoy together is simply walk
One of the most terrific activities a couple can enjoy together is simply walk and talk.
and talk. This could be a stroll through the city, a walk through the woods or a quiet hike along the beach. A walk is not only a romantic journey, it’s also good exercise. Try to schedule the walk so that you can enjoy a sunset together, or plan a hike when the spring flowers are in full bloom.

Stimulate the mind
Here’s another idea: Plan an afternoon or evening at the public library. There’s something romantic about perusing the stacks together. You can give your excursion a theme: Look up subjects the two of you have always had an interest in, explore places that you would someday like to travel to, search for romantic poetry or pick out books for each other. Once you’ve checked out a few volumes, head home, open a bottle of wine and enjoy some quiet reading time together.

Get things cooking
If you like to spend some time digesting with your date, consider preparing a gourmet meal for each other at home. This will not only be less expensive than going to a restaurant, but will allow you to spend some time warming up the kitchen together. Start by planning out a menu (consult any number of cookbooks or gourmet magazines), a shopping list and cooking times.
Find a couple of soft, fluffy robes and you’re in business
Enhance the dinner with a modestly priced bottle of wine (again, cheaper than what you would pay for it in a restaurant). Then take your time slowly whipping up your epicurean evening together.

Rest and relaxation
Plan an at-home spa day. Much like preparing a gourmet meal in, staying at home will not only lower the cost of your spa day but will make it an unforgettable evening. Start by visiting a local bookstore and looking up a couple of spa “recipes” for everything from mud masks to nail care. Then, pick up the needed materials at a bath shop or a health-food store. Find a couple of soft, fluffy robes and you’re in business.

Show some heart
Volunteer together: Spend an evening helping out at a food pantry or a soup kitchen. Not only is it an inexpensive date, but it’s also a way to bond by providing for those who are less fortunate.

Jim Sulski is a freelance writer who frequently contributes to Happen magazine.
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