Make Your Own Fireworks!

In honor of July 4th, let us share these ways to liven up your dating routine and make sparks fly.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ven the most creative among us can hit the summer dating doldrums. And even if dinner and a movie is a nice way to beat the heat, it’s not very original. If you want to devise a date that will have both of you seeing fireworks, try these ideas:

1. Head to an outdoor movie.
Many towns and cultural organizations sponsor outdoor movie nights. “I like to pack a nice picnic and some
I also liked seeing how he interacted with other people.
wine and cuddle up on a blanket,” says Sue Carter of Atlanta, GA. “You’re outside, and if the movie gets boring, you can go for a walk or just snuggle.”

2. Host a pool party.
Don’t worry; no pool is required. “One of my favorite summer dates was a private pool party,” recalls Tyler Walton of Lawrence, KS. “She invited me over for drinks which we enjoyed sitting in a kiddie pool she’d set up under a tree with Christmas lights and tiki torches. It set a nice intimate tone without being too serious.”

3. Work that trail.
Spend some time together in the service of others. “My second date with my now-boyfriend was a Sierra Club trail maintenance outing,” recalls Erin Hull of Fairfax, CA. “We both love the outdoors, and because we were in a group, there wasn’t so much pressure to keep the conversation up all the time. I also liked seeing how he interacted with other people.” As Hull points out, the service date is best when it’s a cause you both care about.

4. Toast each other.
“Host a little wine and cheese tasting on the roof of your apartment building or somewhere outdoors,” suggests Cinderella Was a Liar author Brenda Della Casa. “Pair cheese with half-bottles of wine and enjoy with pâté, grapes and other delicacies. If this seems too intense, take your date to a wine-tasting.”

5. Try Tai Chi.
“This may sound weird, but I like watching those people who do Tai Chi or yoga in the park,” says Mike Allison of Berkeley, CA. “It’s fascinating to watch and very sensual. And if you get inspired, you can join in before going for an iced green tea later.”

6. Dine al fresco.
Plan a different kind of dinner. “I always suggest that you mark the date on both of your calendars in advance so you can
Your pet’s antics can help you fill any gaps in the conversation.
have the fun and anticipation of the build-up to the date,” says Steve Kemble, self-proclaimed America’s sassiest lifestyle guru. “When your dinner date night arrives, why not have the dinner on a blanket under the stars in the backyard with romantic music and candles. And by all means, do the dishes in the morning.” (If you live in a buggy area, make sure the candles are the citronella variety. And don’t cheap out on the food just because you’re dining al fresco.)

7. Take a summer art walk.
Art walks are a great way to get to know someone, according to Lizzie Post, author of How Do You Work This Life Thing? Advice for the Newly Independent on Roommates, Jobs, Sex and Everything that Counts. “You get to see someone’s personality, taste, and tact when you talk with that person about the work.” In some cities and towns, you’ll see open studio weekends listed in the paper or outdoor art fairs. And what if your date doesn’t dig the art? “Talk about it,” Post says. “Just because you each have an opinion doesn’t mean it has to match up.” Your conversation about the art can be very revealing — and intriguing!

8. Scream for ice cream.
Cool things off by making ice cream together. “I make the base ahead of time, and then we add in our favorite flavors and share,” says Danica Smalley of Chicago, IL. “There’s something romantic about working in the kitchen together — not to mention feeding each other bites of creamy, tasty concoctions.”

9. Take a walk.
And make it more memorable by choosing an off-the-beaten path location or hour. “I like an early morning walk by the water,” says Maurice Stepides of Seattle. “Ponds, lakes, the ocean — any water is romantic. It’s not too crowded and you can enjoy the morning light. Plus, if things go well, there’s always breakfast with your date!” Got a dog? Take Fido along. Your pet’s antics can help you fill any gaps in the conversation.

Try one or more of these tips to put a little zip in your summer dating repertoire. Or go one step further, and let them inspire you to create your own set of exciting, fireworks-worthy dates.

Margot Carmichael Lester is the author of Be A Better Writer and The Real Life Guide to Life After College.
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