Monday, May 21, 2012

Budget and Kid-Friendly Date Nights at Home

You may have been able to relate with our post about finding it difficult to do date nights with kids, especially at home: How We Do Date Nights with Kids at Home

 Even if you do get to go out of the house for a date more often than we do, you may wish it weren't so expensive. Here are a few ways to restructure some traditional dates so they can be done at home for less money:

Dinner and a Movie

Find copy cat recipes from the restaurant of your choice and cook dinner together. If you don't go to movies, you can get one from the library or rent one online. If you don't watch movies at all, you can play a video game together. If you have no screen in your house besides your computer, you can always peruse Facebook together (now that's entertainment!). If all else fails, you can simply talk over dinner and remember what life was like when constant technology was not needed to enjoy meaningful relationships.

Mall Shopping and Popcorn

I told you about how my husband goes shopping with me sometimes here. Shopping, of course, takes money and isn't very budget friendly unless you're okay with window shopping. (Any more, window shopping with husbands and sons at the mall is not a good idea!) If your man agrees, you could always try on the clothes you already have and see which outfits are his favorites. Or, if he's not into that, you could make a shopping list of things you'd both like to buy and "dream" together. As for the popcorn, I just came up with the perfect at-home alternative to our favorite (but pricey!) caramel corn from the mall:

Preheat oven to 375. Melt 1/2 cup a butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a saucepan. Simmer for a few minutes. While it is simmering, pop 1/4 cup of popcorn in a bag in the microwave (no need to add butter, salt or sugar). Pour brown sugar mixture over popped corn and mix well to make sure it's completely coated. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake 7 - 10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before digging in. Mmmm!

Conversation over Coffee

While this is one of the cheaper dates we do, sometimes it's difficult to get out of the house to go to a coffee shop. Here a few coffee recipes to try at home while you talk in the comfyness (Is that a word? Spell check is saying no.) of your own living room:

Homemade Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino
How to Make a Latte at Home Without the Machine

Of course, there's always plain old coffee or hot cocoa if you don't drink coffee. It may even be fun to pull out the Checker or Monopoly board and add a little competition with the caffeine!

Camping Out

I have many memories of camping when I was a little girl and as a family after we got married. Most of them have involved RVs, so I don't know if that really qualifies. However, whether you camp in a primitive spot with a tent or all decked out in an RV, you can always enjoy the campfire experience. Put the kids to bed, grab the baby monitor, build a small fire in the backyard and sip hot cocoa or sodas by the campfire while you look at the stars together. Whether you want to put up a tent is up to you. I think I'd just want to finish my cocoa and head back to my warm bed! :-)

Bed and Breakfast

Going away overnight is one of the highlights of our year when it comes to dating. We try to do it at least once a year although we've had to skip a few due to finances and small babies. When it just isn't possible to go away from home, you can make your own bedroom into a hotel room. It may take some extra cleaning and decluttering. Maybe you could spruce it up with a few inexpensive amenities or decorations. Light candles and play soft music. If you have older kids, you could have them make breakfast for you. Or, you could stay at home while they go out to Grandma's, sleep in and make breakfast with some special foods you don't buy very often.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have fun! And feel free to tell us all about it in the comments so we can try some of your ideas.

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