Either because we are totally unaware of the exciting things happening around us, or because we are tied down to kids being in bed at home, Abe and I tend to not get out much on the weekends.
And so, through the years, we've tried out many different stay-at-home dates. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Learn how to play an old-timey game like Cribbage or Backgammon. We were on a Cribbage streak for several weeks and had a ridiculously fun time saying (as the rules state) "One for His knob!" at the appropriate time. We also played Backgammon by printing out the board on paper and playing with nickels/pennies as pieces. Bonus: this will prepare you for retirement.
2. Read poems, a play, or short story out loud. If it's October, Edgar Allen Poe does not disappoint. But I'd worry less about what you read and just start reading.
3. Play "Six degrees to ..." on Wikipedia. This game is probably only good for about 20-30 minutes, but it's pretty fun. Each person thinks of something (person, place, concept ... whatever) and then you both say what you were thinking. Start on the Wikipedia page for one of those things, and then navigate to the Wikipedia page for the other thing, using only the URLs on the pages you visit. The goal is to use 6 or less links to get from one page to the other.
If I remember right, we did this for "Gordon B. Hinckley" (who is a former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and "NASCAR".
4. Make dinner together and eat by candlelight. Try something new, or just make what you have on hand. Any meal tastes better when you make it together and then set the atmosphere with candles. We spread out several tea lights along the middle of the table.
5. Make a new dessert together. This requires a bit of planning to have the ingredients on-hand. Or you can do a last-minute trip to the store. This can be a good option if you've already done dinner with the kids and date night is starting a bit later in the evening.
6. Make a board game. Okay, maybe a little ambitious. Here's the back story. Abe and I have recently wanted to play an old board game called Survive! It's not longer in print, so is a bit difficult (and pricey) to get a hold of. Plus, last month we cracked down on our budget, so we're extra price sensitive at the moment.
Several years ago, our cousins Eric and Sherry actually hand-made this exact game. Inspired, we have recently set out to create our own copy. The materials: large foam sheets, air dry clay, markers, paint. The price tag: $15. And it will definitely take up several evenings of date nights.
7. Watch the "Horatio Hornblower" A&E miniseries. Movies are sort of cheating, and Abe came very close to rolling his eyes when I mentioned this particular one, so maybe this isn't a sure-fire date night idea. But I have fond memories of watching this miniseries as date nights, either at our house or with friends. They are well done, but just corny enough to make for fun viewing with someone else.
8. Drink hot chocolate, smoothies, or lemonade. This is a great go-to for busy times - when you want to make some space for being together, but don't have much time or energy. Simply sitting down at the end of the day over a glass of something hot or cold and chatting can do wonders for keeping close.
9. Play or listen to music. I play the piano, Abe is learning guitar, and we both like to sing. Any combination of these makes for a fun evening.
If you're not into creating music, listen to some new things together. Youtube is great for exploring old music videos, especially Christmas songs from the 80s. I just got into an app called Songza, which has awesome situation-based playlists ("Unwinding after a long day" or "Working or studying - no lyrics"). This Monday afternoon, it suggested playlists for the situation "Walking away from an exploding building". Possibilities included Epic Soundtracks (think, Lord of the Rings) or Superheros (Avengers and the like).
10. Build a fort. One of my favorite methods for inspiring creativity for something like this is to set limits. Build a fort in under 5 minutes. Build a fort using only brooms, blankets, and bungee cords. Build a fort - no hands allowed. Note: this is a completely untested date idea. We have never tried to build forts together. But maybe we will now.