One thing that my husband and I decided we were going to do before we even got married was continue dating. Every week we have a date night, sometimes on a weekend and sometimes on weekday. We have a monthly “date budget” that we have set aside so we can continue to date each other with purpose. But sometimes we pick a more expensive date and our budget is drained before the end of the month. Rather than call it good for the month, we work on finding free dates or planning stay at home dates. Coming up with fresh and fun date night ideas for you and your spouse can be exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be! It should be an adventure. Here are 5 fun stay home date night ideas that we have loved.

1. Plan a trip – Take a look at your budget and your calendar and make a promise to each other that you will go on a trip alone together within the next six months. Maybe you can only realistically plan an overnight trip or maybe you have the luxury of going away for a week or more. Whatever is going to work for you, make sure you get it on your calendar.

Next, set a plan in motion to have the necessary funds set aside to pay for your trip. Once you know when you can go and how much you can spend, you can move on to the fun part of the evening.

Do some research online and check out possible locations. You could consider places that you’ve always wanted to go, or you could even let luck decide. If you are feeling especially adventurous, hang a map on the wall that shows the radius of every possible location that is close enough to visit during your time frame. Blindfold your spouse and have them either throw a dart at the map, or give them a sticker, spin them around and nudge them in the direction of the map.

Once your location is chosen, you can spend the rest of the evening scoping out options for lodging, food, activities, and even potential souvenirs you’d like to bring home.

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2. Turn your love story into a book for your kids – Maybe your spouse is a skilled writer and you are pretty artistic, or maybe you both rely on stick figures and simple captions to write a story. The point of turning your love story into a book for your kids is to preserve the memory from your perspective. Don’t feel pressure to have awesome illustrations or clever descriptions. Just focus on simplifying your love story into a fun memory book for your kids. Here are some topic prompts to get you started:

How you met First date Getting to know each other Meeting each other’s families Meeting each other’s friends Falling in love The proposal Wedding day memories The birth of each child

As for the illustrations, you can draw them, paint them, or use real photos. If you want to get the whole family involved in creating the book, focus on writing the story with your spouse. Then you can pass the written pages off to your kids and let them illustrate the story.

Once you have created your love story book, scan the pages into your computer and turn them into a pdf format. Many scanning programs allow you to scan your pages right into pdf format. You can then send the file to Salt Lake Mailing & Printing and have official books made to give each of your children. Turning your love story into a real book is a great way to preserve your story for generations to come. This book is sure to be a family favorite!

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3. Fondue Night – Planning a fondue night has many benefits. You get to try a lot of foods and you will have a lot of time to talk and interact with your spouse. When the food is cooked a piece or two at a time, you get to keep eating and talking in between each round. And if you want to make the night more romantic, you can eat by candlelight and even take turns feeding each other small delicacies.

If you don’t have a fondue pot at home, you can search online for some great slow cooker or stove top fondue recipes. Here are some fun and creative bases and dippers to consider trying out with your spouse:

APPETIZER Possible Bases/Dips: Cheese, Spinach & Artichoke, Pesto, Marinara, Alfredo Possible Dippers (all in bite size form): Pieces of Hard Bread (french bread, baguettes), Deli Meats (salami, cubed ham, mini sausages), Crackers, Tortilla Chips, Popcorn, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes, Beef Jerky

MAIN COURSE (all main course dippers must be FULLY cooked in the base) Possible Bases: Flavored Broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable broth with seasonings), Hot Oil (have your favorite dipping sauces on hand for after you use oil Possible Dippers: (all in bite size form), Steak, Chicken, Meatballs, Shrimp, Crab, Salmon, Scallops, Potatoes, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Pasta or Noodles Possible Dipping Sauces: Honey Mustard, Ranch, Cocktail Sauce, Curry Sauce, Steak Sauce, Horseradish, Garlic Butter, Guacamole, Cranberry Sauce, Sweet and Sour Sauce, BBQ Sauce

DESSERT Possible Bases/Sauces: Chocolate (milk, dark, white), Peanut Butter, Carmel, Butterscotch, Chocolate Mint, S’mores (chocolate and marshmallow creme) Possible Dippers (all in bite size form): Strawberries, Bananas, Apples, Pineapple, Grapes, Kiwi, Rice Crispy Treat Pieces, Brownie Bites, Pound Cake, Graham Crackers, Cookie Pieces, Oreos, Wafers, Cinnamon Bears, Marshmallows

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4. Double Date / Game Night – Invite another couple over and play games together. You can play card games, board games, or video games. If weather permits, you could also play croquet or other lawn games, two on two basketball in the driveway, or frisbee.

You can make the night competitive by having several events with the two couples competing against each other, or you could compete guys vs. ladies.

Food for a game night does need to be elaborate. Plan simple treats, beverages, or finger foods and focus instead on enjoying one another’s company.

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5. Build a Fort / Camp Indoors – Cut up some vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onions, and peppers. Form ground beef or turkey into patties, grab a fish filet, or cut steak or chicken into bite sized pieces. Toss your meat and veggies onto two strips of foil. You could also add corn, peas, green beans, canned black beans, or canned kidney beans. Add seasonings, canned or bottled gravy, and/or canned cream soup. Wrap up your tin foil dinners and bake them in the oven. Depending on the ingredients you choose will determine how long your tin foil dinners will need to cook. Just like cooking them in the campfire, you can check their progress in the oven. Make sure your masterpiece dinners don’t burn!

While your dinner is in the oven, use furniture, blankets, sheets, boxes, and anything you can find to build an epic fort. If you want to watch a movie from your fort later in the evening, make sure you build the fort so that it has an opening to view your t.v. screen.

Once your dinner is ready, grab some utensils and head to your fort. During dinner you can swap stories of childhood memories you’ve never shared with each other.

For dessert you can wrap s’mores ingredients in foil and bake them in the oven too. (Or if you are EXTRA careful, you can roast marshmallows over a burner on your stovetop.)

For other fun related activities, you could consider a “hike” or bike ride around your neighborhood, telling ghost stories, playing card games, or watching a classic movie that reminds you of camping.

So get planning and use any or all of these ideas to make some great memories with your spouse!

xo, Deidre

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