7 Last-Minute, Low-Cost Date Night Ideas Anyone Can Pull Off

by Martha Adams

Remember candlelit dinners out, or grabbing the corner spot at your favorite bar, or splurging on the popcorn (extra butter!) at the local cineplex? Well, who says you can’t have a satisfying date night at home?

Whatever the reason — be it Valentine’s Day , your partner’s birthday, or just because — you don’t need to spend a lot of money to host a date night at home. And just in case you forgot to plan something, there are plenty of ways to DIY a date night on short notice and next-to-no budget. Here are seven easy ways to treat your significant other and yourself on a couple’s date night at home.

Recreate your first date.

It might be difficult (or even impossible) to return to the scene of your first date, but you can certainly recreate the vibe. If you went to an Italian restaurant, whip up a delicious bolognese and pair it with a romantic red wine. Did you do drinks at a dive bar? String up holiday lights, turn off the overhead lighting, and grab some beers from the fridge. You don’t need to revive every element of your first date — the awkward “so, what do you do?” small talk? No thanks! But it can be a fun trip down memory lane to see how you’ve grown… or if your tastes have remained the same.

Host a movie marathon.

You’ve seen every “Star Wars” installment multiple times. They think Baby Yoda is cute… and that’s about it. Whether you spend all day watching several movies in one franchise, or create a marathon of tonally similar films such as “The Aristocats” and “Lady and the Tramp,” you’ll have plenty of time to snuggle up on the couch together.

Take a virtual cooking class together.

No longer do you need to crowd into an industrial kitchen to learn how to cook something you’ve never made before. You can book a virtual cooking class through stores like Sur La Table or platforms like Airbnb . Check with local chefs you love to see if they’re hosting a class on Instagram Live or Zoom, too — and be prepared to surprise yourself as you whip up a masterpiece.

Throw your own high school dance (bonus points if it’s prom).

Grab some streamers and queue up the playlist of your favorite throwback hits. (The song that defined my high school years? “Yeah!” by Usher.) Transform your living room into a high school gym with some help from your portable speaker — just avoid standing awkwardly in the corner, waiting for that cutie to ask you to dance.

And if you’re feeling particularly inspired, order a corsage or boutonnière, pull that black-tie outfit out of storage, and practice your best prom pose (you know the one). An artfully draped sheet and that ring light you bought for your work-from-home office can serve as a makeshift photo station. Say cheese!

Celebrate a theme day.

Who says date night needs to only happen at night? Theme days can break the monotony of “ blursday ” — aka when the days of the week swirl together in a confusing mush — and challenge you to reminisce about the good old days. Celebrate a DIY “Beach Day” if the heat in your place is on full blast, or bake up a storm with “Great British Bake Off” Day.

Plan your next trip through dinner.

If you’ve always wanted to go to Paris, find a quintessentially French recipe to prepare. ( Ratatouille , anyone?) Did you have to reschedule your trip to Mexico for when it’s safer? Try your hand at enchiladas Suizas — they’re easier to assemble than they look, I promise! Find or make a playlist by artists from that country, and spend dinner planning what you’ll see and do in the future.

Take point on exactly half a day.

Maybe one of you wants to make the other brunch, and pull out all the stops. The other can be in charge of dinner, and setting the vibe accordingly. You’re still a couple, so remember to work as a team: If you’re not cooking in the morning, do the dishes during cleanup — and vice versa.

Ella Cerón

Lifestyle Editor

Ella Cerón is Apartment Therapy's Lifestyle Editor, covering how to live your best life in the home you've made your own. She lives in New York with two black cats (and no, it's not a bit).

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