23 Frugal Date Ideas Your Special Someone Will Love

by Chris Tecmire


It’s that time of the year again.  We are nearing the day where married men attempt to make up for 364 days of neglect.  It’s almost Valentines Day!

In honor of Cupid-lovers everywhere, we’re going to take a look at 23 frugal date ideas that knock the socks off the usual restaurant and a movie date.

Without further ado…

23 Frugal Date Ideas Your Special Someone Will Love 

1.  Have an eating contest

There’s nothing like trash-talking with your mouth full to get the romantic juices flowing.  You should probably be fairly comfortable with your date if you’re going to choose this idea since it probably won’t be pretty.

My wife beat me by one bite with hot dogs and buns, but I owned Lucky Charms.  I suppose a tie-breaker’s in order.

2.  Finally use the fondue set you got for your wedding

Everyone likes fondue.  And yet most fondue sets continue to collect dust and cobwebs in a cabinet somewhere.  Cheese is great, but chocolate is a better date dip.  Try dipping cookies, fruit, marshmallows, or just about anything else your heart desires – chocolate is good with anything.

3.  Go to Barnes and Noble and plan your dream vacation in the travel section

Camp out in the travel section and start perusing the travel books to first find a country or state you both want to visit.  Once you’ve agreed on a destination, start planning your itinerary.  How long will you be there?  What will you do?  What will you eat?  Taking a vacation is nice, but planning a vacation is better :)

4.  Plan a double feature at home (take turns planning the movies)

One of you gets to choose the first movie and the other one can pick the last movie.  If your honey hates action movies, don’t pick the Expendables.  However, it doesn’t have to be his/her favorite movie either.  This is a chance to broaden their horizons (slightly).  A great pick might be a childhood favorite that your significant other still hasn’t seen.

Don’t forget the required intermission, popcorn, and snacks.

5.  Volunteer together

Help somebody in your community with a specific project or volunteer at a favorite charity or soup kitchen.  Dates don’t always have to be frivolous.  You just have to be together.

6.  Steal your kids’ coloring books

Don’t have kids?  Head out to the store and pick up your own.  You never know when you’re going to need a good coloring break.  Coloring books are the perfect companions for long waits in the doctor’s office or DMV.

As far as your date is concerned…color some pictures, discuss your favorite childhood stories, and then hang them up on the fridge for all to see.

7.  Make a music video

It’s never been easier to make a music video.  Everything from your cell phone to your blender records video these days.  Pick a song that you like and go find your inner artist.  You can lip sync, sing the song yourself, or simply bust a move, but, above all else, make sure you have a good time.  And then upload it to YouTube, of course.

8.  Take a hike and have a picnic

Whether you take a long walk near the rail-road tracks, follow the beach as long as your feet will take you, or seek the solitude of a forest, there’s very little that rivals a nice, long walk.  Once you start getting hungry, pick a scenic location and plant yourself for a delicious picnic.

9.  Cook a brand-new recipe together

Cooking together can be a lot of fun if you don’t take it too seriously.  So, try something that neither of you have ever made, but don’t go TOO gourmet, or it may just end up being stressful.  Then, sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

10.  Go sledding and make a snowman

I hate the cold, but if you’re bundled up properly sledding can’t be beat.  So, release your inner child by playing in the snow until you can’t feel your fingers.  Then, thaw them out with a giant mug of hot cocoa.

11.  Play disc golf

I love disc golf.  It’s much less stressful then regular golf, easy to learn, and usually free.  Once you have the necessary gear (I usually just carry a couple discs), the courses are almost always free, and you can finish 18 holes in 1 – 2 hours.  Find a course near you and give it a shot.  Check out a couple Youtube videos if you’re not sure of the technique.

12.  Head to the park and feed the ducks

It doesn’t get much simpler than this.  Sometimes simple is what you want.  Ducks = fun.

13.  Have a “So bad, it’s good” movie night

There’s very little in this world that is more satisfying than making fun of a horrible movie.  So, pick a tragically bad movie (low budget horror or science fiction movies often fit the bill), and enjoy.  Frogs is a personal favorite of mine.

(The movie’s rated PG, but the trailer has a little bit of language in it)

14.  Check the Chamber of Commerce in your town for cheap/free events

Even the smallest towns generally have plenty of fun and free events planned for their residents.  Check your particular website for details.

15.  Complete a Paint-By-Number

This is a multiple date idea.  Trisha and I did this ages ago when we were dating and really enjoyed it.  There are plenty of nice paint-by-number sets out there for less than $15 or $20.  Pick one for each of you.  That might not seem like a very frugal date ($30 – $40), but it will take at least 3 or 4 sessions before you finish your masterpiece.  My favorite site is http://paintbynumberkits.com/  Just make sure you choose one that fits your skill level.  I always stick to the no-blending kits, so I don’t have to try to blend colors and come up with the right shade.  I like to keep my painting nice and easy.

16.  Bring a blanket and snacks and go star-gazing

What’s better than sitting under the stars with your sweetheart?  The answer:  Sitting under the stars with your sweetheart and some Oreos.

17.  Go fishing

Maybe you can even cook up your catch for dinner.

18.  Star in your very own photo shoot

Whether it’s crazy outfits at a thrift store or your own ridiculous combinations at home, a photo shoot can be a lot of fun if you are willing to channel the supermodel that’s inside all of us.

19.  Pick 5 games and have a game-night championship

Best 2 out of 3 wins.  Choose 5 different games that both parties can agree on and don’t hold back.  There’s nothing better than screaming “Yahtzee!” in your sweetheart’s face as you do your victory dance.

20.  Go to the zoo

Monkeys, lions, and penguins.  Enough said.

21.  Set a new world record

There are plenty of ridiculous records out there that only exist because so few people have ever tried them.  So, pick an activity that seems like fun and find out what the current record is.  Most grapes eaten in one minute, or most t-shirts worn at one time, etc.  Then grab a video camera and give it a try.  The camera is on for two reasons…

A) laughing at yourself later

B) documenting your new record

22.  Play a prank on a friend

Good-natured, legal mischief can make for a great date.  Just don’t forget – good-natured AND legal.

And finally, for the couples with young kids…

23.  Nap date!!

Drop your kids off at your parents house or someone else you trust and forget the usual date idea.  Instead, do what you’ve been longing to do for several years now – sleep.  Go take a nap together.  Now THAT’s a date!

By the way – when I mentioned this date idea to my wife, she was giddy.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen her more excited.

So, there you have it.  Proof that there are plenty of dates that cost next-to-nothing.  Again, remember that the point of a date is to be together.  And being together is free.

However, if you decide that you’re going to spend some moola and head out to a restaurant and a movie instead, head over to Cardpool or Plastic Jungle first.  You can buy discounted gift cards for up to 30% off the retail value, so you don’t have to go completely broke this Valentines Day. (Make sure you plan ahead and order the card in plenty of time before your date)

Have any other frugal date ideas you’d like to share?  Leave a comment below.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa January 23, 2013 at 7:14 am

I like number 23!


Lisa January 23, 2013 at 9:44 am

The nap date made me giddy just thinking about it! I totally vote for that, we have some movie and dinner gift cards that I would happily trade for a nap! Every time we think of trying to use them and coordinating babysitting etc it sounds too tiring.


Chris Tecmire January 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I think that’s everyone’s favorite Lisa! We all want to go out and have a good time, but sometimes life just wears us out and sleeping in our own bed without interuption sounds a lot like swimming with Dolphins in Bermuda.


Noelle Davis January 24, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I met my husband at a bad movie night (mutual friends had a potluck and about a dozen guests over) watching Reptilicus and Frogs! What great bad movies and a fun time.


Chris Tecmire January 24, 2013 at 5:35 pm

That makes me SO happy Noelle. Just knowing that “Frogs” brought you together makes my day! Thanks for the comment. I’ll have to check out Reptilicus one of these days.


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