Do you and your partner celebrate Valentine’s Day? Are you looking to move beyond chocolates, flowers, or lingerie? Consider giving them the gift of twelve months of dates. If you’re like my husband and me, it’s really easy to default to the classic dinner and a movie (or in our case, dinner and a kid-free trip to Target). Twelve months of intentionally chosen dates can help break out of a rut.
Deciding What to Give
To begin, determine what your budget will be. Date ideas do NOT have to break the bank. And, not every date has to cost the same amount. Think about particularly special months (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays) where you might want to do something bigger or special activities that benefit from advanced planning like concert or theater tickets or weekends away. From there, move on to the remaining dates with whatever budget is left. There is no shortage of budget-friendly date options from hitting up a local festival to creating a romantic dinner date at home.
Worried about coming up with twelve unique ideas? There are a million ideas on Pinterest if you need them, but I like the idea of making the dates truly unique to our city and to yourselves as a couple. Luckily, St. Louis is full of possibilities for every budget and every season. Consider whether you want to use a theme: seasonal fun, a few of your spouse’s favorite things, activities to get the two of you active, new experiences to share. Or maybe you want to forego one theme for a mish-mash of all of them!
Second only to the fun of selecting the actual activities is how you want to present them to your partner. The sky is the limit. You could give them one at a time or all at once. Your presentation can be as simple as an accordion file folder with a note for each month or as complex as having a curated package arrive each month announcing the date (for example, a team t-shirt and beer koozie with tickets to a Cards game). If you’d prefer a happy medium between those two extremes, you could customize a calendar to circle the date and provide details of the plans, or you could create a sort of “advent calendar.” Again, if you need more ideas, Pinterest is FULL of them.
Making the Time
Probably the most difficult aspect of keeping a regular schedule of dates is arranging child care. While you don’t need to arrange babysitters for all twelve months, I would encourage you not to wait to look for a sitter each month. Aim to arrange child care on a quarterly basis. And get creative with how you think of childcare. It doesn’t always have to be a paid sitter. Does your school, place of worship, or daycare have parents’ night out a few times a year? Schedule dates for those nights. If you have family locally, would they be able to pencil themselves in for one or two of the dates? What about neighbors or family friends? Maybe they’d be willing to trade babysitting so they can get out of the house without kids too. Another possibility is to schedule the occasional daytime date during the week if your children are in school or daycare. As a bonus, most attractions are less crowded during the day.
Whether you’re newly partnered or have been together for decades, date night doesn’t have to become predictable and stale. A year of dates will let your partner know you’re already looking ahead to many special times together. My husband and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, but I’m looking ahead to the 13th anniversary of our first date with just such a gift. Here’s to a year full of fun, romance, and new experiences!