This year, on our first Christmas of being married, B and I decided to start doing experience gifts for couples for Christmas instead of physical gifts. So this year, I’m doing 12 Months of Dates!
Every year, it’s so hard for me to come up with stuff I want, since we’ve started living more of a minimalist life. With us picking up and moving from California to Texas just a month ago, we ended up selling all of our furniture, and lots of our other stuff and only packed what we could fit in the jeep and the boat.
We both know we will probably be doing that again sometime after our year here, and we really loved getting rid of all the “stuff” we had accumulated. It’s a freeing feeling not being tied to all the material things.
So, with that, we decided to do experiences from now on. We’ve done this before for birthdays and the occasional holiday, but we’re making this a new family Christmas tradition.
What is the 12 Months of Dates Gift Idea?
The 12 months of dates is a gift you give to your significant other that has one date for every month of the year. You can pre-plan each date and add everything you need for each one in an envelope marked with the date.
Secret or Not
You can either keep these dates a secret, and only show some answers to questions they might have, like what to wear, how much money you’ll need, if you need anything to prepare, etc.
Or you can let them know exactly what the date is right on the envelope.
Pre-Purchase All or Month-to-Month
Another thing you can decide is if you are going to pay for everything in advance, or pay per month. If you are going to a concert one month, booking a hotel another month, and doing couple’s massages for another month, you can go ahead and book everything, purchase the tickets and add them to the envelopes, so all you have to do is rip it open and head on your date.
The other option is to pay per date when the month comes up. We like this because you can be a bit flexible in case something comes up, then you’re not stuck with tickets you can’t use.
Cheap, Exciting, Bucket List
Now of course every couple is going to be different with their situations and finances, so no couple is going to be the same. We have given options for each date to have an affordable option (“Cheap”), a little more expensive option (“Exciting”) and a much more expensive option (“Bucket List”).
We recommend you taking some of each and mixing them up. This year, we are working on saving money as a couple, so a lot of ours will be cheap, mixed in with some exciting, and we have at least one Bucket List this year.
12 Months of Dates Date Ideas
I love the idea of 12 Months of Dates, so figured I would start this New Year with that. There are so many different ideas you can do with these 12 months of dates, and it will all depend on your situation. I’d like to share our 12 Months of Dates for this year with you, and will also give you options for cheap and affordable and Bucket List worthy ideas as well.
Slumber Party Night
January is a cold one, so a slumber party night sounded perfect!
For this one, we’re going to do the bed on the floor with as many pillows as we can find, and make a blanket fort in the living room to have our slumber party.
I plan on lots of music and dancing in the kitchen while we make homemade pizza, pop popcorn and have some hot cocoa to keep us warm.
I’m working on a 20 questions game, so we can have a fun night getting to know some random answers about each other, and we’ll finish the night watching movies until we fall asleep.
Of course there will be tons of junk food with chips, candy, and soda…because, it’s a slumber party!
Cheap- Slumber Party at Home
Exciting- Slumber Party in a Hotel/AirBnB Near You
Bucket List- Slumber Party in an awesome place that’s on your Bucket List!
Around the World Dinner / (Reverse Dinner)
For February, I am planning a ‘Round the World Dinner. We don’t like going out for Valentine’s Day, since it’s so crowded and not really our thing, so we’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day on a budget after the day and save money!
Plus, we enjoy doing Free Valentine’s Day Dates instead. Since I work from home, it’s good to get out of the house, so for this date, we’re headed to some restaurants.
An Around the World Dinner is a fun way of checking out different restaurants near you. We use to do this will friends, where we would go to different houses for each course of a meal, but we’re going to do it with restaurants. You head to one restaurant for drinks, then another for appetizers, followed by a new restaurant for dinner, and ending with a restaurant for dessert.
This will give us a way to get to know the new area we are living in as well. Another way to do something like this, would be to do a reverse dinner. You start with dessert, then have dinner, appetizers, and then some drinks.
Cheap- Reverse Dinner at Home. Start with dessert, and work your way backwards. Try to have some food you don’t typically eat to make it a little more special.
Exciting- Around the World Dinner at restaurants near you.
Bucket List- Do this in a different country you’re visiting.
In March, I have a fun Couples Game Night planned. We absolutely love game night, and can play games together all night long. We have several games that are great for 2 players, and do a few rounds of each as we relax and eat some good food.
We’re going to mix up affordable dates with some more expensive dates throughout these 12 Months of Dates, so for this one, we’re just staying home and playing the games we already have.
Cheap- Game Night at Home
Exciting- Host Couple’s Game Night with friends
Bucket List – Dave & Buster’s Game Night
Pizza in Italy
In April, we will be heading on our annual getaway trip and will be in Italy! We’ll have lots of dinners, tours, road trips and so much more, so for this month, we are going to use our vacation as a date night.
We’re choosing Pizza in Italy as our exciting date for these 12 Months of Dates. Plus a gondola ride in Italy too!
So April will be our Bucket List date for this year.
Cheap-Get Pizza delivered and enjoy it with a movie.
Exciting- Make your own pizzas and dance in the kitchen.
Bucket List- Have Pizza in Italy!
Escape Room Date
Again, we’re obsessed with Escape Rooms, so I had to throw one of these on our list. In an Escape Room, you have 60 minutes to escape the themed room by solving clues, puzzles, and riddles. It’s a great way to learn about Teamwork together and is our favorite date night ever.
For this month, we are going to find a local Escape Room we haven’t done and add one to our list. We like to get these tickets from Groupon, cause they are typically a bit cheaper than just walking in.
Try to save money? Try out these free Escape Rooms with Amazon Alexa Date Nights.
Cheap- Alexa Date Night at home, free Escape Room
Exciting- Escape Room the Game at Home
Bucket List – An Escape Room in your town.
Heading to the beach in June is a must for us Californians, but now that we’re in Texas, I’ll have to see where we’re at in June to decide if we will head to the beach, or if we will do a Lake Walk instead.
Remember how I said every date will depend on your own situation? Well, we have to be very flexible with our time. B could have a fishing tournament pop up, and we have to change plans. So if we don’t make it to the beach in June, we’d be fine doing a long walk by the lake we live on.
Cheap- Walk around any body of water you live by. (Even if it’s a creek at the park.)
Exciting- Head to the Beach wherever your closest ocean is.
Bucket List- Take a Tropical Vacation and live on the beach for the week!
Free Movie in the Park
Summer time is my favorite, and I love how many places off free movies outside. We enjoyed a free movie on the beach a few years ago and it was so fun. We’re going to pick a movie to watch from the free movie in the park line-up and take a picnic dinner, blanket, and some chairs and go enjoy a movie outdoors.
Cheap – Free Movie In the Park
Exciting – See the Summer’s Blockbuster at the Theater
Bucket List -Head to the Drive-In Movies
August is when our craziness starts to die down a bit with all the fishing tournaments, and is probably when we will need some good pampering. We are both pretty money conscious right now, so we will do a spa night at home. Each of us will give the other a massage and probably enjoy a nice hot bath. (Really missing the hot tub!). We’ll light some candles, play some music, and just relax and unwind together.
Cheap-Spa Night at Home
Exciting- Couples Massage or Manicure/Pedicures
Bucket List- Head to the Spa and get the works. Couples massages, passes to spend the day at the spa, manicure, pedicure, etc.
Tickets to the Pro Tournament
Ok, so this one is actually free for us, but we’ll be heading to watch the professional fisherman during their tournament next to our house. We’ll be there to watch the weigh-in and maybe be able to meet some of these guys that B will eventually be fishing with!
Pick your favorite comedian, band, sports team, etc. and grab tickets to their shows.
Cheap- Find a local event and get tickets.
Exciting- Buy tickets to your favorite team/person/band and take the weekend to go see them.
Bucket List-Head the Super Bowl, World Series, to Vegas, or somewhere your person is playing and enjoy the show.
We are huge fans of road trips as well, so next October, we plan on taking another road trip. We’re going to cross off a state we have never been before. (Working on hitting all 50 together, and we’re just a little over half way there.)
Cheap- Find a town within a couple hour drive and enjoy the weekend.
Exciting- Road trip to a new state and spend some time somewhere you’ve never been.
Bucket List- Take a bucket list road trip across country. West coast trip, East coast, California to New York.
Be a Kid Again Day
This one can go so many different ways, but for us, we’re going to do a $10 date and try to do whatever we can with only $10. Remember when you were a kid and you had very little money (or when you were an adult too! Ha) $10 was a big deal, and you probably tried to make it last as long as you can.
Some favorite places we went as kids was McDonalds, the arcade, the park, and a $1 scoop of ice cream from the grocery store.
The fun part about this date is that we’re going to have to get quite creative to make our dollars go further. $1 burgers from McDonalds, tickets to $1 movies, quarters for the arcade, $1 ice cream sundaes etc. It’s gonna add up quick, so you’ve gotta get creative.
Cheap-$10 date night on the town.
Exciting – Do what kids do (don’t worry, pretend your parents are paying, so you don’t have to worry about going over $10.) Go mini golf, laser tag, batting cages, etc.
Bucket List- Head to an Amusement Park and be a kid again!
Cook Off/Bake Off
You’ve probably seen at least one of those competition cooking shows. Well, for December, we’re going to have a bake off, “Nailed it!” style. We did this with our family a couple times and it’s always a huge hit. You can choose the same cake or dessert to make from Pinterest, or do what we like to do and pick a theme. We did Unicorns for our nieces bday and the Grinch for Christmas.
Get all the ingredients and supplies together before you start, so you both have what you need. Then start the timer, and bake/decorate till the timer goes off. (We find it’s easier to already have the cakes, cupcakes, cookies, etc. already baked so you can jump in and just decorate.)
Cheap- At Home Cook-Off/Bake Off
Exciting- Take a Cooking Class
Bucket List-Have a Private Chef over for lessons.
We have a whole list of Best Date Night Ideas you can check out, that would be a great addition to these month dates… but here are some other ideas you can use for your 12 Months of Dates:
Binge Watch A Series Of Movies
Kind of like binging shows on Netflix, but do it with a series of movies. Have a favorite trilogy or favorite long series of movies? Watch them all during the week! One movie a night, or if you want, watch them all in a weekend.
Head out for a camping trip. If you’re trying to stick to free date nights, have a camping trip outside you house…or do indoor camping! If you’re looking for a fun camping trip, check out some of the must see places near where you live or take a road trip and camp at one of your bucket list places.
Bon Fire & S’mores
On a chilly Spring or Fall night, have a bon fire outside and roast s’mores. This can be done at your own home or head out camping or have a bon fire on the beach one night…(make sure it’s legal wherever you are doing your bon fire.)
An at home movie date night is an easy way to still keep up with date nights but is great for when the month is just a bit too busy to plan anything else. Plus, it can be one of your free dates as well! If you’re looking to get out of the house, check out the newest movie at the theater. Even more awesome? Go to a Drive-In Theater!
Have a picnic at the park, beach, or even at home. You can make the food at home before heading out, or head to the grocery store together and pick up some fancy foods you don’t typically buy to make it more special. Order take out to make it super easy.
Host your own casino night at home and play all the card games you desire. Place bets like loser has to do dishes, or winner gets a massage. You can also head to a casino near you, or for a bucket list date, head to Las Vegas and try your luck in the city!
Do you have a favorite sport that you both like watching together? Head to a sports game. You can do a professional game of their favorite team, or stay local and support a college or high school team with cheaper tickets.
No, you don’t have to know all the rules to play golf. You can go mini golfing or have some fun at the driving range. If you’re up for it, try a few holes around the golf course. Another fun date idea is to find a Top Golf place near you and do some boozy driving range golf.
Winter date nights at an ice skating rink can be lots of fun. Rent some skates and enjoy your time on the ice. Some places have outdoor pop-up ice rinks you can skate at during the winter too.
Or lobster, sushi, or any other favorite food you have. Have a nice special dinner together. You can prepare it at home, or order take out if you’re looking to save a little money. Find a nice restaurant you have been dying to try, but haven’t been because it’s a “special occasion” type of restaurant.
A shooting range is a fun way to get out and get active. You can go to an indoor range, where they’ll have targets in each lane, or head to an outdoor long shooting range where you’ll get to shoot clay pigeons and targets that are far away.
Wine tasting is a great date idea. For a cheap alternative, pick up a few wine bottles at the grocery store with some snacks and have your own wine night at home. If you want to go out for a tasting, you can find tasting rooms around your area. Or, head to an actual winery and take the wine tour as well.
If you have a local fair in your area, this would be a fun date as well. Fill up on all the delicious fair foods, enjoy a concert, and check out the animals, and art booths. There’s always something interesting to check out at the fair. Do you live a bit far away from a larger fair? Take a day to go visit the state fairs you’ve put on your list for “someday”.
Every couple should go on at least one vacation a year. Even if its a staycation. If you don’t have money to spend to go anywhere, be sure to make up your own staycation at home, but do things you would do on vacation, like eat different foods, get or give each other massages, put away your technology, etc.
If you’re looking for a great vacation place, we have some great honeymoon destination ideas that would be great for any time you want to get away.
Take A Tour
Depending on where you live, check out some fun and interesting tours you have never tried. Take a walking tour of a new city, try out segways in a historical place, or horseback riding while seeing new places.
When is the last time you’ve been on a train? Make a day of it and find a city you’d like to visit and take the train there. Even better if you can find an old school train and enjoy the journey together.
Take a Class
There are so many classes available for you to learn something new together. You can find a local class like a cooking class, painting, glass-blowing, etc. Or you can even find a good class on YouTube to help teach you both a new skill together. It’s also one of our favorite hobbies for couples to do together!
Take a hiking trip! Find an awesome National Park, a mountain, beach, or anywhere that seems like a beautiful hike and head out together. Bring a picnic lunch and lots of water for along the way.
If you’re anything like us, you probably have a few places on your list that you want to go but never get to. It’s time to start crossing these places off your list. Find a place you’ve always wanted to go that is in driving distance, and take the weekend for a fun road trip together!
Whatever you decide to do in your 12 months of dates, you two are sure to have the best time, because you get to spend it with each other. All 12 months can be cheap and affordable dates or jump for the bucket list, if that’s the point you’re at in your life.
All that matters is the person you will be enjoying these dates with, and we hope this helps break up the monotony of dinner and movie dates, or no dates at all.
Sara, a seasoned expert in wedding planning and date ideas, brings a wealth of experience to our couples blog. With a background in the television industry and hands-on involvement in a dozen weddings, including working as a wedding assistant on "My Fair Wedding with David Tutera," Sara has an innate understanding of the magic that makes weddings truly special. Growing up with four sisters has given her unique insights into the dating world, making her a go-to source for practical and heartfelt dating advice. Her knowledge and enthusiasm make her the perfect guide for couples seeking to infuse their relationships with creativity and love.