My husband and I started dating when we were 19. We met the summer between our freshman and sophomore year in college. After 11 years of being “just us,” we became a family of three. Unlike some couples, we never had a pet — not even a house plant! We took full advantage of being able to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Because we had such freedom, we never had a regular date night schedule.
The past year has brought us many changes. We had a baby, my husband got a new job, we sold our house, we moved back to Portland from Seattle, and we are temporarily living with my in-laws. Working different hours and having different days off has been wonderful for child care, but we hardly get to spend time as a couple anymore. Since we’re currently living with family, it’s not really ideal for us to have dates “in” either.
Poking around Pinterest (who am I kidding, we all know we lose hours of our day on there), I saw the idea of giving your spouse a year of dates. The basic idea of this gift is to plan date nights for the entire year. Most examples showed 12 dates, one for each month. But I wanted to do something a little different, so I planned 26 dates, one for every other week.
Working around our work schedules and having limited child care, I picked dates that aren’t set for a specific day (like a concert or sporting event) and only require us to be out for a couple of hours. Basically, most of my dates consist of going out to dinner or a movie. I know that may seem boring to some, but we love to go out to eat! I chose a good mix between our favorite chain places and local Portland places.
It took me awhile to purchase all of the 26 gift cards. To help keep my costs down, I bought a few deals from Groupon, and many places will let you load a lower amount onto a gift card. Some of my dates are dessert only, so $15 at Salt and Straw should be plenty. Select Regal theaters have $5 movie tickets on Tuesdays, so a $10 gift card is enough for a movie out!
I’m a crafter, so I decided to create a cute box to hold all of the gift cards. I put the gift cards into white little envelopes and the ones that had Groupons in them, I wrote the expiration date on the envelope. I used washi tape to decorate the envelopes and then mixed the cards up.
For a less costly gift, you can write date ideas on pieces of paper and then place them into envelopes. Or mix it up, do some gift cards and some cheap or free date ideas in the envelopes! Try to also include some dates that appeal to your spouse’s interests. For example, my husband played hockey and loves to ice skate. It’s not really a date I would pick, but I did put a skating session into the mix. I know he’s going to be so excited when we draw that one!
At the beginning of each month, we pick two or three gift cards (depending how many weeks there are that month) and then schedule our date nights based on what gift cards we opened. I try to make sure we use the Groupons the month before they expire.
My husband and I made the decision that we want to continue this tradition for years to come! While we love this new stage of our life with our son, we are happy to be spending regular alone time together again. Every payday we take turns buying a new gift card to add to the pile. By the time this year is over, we’ll already have a new full year of dates for us to open!
Sparkle was born and raised in the Gresham area, but just recently moved back to Portland from the Seattle area. She is half Hmong and half Chinese. Her ethnic names translate to shiny light, hence why her American name is Sparkle. She is an Instructional Designer working from home and creates training materials. She is also a loving wife and mom to a precious 9-month old boy, Boston. For fun, she loves to craft and make things. Sparkle also enjoys her morning coffee and traveling the world. You can see more of her card-making creations on her blog at sparklecreations.blogspot.com.