Last week I got the cover art for my next release and promptly shared it on my Facebook Author Page. Small-Town Girl is the fourth book in my Goose Harbor series and it tells the story of Brice Daniels and Kendall Mayes. One of the things that I really loved about writing this couple is that Brice is great at taking Kendall on sweet dates—bringing her to a local ice-cream shop after she’s had a bad day, being at her side at a town event, or planning a sunset picnic on the beach.
Writing their story reminded me how important it is to be intentional about planning sweet moments with my real life hero. In the rush of careers, other relationships, and taking care of our child it’s easy to let romance fall to the wayside. To chalk dating up as something that people do before the days of endless diapers and mortgage payments.
But dating is important for every stage of a relationship. No matter if you’re newly married, been married forty years, in the beginning of a brand new relationship, engaged, or cleaning up after toddlers or teenagers all day—every relationship needs planned time together.
In the past week I’ve jotted down cheap/easy date ideas for this spring and summer. Here are ten of my favorites:
- Ice-Cream Date! Okay, so I stole this one from Brice and Kendall … but who doesn’t love some ice-cream? You can either go to a local ice-cream place and get cones and stroll the neighborhood together or if it’s hard to get away, buy a tub of ice-cream from the grocery store and share a bowl together on the front porch.
- On a windy day go to the dollar store or to the toy section of a store and buy a cheap kite (you can usually buy them under $5). Find a large park in your neighborhood and take turns trying to get it to fly. Bring along some snacks and make sure to snap a couple pictures or take a quick video of your kite flying attempts on your phone to laugh about together later.
- Go on a Pick-Your-Own date. My husband and I love hunting down local farms that offer the opportunity to pick our own produce. We always have so much fun together and spend the time joking and deciding what we’re going to use our bounty of berries for (then we go home and cook together!). If you live in the US you can go to the website pickyourown.org and discover all the farms near you. You can also do the same thing at a farmer’s market.
- S’mores, because you know you love them. This is great because it can be done in your own backyard (or over your oven if you want to stay indoors). Unplug from your phone, the television and the internet and spend an hour toasting s’mores together. Shake it up by changing out the normal ingredients by adding a peanut butter cup, Nutella, or strawberries. Use your imagination!
- Camp out in your backyard (for married couples). I’m serious. I know it sounds silly because you’ve got a comfy bed right inside but you’d be amazed at all the conversation and cuddling that happens when you pitch a tent in your own backyard and sleep out there. If the great outdoors aren’t your thing, then fake it by tossing some sleeping bags on your living room floor, pull up a recording of a campfire (YouTube is wonderful for this), turn the lights off and spend some time hanging out together.
- Use YouTube to learn a new dance or skill together. My husband and I did this with Michael Jackson’s Thriller Dance. We took a few weeks and learned a segment of the dance every night and we laughed and bonded so much during that time. Finally, we had it memorized! It’s now this little something special that we share. Now whenever we’re at weddings or basically anytime the song comes on we both drop whatever we’re doing and start the dance. If dancing isn’t your thing, there are YouTube videos for everything—refinishing furniture, cooking tutorials, workout videos. Pick one and commit to learning together.
- Decide on a show together and spend a weekend binge watching the whole thing in your pajamas while having a junk food fest. Sometimes cuddling and Netflix really is the best.
- Go to a town-wide yard sale or a large thrift shop each with $5 in hand. Set a time limit and each person has to find the best deal or the funniest object (pick a goal ahead of time). After your purchase, snap pictures of both and post them on social media and invite your friends to vote one who wins for the best pick (don’t tell your friends who purchased what!). Beforehand decide what the prize will be: winner gets to pick what you guys do on your next date or loser buys ice-cream. Everyone loves a little friendly competition.
- Go see fireworks together. Near where I live, summer is full of free firework shows. For those in the US, of course there’s the Fourth of July, but there are also many towns and sporting events that shoot off fireworks all during the summer. The stadium where the local minor league baseball plays is just down the street from me and they have a fireworks show ever Friday night. Grab a blanket and enjoy the show.
- Last but not least is the ever popular star gazing. Don’t roll your eyes because this date idea is popular with good reason. It’s sweet and leads to snuggling and something about being in the dark and taking in the stars and realizing how little we are in the world makes us start talking about deep things. So grab a blanket and some snacks (and bug spray). Pull out your phone and use a star charting app and spend some time cuddled up next to the person you love.
GIVEAWAY ALERT: This week I’m giving away a copy of the first THREE books in my Goose Harbor series. You read that right. Someone who comments on the blog today will win copies of The Widower’s Second Chance, The Fireman’s Secret AND The Single Dad Next Door. I’d love to hear about the best date you’ve ever been on, your funniest date story, or fun/cheap date ideas that I can add to my list.
Goose Harbor, Michigan, is the perfect place for Kendall Mayes to start over and open her date-planning business. When she encounters handsome loner Brice Daniels, who is struggling to keep the shipping business he runs going, she sees an opportunity. A weekly sunset cruise catering to couples and tourists will keep their dealings strictly business. Kendall has had enough of failed romances, and Brice is too burned by love to give it another chance. But despite their reservations, they soon let down their walls. Yet when Kendall’s silent business partner is revealed to be Brice’s longtime enemy, staying together might be next to impossible.
Happy Reading!! -jess