This post may contain affiliate links. This doesn't change the price for you at all.
It's important to date your husband.
Most people know that, right? You probably even rolled your eyes at me.
And yet... it's just so dang easy for it to slip away in priorities. You're running around, you're exhausted, you're burnt out, you just need a nap (a 5 hour nap), you're busy, you're in the middle of something... you name it, it's a valid excuse.
I have found a solution to this very dilemma that plagued me at every attempt I made.
Hands down, this is the best and easiest idea ever.
Oh, this would be great to pin!
This year we were on a tight budget for Christmas. Mr Barlow and I decided we'd only spend $30 on each other, including the stocking. I asked for art supplies, Mr Barlow asked for dates and a coupon book.
Well... I've made some of those before for Christmas and my over-acheiving self made lots of plans, wrote the dates out and then when date night came up I was overwhelmed, un-prepared, and... use one of the above excuses.
Since this was his ONLY Christmas present this was getting bumped up to I-can't-let-his-Christmas-be-ultra-lame effort.
I also know myself.
I made it easy on myself and did all (90%) of the prep work ahead of time.
I scoured my favorite dating site (Dating Divas) and used my $30 to print off a bunch of date prep and gather supplies.
Here's a breakdown of what I did:
Date Night in a Box.
Genius genius genius.
I made four boxes.
- A Romantic Date Night in a Box
- A Fun Date Night in a Box
- 12 Months of Dates Box
- Games and Misc. Dates Box
What's in the (first) Romantic Date Night in a Box?
- Champagne flutes (Dollar Store, baby!)
- Sparkling cider
- Fabric rose petals
- Massage oil
- Tea lights
- Sexy dice (sorry Mama, close your eyes)
What's in the (first) Fun Date Night in a Box?
- Box of popcorn
- Boxed candy, you know, the fun kind perfect for movies
- Space Jam movie (he's been wanting this movie for forever)
- Deck of cards (fun games and can be used for romantic games)
- Pack of dice
- Soda for each of us
What's in the Extras and Misc. Dates Box?
- Several other Date Night in a Box ideas under each category (fun and romantic)
- One coupon book (the other went in his stocking) [links to both]
- Fun games... of the bedroom variety. (Dating Divas has some fun, tasteful games that you can tailor to match your comfort level, varying from "Mellow Mandy" to "Spicy Sandy" -- I totally made those names up). They're all cut out and ready to go.
- Spoil Your Spouse date idea
- Group date idea and printables
- Chocolate body paint (ingredients in a jar ready to go)
In his box he was presented with a list of the titles of these Date Nights. I have my own separate page that lists the date ideas and all the supplies I need for those dates.
I made sure to make notes indicating whether I had them, where they were, and what I needed to borrow or buy. This helps me fill the box back up right away and never be caught without a date ready.
What's in the 12 Months of Dates Box?
- 12 envelopes with the month written on the outside and a card on the inside with two planned dates
Each month there is a Date In and a Date Out.
We have 5 (going on 6) kiddos and babysitters aren't cheap, nor are they easy to find once they find out how many you have. :/ For the sake of our budgeting goals we've got one date out of the house a month.
Dates In are for when the kids are in bed. These don't all include bedroom type things.
We don't want date night to be alllll about marital relations do we? If that happens at the end, then yay for us. If it doesn't happen at the end, then how nice to not have that pressure at the beginning of the night and now no guilt is attached.
I'm due to deliver early April so I knew any dates would be low key with minimal planning.
I know the months where our budget is tighter than usual and made sure our dates were cheap or free.
How he uses his dating goodies
- For the 12 months of dates: we sit down and quickly pick the dates for our dates. (takes 2 minutes) That way I can do any prep necessary ahead of time. Or at least prepare myself mentally. I don't do spontaneous. It stresses me out.
- He can cash in his coupons at ANY time.... except if I'm sleeping, in the hospital, sick, etc. Mr. Barlow is not unreasonable, but I just want to clarify for others to be realistic.
- The Date Nights in a Box we can pick any other day to use. Once that idea has been used, we fill the box up with the next idea and it's all ready for the next time we use it.
- The Extras & Misc Box we can add items to any other date we have planned, use it spontaneously for a date night, or just a night of intimacy. *immature wink wink*
It sounds confusing, but it's not. Honest.
Here's my report so far:
He's cashed in a few coupons and I gave myself a pep talk when I was putting this together that even if I was busy, tired, or "not in the mood" that I'd go for it. So far, so good! We've had fun and have definitely felt closer emotionally with just this one gift.
We've used a Date Night in a Box -- fun night -- and it was a simple, fun evening together.
Hubs and I are very independent and have our own things that we love to do and it's so easy for us to get wrapped up in our own things that we don't have time to just be together. This was a fun way to make that happen.
We've had our first Date In and it was a blast! It was a simple date to get us started off with. We had a movie and fondue. Now, you may think, wow, yawn, but it was great!
We've never had fondue and Mr Barlow was thinking it was going to be gross. He's not a sweets guy and apparently doesn't really like cheese that much. Weirdo.
Instead of watching a movie we finished a show we both like -- Battle Creek. I'm still ticked that it was cancelled. Ugh. Jerks, all of 'em.
We prepped all the fondue dippers and I made the chocolate sauce and the cheese sauce. We decided to go for both in half batches to see which we liked the best.
We set up the coffee table with our goodies, turned the lights off, put on the show and dug in. It was so yummy. So so yummy. I want more cheese sauce. NOW!
He loved it, which made me all the more happy! I was so worried that our first date would be a total bust.
It was such a good, fun night working together, eating together, talking about the show and our favorite scenes, characters, and episodes. Success!
Was it worth the few days of prep work?
In this seemingly unexciting gift has been a fantastic chance for us to make dating one another not only a priority, but easy enough for us to do when life gets in the way, exhaustion sets in, and we're so busy doing everything that we do.
That easy excuse of not knowing what to do, not having the funds to do things, and not having everything ready to go is now gone. We just grab a box and go for it!
I feel closer to Mr. Barlow and am more aware of our relationship, our time together, and my desire to treat him like the king he is, has grown.
Our whole family is happier, our evenings together, even when we're not on a date, are happier and more open and relaxed. We can easily share the stresses of life because we feel that we're a true team.
Pick a box idea and get going! A little bit of work on the front-end will save you tons in the end. Pretty promise.
I've made a few worksheets for you to help you get on your way as painlessly as possible!
Click the picture to find some other fantastic ideas and tips from some wonderful women!