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Some time ago I shared a story with Will about my grandmother. She loved board games and when we visited her every Christmas, we would crack out the Snakes and Ladders or Ludo board, and get the family fun started. This sweet li’l ol’ gramma was so competitive and would cheat like crazy, which in turn left us all in stitches!  So last Christmas, Will secretly bought a Snakes n Ladders game and brought it out on Christmas Eve (and also cheated like crazy since I lost three game in row!). It was the sweetest gesture he has ever made and will no doubt become a family tradition that we pass on to the kids.

It was also the most fun we’ve had together as a couple. There’s just something so hilarious about getting all cocky with a victory dance when you’re two steps away from glory, then getting your soul crushed as you get swallowed by the last snake. While I cannot stress the importance of dressing up, going out and reminding each other of what snacks you are (YOU LUCKY, SEXY FISHIES!), there’s something so beautifully intimate about a night at home. While Will’s proposal was worthy of an audience, I simply loved that it was at home and we could both dance, and eat and bask in our love and our future, by ourselves.

Romance and intimacy have become such Hallmark concepts involving rose petals, flash mobs and Tom Jones but what really brings a couple together is just getting to know each other, cuddling and sometimes not even saying a word.  So I’ve compiled a list of 20 at home date nights you can pull off at the drop of hat, even when the budget is tighter than a possum’s bum in a sandstorm.

  • Break out the boardgames. A night of wit and rib-tickling laughter is the best medicine.
  • Spa night – give each other massages, pedi, manis, whatever you feel like. Create a real spa feel with dimmed lights, music, essential oils and candles.  
  • Read together. My idea of marriage was always Will and I sitting on either end of the couch, book in hand, swopping reading glasses halfway though when the other is too lazy or old to get up.
  • Have a bubble bath. Canddes. Champagne. Barry White. Nuff said.
  • Cook a new recipe together. When we moved into our first apartment together, Will and I cooked a 3-ingredient dish with makeshift pots and haphazard moves since most of our utensils and crockery were still in boxes. Since then, we do it every time we move into a new place to christen the joint. There’s something about sitting on a mattress without sheets, eating spaghetti and sharing one fork that’s stupidly romantic.
  • Learn a different craft together like knitting, playing the piano, making ice-cream, decorating toffee/candy apples, making sangria – I recommend the last one J
  • Dinner by candlelight. Pull out all the stops – fresh table linens, the fancy wedding dinner plates, menu, the whole shebang.
  • Play indoor/outdoor game. We bought a croquet game for our daughter Lily’s second birthday and we try to squeeze in a game every now and then. Creating a play area indoors complete with its own set of rules (since you’re limited with space) can cause side-splitting laughter and hours of fun!
  • Try an indoor picnic complete with candles and wine. Or take it outdoors and watch the stars.
  • Create an open air cinema – popcorn, movie posters, tickets and seat numbers will really set the scene.
  •  Plan an adventure. Organising a surprise trip can be as exhausting and it is exhilarating, so split to load and plan an outrageous trip together. Sometimes, just dreaming about a holiday gives you something to look forward to.
  • Create a scene/ambience from your favourite movie. Whether it’s a Casino Royale theme or paddling along the Venetian canals on a gondola, recreate the first movie setting you saw together, although Cabin in the Woods is probably a no-go.
  • Scavenger Gift Hunt. My favourite indoor idea! Beforehand, purchase a few small gifts, no more than 5 per paertner and hide them in various spots of your home. Don’t think perfume and other expensive gifts but rather chocolates, a sweet note, a favourite flower, free kisses and sentimental gifts like your first movie stubs. Leave clues so that that special someone can find it. And a sweet reward never hurt!
  • Write a few letters of gratitude to each other and read them aloud. Keep it cute and funny.
  • Do wine pairings – with chocolate, macaroons, cheese, whatever you fancy.
  • Have a karaoke night. If you’re not much of a singer or your nerves get the better of you, lip synching is fine. A simple Youtube search with your phone is all you need.
  • Have a nerf gun war. No nerf guns? Toss marshmallows or water balloons at each other. It’s even cuter to hide and surprise each other, paintball style.
  • Do a DIY project together. It’s something you can admire for years to come.
  • This or That game night. The Dating Divas have these adorable printables where you can customize your date and figure it out as you go along. It’s a genius way to have a spontaneous night.  Find the link here. Or, if printing and prepping isn’t your thing, simple questions like: “At a coffee shop, would I choose this or that – ‘this’ being a blueberry muffin and ‘that’ being a raspberry cheesecake. It’s a fun way to get to know each other even more and learn new things to love about your partner.
  • Blindfolded tasting night. The idea is that each of you chops up 5 to 10 items of food and guesses what they are, blindfolded. Get it wrong? Give your partner a 5-minute neck massage. Get it right, smooches for days.

Try a few of these ideas and add a little “spark” back into date nights.

If you’re looking to dress up, check out our 3 date night looks post. And our 80 plus size finds under R200!

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