Lesson #105: Seven Dates That Aren’t Just Dinner & A Movie

by Rachel on September 23, 2011

Skylar: Maybe we could go out for coffee sometime?

Will: Great, or maybe we could go somewhere and just eat a bunch of caramels.

Skylar: What?

Will: When you think about it, it’s just as arbitrary as drinking coffee.

That is one of my favorite lines from Good Will Hunting (one of my favorite movies!); I love that Will calls attention to the fact that our typical date ideas are just sort of…bizarre when you think about it.

I mean, grabbing a drink or doing dinner and a movie is fine and all — it has its time and place — but I prefer to mix things up a little. (I talk too much for movies anyway.) My suggestions will work with love interests or with friends. (I actually feel like friend dates are more fun than real dates because girl friends are so often up for outside-the-box activities.) They are a little different but they all ultimately help you achieve your goal: enjoying someone’s company!

1. Go out for breakfast on a weekday morning. I love breakfast food and going out for breakfast so this is one of my favorites! I feel like everyone thinks of doing weekend brunch, but no one considers the five other days in the week. You might have to get up a little earlier to get your breakfast and make it to work on time, but it’s so worth it. It always puts me in a better mood for the rest of the day. It’s also a good way to make time for people when you both have a lot going on in the evening. I love this as a replacement for “date night” or as a way to beat the Monday morning blues.

2. Go for a walk. This seems so simple and yet people forget about it or think it’s boring. It’s actually one of my favorite activities, especially when the weather is nice and when you are getting to know someone. It can be a sweaty, heart-pumping walk if you and your person want to go that route, but I prefer a casual walk in flats and a cute outfit. Walking gives you things to see and react to which can be great for conversation starters when you’re just getting to know someone. Plus there is always the option to stop and add in other activities — you can always pop into a shop to look at books or get a snack.

3. Have an at-home happy hour. This is one of Leah‘s favorite activities and I love it. Get some cheap appetizers and some yummy wine or beer, put on good music, and hang out on your couch/deck/patio from 5 to 7 after work. It’s cheaper than a real happy hour but just as fun!

4. Read out loud to each other. This seems so cheesy but it’s actually really fun. A while back, Eric and I bought A Practical Guide to Racism from the bargain shelf at Barnes & Noble and started reading it together…out loud. The book is hysterical, and it’s just a new thing to do that’s fun and different from watching a show together. We’ve also done this with audiobooks.

While it might seem weird to invite a friend over to read a book out loud with you, but it can definitely happen organically with girlfriends. For example, when I was reading Why Him? Why Her? I found it so interesting that I kept reading excerpts to my roommate. After a little while, I handed it over to her and she started reading passages out loud too, and we just took turns. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend like my best friend Beth, you could also read aloud from old Bab-ysitters Club novels for a really entertaining time.

5. “Can you help me pick out…?” If you have something specific to buy that you know the other person would enjoy helping you pick out, invite them along! This is especially great if you need to buy a gift; it can make the whole process more fun if you’re not that excited about it. And people are usually really flattered when you want their help/expertise.

6. Run an errand together. This is great for time management, and again, it gives you an opportunity to get to know someone in a different setting. It can be an errand you both enjoy — for me, grocery shopping dates/friend dates are the best — or an errand you both dislike. If you both have some annoying thing to do, just do it together! I mean, no one likes spending a Saturday in the laundromat or renewing her passport, but having a buddy with you (and the promise of brunch afterward!) can make it way more tolerable.

7. Go to a shooting range. I have yet to cross this off my to-do list, but I really want to! There are always Groupon or Living Social deals for handgun courses and such, so keep an eye out and when you see one, invite a friend or your SO to go a-shooting with you!

So if you’re TGIF-ing and planning some weekend fun, try one of these ideas! Or please share your own — I’d love to hear more ideas!

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Liz @ Southern Charm September 23, 2011 at 10:33 am

Love it! Fun ideas too.

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2 [SMASH] at Sweat. Style. Swoon. September 23, 2011 at 10:35 am

The bestie and I are planning to do an at-home fondue date soon since she got me a fondue set for my birthday! Fondue + wine+ girly flick or awesome 90s music = A good time! The whole art + booze thing is popular now… Like BYOB art classes. I’m sure I could wrangle her in for some impromptu ice skating at Galleria soon! :)

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3 Brandy @ Let's Grab a Coffee September 23, 2011 at 10:37 am

I love that you included going on a walk. Especially this time of year…although you know I have to do it w/a coffee in hand.

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4 Manon September 23, 2011 at 11:15 am

Here in Des Moines we have a little “pond” called Gray’s Lake that has a 2 mile loop trail around it, and they also rent out kayaks, pedal boats, etc. It’s a great place to take the dogs for a walk, and I think renting a pedal boat is pretty much the best date ever….just take a backpack with your beverage of choice, maybe some snacks, and go float around! There also happens to typically be A-MAZING people watching for an added bonus. Another good date is the dog park…..I don’t feel half as awkward about myself when my dog is running around getting raped, or attempting to face rape a Great Dane…she makes me look NORMAL :) Oh, and a winery! We have one here that has a great patio….sitting outside and sharing a bottle of wine is a great date too! Gee, I think I need to do a “Des Moines Dates” post!

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5 MoneyMaus September 23, 2011 at 11:41 am

All great ideas! I just went on a blind dinner date and the guy has already asked me out for a second date: indoor rock climbing! Unconventional but fun, especially since we both talked about how we are active people :)

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6 Melissa September 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

This is more for an LDR, but you could do it with anyone who lives far from you. Pick out a recipe and get all the ingredients, then have a Skype date and make the meal together. My ex and I used to do this and it was always a lot of fun.

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7 Carrie @ No More Tomorrows September 23, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I love that!

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8 Leah September 23, 2011 at 11:58 am

Melissa, that’s an awesome idea! It reminds me of another good LDR activity: watching a TV show together over the phone (or Skype!). My boyfriend and I have always lived in different cities, so when we’re not together and one of “our” shows comes on, we watch it at the same time while we’re on the phone together. I’ve actually done this with friends, too. Weirdly, it really feels like you’re watching TV with someone.

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9 Alie September 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Volunteer somewhere together. I did this for a first date and we had a good time and went out to eat afterwards.

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10 Paige September 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm

My boyfriend and I read the entire Harry Potter series together, and now we’re starting on The Hunger Games (though this time doing audiobook)…It sounds really nerdy, but it’s super fun and it’s cool for us both to be invested in the same book plots :)

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11 nic September 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I love reading out loud with the hubs! We generally do short stories. On a recent road trip, we read John Cheever stories and it was so awesome to get immersed in old-school New York. On a really long trip, we read the whole collection in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth. We are both immigrants and I’ll admit that I teared up a little bit while hearing him read one of the stories. SAP ALERT.

I like your breakfast out idea. I’m going to add that to the list. We live across the street from a diner and it would be fun to take a break from the usuaul routine and do a date like that.

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12 deva @ deva by definition September 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm

The Boy and I are huge nerds. Early on in our relationship, a date for us involved playing video games. There was one night that involved Dungeons and Dragons, but it wasn’t for me. We do play Magic: the Gathering (my nerd is showing, but I’m not sorry!).

Our favorite date night/date day activities when the weather is nice are to go to the zoo or a local amusement park.

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13 Lora September 23, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Ok – the handgun Groupon thing is cracking me up! Guess you know you’re in Texas, huh? We don’t get too many of those here in Chicago… : )

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14 Rachel September 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Haha oh is that not the norm? There is seriously one here every other week!

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15 Cynthia (It All Changes) September 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Fun and unconventional dates are the best. If we are going to watch a movie we tend to have a theme night at home. Pizza and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. :-)

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16 Heidi Nicole September 23, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I love the idea of a breakfast date…I should suggest that! The Husband isn’t a fan of my homemade pancakes so maybe I can’t talk him into going out for breakfast some time!

We also go on a lot of “exploring dates” but I think that has something to do with our new state. We’ve spent a ton of time out exploring the mountains or mountain biking.

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17 Rachel's Mom September 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I like the “can you help me pick out” one….
Besides handguns, maybe you could go skeet shooting! It’s lots of fun.

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18 Jacki September 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Yes to all of these! We’ve gone shooting, which was cool because it’s something he’s really into (gun ownership, gun safety, etc) and got to teach me about. We do errands together all the time because we’re a boring old couple now, lol, but it really is a fun way to get to know someone in a really practical setting. And for those of us on a tight budget, going on a walk is always a win.

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19 Lindsay September 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I love these ideas. Actually, my guy roommate and I used to read to each other. Usually it was his books for one of his writing classes, but it was fun. It made us have a more intimate relationship.

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20 Kelly Anne September 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm

The next time you are back in Michigan, go to “the pit” in Lapeer. That place is crazy interesting. It is an outdoor shooting range into a big pit (so you see how cleverly it was named). My husband and I have gone there a few times to shoot, you can bring anything, and yet, it’s a surprisingly controlled chaos. It is interesting to experience, it is free and you bring your own targets (ANYTHING goes — from actual targets, to televisions, to pumpkins, you name it)

http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-pit-lapeer

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21 cindylu September 25, 2011 at 12:01 am

I’m a big fan of sporting events. I’ve gone to games with guys who are hardly fans to die hard fans and it’s always fun. You can get a good amount of talking in and then there’s always the excitement of a close game or seeing your team win.

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22 Samantha M. September 25, 2011 at 3:13 am

The Hubs and I do a variation on the “home happy hour”, but we call it Movie Night In. We go to a BevMo and/or “fancy” grocery store (like Whole Foods or Nugget Market – these are “fancy” grocery stores in CA), stock up on wine and fancier foods we don’t normally splurge on, and then rent a movie from our cable’s On Demand listings. It’s about the same cost as dinner OR a movie (with snacks at the theater), but we’re much more comfortable and can talk during the movie. ;D

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23 Sarah September 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm

These are all really cute! I always thought mini-golfing, bowling, and going to a sports game were fun ideas too ;)

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24 jen b September 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Went to a shooting range w/ the hubs! Very romantic when they show you how to hold the rifle, etc! I loved it & while I will never shoot anything that’s not clay, & still can’t tell you what kind of gun I used (apparently this is important to ‘gun types’), I had a BLAST! Great suggestion and GO DO IT!

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25 Jamie @ snacktress September 25, 2011 at 11:36 pm

I love these ideas. I just moved to NYC, and though I uh…haven’t been asked out yet (I’m waiting, gents) I know I’m going to cringe when someone suggests we “grab a drink”.

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26 Kali Ravel September 28, 2011 at 5:16 am

I never really got the hang of going for a walk, but I *love* going geocaching. Short explanation; people all over the world hide little boxes of treasure, or ‘caches’, then post the co-ordinates online. Other people then use the co-ordinates to hunt down the items. It’s great fun.:D

I use a phone app, so I just look for caches nearby, head for one, then repeat when I get there.

It’s a great way to get to know a new place, too, since people tend to hide caches in their favourite spots.

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27 Rachel September 28, 2011 at 8:11 am

Eric and I have talked about trying geocaching! Awesome suggestion!!

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28 Shaun @ snackasaurusrex September 28, 2011 at 7:42 am

Seriously…you SHOULD NOT talk during a movie…how do people get to know each other? Could be what’s wrong with the American marriage?!?

I hate grocery shopping, but I actually enjoy it when I have a buddy. My neighbor and I use to make a date of it all the time.

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29 Beth (Well I'll Be) September 28, 2011 at 9:45 pm

I think the reading out loud thing would work really well with a girlfriend with the Chelsea Handler books. I was reading them on a road trip one time with my sister and a friend and I would get to a part that I would just be dying laughing so I’d read it out loud. They loved it. The hardest part is reading through your own laughter with those!

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30 Andi Teggart September 29, 2011 at 12:14 am

Rachel – I love these ideas, thanks for sharing! A breakfast/brunch date sounds absolutely SO fun and a “at home” happy hour would be a-mazing. Thanks again! xo

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31 Christina October 4, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Going for a walk, running errands, and at-home happy hours are 3 of my favourite low key dates with SO.

Sometimes we will buy hor d’ouerves (I probably didn’t spell that right) or appetizers and get a bottle of wine and relax and eat them with salad for dinner or just as a little happy hour type thing. It’s great. We also do the errand thing and walking around and exploring the city together. Running errands is a nice way to get the things you need to do out of the way while still spending time together. Nice post, Rachel. :)

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32 B. October 5, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Lovely post, and thank you for the “shout out”, friend! I just couldn’t help but add that one of my very favorite “errand” dates to go on is to Target!!! I’d rather go to Target than a movie!

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