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How to Make a Date Feel Special Without Leaving Your House

Without the pressure to go out, date night can be better than ever (honest)

The last few weeks of quarantine have passed in a fog. We’ll remember this coronavirus-addled time, of course, as most of us have never before experienced being sanctioned to our apartments for such a period of time. But the finer details of self-isolation will likely be blurry. What did you have for breakfast last Thursday? How many TV episodes did you watch two Sundays ago? Because these moments were so innocuous, so everyday, our brains neglected to form concrete memories of them. Eventually, that monotony shared with your partner can wear on you. But there are ways to have a memorable date night at home without the lure of new places to fulfill us. Without the fear of missing out driving us to go out, in fact, a date could be more memorable than ever. 

Thinking back upon the “special” moments you’ve shared with your partner, what is it that defines these moments as such in our brains? Regardless of what took place, the reason these memories stand out is because they were new or uncommon experiences. The key, then, to curating the kind of tangible memory we crave right now, is to do something we’ve never done before or rarely get to do. At the same time, the pressure to make it feel special could kill it. We’re presented with the rare opportunity to only care about what the person next to us thinks: Let’s embrace it. 

Date Night at Home Rule #1: Get Creative

A successful date night at home can be created with only a few tweaks. Right now, what could you do that looks different to your current routine, without violating social-distancing rules? Have you and your partner been living in sweats and eating dinner in front of the TV every night while scrolling on your phones? An easy way to switch it up would be for each of you to turn off your phone, put on some nicer clothes and actually eat at your dinner table. This is obviously just a jumping off point — if it sounds fun, you could get dressed up in formal wear, put on your Halloween costume, pick each other’s outfits, choose a theme, whatever. You can get similarly creative with location, too, setting up a picnic on the floor or eating on your porch if you have one. The main idea is that you put a little extra thought and effort into it. 

If you can swing it, get a little lavish with food and drink. Fancier groceries and nicer bottles of booze will still be way cheaper than a meal at a restaurant. The idea, though, is to minimize stress, and maybe you know that cooking a nice meal with your partner and ending up with a big mess will dampen the mood. If that’s the case, just do takeout. There’s also nothing wrong with ditching the dirty dishes and just using paper plates instead. No one can see you. You have no one to impress. It’s fine. Normally I wouldn’t want to advocate for single-use plastics and paper products, but fuck it. 

You also don’t have to adhere to the traditional dinner date format. Board games and puzzles might not sound that sexy, but they can be a fun break from a Netflix binge if you haven’t exhausted your options already. Crafts can be a good date night at home activity, too. Walmart and Target have plenty of different craft activity boxes, like candle making or DIY slime kits. Yes, they’re for kids, but who cares? 

If you want something less juvenile, Michaels is offering curbside pickup, and has tons of ideas for different projects on its website. The point isn’t even to make something useful or beautiful — it’s just to try something you haven’t done before. If you end up with some kind of sweet keepsake, all the better. 

Date Night at Home Rule #2: Keep It Simple

Really, it doesn’t matter what you do for date night at home, so long as you enjoy yourselves. If you’re commemorating some significant date, like an anniversary or a birthday, odds are you’ll remember the day long from now simply by virtue of the circumstances. Making it too complicated or trying too hard to make it special will probably stop you from having a good time. Treat yourself, don’t beat yourself. 

Tomorrow is my boyfriend’s birthday, and I’m taking the day off from work. We’re celebrating by ordering fried chicken. I don’t usually eat meat, and he doesn’t usually eat fried foods. We’re also going to watch one of his favorite movies that I’ve never seen before, Terminator 2. Simple as that.

What’s funny is that this is actually how he wanted to celebrate for months now — fried chicken and Terminator 2. But had we not been in quarantine, I probably would have been anxious to take us to restaurants and bars, to go to some must-see locations in L.A. that might otherwise be too crowded to enjoy on a Saturday or Sunday. Basically, I would have brought a heavy dose of FOMO to his day. Now we’re free of that. There’s no need to buy expensive cocktails, or fill our Instagram stories with allegedly fun photos, or geotag hip locations. The pressure has fallen away. 

Now, maybe we can actually enjoy ourselves.