Child care logistics, tight work schedules, booked-up reservations, pandemic-triggered introversion…there are plenty of factors that influence how we approach our traditions and rituals. Date nights are an important way to make time for each other. Thinking beyond dinner out and a movie, what options are there for a couple looking for romance?

We asked our team; what are your top recommendations for the perfect at-home date nights? The result? Enough ideas to get us through the year!

Catherine Pfuntner

Set up a distraction-free zone; turn off all screens and devices. Each of you write out three things (all on separate pieces of paper) you would love to do at home, e.g., go for a walk with a coffee, play a board game, cook dinner, foot massage, or any of the other ideas from this list! Then pick out one from each partner’s pile. Those are your two activities for at-home date night. You can even save the unselected cards and draw again next week.

  • Takeout and a streaming movie. Grab your delivery menu and order some fun appetizers and pick a new release off of Hulu or Netflix. A variation can be to pop up some popcorn and watch a few episodes of each of your favorite tv shows when you were a kid. A chance to talk about the times that made you who you are and share some of your childhood with your significant other.
  • Game night: get out the checkerboard, a deck of cards or any board game. If you are feeling smart try chess. Feeling sexy try strip poker.
  • Have a slumber party. Spring for a new pair of pajamas or surprise each other with a gift of pajamas. Listen to music, watch a scary movie or a romcom and wolf down some snacks.
  • Breakfast in bed. Alternate weeks preparing a fun breakfast. It can be as simple as toast and coffee or as elaborate as Eggs Benedict. Nothing better than a comfy snuggle on a lazy weekend.
  • Cooking class. Pick an online cooking video. Order up all the ingredients and spend the evening baking bread or making gumbo.
  • Art Class. Order in an art project from your hobby store. I have a couple who orders a different piece to a platter set and spends the evening with a bottle of wine painting the piece which has become symbolic of their closeness and a conversation piece whenever they can have company again.
  • A different kind of date “day” would be a “NO ELECTRONICS” DAY. If that might be too hard to go cold turkey try a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday morning.
  • Walks are way underrating as a way of connecting. Of course, mind social distancing and wear your mask but a big open air park can give you a chance to chat—even bring the Gottman cards if you are worried about running out of things to say.
  • Story Time. Imagine the fun you used to have being read to. Audible has every kind of book imaginable on tape from self-help to Shakespeare to romance to thrillers. You can stop it at any point to discuss what you’ve heard. It could be a book on improving your relationship, budgeting or gardening. Or some spicy mystery.

Dr. Heide Rodríguez-Ubiñas

Get creative and set up a surprise indoor picnic; find a bread basket, some wine and cheese. If you have kids, keep the prep simple, do it earlier in the day and then wait until the kids are sleeping for the picnic!

Debbie Woodall-Carroll

Make dinner together. Eat by candlelight with a great bottle of wine; everything seems more special over candlelight. Have dessert in front of a fire. ENJOY!

Tim Donovan

Create a special event together. Make a point to dress up a little, light some candles, and turn on a romantic playlist. After a candlelit dinner and maybe even a slow dance or two, go through photos together. Reminisce about memories early in your relationship and maybe even before. Ideally, these photos are not on your phone where distractions are waiting!

Dr. Patricia Gorman

Have your old family movies digitalized and share them. Make it a party and share them with other interested friends (even on Zoom), lots of laughs and a creative way to share a “double date.”

Dr. Doug Burford

Share the love this Valentine’s Day. Sit down together and write three or four cards each to someone that the two of you want to feel loved.

Dr. Alexis Johnson-Nelson

Have some fun together! Any activity that you both enjoy will serve; preparing meals, wine tasting, board games. Also, The Gottman Card Deck App, is a fantastic way for couples to connect over meaningful conversations.

Jenny Fang

Designate a spot in the home and create various themes for each date time: day or night. Perhaps you have a picnic corner, a “drive in” movie spot, a paint night area…get creative as you reimagine your space.

Date nights at home require commitment; you can make it work!

Remember the worst date night is better than the same old routine. It’s an investment in time in your relationship that will pay off for decades. This list includes ideas that are free and ideas that could take a little budgeting but there is something for every couple here to plan for regular rituals that feed your relationship.

Valentine’s Day can be a great kick start for couples to make time for each other regularly; like a New Year’s resolution for your relationship. If a regular date night is something that has fallen out of your routine during this pandemic it is time to carve out the time again.