Inspired by the recent decline (who are we kidding –recent tanking) of the global economy, it’s time to GO GLOBAL, econo-style, with a few “budget date night” ideas. Of course, in the spirit of romance, the at-home ideas assume Gram and Gramps took the kiddos or you were able to stealthily coordinate best friend overnights at their houses this time. If you don’t have children, these ideas will be that much easier to logistically execute. Either way, there’s no reason anymore to deny you and your partner the date nights you need and deserve because “it’s just not in the budget.”
What exactly it is about the Italians… it’s hard to say for sure, but just the word “Italy” is enough to make me flush with thoughts of red wine flowing – usually alongside a variety of warm, buttery bread and delicious pasta. Even the smell of garlic is sexy in the right context. So take inspiration from the Italians and arm yourself and your partner with a fave marinara sauce (it can even be the “jar” kind, ssshhh… your secret’s safe with us!) and noodles you forgot were in your pantry. You can also opt for your favorite frozen pizza if it suits you, and… settle in for a quiet evening at home, Italian-style. All you need is a quiet evening sans distractions, a table cloth (yep, the one you have to force yourself to pull out at the holidays), a bottle of red wine, and the pasta or pizza you found in the pantry or freezer. To create your own Little Italy, dim the lights, burn a candle and – if you don’t happen to have any authentic Italian music lying around (most of us don’t), go for some Sinatra or Bennett. Mood music can really make the difference, and if you don’t have any on hand, you can very affordably download two or three songs to keep on a loop. If you spring for a yummy-but-within-budget bottle of red (Barefoot, anyone?), your date night can still ring in for under $10 to include pasta and sauce or pizza. With a little wine flowing, songs reminiscent of the old country crooning and some sheer togetherness… you may just feel giddy enough to skip dessert altogether, in hopes of burning a few calories Italian-style. Now that’s amore.
Oui, Mon Cheri
When we think of France, we think of culture… we think of art. What’s more, the French gave us the little meals (hors’ devours) we so commonly use to perfectly punctuate any occasion. For this date-on-a-dime, we take inspiration from the French and reach for that random can of olives in our pantry, that chunk of cheddar cheese in the not oft’ used fridge drawer, those crackers you brought home from the party a few weeks back, or that unused bowl of hummus that scooched to the back of the fridge somehow a few days ago. It might be something along these lines or something a little different. The idea here is to pilfer through your fridge and pantry for those yummy, snack-inspired things we seem to forget about after the party’s over or our post-shopping craving is sated. For this date night, celebrate the forgotten snacks. Throw them together. Make some hors’ devours your way. Serve them with that bottle of bubbly you never opened on New Year’s Eve or a $5 bottle of a yummy red from Trader Joe’s, and head out. Where, pray tell? In the spirit of culture and art des France, we hail the mighty internet as a way to find a nearby and FREE exhibition. Most urban cities feature their free events on a website, and can be easily located by doing a simple Google search. If you live in a rural area, either throw a short road trip into the mix or find something local that is free to attend (i.e., some live music on the square or something similar). If you still aren’t able to find a free cultural or artistic event, make your own, in your style. Rent a recommended foreign film. We promise, by the end of the evening, your love will be saying “Oui, Mon Cheri,” and coming back for more.
New York, Neew-www Yo-orrrrrk
And finally you land… back in the states. This one’s really easy if you live near a city. Any size or shape of a city will do. It doesn’t have to be a booming metropolis; it only has to contain some of the typical features you associate with “city.” If you don’t live near a city, but live within a short road-trip to one, you can incorporate the quiet drive into your date. The main reason this is such a fabulous date? City lights are not only beautiful, but also romantic. If you’ve ever walked down a city street at night with a date, hand in hand, you know what we mean. Many thousand a first dates started on the city streets at night, hands of lovers interlaced before the good-night kiss is planted, to culminate the night’s events. You can eat at home before heading out, or opt for a drink out at a peaceful, little hole-in-the-wall bar in lieu of dinner. You can also scrap dinner for a decadent ice-cream adventure if available in your city. Either way, if you plan the evening around the quiet stroll down city streets, you’ll come away with cash in pocket and love-light in your eyes.
Whether “traveling” to Italy, France, or the USA, hopefully these tips will spark some ideas about how to get out with the one you love frugal-style. We at Tokii firmly believe that it isn’t the quantity of dollars spent that makes a date special, but rather the quality of time spent together. No matter what the global economy, the need for love (and loving time together) knows no bounds. You don’t have to follow these suggestions verbatim. If you find you can’t spend a lot of money on dating, and you’re not comfortable with or are unable to incorporate any of the above suggestions, work within your own boundaries and means. Ultimately, you’ll find what we already know… that the best memories made have nothing to do with the number of dollars spent. On the contrary, they have everything to do with how and with whom the time was spent.
With that, happy dating econo-style!
Karla Stephens-Tolstoy, Tokii CEO & Founder
A business and brand maverick, skilled in building start-ups and building brand management teams in North America, Asia and Europe.