This is usually the day I would post about our October date and invite you to join in by adding links to your fabulous, ordinary, at-home, or on the town dates but . . . . we didn't go on a date this month. :( That whole moving-into-a-new-house thing kinda threw routines & normalcy out the window.
But, today is November 1st.
Do you know what is special about November 1st? That is the day I allow myself to start thinking/planning/listing-making for Christmas. I know some people like to plan months in advance or all year. But that isn't me - I can't think about or plan for something more than 2 months in advance.
Anyways, if you're trying to come up with a gift idea for your husband . . . . this Year of Dates is a pretty great one! 12 months of pre-planned, (mostly) pre-paid dates
It's what I gave Scott for Christmas in 2010.
So today, in lieu of a recent date post, I thought I'd share a few tips & pointers about assembling your own Year of Dates gift.
When I put together our year of dates I started brainstorming ideas in September. I opened a Word document on my computer and everytime a thought or idea came to me I would jot it down. I think you still have time to pull something like this together if you started now. But you probably need to start now.
Mix it up
The thought of coming up with 12 date ideas all at once can be daunting! To make it easier for myself I decided to create 3 categories: 1) At home dates 2) Local dates 3) On the town dates.
In each of those categories I came up with 4 dates and divided them evenly throughout the year. In January we went into the city. In February we dated at home. And in March we did something local. And so on. Doing something like this will make the brainstorming more manageable.
Think outside (and in) the box
Now it's time to come up with the dates! To get your creative juices flowing here are a few thoughts that might help you out. . . .
Think of his interests - This gift is something that you will get to enjoy together, but I think he will be more willing to go along with the "creative" dates if there are plenty of his interests/hobbies mixed in as well. Plus, it could give you an opportunity to learn more about the things he loves. Who knows, you might like it too! Scott loves to golf. So I planned a golfing date (just 9 holes) into the mix. I think we both agreed that it was our favorite date of the year! Time outside, beautiful scenery, getting cozy in the golf cart while we waited for our turn at the tee . . . .
Want romance? Plan it! - I think, sometimes, we women sit around and wish/hope/dream that our spouses would be more romantic, planning dates that make our hearts flutter, and involve more hand-holding & talking and less movie-watching. But that doesn't always happen. I say make it happen yourself! For one of our dates I planned an easy hike along with a picnic atop a hill with great views of the city. This is something that never would have come up in our normal date planning. But it sounded romantic to me so I added it to the mix. Additionally, I planned it during my birthday month so I was guaranteed to get what I wanted.
Include traditions - Scott and I have a tradition of going on a date in December to the mall to do the last little bit of Christmas shopping. We go out for a good dinner and then browse the shops, all decorated for Christmas, while enjoying the magical holiday atmosphere and time with each other. So I made sure to include this in our date envelope. To add a little twist & an element of fun, I also threw in two $5 bills and the challenge that we each had to find a stocking stuffer for the other person.
So if there is a tradition or favorite yearly activity you do with your spouse . . . include it! There's no reason you have to be completely original every month.
We like to attend the temple as often as possible & get dinner too. April date, done!
We also have a tradition of seeing the latest Twilight movie together (after I've seen it with my friends). November date, done!
Include a date for him -- I won't go into details (you can use your own imaginations). But this date is best accomplished at home.
Be a tourist in your town - I'm sure there are restaurants or parks or theaters or other attractions you have wanted to visit but just never got around to it. This is the perfect opportunity! I had always wanted to see an IMAX movie at OMSI, so I included that as part of our January date.
Look online for date ideas - If you're still stumped, go online and there are TONS of creative/fun/simple date ideas out there. I referenced the blog Love Actually to get a few of my ideas. Now, I read Friday We're in Love and stand in awe of their ability to come up with new and different dates every single week. This couple knows how to date.
Give yourself plenty of time to gather envelope contents
This is the most time-consuming part of the process. There was a lot of running around town involved! But I was able to purchase a few of the giftcards online and they were mailed to me.
For a few envelopes I found a small item to include that went along with the theme of the date -- a carabiner for our rock climbing date, a mini stocking for our Christmas date, etc.
Also, in some date envelopes I included brochures and materials from the location we would be visiting -- menus and images printed from the internet, a trail map, etc.. As well as items that would be needed for the date -- a deck of cards, quiz books for our sleepover for two, etc. Those things add a little touch of fun.
Groupon is your friend
Groupon, Restaurant.com, LivingSocial and many more daily deal websites help to make this project a little more affordable. And they can help you add some variety -- new restaurants, comedy clubs, art classes, dance classes, spa treatments, city scavenger hunts, sporting events, etc. Just be sure to pay attention to the expiration dates on the offer.
Write a personal note
My favorite part of the date envelopes are the handwritten notes that I included. Just a little note - something cute, fun, light-hearted. I tried to channel The Bachelor on a few to make them as cheesy as possible. :)
Keep it manly
I made sure to resist every urge to cute-ify this gift and I think Scott appreciated it. Basic 6x9 mailing envelopes were perfect. Or file folders in a file box like this example.
Holy cow, that was a lot of information. If you made it through the whole post, congrats! I hope it is helpful for anyone who is thinking about putting this together for Christmas. And if you miss the Christmas deadline, save it for Valentine's Day, an anniversary, or his birthday! Lots of good date-giving opportunities are out there.
A quick re-cap:
- Start planning now -- like, now!
- Mix it up -- date local, in the city, and at home
- Think outside (and in) the box -- get creative and try new things! But it's okay to include the tried and true favorites
- Give yourself plenty of time to gather the envelope contents -- don't wait until Christmas Eve
- Groupon is your friend -- keep an eye out for great online daily deals
- Write a personal note -- xoxo
- Keep it manly -- because it's for your husband, not your best girlfriend
Some FAQ's . . .
How do you present this gift on Christmas Day? Is there an envelope that explains the concept? Or do you verbally explain it?
I placed the basket, filled with envelopes into a box and wrapped it up for Christmas morning. Inside the basket I also included this note to explain it all.
What do you do with your kids when you have an at-home date?
Our kids are 11, 9, and 7. So we just put them to bed and tell them that under no circumstances are they allowed to come downstairs or bother us. It doesn't matter if you see a spider or if you're bleeding or puking . . . I don't want to hear that door creak open! Seriously though, they are really good. We just let them know that mom and dad are having a date at home and they need to stay in bed. I think the idea of mom and dad dating at home is a fun novelty, so they try to be extra good.
Putting together 12 months of dates can be pricey! How do you manage it?
Yes, it can be pricey. We have a Christmas budget set aside so I was able to use that to pre-purchase all of the dates. If you're already going out on regular dates, this just rolls that 12 month cost into one bundle. If regular dates aren't happening right now, this gift will provide value to your relationship that is so much greater than the monetary expense of 12 dates.
But if you plan it right not all of the dates have to cost a lot of money. Dates at home, a picnic in the park, visiting an art gallery, hiking/biking, taking advantage of free community events . . . . these are all things that you can do on the cheap and still have a great (and special) date out.
But here's a little secret you can employ if needed . . . . leave some envelopes empty. (shhh!!) You can always go back and fill them as budget allows and no one will ever know. I actually did this one month. I knew that a performance was coming to town in a particular month, but I wasn't ready to buy tickets yet. So I left it empty. Actually I stuffed the envelope with blank paper, but no one would ever know. It's all about presentation!
Do you let your husband look inside the envelopes when you gave it to him, or do you make him wait until the correct month?
I made him wait! We would open the envelope together around the first of the month, read it, and then look at our calendar and choose a date to make it happen.
For everything related to a Year of Dates visit my info page HERE