Picnics are cheap and easy, and with a little thought and preparation, you can turn a simple picnic into the romantic experience of a lifetime. The most important things are a picturesque location, a tasty, thought-out menu, and entertainment that will make your date feel noticed and special.
First, the location. Does she love books? Is he a sports fan? Is she really interested in politics? Choose a spot in the park behind the Southeast Regional Library, on the bleachers at an evening little league game, or on a bench by the fountain outside City Hall.
If this is a first date and you’re just getting to know each other, choose a place that has some special memories for you, like behind the school you went to, or by your favourite work of public art. It’s a good way to help your date get to know you, and to make them feel special by being included in your memories of that location. Don’t forget to check the weather first before you pick the date and time!
The picnic menu doesn’t have to be expensive wine and exotic cheeses. If this is a first date and you’re not sure about your date’s tastes, just make sure to have options. You can choose some fresh bakery rolls, a prepared salad from the grocery store, deli meats, cheese, and a condiment to build a sandwich. Don’t forget some drinks and fresh fruit. Strawberries or grapes travel well, and they’re perfect for sharing and getting close and pack a tasty treat from your favourite bakery for dessert.
Note: If your date is gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan, be sure to bring plenty of treats he or she will like. Your date likely will appreciate your thoughtfulness (and not being left hungry).
Presentation can make or break a picnic. Bring a tablecloth or blanket from home to spread on the ground (some cushions too would be nice if possible). Remember to bring napkins, as they are a must that are easily forgotten.
Adding a single flower, a bottle of water, and a bud vase as decoration is a simple way to add a touch of elegance. If you don’t have these items already, they can be found at a nearby dollar store. That’s also a good place to look for an inexpensive basket to put it all in, so it looks special.
Lastly, don’t forget about the entertainment. Bring along a deck of cards, a pocket board game to play, or a book to read together. If possible, plan your picnic around an event, like an outdoor concert at a park or Shakespeare on the grass. You can also make a list of 20 fun questions for you to ask each other to help you get to know each other better.
Take a Hike
If you and your date are into something a bit more active than a picnic, why not enjoy the outdoors together on a hike? You even can start the date before the ‘date’ by checking out walking trails or hiking paths together that you can explore. Bring along bottles of water for both of you and a fun snack.
You can download a list of local birds and animals, indigenous flora, or landmarks along the hike to turn it into your own couple’s scavenger hunt. Phone? Take it or leave it. Leave it at home to give yourselves some couple time away by disconnecting from the outside world while you’re together. Or take it with you and gather fun photos along your trek for some romantic memories of your walking date!
If you have an even greater sense of adventure, choose a hike where you can do some rock climbing. There are rock climbing areas of all abilities, from simple rock hopping to climbing with ropes to sheer rock faces.
If you’d like to up the fun and the activity, find a nearby river and take your date river tubing. Tubing is inexpensive, and it’s a fabulous activity for two. Hold hands and float your way gently down the stream, or hit the rapids for a day of thrills, spills and laughs.
You even can bring along some refreshments from home and store them in a floatable cooler. If you don’t have a floatable cooler, you can get a third tube and nestle your cooler or tub inside it. To up the fun factor even more, pick up a few squirt guns at a nearby dollar store.
Tubing is also the perfect plan for double dates. Don’t forget to be gallant and pack towels for two and extra sunscreen.
Soak Up Some Culture
If you want an indoor activity that is a memorable and inexpensive date, most museums and art galleries offer a free day once a week or a pay-as-you-can program. Wander through the watercolours, spy on the statues, and peruse the prints, all while spending quality time together.
You can learn a lot about each other sharing your thoughts and opinions about the art all around you, and museums and galleries have plenty of quiet corners for a romantic moment. Many museums also have grounds or gardens, offering the opportunity to wander gently together among the beauty of flowers and nature.
Since you didn’t spend much or any money on the entry fee, you can splurge on a glass of wine and some dessert at the museum cafeteria if the date is going well.
Go Star Gazing
For maximum romance at minimal cost, alter the picnic idea to be a late dinner and an evening of star gazing. Swap out the flower and bud vase for an inexpensive flameless candle and the ice tea for an affordable bottle of good wine.
For the best location, find a place away from the city lights. Light pollution is the bane of star gazing, so the further away from city lights you get, the more stars you will see.
You need a wide-open space with great views of the sky, like a beach, a lakeshore, a hill (or mountain), or a desert. Print up a free map of the stars from the internet and make sure your flashlight has plenty of battery life (or your phone is fully charged with a flashlight app).
To step up the romance even further, plan your date for the peak night of a meteor shower. There are fewer more romantic things than seeing shooting star after shooting star above you as you snuggle under a warm blanket.
There are several meteor showers that pass by earth every year. Three of the best meteor showers (where you can see the most meteors fly by) are the Perseids, the Leonids, and the Geminids.
The Perseids meteor shower comes around every August, the Leonids meteor shower every November, and the Geminids every December. Conversation point: the meteor showers are named after the constellation in front of which the shooting stars pass. The Leonids are named after Leo, the Perseids after Perseus, and the Geminids – yes, Gemini.
Whether you spend dollars on spur-of-the moment take out burgers, or ,000 whisking your date away to a surprise evening in Paris, the key to the perfect date is always the same thing – and it’s free. It’s you and your ability to listen. When you’re out on your date, ask your special someone questions about how they feel and what they think about the world, and when they answer, listen closely. You’ll find that the most memorable part of your date is not how much you spent, but what you two talked about and how you felt about each other.
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