Inexpensive First Dates Can Work
Stretch your mind instead of your wallet to make a first date special without breaking the bank. Remember, you have one and maybe two goals for a first date – to get to know each other better and to have a nice enough time that you both want to go on a second date.
And unless you’re prepared to fly her to Paris or dine at a four-star restaurant every date, save the uber-impressive options for later. A no-expense-spared first date will guarantee a second-date letdown. Not a good thing. As Phoenix Dating Coach, I encourage my clients to work up to an expensive date. Once you sense the chemistry between you, an expensive date can show your interest and commitment.
Opt for an afternoon or evening option that will give you time to talk. Events such art fairs or baseball games make room for conversation without costing much. And if your available funds force you to choose nosebleed seats at a major league baseball game, consider a minor-league team or even the local University game.
When planning an impressive yet inexpensive first date, use your imagination to make the event special. Instead of dinner and drinks at an inexpensive restaurant, how about a picnic in a nice nearby park? Not feeling particularly creative? Then take a look at the list below for some ideas.
Inexpensive First Dates Ideas:
- Ball games. You can have a nice mix between conversation and the action on the field.
- Museums. Many have free and/or adult nights. Bring out the inner child and try the interactive activities that they have for the children.
- Happy Hour. Along with lower prices some offer free appetizers.
- Picnic – this can be anything from cheese, crackers and wine to a special meal you make. Make it romantic and surprise her with a flower.
- Hike to a beautiful location. You can follow up with a picnic.
- Art Walk.
- Tour local Art galleries/go to gallery openings
- Free parties – Yelp (all major cities) have free events that include drinks, food and sometimes movies.
- Free movie screenings. Get on mailing lists to find these in your area.
- Some animal organizations allow volunteers to socialize pets – from walking, playing with, etc.
- Poetry slam.
- Make a meal together that neither one of you knows how to make. If you have to shop for odd ingredients together to make it – It’s an adventure!
- Art fair. You can find out a lot about each other as you discuss your tastes in art.
- Country/county fair – bond over your favorite type of rabbit!
- Take a Bike ride and go for ice cream half-way through.
- For the book worms, try free book lectures. Discuss what you have learned over tea or a drink afterwards.
- Holiday time – look at the holiday lights (Phoenix has a double decker bus that does stops along the way)
- Is your date a tomboy? Try the batting cages to burn off some dating nerves.
- Play darts. Get competitive and challenge each other. The loser has to do a funny dance.
- Dance lessons. Many places offer group lessons ($5 – 12) and you get to be super close to your date right away
- Street Fair. Most large cities have street fairs with live entertainment and food trucks. A great way to see sites and people watch.
- Thinking of buying a new home? Look at model homes with your girl.
- Pick produce. Check the internet for places that let you pick fruit together. Make something together with what you have picked.
- Find a free concert. Spread the blanket and get close.
- Game night – lots of fun with other couples.
- Wine or Beer Tour. Many places have tours where you can enjoy samples for free.
- Is it close to Halloween? Go to a Thrift store and try to find outfits together. Show off the oddest and funniest clothes to make it fun.
- If she is the artsy type? Try a community theatre play. These are usually much cheaper than the big productions that come into town.
- Paddle boat. Many places have paddle boats for rent. You can burn off some first dating jitters while you paddle.
- If you live in cooler temperatures, try cross country skiing. At the end, stop and get cozy over hot chocolate.
- You’re the Next Adam Levine! For the not shy try a karaoke date. Sing your favorite cheesy love song together.
- Mini golf. I used this for a reality TV show when the man had super bad nerves. The classic cheap date, he got over his nerves and was laughing before the evening was half-way through.
- Festivals and Fairs. Every large city has an event calendar where you can find fairs and festivals. From Beerfests to Art Fairs, there is something for everyone’s taste.
- Go to a Coffee house that has live music. I hate coffee dates because they are typically too much of a cliché. Add live music to the mix, and you suddenly have a unique date.
- Roller skating. Grab some skates and get moving. This gives you an excuse to hold hands and do an easy spin.
- Dog Park. If you are both dog lovers, take your dogs to the park.
- Play Pool and challenge each other.
- Bowling. The traditional inexpensive date because it is so much fun.
- Go to the beach. This is super romantic and you can bring a picnic. Watch the sun set while you sip wine.
- Ice skating. Even in the desert here in Phoenix, we have ice rinks. A fun way to make physical contact by catching her before she falls.
- Comedy improv nights – usually super-inexpensive
- Volunteer together – work at food pantry, feeding the homeless, etc.
- Many communities, shopping centers, etc. offer free movie screenings. Bring your wine, cheese/crackers in a basket and enjoy.
- Show off your smarts – Attend a Trivia night at a bar.
- Instead of buying a complete dinner, just get dessert. Go to a special bakery or restaurant and pick out your favorites.
- Be the tourist. Make a list of all the places you have never been but should have. The more offbeat and quirky the better. Then tour with your date.
Some of these Inexpensive First Date ideas may not work for you. There is no universal first date that will work for everyone. But if you follow some simple rules you can have a good first date.
First – you must both enjoy the date. If going to a museum is as exciting for you as watching paint dry, then don’t do it. You want the date to be fun. Next – the date has to fit the woman you are dating. If she is the outdoors type, then you want the hikes and other outdoor events. If she fits the sophisticated night scene, then you want to choose happy hours and wine tours. Finally, you absolutely do not want to look cheap.
Tips on Inexpensive First Dates
Here are a few inexpensive first date tips to make sure you do not look cheap:
- Check out your plans ahead of time. Make sure you know the cost of your planned first date so you have the money you need to take care of it. Nothing says cheap and thoughtless more than not being prepared.
- Always tip fairly if not generously. Remember that by coming into a nice restaurant and having only dessert while claiming a table for an hour compromises the income of your waiter or waitress. Let your tip reflect that. Believe me, she will notice.
- Even though your goal is to keep it inexpensive, never let her know that. No one wants to be a cheap date. Focus on having fun and on her.
- Do not rely on groupon or other discount cards to reduce the price of the date – it looks cheap and tacky, not something you want to demonstrate.
- If you’re meeting for happy hour, plan to order at least a couple of appetizers. Trust me – she’s hungry.
- Finally do not, not ever, no matter what, let her pay. Even if she offers – even if she insists. Trust me; you have lost lots of points if you let her pay.
Use these cheap date ideas to customize a date that fits you and your woman. Remember to add personal touches to make your time together special and memorable. If it is an art walk, get a bystander to take a photo. Watching an outdoor movie, surprise her with a few expensive chocolates. These extra thoughtful gestures will impress a girl more than throwing money around.
Remember the most important thing about any date, cheap dates or expensive ones, is to use your creativity and have fun. And if you have new ideas for inexpensive dates, contact me. I will add them to this list!
Inexpensive First Dates Final Point
One final point: an inexpensive but thoughtful first date will help you recognize the women who are really interested in you rather than how much you spend on them. And that may be the best value of all!
See my interview about tips on Inexpensive first dates!