Kendall and Jess tag-teaming this post today!
Building on the theme of making the most of time spent at home in the coming weeks, today’s post is all about crafting a perfect date night in–whether that’s with your significant other, yourself or while face-timing some of your girlfriends!
Let’s be honest–given the fact that we’re all working, exercising and coexisting in the same space all day every day, it can be very difficult to shift your attitude from “blah blah blah–what day or time is it even?” to “let’s have special, fun time now!!!” — rather than just eating another carton of easy mac in front of the TV… 🤣 So it’s no wonder that this topic, in particular, was one of your most requested on Instagram stories earlier this week!
Creating these moments of connection in a time where everyone is feeling alone can and must (for our own sanity) be done. If there’s a silver lining in all of this, it’s that all those obligations we used to have are now obsolete.
Instead, we now have the gift of being able to spend ample connecting with each other and ourselves.
Whether it’s taking advantage of more intricate recipes, exploring a new hobby or indulging in self-care, date night ins can help inject some normalcy during these unprecedented times!
Regardless of your situation––quarantined solo, with a significant other, roommates, or long distance from your SO, it’s HARD. No situation has it “easy”––but we’re all in this together. Luckily, no matter your situation, you can take inspiration from the below activities to make life these days a lot more joyful and continue to foster meaningful connections––whether that’s alone, with your live-in SO, or with loved ones via Skype, Zoom, or Facetime!
Because you guys always have the best ideas, we knew this topic was best suited for a Real Women Approved post––so below, you’ll find tons of crowdsourced ideas that you can implement ASAP!
Real Women Approved: 21 Ideas to Create the Perfect Date Night, Solo Night or Virtual Girls Night-in!
Switch up your dining location
Changing up the norm is a huge part of making a night in feel special. If you normally sit at the counter for dinner, opt to create your dining setting at the table, in front of the fireplace, outside or picnic-style on the floor. Heck, if the weather is nice, just eating on your front stoop can be a nice break! If you feel like really going all out, GG reader Sade suggests building a fort and having a picnic in it!
Go all out on the menu
The key to differentiating a date night at home from any other night? Effort! Now is the time to invest in longer recipes, try new ones together and/or serve up appetizers and desserts over the course of the evening. GG reader Bridget suggests recreating the menu from your favorite restaurant––such a good idea!
Other popular GG ideas include making decadent pastas from scratch, or homemade pizza! The New York Times has a great roundup of quarantine-friendly recipes that focus heavily on pantry staples! The Defined Dish (both her blog and cookbook) is always my go-to for interesting new recipes that are healthy without tasting like it! She has a great roundup of quarantine-friendly recipes as well!
A “progressive” dinner with takeout/delivery from a few of your favorite restaurants! Order a starter from one, dinner from another, and maybe dessert from another! (You get the idea). Many restaurants are now offering drinks––like growlers of beer or margaritas––to go! Neal and I plan to pickup a pizza and a growler tonight from Piece pizza (Get the “Hot Doug” pizza, add veggies) and a takeout salad from Club Lucky! (The Club Lucky salad, make sure to get it chopped. 😉)
This doesn’t just make it fun and interesting, but it helps support restaurants that need all the help they can get right now! You can do this with your S/O at home, or with a group of friends. Facetime or Zoom them and all eat dinner together!
Virtual cocktail hour
Wine always tastes better with girlfriends. 😉Schedule a video call with your girlfriends so you can all catch up and cheers together! It’s a fun way to have something to look forward to and blow off some steam! Make it a standing time each week (or multiple times per week) so you never miss it!
Have a movie picking process
I think we’ve all been in the situation of mindlessly scrolling through Netflix, unable to decide on a movie to watch together. This can quickly kill a mood! While there’s nothing wrong with watching reruns of your favorite show, try to pick something new for a date night at home! Make sure a movie is chosen in advance, so you have something to look forward to!
Movie fishbowl: Want to play movie roulette? Write down movie titles on slips of paper and put them in a jar that you pull from–so the decision will be made for you!
Group binge a new show
Choose a guilty pleasure show for all your friends to tune into together on facetime! (Love is Blind is a great one to binge watch together because it will make for excellent commentary. 😂) The same rules apply as in person––nobody is allowed to binge watch without the group!
Another fun idea for a date night in is baking! Open a bottle of wine and bake an all-time favorite dessert or opt for something new! Baking solo can be very therapeutic and baking with your significant other, or with a friend over facetime is a great way to really connect, communicate and do something together. Not to mention, it ends in a delicious dessert- win, win, win!
Set the mood with music
While you’re enjoying your own company, chatting over dinner or cooking a long meal, the right playlist is the perfect way to set the mood and tone for a relaxing, romantic evening! Bonus points if you have a record player! Here’s Neal and I’s favorite date night in playlist!
Create your own book club
Whether it’s with a group or just one friend or family member––we all have so much more time on our hands, and creating a “book club” is a fun way to connect! My mom just got a Kindle so we can swap books back and forth now, and we’re both REALLY excited about it. We love talking about books!! (Need reccos? Start with this post!)
Use light for ambiance
There’s nothing like candlelight to create a romantic atmosphere! Whether it’s filling the room with your favorite scent, eating beside candlelight or as one GG reader suggests, hanging twinkly lights, moody lighting is a great way to transform your everyday space into a romantic date spot or relaxing night alone.
Use this cozy-up hack!
So many of you suggested cuddling underneath a cozy blanket and GG reader Autumn sent in this pro tip: throw your blanket in the dryer just before wrapping yourself in it. And GG reader Erica suggests bringing all of the couch cushions and pillows onto the floor to make a “mega bed” for a movie night! Ahhh this with a glass of wine? HEAVEN!
During a date night-in cocktail hour or Skype catch up, try planning something together! It can be a bucket list of all the places you hope to travel to together, projects you’d like to complete around the house or yard, or other plans you have for your businesses and personal lives, take some time to dream and plan together!
Make a bucket list or dream up new goals
Similarly, now is a great time to make a list for yourself! Whether it’s professional goals you’re working toward, skills you want to hone this year or creating a new financial budget, take some time to reflect on how far you’ve come and where you want to go from here!
Swap the usual dinner + a movie combo for some old-fashioned competition! From cards to backgammon and boardgames, sometimes games are a welcomed change from screentime. Need a list of games for 1, 2, 3+ players? My friend Annie (who is actually Kelly’s cousin Annie) shared this amazing google doc that her friends compiled––a list of games and activities sorted by how many players you have!
You could also have a puzzle race with your friends––all order the same puzzle, have a dedicated facetime puzzle night and whoever finishes it first wins! (Maybe you could even raise the stakes and make it a pool where you chip in $5 or $10 each and the winner takes all! 😂)
Pro tip: keep a running scoreboard you can build on each game!
On that note, you can play Trivia!! My friend Natalie sent me a bar group that has taken their trivia nights online through YouTube Live with an answering page on Crowd.Live. You can find more details on their Trivia Maine Facebook page––she plays with her family who dial in from all over and she said it’s a blast! We plan to join soon too! The guy who runs it just asks for donations via Venmo.
I love this idea! Whether it’s putting on your favorite song and slow dancing in the dark, cranking some pump-up music and really dancing it out, or learning a dance (I have now mastered The Git Up and I’m trying to teach Neal), moving your body is a fun way to burn off stress and exercise at the same time! A fun thing to do virtually with friends or with your SO!
Tackle a home improvement project
This one may seem out of the norm, but it’s a great idea from a GG reader! Because we’re spending more time at home than usual, every night can’t be a decadent 5-hour dinner! The next time you’re looking for something new to do together, plan out and execute a home improvement project! Whether it’s finally painting that spare room, putting photos in your gallery wall frames or simply reorganizing the pantry so it’s finally functional, improving your space is always time well spent!
At-home spa night
Chances are your typical pampering appointments have been postponed for a while, making it the perfect time to indulge in some TLC! Whether it’s a foot rub, a pedicure, giving massages, enjoying a face mask or hopping in a bubble bath with a glass of wine, spend some time indulging in relaxation!
Another fun idea: If your girlfriends all have a mask, nail polish, etc––anything you’ve all been wanting to try, order it and all try it together while catching up! (Is it just me or are the moments where you were painting your nails and gossiping the ones you miss most about having roommates?)
Pull the trigger on a hobby or two
Perfect for a solo night, date night, with one friend, or a group––tap into a hobby! Whether it’s drawing, learning a new language or playing an instrument you’ve had lying around, online tutorials can help you get better together, and having a buddy or two can hold you accountable! There are so many free tutorials on just about anything on Youtube, or you can check out TeachLessons.com or Skillshare!
Ask your friends to play Teacher!
Do you have a friend who is a workout instructor? Is a fantastic cook? Who makes a mean carrot cake? Is good at knitting? Can speak another language? Amazing at guided meditations? Good with an iPhone camera? A great dancer? Have them give a digital lesson to everyone else over Zoom or Facetime! Just make sure everyone has enough to get the supplies they need, and schedule a lesson!
Work out together
So many studios are taking their classes online these days! There are also lots of great free Youtube workout videos, or other great online resources! My friend Lauren is a pilates instructor and has started offering Zoom Pilates and stretch classes for a suggested $10 donation and I just took her class afternoon, it was so great!!
My friend who teaches at Barry’s is also going to start offering classes, so I may get a little group workout schedule going and have my friends lead us in different workouts–stay tuned on that!!
This is a fun thing to do with friends, your SO, or by yourself! It can be as simple as agreeing to play the same Youtube workout video at the same time on Facetime together!
Walk and talk
Simple but maybe the most cathartic of all. Many of you guys suggest “walking and talking” to catch up and connect when apart (or with your SO!) Whether it’s a post-dinner stroll or a power walk to de-stress after work, doing it together can be a fun way to stay active and connected!