Being in a relationship in college is not only fun (and Insta-worthy if you have good friends that know how to take the perfect candid) but also, in some ways, expensive. If you both attend different colleges like my boyfriend and I do, seeing each other can involve tolls, train tickets, or even airfare. Serious props to you long-distance lovers.
So why not #treatyoselves to some cute dates that involve the least amount of financial stress?
Date #1: Move over Chris Harrison:
Okay ladies, this what we have all been preparing for. All those Monday nights spent binge watching The Bachelor are finally being put to good use.
1. Make a Date Card
Using supplies at home or running to the dollar store for a piece of paper and an envelope ($1), make a date card using mysterious and clever lines to give your date a slight idea of what this date is going entail. When it is just the right amount of cheesy and punny, give it to them before the date.
Date Card: $0 – $1
2. Wine and Dine ’em (kind of)-
There is nothing better than doing your favorite thing, eating, with your favorite person. In New York City there are thousands of tasty dishes and snacks that are filling enough for two and cheap enough for your wallet to sleep easy. Follow a mouth-watering Instagram account like New Fork City and pick some tasty treats to share with your date. A Margherita pie from Motorino East Village and a Donut Ice Cream Sandwich from Holey Cream allows you to try new foods without spending an arm and a leg.
#SpoonTip: Check out this article on 50 of the Best Foods to Eat in NYC for more NYC munchies with your honey.
Margherita Pie: $15
Donut Ice Cream Sandwich: $7 (each)
From October 30th to March 6th, 2016, Bryant Park is taken over by the Bank of America Winter Village which is filled with food and knick knack vendors from all over the city. But best of all, FREE ICE SKATING. If you have your own ice skates (or you can rent skates), you just walk onto the ice and skate the night away under the stars giving you the perfect excuse to hold your dates hand. Spend the rest of the night in Bryant Park taking each other down on the ice with every slip and fall, making new memories for life.
Ice Skate Rental: $15
Date total: $30-45 (I suggest you bring skates from home)
Date #2: At-Home Theatre Experience:
It’s about to get super cuddly up in this bi*ch. This at-home, night-in date is the perfect excuse to cuddle up with your honey and stuff your face with some junk food.
1. Setting is key
Drag that mattress off your bed, sheet and all, or lay a couple of soft AF blankets on the ground surrounded by cute pillows and extra blankets.
2. Channel your inner Paula Deen
Pop up some (tons of) movie theater or extra-buttery popcorn and lay out some tasty movie snacks. Try these fun ways to spice up your popcorn, or for ***bonus points,*** bake your date’s favorite dessert.
Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theatre Butter Pop Corn Pop Up Bowls – $4
Around $4 per bag of candy
3. Fire it up
If you or your date have a projector, hang a sheet on the wall which you are facing and then place the projector on the opposite wall facing the sheet. Pick out your movies, fire up the projector, grab that bottle of wine, and cuddle up with bae.
4. Tasty Bonus
While you are out shopping for the snack grab some cookie dough and vanilla ice cream (or your personal favorite) on your way out. When it is time for dessert, bake up the cookies and boom: homemade ice cream and cookie sandwiches. Easy, tasty, and goes great with pjs, bae, and a glass of cold milk.
#SpoonTip: if you were like me and jumped on the cronut bandwagon so fast you sprained your ankle, then you will absolutely love this article on How To Make Cronuts at Home which will definitely impress your date!
Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – $3.50
Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream- $3.50
Date Total: $27
Date #3: Throwdown with Bobby Flay: Date Night Edition
This date idea is perfect for when you are craving a pizza but do not just want to order a pie and watch a movie like you do every other night. This gives you an excuse to bond with your date and show off some skills in the kitchen they (and maybe you) did not even know you had.
1. Give Me Some Dough
The base (literally) to any good pizza is the dough. I, myself, am a huge crust lover so when that dough is not on its A game, there is a problem. I personally get my dough from a local, Italian deli since Staten Island is basically little Italy, but if you are not as blessed as I am with Italian perks two minutes away, your local supermarket should be stocked with either their generic brand or the Pillsbury version of pizza crust.
Generic brand $2/Pillsbury $3
2. Oh, it’s on
Now it is time to get creative. After spreading your pizza sauce evenly on your dough, it is time for the best part – the cheese. After grating the cheese and making the pizza as cheesy or not as you would like, use some of your leftover cheese and take a creative tip from my brother and fill the crust with cheese right before you fold it over. That will give Pizza Hut’s cheesy crust a run for their money and surprise your date with your creative spark. Want a more original idea? Check out these 18 Awesome Pizzas You Can Make at Home to give you some inspiration on how to kick your dates butt in this cook-off.
Pizza sauce- $2
Polly-O Mozzarella Cheese- $6
#Spoontip: add some oregano and/or any other spice you think would add some flavor to your pizza to give it that gourmet flair.
3. Cook to the Beat
#CuteTip: make a cute playlist of upbeat, romantic songs and sing and dance along to the beat while you kick your bae’s butt in this cook-off. This gives you a chance to show off your cooking skills and look hot while doing it when you shake it up.
4. “Does This Apron Make My Butt Look Big?”
Is there even a point to cooking if you do not get to put on some cute a*s aprons? Yeah, I did not think so either. Time to take out those “Kiss the Cook” aprons your mom hid from dad after the last summer barbecue and strut your stuff.
5. The Moment We Have All Been Waiting For
You know what’s better than one pizza pie? TWO. Yep, not only did you have a fun, tasty date with bae but now you get to chill out, uncork that bottle of wine you’ve been eyeing, and devour the two pizzas.
So who won the cook-off? Trick question – you both did, because eating two pizzas is always winning.
Date Total: $11
Date #4: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
If you and your date are planning a day in the city, there is no better way to start it off than with classic New York City breakfast with a twist.
1. Channel Your Inner Audrey
If you have not seen the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s and have no idea what I am talking about, in the movie Audrey Hepburn plays a woman named Holly Golightly who famously stands outside the Tiffany & Co. jewelry store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan while eating a donut out of a bag and sipping a coffee. This has inspired not only many others to follow suit but also a very cute morning date idea.
2. Everything is Better in New York
Tiffany & Co.’s famous 5th Avenue store is located at 727 5th Avenue in New York City. Around this shop are your typical Starbucks, but what you will not find on your own unless you are a native New Yorker is New York Jumbo Bagel. This hole-in-the-wall bagel shop is home to some of the tastiest bagels you will ever have the pleasure of stuffing your face with.
The cheap prices and large portions are just two of the many reasons that their doors keep on swinging. This shop is the perfect place for your coffee and bagel stop for your customized Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
#SpoonTip: Willing to splurge on your next bagel trip? Check out this article on Where To Get Fancy Ass Bagel Sandwiches in NYC Based on Your Personality if you are ready to up your bagel game.
Bagel: $1.15 ($3.00 with cream cheese)
3. “Can You Please Smile? This is Going on the ‘Gram.”
Once you have finally gotten your bagel and coffee in hand and have walked your cute little butts from 2nd Avenue back to the designer-filled 5th, it is time to slide up next to bae and ogle the way-too-expensive-to-even-think-about jewelry in the windows of Tiffany’s. Don’t forget to snap a pic and cheese it up.
Date Total: $5.30 – $9.00
Date #5: Time to break out the Game Cube
Most likely every time it takes your guy 45 minutes to answer you back with six laughing/crying emojis it does not mean he is ignoring you on purpose, it just means he is most likely playing video games. Annoying, right? Not anymore.
Instead of complaining and whining to him about how he loves his X-box more than you, sit down next to him and pick up a remote – that will definitely get a reaction out of him.
1. Surprise, Bi*ch
Girls, we all know that as much as your guy likes you when the next GTA or COD comes out you probably will not see him for a good couple weeks – unless you join in. Since this is not a super formal date, you can still look cute in leggings, yoga pants, or sweats paired with a cute top or big sweater and even throw up your hair in a messy bun. You still look cute but also comfy.
2. It’s On Like Donkey Kong
Okay so now you have to set the scene. Cute but comfy clothes, order a pizza or two with some wings or another side dish, park your booty on that couch with bae and fire up the gaming system.
Pizza Pie: Average Pie Price $15 (two pies-$30)
Wings from Pizzeria: 12 for $13
3. Troy Bolton
This idea could be used if you get bored mid-match or if you want to give yourself a good incentive to kick his butt (besides the gloating factor). Make a bet. Who will win the fight, have the most kills, last longer in the war, etc. Every game you play, whether it’s Mario Party 5 or GTA, has multiple aspects in which you can make a bet and have cute rewards for the winner.
If you have a brother, older cousins, or best guy friends, then there is a 99 percent chance there is always that one game you are the best at. Without giving it away, innocently suggest that game to play, kick his ass, and wait for him to wife you up after your victory while he is in complete shock of your secret skills.
Date Total: $28-$58
Date #6: Sunny Side Cuddle Up
(Let’s pretend you will look half as good as Jessie James Decker and Eric Decker do #swoon)
Before I experienced it for myself, I never understood why people would wake up right before the (butt) crack of dawn to watch the sunrise. After my friend dragged me out of bed to watch the sunrise during a week away in Miami, I was able to understand one of the beauties of nature. The way the sky lit up as the sun began to rise was a wordless experience that I was forever grateful to experience with two of my best girlfriends. This date takes the beauty of the sunset and romance of a date all in one.
1. Rise and Shine!
Yes, I know waking up for that 8 am class is hard enough but now I am telling you to get up 3-4 hours before that. Trust me: it is worth it. Drag your butt and your date’s right outta bed and start your date before the sun even starts the day.
2. “Yes, that’s right. I said 4 espresso shots.” (actual conversation I had once with a Dunkin Donuts employee)
Since waking up at the plumber’s crack of dawn is one of the hardest things you will have to endure besides those philosophy classes your school makes you enroll in, it is time to hit up that sacred 24-hour Dunkin Donuts drive-thru and order as many “turbo shots” as needed. Oh, and DO NOT forget the donuts, walking out of Dunkin Donuts without a donut is a sin.
#SpoonTip: Think you need a little extra…”kick” to get you on the beach that early? Check out this article on 5 Water Bottle Cocktails You Can Take on the Beach
2 Large Iced Coffees- $5.58
2 Donuts- $2
3. Watch Mother Nature Do Her Thing
My suggestion for the perfect sunrise spot would be your local beach or any type of romantic water setting. Come on, you know the beach is super romantic. Get a blanket or large towel, your coffee and donuts, your date (duh), and some warm clothes- it may be summer when you venture out for this date but 5 am even in July is pretty chilly. Once you set up your blanket and sip and eat your breakfast, it is time to turn to your date, cuddle up, and wait for the magic to happen.
It may be a romantic moment but since we are lucky (sometimes) to live in the digital era, you have the chance to watch the sunrise and look back at that moment forever! After the initial awe of watching the day begin, it’s time to turn your backs to the sun and snap a selfie with the orange glow behind you. This is definitely a beautiful memory you will always want to keep.
#SpoonTip: break out that selfie stick for a glorious full view picture moment like this one above
*5. BONUS POST-SUNRISE IDEA:
In Staten Island, every three blocks there is a mouthwatering diner, usually open 24 hours. If you happen to be as culinarily lucky as I am, after you soak up the sun(set) hop back in your car and hit the closest diner with your date. Now, you have been up early girl and guess what? YOU DESERVE IT. You get that plate of pancakes, side of bacon, and the omelet. Get it all girl. #TreatYoSelf
Side of Bacon: $3
Date Total: $24
Date #7: Backroads Romance
This date came from my ol’ country heart (says the New Yorker). It hits us country-loving girls right in the feels and makes us wish we grew up on a farm, not in a borough. For this date, you’ll need a country music loving (or tolerable) date and hopefully a pickup truck.
1. These Are a Few of My Favorite Things
The best part of the backroads, riding date is making your dinner and shoving it in a basket. Yes, that’s right: time for a picnic. Make your date special by making the meals yourself. Choose some of their and some of your favorite meals, package them up, and you are ready to go. Go to your favorite spot, lay a blanket on the back of the truck (or on the ground if your date sadly does not have a pickup truck) and start enjoying your picnic.
#SpoonTip: Want a twist on a classic summertime snack? Check out this article on 9 Creative S’mores Ideas to Get You Pumped for Campfire Season to shake up your dessert for this date.
Dinner: about $20
2. Shake, Shake, Shake Señora
As we all know Spotify is like the 9th wonder of the world, Henry Cavill being #8, so grab a speaker or plug in the aux using this playlist, this one, or maybe even one of your own to dance the night away with your bae.
3. Take it all in
A night in the sun and then under the stars is a date to remember. I know it is always hard to get some time with your person so enjoy every bite of that meal, every second of that song, and every minute of that day because these are the moments you will need to remember.
When you are mid into final weeks and the espresso shots have worn off at 3 AM while studying for organic chem, these are the moments you need to hold onto to get you through.
Date total: about $20
I hope these date ideas inspire some of your own to come through. I know how tough it is to only get a day or even just a couple hours with the person you love so trying to get the most of your time together should be easy, fun, and come on we are college kids… it’s got to be cheap. So go out there, get your bae, and enjoy some romance – you deserve it.