Monday, August 6, 2012

The date pack

The "date pack" is something Brett and I came up with as a gift for another couple but have also made our own for date nights. It has now been a bit of a gift for a few couples who have enjoyed it.

The date pack is really a "date night in a box". We included all the basic elements but leave room for an individual couple's imagination and own tastes re music, food, etc.

What we included:
Games - we all need some fun to unwind and if you're anything like us, a bit of competition is always fun. I found some card game versions of classic games like Monopoly, Scrabble, Boggle as well as other simple games like Uno and include one or two of these in each pack.
Conversation - sometimes it's good to take about things we may not often get the chance to and so in this date pack, we put together some 'discussion sparks' or conversation starters to help things along. These include things like "In the last 12 months I feel we have grown as a couple in...(list any and all ways you feel you have both grown together)"; "One aspect of our shared life I found challenging was...and this is why it was difficult for me..."; "In the last 12 months I have really enjoyed.. (describe a shared aspect of your like that has brought you joy)...and I would like to see us continue to share this... These are just a couple of ideas but you get the picture.
Love letter - each person is to write a love letter to their love. We included instructions with suggestions for what to write like "I remember one of the things I first noticed about you was...".
Extras - we have sometimes included things like scented candles or chocolates. At other times some money so the couple can get food they'd like. For your own, you can include anything you like - tickets to a movie you'll both enjoy; a CD of music you both love; etc.

We found the questions helpful for reflection and giving and receiving the love letters was pretty romantic (and funny!).

If you would like a PDF to download of the 'discussion sparks' and/or the love letter template, just leave your name/email address in the comments (your email address won't be made public) and I'll get it to you. If you would like us to put together a date pack for you, let me know that too.

Paper hearts

I love to do different things for our at-home date nights. A simple at-home date night can turn into something a little more special when you change the lighting, decorate a little or move some furniture around.

This time, I spent ages cutting out red and white hearts to make into garlands to string up over our dining table. I also made paper-chain hearts to decorate with as well.

I made a roast dinner and we ate by candlelight with some great music playing in the background.

We played a couple of card games we enjoy and we chatted about positives from the past year and what we're looking forward to over the next few months. It's good to create space for good conversations - the kind that maybe don't happen often when life gets busy or kids are in the mix.

It was a simple night, really, but was special and fun.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Not just the two of us anymore

I thought it was time for a few more date night ideas. I haven't posted for a while, spending most of my time with our baby girl. Our date nights still happen but sometimes, it's not just the two of us anymore. 

Getting used to being parents and all that goes with having a new, small person in the house, has meant that date nights need to be flexible. There are times when date night has consisted of sitting with a small, upset baby and singing or rocking her to sleep. Other times, we have managed to spend time together while she is peacefully sleeping... We are loving the challenge of making time for each other while having this new love in our lives.

At times, date night has been very simple - a chat over a meal in between baby feeds and changes. At other times, being tired and overwhelmed with this new chapter in our lives has meant that some creativity in date night planning has gone by the wayside. Still, our time together as a couple is valued and vital as we live and love each other and our precious daughter.

So, if you have a little 'third' (or maybe you have many little 'third persons') person in your house, make sure that you still make time for each other. Things may need to change for a while but don't let your date time fizzle out.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The movie night - In

We've done all sorts of things with our at-home movie nights. The same applies to when we go out to see a movie - we try to pick something the other person would like or that we'd both enjoy.

Some ideas we've tried and enjoyed:
I came home one night to find candles everywhere, our mattress in the loungeroom and dinner ready. My husband put together a 'mattress picnic' by candlelight and we watched a great movie (we've done this a few times).

We've had many 'carpet picnics' with our DVD nights as well as 3 course meals and games.

We've also done theme nights where, we've linked a game or trivia and the food with a DVD and decorated the room. For example -
Superheroes - I put together some superhero trivia questions as well as got together some pics of well known and obscure super heroes and villains from comic and tv and my husband had to name them and their superpower while I finished getting dinner ready. We then watched a superhero themed DVD (in this case, 'Defendor' with Woody Harrelson - a different kind of superhero).
Travel - If your DVD is set in a particular country, for example France (eg From Paris with Love - John Travolta, Chocolat - Johnny Depp) or Italy  (Quantum of Solace - Daniel Craig, Roman Holiday - Audrey Hepburn), prepare your food and some activity around that country. You could decorate in the colours of that country's flag, put up pictures from the country, learn some of the language (there are heaps of ideas and downloads on the internet) as well as watch the DVD.

There are so many ideas! Have fun!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Movie Night - Out

The movie night is almost a staple of most date nights I think. However, that doesn't mean it has to be boring or the thing you do when you've run out of ideas.

Some of the things we've done
Before or after the movie:
Often we'll make sure we have time to go for a walk and chat or have dinner and chat before the movie - especially after a busy day so we can reconnect (sitting in silence with each other that may be quantity of time but certainly not quality). If there's not time for that before, then we'll do it after the movie.

Making the most of the 'ad' time:
This might sound silly but every time we go to the movies, because my husband is very competative (okay, I may be starting to be just a little competative myself), we play a game while the ads are going before the movie starts. The game is 'alphabet' and you need to find each letter of the alphabet, in order, from the words that appear on screen. The first one to get to 'z' is the winner. Sometimes we have a prize at stake - like the 'loser' needs to do the washing up at home;  the right to drive home (neither of us like being in a car with someone else driving)...

At the movies:
We take turns in organising our date nights so when it comes to movies, we'll often choose something we know the other person would love, even if not our favourite type of movie. For example, my husband has taken me to a few 'chick flicks' that I know are definitely not on his 'must see' list. I've even said that I'd see one of those movies with a friend and yet, he's chosen to see the movie with me for date night.
Sometimes there's a movie that we have both wanted to see and whoever's on for date night the week the movie comes out has often organised going and seeing it.
During certain times of the year, there are 'movies under the stars' so it's worth checking out local guides and seeing when and where they're playing. It's a good chance to relax with a picnic outside while watching a movie - either something new or often they'll play old classics which can be fun. Some of the following might be worth checking out or search for your local outdoor cinemas or open air cinemas on the internet: Moonlight Cinema, Camelot Outdoor Cinema, Starlight Cinema.

Getting Started

I thought I'd just put a few ideas up to get started and group them according to theme or activity and then as we travel together, I'll tell you about some new ideas as we try them and chat about things we've found helpful or not helpful along the way.

For us, we do something every week and take turns in organising the date. Some weeks are a surprise for whoever isn't doing the organising and sometimes we negotiate together what we'll do - from things that we know the other person will love while not necessarily being on the top of our 'to do' lists to an activity we know we both enjoy.

Some of the things we do cost money and others don't. It's not about how much we have to spend each week but about making time for each other.

If you have some ideas or things you've found helpful, then it'd be great to hear from you.

Why date nights?

Before we were married, my husband instigated date nights. I love him for that (and for so many other reasons!).

Our lives are so busy with ministry and work (is there a difference?!) that we needed to set aside time for us - to protect and strengthen our marriage.

What is a date night? It's really about creating a space and time to be with each other. Sometimes there's not alot of time in the week to connect or even talk about important stuff that's going on and it can also be easy to forget to have fun with each other in the routine and busyness of life. Date nights (or mornings or afternoons) create that space.

We believe that a regular date night is important and while the day or night may need to change, we work hard at making sure that we have a weekly 'date'.

So many people have asked us about ideas for date nights of their own that I thought I'd put some ideas here that may help you in planning date nights of your own. Some are simple, from dinner and a movie, to those requiring a little more effort like fun theme nights.

There are no rules to follow.

Enjoy each other and have fun!