In 2020, there’s nothing more universal than the fact that COVID-19 has affected the way we do everything—the way we work, the way we travel, the way we get married, and, yes, even the way we date, too. But in a year as stressful and chaotic as this one, it’s healthy for ourselves and our relationships to prioritize fun, intimate, and romantic time with your partners.
The idea of COVID-19 dates might not seem appealing at first if you’re used to fancy trips, luxurious restaurant experiences, or adventurous activities. But with a little creativity, you can create dates that feel as special (maybe even more so) than everything you did before COVID-19.
As Kylie Carlson, CEO of The Wedding Academy, tells Brides, COVID has thrown a wrench into everyone’s plans—including the things we used to take for granted, like going on dates.
“With so many couples forced to postpone or even cancel their weddings, you might still be feeling some disappointment—even more so now that date night ideas have been severely limited due to public space restrictions and closures,” Carlson says. “The typical night out with dinner and drinks may be off the table, but this is your opportunity to really get creative with your partner and go out of your comfort zone.”
Not sure where to start in terms of playing a safe and fun date in the time of COVID-19? Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity, courtesy of Carlson, and other experts.
Host a Backyard Movie Night
Beth Helmstetter is the Creative Director of Beth Helmstetter Events and has recently created fun, exciting date nights for celebrity clients like John and Caitlin Stamos, Samira Wiley and Lauren Morelli, and others. Helmstetter suggests having a romantic backyard movie night with your partner for a fun, stay-at-home date night.
“A sheet, projector, and your favorite movie is all you need to create a date experience in your home,” Helmstetter says. “For added nostalgia, buy a vintage popcorn machine or movie theatre style candy to make it a more authentic experience.”
Take a Sommelier Class or Have a Wine-Tasting at Home
Do you and your partner love wine? Helmstetter says now is a perfect time to take a virtual sommelier class together or even create your own wine tasting at home.
“If you both have an interest in wine, find a sommelier class online, and enjoy an evening learning together. Or if you want a less structured experience, choose three varietals of red or white wines and enjoy navigating the differences together,” Helmstetter says. “Tastings can also be fun with spirits such as tequila, bourbon, scotch, or mezcal.”
Play Cocktail Roulette
Prefer cocktails to wine? No problem. Try your hand at mixology and enjoy tasting your creations along the way.
“Take turns experimenting with cocktail recipes you both enjoy,” Helmstetter says. “Get creative with ingredients and discover a new skill while you’re at it.”
If you want to get really fancy, you could even hire a virtual mixologist and have them lead you through a cocktail making class via Zoom.
Make Breakfast Fun
If you’re more of a luxury brunch person (who isn’t, really?), Helmstetter suggests switching up the typical evening date night and doing something in the morning. You can even wear your pajamas, too.
“For a morning date, invite your partner to a breakfast feast complete with mimosas, pancakes, and your favorite brunch items,” Helmstetter says.
Host a Socially-Distanced Newlywed Game
For some couples, spending time with other couples is the most fun date night imaginable. While group dinners may not be possible now, there are still safe ways to have fun together if you’re creative and willing to set a few guidelines. Tip: Send out an email going over the COVID-19 “rules” and everyone is sure to have a fun and safe time.
Andrea Correale, president of Elegant Affairs Caterers, suggests inviting a few couples over and playing the newlywed game.
“You can assign seats to ensure social distancing and put out snacks in individual vessels like cups, cones, cute boxes or bags,” Correale says.
Plan a Picnic in the Park
There’s nothing more romantic than a picnic in the park as the sun sets in the background. Correale suggests packing a basket and individual bento boxes with your favorite food and getting cozy in a local park for an intimate dinner (or lunch! or brunch!) date.
Make Takeout Romantic
Not into cooking? Short on time? No problem. Carlson of The Wedding Academy tells Brides that sometimes the most romantic evening involves elevating your take-out experience.
“A great go-to for a romantic evening is to order pickup from your favorite restaurant, spring for a bottle of wine or some mocktails, and bike to the nearest park for a socially distanced picnic,” Carlson says. “Not only will you be able to watch the sunset, but you'll be supporting your local, small businesses as well. Consider even packing a small speaker for music.”
If you don’t have a park nearby, creating a romantic outdoor dining experience in a backyard, front porch, beach, or another outdoor area can be fun, too. Do some research beforehand and surprise your partner with a gorgeous view if you want to make things extra exciting.
Take Part in a Virtual AirBnb Experience
Obviously travel right now is not what any of us are used to. Luckily, though, there are options like Airbnb’s Virtual Experiences that allow us to escape while staying safely at home. Carlson suggests utilizing these with your partner for a fun and adventurous date.
“Virtual Airbnb experiences are also wonderful to partake in, and there are endless options. A few include virtual tours of European countries, artisanal coffee brewing, wine blending or tasting, guided cooking lessons, and more,” Carlson says. “If you and your partner are feeling a bit isolated, this is perfect for double-dates with friends! The majority of these experiences utilize Zoom meetings, so including other people in your date night is easy.”
Host a Board Game Night
The best part about board games is what makes them ideal for an at-home date night as well: They’re totally unplugged. They mean no phones, televisions, or computers are going to interrupt your time together—and sometimes that’s the best date night of all. Gather a stack of board games, bring out the drinks and snacks, light some candles, and you might be surprised how much fun you’ll have.
“One of my favorite pastimes is opting for an unplugged game night (no cell phones!) and igniting that fun, competitive spark with your partner,” Carlson says. “I find that we often get so attached to our phones, TVs, or computers that we forget how exciting it is to turn everything off and focus on each other for an evening without distractions.”
It goes without saying that 2020 has been exhausting for just about everyone. And if you and your partner have gone through the stress, frustration, and sadness of postponing a wedding, honeymoon, or both, then this is especially true. Taking time to focus on each other, your relationship, and fun is worth it, though—and this list is just the tip of the iceberg of possibilities!