No matter what time of year it is, planning a date night can be a balancing act. You want the date to be fun, exciting, comfortable, and romantic while not being too cheesy or unexpected. Planning winter dates can add an extra challenge to the mix given the chillier weather and shorter days. When you add social distancing into the mix, things can get even more complicated. Luckily, though, there are plenty of experts who know exactly how to plan an evening that’s a perfect balance of romantic and creative.
“Unfortunately, many of the traditional, romantic winter date ideas are beyond the realm of possibilities this year due to COVID-19," admits Kylie Carson, owner of The Wedding Academy. "But, that certainly isn’t to say that you can’t brainstorm with your partner and come up with some unique things to do together to get into the holiday spirit."
Carson is right—the holidays are a perfect time to plan festive, fun, and out-of-the-box date nights. After all, everything is more romantic with twinkle lights, right?
Plan a Romantic Scavenger Hunt
Keith Willard of Keith Willard Events suggests planning a romantic, creative, and personalized scavenger hunt if you want to pull out all the stops for a winter date night. After placing a few hints in various locations, plan the final meeting place to be a terrace of a historic home.
“The server would show the date to his or her table where the other person would be seated. He/She could say, we have been cooped up for so long that I thought it was time to get out of our routine and do something special just for us,” Willard says. “We have the whole place to ourselves and a personal chef that is going to create a fantastic meal based on some of your likes and dislikes…”
Your partner will certainly be swept off their feet.
Dine in a Yurt
There's something romantic about eating under the stars! Make this idea winter-appropriate by planning a special evening in a yurt, suggests planner Michelle Norwood. "If you're a total foodie, Yurt Village is a must have date night this winter," she says. "It's a special dinner experience that will be hosted in various cities across the U.S. for gold or platinum Amex card holders." Even if you aren't a VIP, we suggest doing some research to find a cozy yurt or igloo near your hometown.
Organize an At-Home Restaurant Experience
“Many local boutiques and restaurants are offering at-home tasting experiences, from wine tastings to sushi making to charcuterie boards,” Renee Sabo of Urban Soiree suggests. “There are so many fun options to create a romantic and cozy date night at home! Extra points for making it a virtual double date experience.”
Whether you invite another couple to join virtually or not, though, it’ll be a dining experience like no other, that’s for sure—and one you can do in the warmth and comfort of your own home.
Go Skiing or Snowboarding
Skiing or snowboarding is the classic winter date, perfect for those who love adventure and adrenaline.
“There is no better feeling than enjoying such a fun activity together,” Juls Sharpley of Bubbles & Bowties suggests. “Of course, to really have a great date, you should both actually be able to ski or snowboard, although you don't have to have the sharpest skills to still have a great date.”
Sharpley explains that this type of date gives a couple the chance to laugh together and do a fun activity that doesn’t require constant, back-and-forth conversation (perfect for a first date).
“At the end of the date, what's better than hitting one of the cozy lounges for boozy hot chocolates as you snuggle up next to a fire?” Sharpley asks, and she has a point.
Do a Holiday Lights Tour
Take advantage of the season and drive around, viewing the best holiday lights in your neighborhood (or a nearby neighborhood... mini road trips can be romantic, too!) has to offer.
“If you need a little encouragement to leave the house now that the weather is getting quite chilly, consider taking a Christmas lights tour and driving around the surrounding neighborhoods,” Carson suggests. “You can turn on some holiday music, stop by your favorite cafe for some hot cocoa, and continue this fun, COVID-friendly tradition.”
Host a Fancy At-Home Dinner
Odds are you’ve gotten used to eating dinner at home this year, which is why your partner will be so surprised by a fancy, at-home dinner that’s nothing like they’ve experienced before.
“Why not have a celebration and fancy dinner at home with just the two of you? Pull out all of the stops with lovely table settings and chic dinnerware, and craft your own menu with multiple courses,” Carson says. “Light some candles and put away your cell phones, and break out the cocktails (or mocktails) and board games for some post-dinner fun. This is the perfect way to reconnect with your partner, and you’ll have leftovers for days!”
Have a Holiday Decorating Extravaganza
Putting up holiday decor may be your favorite tradition, or something that seems like a chore, depending on how passionate you are about this time of year. Either way, though, there’s an opportunity to turn it into something more fun.
“Designate an evening to decorate your home with festive holiday decor,” Carson says. “Whether that’s putting up your Christmas tree and purchasing some new ornaments and tinsel, preparing a special place for your menorah, or otherwise, don’t miss out on making this year just as special as any other. Share some wine, light a fire, and cozy up with your loved one to beat the COVID blues and add a little holiday cheer to your home.”
Go Ice Skating
If you can find an outdoor skating rink, ice skating can make for a super magical date night, as Janice Carnevale of Bellwether Events suggests.
“Find an outdoor ice rink and go ice skating! While you are there, check to see if they have any upcoming games, performances or exhibitions that you could come back to see,” Carnevale says. “This is a date that allows you to do many things: be silly, be surprising, people watch, and maybe enjoy some hot chocolate as well.”
Take a Stroll Through a Local Park
Do you and your partner spend most of the spring or summer strolling through your town’s best parks and green spaces? It’s worth checking those same spots out in the cooler months, as Carnevale says.
“Get a different perspective in the winter with a walk through a public park or garden that is still open,” Carnevale says. “A walk allows you to go at your own pace, through an area that likely isn't very busy with other people, and the quiet might offer the chance for deeper conversations.”
Stream a Virtual Performance
Carnevale also notes that streaming a special virtual experience could add something fun, new, and exciting to a date night.
“Stay home, but dress up, have a nice meal and then stream a virtual concert, performance, or comedy show,” Carnevale says. “There is so much great virtual content out there—PBS is airing amazing theatre, for one—and if you treat it like an event, it still can be!”
Find a Drive-In Movie Theater
Drive-ins are always romantic, and they make it easy to create the ultimate cozy space in your car while you watch a movie.
“Pack a picnic, or just your favorite snacks, and plan to be cozy while you watch a new movie or an old favorite. The old favorite might allow for more conversations with your date,” Carnvele says.
Walk Dogs at a Local Shelter
Volunteering together might not sound like a traditional date, but it’s something that can be done in any season—and it’ll feel really good to do something so positive together.
“Give back to your community and walk dogs for a local animal shelter or rescue for an hour one day,” Carnevale suggests, noting that this is the perfect opportunity to spend time outdoors, exercising, and bonding over a shared experience.
Make Gingerbread Houses
If you can’t remember the last time you made a gingerbread house, or you’ve never made one with your current partner before, consider busting out the candy for your next date night.
“Make a gingerbread house at home. Or have a competition and make two,” Carnevale says. “Bonus points for supporting small business if you can get the gingerbread kit through a local bakery. Seeing how your date's mind works in a creative task is always eye opening.
Check out more fun date ideas below.