Looking for a gift for your sweetheart? One that will keep on giving long after the wrapping paper is discarded? Maybe a gift that both of you can enjoy? If that sounds awesome, then this Year of Dates kit is just what you’re looking for.
But, this isn’t just another Year of Dates gift idea.
Lots of other Year of Dates posts have the date ideas, the plan, and that’s it. I knew that wasn’t going to work for my husband and I. Not with our busy schedules, our houseful of kids, our jobs, church responsibilities and the never-ending list of to-dos and projects. We need something that will make date night easier, not something that would require more work later on.
A YEAR OF DATES GIFT THAT ACTUALLY SIMPLIFIES DATE NIGHT
Date night kits are great. But they can be expensive, and DIY kits can be a lot of work. I needed something that was inexpensive – we’re on a (tight) budget here – and something that wouldn’t need a lot of planning when it came date time. Here’s what I came up with for our kit:
- one date for each month of the year.
- various levels of preparation to choose from, depending on how much time was available.
- totally pre-planned and (mostly) paid for to help us stay within our budget.
I have seen kits that easily cost a couple hundred dollars to put together. I had about a quarter of that to use and had to get creative to accomplish the pre-paid part. So, here’s how I pulled this together.
A YEAR OF DATES – 12 PRE-PLANNED, PRE-PAID DATE NIGHTS IN ONE ROMANTIC GIFT
MAKING A YEAR OF DATES GIFT: THE BASICS
- I used 9″x12″ Mailing Envelopes to hold each date’s information and extras. There were two that were stuffed pretty full, but the other 10 were mostly flat.
- I introduced my husband to the kit with a little note, explaining what was in the kit and how to use it. It was just a quick handwritten note.
- Each date has an information page taped on the front of the envelop, detailing some of the things that would be nice to know, without giving away the date. I’ll go into more detail on that in a few minutes.
- I just tied the envelopes together with baker’s twine and put them in a cardboard box. Then I wrapped it in wrapping paper. Simple, budget-friendly, effective.
- There is also an information sheet inside each envelop detailing the date and how to carry it out. Again, more detail on that momentarily.
HOW TO MAKE A YEAR OF DATES GIFT: THE DATES
These are the dates I included in our kit. Adjust what fits your life, schedules, location and family.
For me, budget was one of the most important factors in my kit, so I aimed for dates that were budget-conscious. Figuring out ways to pay for as much as possible up front helped me keep that in my plans.
I found the best way to save money on date night without sacrificing too much were to have dates at home, after the kids were in bed. At home dates help us take time for each other while helping us feel like we don’t need to spend money on a babysitter and the date.
It also helped make our dates out a little more special.
AT HOME DATES
- Game Night. We enjoy board and card games, so this envelop had the info sheet inviting him to choose a game or two from our game cabinet. I also included our Truth or Dare: Couple’s Edition game.
In the envelop: Truth or Dare: Couple’s Edition
- Movie Night In. We have a pretty sweet little theater set-up right at home with a projector and drop-down screen. Because of this, we enjoy movies at home probably more than we do ones in the theater. We can wear pajamas, pause for bathroom or refreshment breaks and there’s no annoying teenagers behind you talking the whole time or a seven year old kicking the back of your chair.
In the envelop: I made up fake movie tickets and included those. Include a couple favorite candies to sweeten the deal.
- Game Night. We have a Wii console we enjoy. This makes for a fun night together, a little good-natured competition. And it’s more interactive than watching a movie. Sometimes, we go all out with a Just Dance competition and sometimes we keep it to a MarioKart tournament.
In the envelop: just the info page inside the envelop for this totally free date.
- Fondue Night. This could be a whole fondue dinner with cheese fondue and bread for appetizers followed by an oil fondue to cook meat in and concluding with a dessert fondue. We enjoy dessert fondue with chocolate, fruits and marshmallows.
In the envelop: I included $10 for ingredients.
- Nerf Gun War. We invested in four of the basic models about a year ago and they are a blast, I think it cost us about $25 for all four.
In the envelop: a new pack of darts, to help replenish the ones we’ve lost over the last year.
Spa Night. This envelop included some massage oils, a couple candles, bath salts and sugar scrub, some bubble bath, a small bag of large river rocks (for a hot stone massage) and a scalp massager. I made the oils, scrub, salts and candles – from recipes found on pinterest; the bubble bath was some we had from the kids.
In the envelop: massage oils, candles, bath salts, sugar scrub, bubble bath, river rocks, scalp massager.
- Romantic Night. I wrote “For your eyes only!” on the seal, hoping that would be clue enough to my husband that he shouldn’t open that one while our parents were sitting there, watching us open gifts and maybe that his interest would be piqued enough to do this date.
In the envelop: A new little lacy something, a small bottle of bubble bath, some lotion, some intimacy items and candles and chocolates. A Between the Sheets game would be perfect to include in this date.
OUT OF THE HOUSE DATES
- Mini Golf. We scored a coupon for a free game from a hole-in-one a while back. Like two or three YEARS ago. But, there was no expiration date on it. I put in that coupon and a $5 bill to cover the cost of the other player. See if you have any BOGO coupons or punch cards that you can use to keep costs low.
In the envelop: free mini golf coupon, $5 cash
- Movie Night Out. We don’t go to the movie theater often. It’s a treat for us and this was a splurge date. This date will hopefully cost less than $10 out of pocket, when we combine it with the gift card and cash.
In the envelop: I was able to use some credit card reward points we had and got a $25 gift card for Fandango. I included another $5 for extra treats.
- Dinner Out. This was another splurge. I used some more of our credit card rewards to get a $25 gift card to Outback Steakhouse. I also included $15 in cash as well. The gift card and extra cash covered both our meals and half the tip. We also like to get gift card packs at Costco for a discount. They make great gifts for others and we save a little money too.
In the envelop: $25 restaurant gift card, $15 in cash
- Shooting. We enjoy some good target practice and are lucky enough to live about a block and a half from some BLM land. We can get a sitter and go out for a couple hours for the cost of ammo and gas in the ATV’s.
In the envelop: just the info page inside the envelop for this totally free date.
- Sonic Slushie Date. We are regulars at the drive-in chain, especially during the hot summers in the desert. I included a $15 gift card in this envelop, but it actually only cost me $11. You can reload Sonic gift cards; and, we still had a few dollars on one that we’d previously been gifted, so I just added my $11 to what was already on the card and called it good. We could get dinner for the whole family or several trips for slushies out of the $15.
In the envelop: $15 Sonic gift card
MAKING A YEAR OF DATES GIFT: THE DETAILS
- Information Cover Page
I taped this page to each envelop and used a highlighter to indicate the appropriate option for that date.Things I included were:
– Whether the date was at home or out of the house, so we can decide if we want a night out or a night in.
– If we needed specific weather for the date – mini golfing in February… uh, no.
– Whether it was something we could do with our boys or if we need to get a sitter. Sometimes, a sitter just isn’t available. We are lucky enough to live close to grandma (and free babysitting), but it isn’t always available.
– How much more money the date was estimated to cost out of pocket. We can choose a date that fits our budget and enjoy it without worrying that we will be breaking the bank.
– If there is prior preparation that needs to be done and how long it will take to do. For example, Fondue Night may require a little grocery shopping before hand.
– How long the date will last. If we have all day, a long date is no big deal. But, if we only have an hour or two, we don’t have to worry so much about cutting our date short. It’s already planned to help us keep our schedule.
– And a spot for other info. For the most part, I left this blank.
- The Detail Sheet
This sheet is included in each envelop; it introduces and explains each date. It’s just a quick write up, but gives all the details necessary for the date to happen.