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Fun, Romantic At-Home Date Ideas for When You're Stuck Inside

Marie Claire logo Marie Claire 6 days ago Katherine J Igoe
a woman preparing food in a kitchen: Yes, staying in can be romantic. These at-home date ideas are fun, creative, and inexpensive (and often free!). © pixelfit - Getty Images Yes, staying in can be romantic. These at-home date ideas are fun, creative, and inexpensive (and often free!).

If you're cooped up inside right now, first of all: Same. Welcome to at-home life! Second, there are so many fun, inexpensive date ideas that you can draw from even when you're confined to your house, condo, or apartment. Being at home doesn't have to mean boring, and if you've exhausted your usual options—Netflix and chill, movie marathons, homemade meals, sleeping in, and couples' yoga, to name a few—here are a few new ideas to spice things up a little bit. Make the most of this snuggle-worthy time together!

Go Technology-Free

a cup of coffee on a wooden surface: High Angle View Of Fresh Latte Served By Mobile Phone On Table © Suparat Malipoom / EyeEm - Getty Images High Angle View Of Fresh Latte Served By Mobile Phone On Table

If I sound like your mom here, maybe that's 'cause your mom has some good ideas sometimes, okay?? Listen, I'm not suggesting you pull the plug on everything, just...take a break from the screens for a while. Then you might actually, you know, look at each other and find things to talk about. You can always set a time limit: Plenty of couples set up rules for phone-free dinners or one hour of no technology. You can potentially even pause your WiFi to make sure you stick to your promises.

Have an Indoor Picnic

a vase of flowers on a table: Picnic Basket with Food and Flowers © Annabelle Breakey - Getty Images Picnic Basket with Food and Flowers

If the weather sucks or the timing doesn't make sense, you can still channel that picnic vibe (with no bugs!). Set up a blanket on the floor, carefully curate some fresh food you both love, open the windows to let some fresh air in, and sit facing each other while you munch. Bonus: Play (careful) fetch with a furry friend, if you have one. Extra bonus: Eco-friendly compostable supplies do exist.

Make a New Kind of Coffee

a close up of a snail: Cup of coffee standing on a round coffee table © Alexander Spatari - Getty Images Cup of coffee standing on a round coffee table

Even if you're not a connoisseur, spicing up your everyday caffeine choice can be kind of a revelation. My husband and I were inspired to try french press after a visit to the UK, and I will never go back to the regular stuff. Plus a french press is super-cheap (especially when compared to an espresso machine, for example). If you like going outside for a particular brew, see how you can recreate it at home. 

Support Something Local

a group of people sitting at a table: Young Asian couple studying at home © Ales-A - Getty Images Young Asian couple studying at home

Yes, virtual volunteering is a thing, or you can still help your local nonprofit from your living room. Write a letter to the troops or your local politician. Reach out to offer your services to a local school. Volunteer your skills online (I sometimes help people with their resumés as an editor). Or simply pick a cause and donate some money—there are so many good causes out there right now.

Set Up Gorgeous Work From Home Spaces

a dining room table: Empty chair in home study © Lumina Images - Getty Images Empty chair in home study

If you live together, this is particularly important, but either way a good home office space can make all the difference. Even if space is tight, put something beautiful (like a plant!) in your space and organize your supplies to looking soothing and organized. A desk organizer that doubles as a monitor stand is the perfect multifunctional, compact piece.

Finally Make That Tricky Dish

a man and a woman standing in a kitchen: Gay Couple Cooking Together © Hinterhaus Productions - Getty Images Gay Couple Cooking Together

Cooking from home can be kind of a chore. Cooking from home if you hate it/if you're not good at it can be tough. So get yourself out of the routine with your partner and make something special together—and find a way to make it fun, like your absolute fave dish ever. For me, it's hot and sour soup, just like takeout. For my husband, it's empanadas. The whole thing turns into an adventure, and even if it doesn't turn out right, it'll probably still be yummy.

Try Each Other's Exercise Routine

a man standing next to a window: Couple working out at home © AzmanL - Getty Images Couple working out at home

Exercising, and exercising together, is always fun. But spice it up with a switch to see how the other half lives. (Caveat: Please don't start picking up 40 pound weights with no prior experience/guidance.) My husband would never, but one of my life goals is to get him to try barre with me. It will be so entertaining to watch, and it's so much harder than he thinks it is.

Re-Set Up Holiday Lights

a living room filled with furniture and a large window: couple taking selfie with smartphone on sofa at home during Christmas © Nikada - Getty Images couple taking selfie with smartphone on sofa at home during Christmas

I know this might sound a little counterintuitive, but a string of pretty lights could be just what your space needs—especially if the weather's dreary. My husband and I have a little string of white lights hung over our living room window, and it's on a timer, so it lights up as the sun's going down. It's a perfect little pop of cheer. 

DIY Something Great

a man and a woman standing in a kitchen: Young couple decorating loft with fairylights © Westend61 - Getty Images Young couple decorating loft with fairylights

In a similar vein: Do something for your apartment, or craft the same thing for both your apartments. Make a planter filled with green things. Build a set of shelves. Hand-paint some mugs with pretty designs. There are even inexpensive paint-by-numbers paintings that'll occupy you for a while and serve as a wall hanging when you're done. 

Plan Something Special

Young couple planning vacation trip © kitzcorner - Getty Images Young couple planning vacation trip

Maybe it's a trip you guys have always wanted to take. Maybe it's something you guys will do when you have the time, money, and availability. Maybe it's the thing to look forward to that'll finally get you out of the house. Either way, have something you can set your sights on now, and plan out where you're going to eat/shop/sleep.

Have a Deep Conversation

a person sitting on a bench: Young couple sitting on carpet in a loft © Westend61 - Getty Images Young couple sitting on carpet in a loft

This is harder than it sounds: Get away from the hectic day-to-day and set some time to talk deeply about a subject you both care about. It could be something about your relationship—a first conversation about finances—or some shared goal you both have. Set some ground rules to keep the conversation civil and focused on feelings, and celebrate once it's over (with some food and drinks, preferably).

Get Multipurpose Furniture

a chair sitting in a room: Stand and armchair with soft pillows near grey wall indoors © serezniy - Getty Images Stand and armchair with soft pillows near grey wall indoors

Tap into those decor skills! New furniture is great, but when space is a premium, each piece should serve more than one function. You may have seen the cool "My table turns into shelves!" but there are much cheaper options out there too. I've been eyeballing this ottoman that turns into a storage chest for a while

Order a New Kind of Takeout

Woman eating Asian fast food from a cardboard box © Arman Zhenikeyev Woman eating Asian fast food from a cardboard box

I'm guilty of this one for sure: I end up defaulting to the same 3-4 restaurants I know make yummy food, and I never branch out. Are there new restaurants that just opened for you to try? Is there a type of food you don't normally go for but want to experiment with? (For me it's Thai food, for my husband it's pho.) Branch out, and see what happens—plus, you're supporting local businesses that need it.

Finally Do Something With Those Photos

a room with art on the wall: Collection of art pieces on the wall © Rawpixel - Getty Images Collection of art pieces on the wall

Whether it's your first photo together or snaps from your travels, find a way to commemorate special moments together. From making a scrapbook to a gallery wall in your apartment, this is the perfect time to make those memories a permanent, tangible part of your lives. You can even get pretty, chic frames for not much money. 

Read Together

a person lying on a couch: Lesbian couple relaxing and reading in couch © Klaus Vedfelt - Getty Images Lesbian couple relaxing and reading in couch

I know, I'm really leaning into old-fashioned today, but quiet time together might be exactly what you need. Cuddle up on the couch with a Kindle or an actual book (gasp), particularly one you've been meaning to read for a while. You can pause to share something fun or funny, or you can just quietly sit together, enjoying some downtime. 

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