No babysitter? A Date Night-In can be fun, too. (And, a lot cheaper to boot.)

Babysitters are tricky business. First, finding someone you can trust who has a fair amount of availability isn’t easy, to say the least. Second, they are expensive! When you add the sitter fee to your nightly spend for date night, it could be $100 or more. Ouch.

But date nights are fun and necessary. It allows you time with your spouse and/or friends where you can have, gasp, adult conversation, interesting foods and a much needed respite from the daily grind. I’m not devaluing the desire to escape your home for an evening—because we all need that, too—but if you find yourself babysitter-less or fund challenged, check out these ideas for making a night-in just as special.

Happy Hour Doesn’t Mean Early
After the kids are off to Dreamland, prepare the fixings for an At-Home-Happy-Hour. Buy supplies for simple snacks like crackers and a fun dip, fondue or an antipasto. Create a signature drink that you and your “date” only mix up on that particular night and use Pandora to investigate some new music. Hey, you may even want to run a brush through your hair and apply a little lip gloss—get crazy! The key is to find something new, but make it your special routine for this night only. Just like the good old days.

Wii Love Each Other
Disclaimer: I don’t own a Wii, or any other video game system. But let me tell you, everyone I know who has a Wii wildly sings its praises for adult fun. Find a game that you might enjoy playing together (I hear Bowling is a hoot) and set up weekly or monthly tournaments for just the two of you. I hear some games are great exercise which means you can skip the gym in the morning. Score!

Dinner is Served
Dinner at home can be a nice, relaxing time to reconnect and recharge…until one or both of you is stuck doing all the cooking and cleaning. That’s no fun! Take turns choosing a restaurant for date night take-out, romantify (yes, I just made that word up) the dinner table with candles and enjoy a fantastic meal that requires zero work on either end. Delicioso!

Answer This Question
Many of us have been with our partners for years and it’s our presumption that we know pretty much everything there is to know about the other person—favorite food, dream car or what they’d do with a million dollars. But over time, we all discover new things and form new opinions that our better halves may not be aware of. The Table Topics Conversation Card games inspire new topics of discussion and are loads of fun. They even make family versions which are great for the dinner table.

The keys to date-night-in are simple: 1) Get the kids in bed first, 2) Limit the prep and clean-up time (this is supposed to be relaxing, not taxing), and 3) make it special by doing/eating/listening to things out of your norm. Throw in a little necking and it’s just like high school again. Go on, you crazy kids!

What do you do for a date night-in? 

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