Date Night In: 10 Ways to Take Dinner and a Movie to the Next Level

Are you and your spouse stuck in a date night rut after one too many evenings spent with Netflix and your favorite neighborhood takeout? Just because you’re a parent of young kids — and may feel a little trapped in your house at night — doesn’t mean romance is dead. It just means it’s time to get a little creative, and we’re here to help.

Don’t worry, we’re not going to make you get too far out of the box or suggest anything too awkward — we know your husband doesn’t really want to get crafty with the kids art supplies or take turns with you reading a book aloud. We’re just going to help you take dinner and a movie on the couch up a notch.

Here are our top 10 ideas:

  1. Go on a Binge — Seen everything Redbox has to offer? Ditch the movie and binge-watch an entire series together. You can take turns picking, so he’ll get his fill of Walter White, while you catch up on what’s happening with Lady Mary Crawley.
  2. Set Up a Taste Test — Forgo a traditional dinner and set up a flight of beer, wine, gourmet popcorns, barbecue sauces or whatever else suits your fancies to taste and compare notes on.
  3. Learn Something New Together — Use movie night to view a stellar TED talk on YouTube or an intriguing new documentary. Some of our favorites include Happy, 112 Weddings, and The Up Series. You’ll be surprised how good these films are — and the conversations they can spark with your partner.
  4. Cook Together (or Against Each Other) — Make the food prep, not just the eating, one of the main focuses of your night. Buy a new cookbook with some fancy ingredients you’ve never used and work your way through it together. Or, get competitive with a home version of Chopped in which you each buy ingredients for one course of dinner and challenge the other to figure out what to do with them.
  5. Eat Under the Stars — Once the kids are safely tucked in bed, grab your trusty monitor and take the party outside. Eat on the deck and roast s’mores by candlelight or grab a picnic blanket and lounge in the grass. Use an app like Star Rover to transform your backyard into a planetarium. Just hold up your phone to the sky and it will tell you which stars and constellations you’re  seeing.
  6. Fondue It — This has been a favorite date night activity of mine since we got our fondue set as a wedding present 10 years ago.  It’s great fun to experiment with different cheese and chocolate combinations, as well as what to dip in them.
  7. Make It a Theme Night — Take turns planning a movie and menu that stick to a theme. Like pasta, wine, and cannolis with The Godfather, a bread and cheese spread with French Kiss, or get really adventurous and tackle some of the recipes in Julie & Julia.
  8. Make It Interesting — Watch a sporting event, awards show, or even a reality show and make bets on the outcome — The Bachelor, Wipeout and American Ninja Warrior all work well for this. (Just make sure you don’t get duped into watching a rerun of the 2007 World Series that your sneaky husband has already seen!)
  9. Break Out the Home Movies — Who says you have to wait for your anniversary or kids’ birthdays to indulge in those sweet videos of years past?
  10. Get Your Grove On — If you’re really feeling adventurous, turn on YouTube and have a karaoke party for two or learn a new dance together.

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