7 Totally Cool Stay-at-Home Date Ideas You Have to Try

COVID-19 has definitely changed the dating landscape and there's no telling when or if things will go back to "normal" — at least until a vaccine is developed. Instead of going to crowded movie theaters and out for drinks for a first date, people are opting for virtual and stay-at-home alternatives.

Though most people, including myself, love a spontaneous and fun adventure outside the house, stay-at-home dates can be just as fun and exciting. Whether you're decorating your apartment or house into a romantic oasis for a movie night, completing a DIY together, or putting your cooking skills to the test by recreating a meal, the possibilities are endless. 

So, to help spark your creativity, I spoke with some people who have years of experience in dating and found seven dates that are sure to keep you having a good time. 

  1. 1. Reimagine the at-home movie night

    patio with ottomans, tables, chairs, and lights

    I, like most people, love a good movie night. Watching a movie and relaxing on the couch is a fun way to decompress from your busy day or week. One of the best parts of movie night is that there are a ton of genres to choose from (and if you're into any holiday film, you have a ton of options), so there's bound to be something you and your partner can enjoy together.

    Before the pandemic, most people would have bought tickets to a movie at the theater, grabbed a bag of popcorn and a couple of sodas, and called it a day. But now that things are changing, I would encourage you to think outside the box for your next movie night.

    Grab some fairy lights, pillows, and blankets and start decorating! It may be a little extra work, but a cute setup can take your movie night up a notch. Every detail of your movie night is customizable to you and your date. You can coordinate the lights to what season it is. Are you watching a spooky movie for Halloween? You can find orange and purple lights. Christmas movies more your speed? Colorful Christmas lights may be the way to go. You can even have snacks based on the movie you're watching, or the time of year it is (hot cocoa and cookies, anyone?). You can have your blankets and pillows match the holiday or time of year, too. 

    Or, if you have the resources, you can take your movie night outdoors. How amazing would it be to watch a movie under the stars and right in the comfort of your own backyard? Sounds like a dream to me. 

  2. 2. Game night, all night

    man and woman playing jenga on wooden floor table with wine

    Some may think that game nights are reserved for families where at least one kid complains the entire time. That's not the case, though! Game nights can be a fun way to get to know your potential partner by having a laugh together or showing them just how competitive you may be (they might just find it endearing). 

    "[Games] help you bond faster with your match," says Dani Fankhauser, a dating expert and co-founder of XO, the dating app with games. "Not only does laughter help you relax, you are more likely to be present and enjoying the moment while playing a game." 

    Laughter and getting to know (or continuing to know) a new person? Count me in! 

    Some people may go for Monopoly, but based on the differing opinions I've heard, I would go for something a little more lighthearted for a first or second date. I prefer a fun game of Scrabble or Candy Land. There are also hundreds of other board games you can play with your partner on your game night. 

    Board games not your thing? No problem! Video and virtual games can be your best bet. I've never known someone to not have fun playing Mario KartIf you want to avoid a competitive atmosphere, you can play the adorable Animal Crossing: New HorizonsEven Among Us can make for a daringly romantic date.

    Alice Ly, Senior Manager of Branded Content for The Smart Wallet, uses Animal Crossing for dates with her partner. 

    "[T]here is an aquarium and museum that we collectively contribute to by turning in fish, insects, fossils, and artwork to the curator, an owl named Blathers," Ly shares. "We make it a competition as well, to see who can turn in the most 'newly discovered' species." 

    There's no limit to what you can do for dates with current technology and a little creativity. 

  3. 3. Put together your own taste-test date

    man and woman drinking coffee in kitchen by window

    You’ve heard of wine tasting, cake tasting, and even food tasting, but what about coffee tasting? If you’re a coffee lover and don’t want to go to a coffee shop right now, or maybe you just can’t, you can set up your own coffee tasting at home.

    Alex Azoury, founder and CEO of Home Grounds, says this is one of the “best at-home dates” that he could think of. “I know this is kind of a dorky date,” he says. “But hopefully your partner is as dorky as you are! Make it fancy with some food pairings, like different fruits, nuts, and baked goods to bring out different nuances for each brew.” 

    This is such a fun way to branch out and try something new! If your date is a coffee connoisseur, they can pick coffees for you to try (and maybe grab some from their own collection if they have it to save you both some money) and tell you all about each one. 

    And, though this is a fun date regardless, it'll probably be even more enjoyable if you're both trying something new that you'll enjoy. There was once a time where I completely avoided coffee (and I still do, mostly, but I like a good decaf latte now), so this wouldn’t have been the date for me. If coffee isn't the answer for you either, go for something else. You could try new candies, pick up baked goods from the bakeries around where you live (it's always a good day to shop local), or try new snacks you've never had! There are even snack subscription boxes that will send you a collection of snacks for a monthly fee. These include Love With Food, UrthBox, Cratejoy Munchie Case, and, if you're looking to venture out of the country without actually leaving the country, Tokyo Treat.

  4. 4. Create an at-home paint and sip

    watercolor set with paintbrushes and notebook on wooden table

    Alright, be honest. How many of us haven’t done a paint and sip class that we really wanted to because we felt like you weren’t talented enough? I know I have. And, if that’s the case for you, this is your sign to go for it! 

    “You don’t have to be an art major to enjoy experimenting with some watercolors,” says Canwen Xu, dating expert at NY-based dating app Iris. “Especially if you pair them with some homemade cocktails.” 

    I’ve definitely caught the painting bug and speed-ran through a couple of guided paint classes, and for good reason. Whether you're going alone or with your SO, these events are incredibly fun. However, they can sometimes be out of budget with sessions that can run upwards of $25 per person.  On the bright side, there are easy and more budget-friendly ways to recreate your favorite paint and sip nights with a date by picking up a few supplies and getting creative. 

    “Just pick up a $10 watercolor set and a $5 watercolor paper from Michaels and you’re sure to have a unique, at-home date,” says Xu, who also edits and writes dating articles for Iris’ EQ Magazine

    You can either look up some designs on the web and lightly draw them onto the paper, or do it freehand. That’s completely up to you and your date! Feel free to make some cocktails, or even a mocktail if you don’t drink, and some snacks to enjoy while you spend time painting together. 

    And remember, this is meant to be fun — so there's no need to stress about how “perfect” your art is. 

  5. 5. Get in the kitchen and make or recreate a meal

    couple standing in front of stove in kitchen

    With COVID-19 keeping all of us at home and unable to travel, we have to get creative with how we’re learning about new cultures. One of the coolest ways you can incorporate a new culture into your life is by trying the food. It can be a meal you've had before or something someone once told you about. If it's food that will take you back to your year abroad, that's fine too. Make sure you search for a recipe that's authentic and delicious. 

    “Recreating a recipe from our travels transports us back to that place and moment,” explains Taima Ramsey, the travel and lifestyle blogger behind the blog Poor in a Private Plane. “It makes us feel as if we are actually at the location and not at home.” 

    If you haven’t traveled before, or can’t think of a meal you would want to recreate, never fear! You can make a meal inspired by a place you want to travel to instead. Maybe that means you’re making pasta from an Italian recipe, or maybe you’re making Greek food one night. Regardless, you get to work together with your date and enjoy a wonderful meal. 

    “[You can even] go fancy and set the table the way it would be set at a fancy restaurant,” says Ramsey. “Grab the good plates and glassware and go for it.” 

    If simply recreating a meal sounds a little boring to you, though, you could each make different meals and then have to guess which country inspired it. A little competition never hurt anyone, right? Not to mention you could learn something about a new place and about your partner (like if you ever want them to cook again). 

  6. 6. Build or DIY something together

    man standing on stool and woman sitting on floor while painting walls in white

    Did anyone else spend hours at a time braiding friendship bracelets with your friends? Believe it or not, this could make for an amazing date; just take it up a notch in the difficulty level. If you and your date are feeling a little crafty, you can build something or do a DIY project together. You could tie-dye shirts, build a birdhouse and paint it, or create a memory jar. If you’ve been in the relationship for a while, you can make a “reasons I love you” jar. 

    “We take turns finding a new project on Pinterest, and the person who picked it [will buy] the supplies if needed,” says Laurice Wardini, founder of Relaxing Decor. “It’s my favorite date night because there are so many opportunities, and it’s even more exciting when you surprise each other with the project.” 

    One of the best things about DIY projects is that, depending on the project, they can make incredible (and inexpensive) home decor. Department store decorations can be wildly expensive and out-of-budget, so why not take the time to make your own? And, if you’re making them with a long-term partner, it just might make it into your shared home one day.

  7. 7. Film a TikTok together

    woman filming vertical video of woman throwing confetti

    I don’t know about you, but I think these TikTok dances are actually a ton of fun. If you and your partner are just bored and need something fun to do, take some time to learn one and film it together. Not only will it probably have you both laughing at both yourselves and each other, but it also gets you up and moving. 

    But if dancing isn’t your thing, there are a ton of other TikToks you can recreate. You could film a “who’s most likely to” or “would you rather” video instead. 

    One of my favorite TikTok trends right now — that doesn’t even have to break stay-at-home orders — is to buy your partner things based on certain criteria. The criteria I’ve seen the most include something in their favorite color, their favorite snack, something to try, something they need, and something that reminds you of that person. Once you’ve each bought the items for your partner, you meet up and give the gifts. 

    This can be made even more challenging and fun by including a price limit. Maybe you challenge your partner and yourself to buy everything with only $50. Maybe each item can’t be more than five dollars. Regardless of how you participate in this trend, I think it’s a really fun way to continue to get to know your partner and show how much you already do pay attention. 

Since the world is still in a weird place, it's now more important than ever that we nourish the relationships we have (and are beginning to have) and help them grow. These date ideas only scratch the surface of what's possible to do in the comfort of your home, so start planning and have fun! 

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