At-home date night ideas beyond “Netflix and chill”

at-home date night ideas
Illustration: Lily Lambie-Kiernan

Craving more intimacy and connection with your partner? Instead of going out, go “in” with these creative at-home date night ideas.

I was in a relationship where we got stuck in a pattern of making burritos, cuddling, and watching movies most nights. If it was date night, maybe we would get a drink or occasionally go on an adventure, but for the most part, we engaged in a limited number of activities.

Patterns typically begin to develop early on in relationships, so putting in the effort to engage in expansive activities that help you get to know each other is paramount. Even while laying low at home, you can explore one another. Below is a list of engaging at-home date night ideas that facilitate connection and adventure.

Play a game.

As adults, we sometimes forget the joy of learning a new game and beating the ones we love in it. If you want to develop a skill, you can learn Go or Chess—enabling each of you to challenge your brains and feel new neural connections form. Mid-level games like Boggle or Scrabble can facilitate fun and intense debates such as, “Does Korn count as a word?” The outcome of your game can be used to decide who has to make dinner or—to spice it up a bit—who gets to pleasure their partner.

Ideas for other fun and sexy games abound online; just go down the Google rabbit hole. Some of them prompt you to ask each other questions such as, “Where is the strangest place you have had sex?” Others, such as Esther Perel’s Game, pose thoughtful and reflective questions that help you understand each other on a deeper level. For example, “A text message I fantasize about sending is…” or “A dream I’ve never shared is…”

You can also create your own game. Get naked and judge who can shake it the best to 90’s hip-hop. Take turns asking each other personal questions. Make up ridiculous dares for each other to do.

Try out a new recipe. 

Hit up Pinterest or your favorite food blog to pick a few recipes you are interested in cooking together. Helpful hint: it’s always fun to include an aphrodisiac in your recipe so that perhaps post-digestion things can get sexy. (Food for thought: Some aphrodisiacs include artichokes, asparagus, chocolate, figs, oysters, spicy chili peppers, strawberries, and watermelon.)

Walk to the grocery store with your list of ingredients together and see how it feels to hold hands. Maybe even have a passionate kiss in the produce aisle! When you get home, take turns playing music and work on creating your culinary delights. Feel free to try to make something extravagant like gnocchi or sushi—it is about the experience, not the finish line, after all.

When the recipe is complete, find a cozy place to eat. Maybe create a space on the floor with candles and wine. Don’t watch anything while you eat; simply enjoy each other’s company.

Buy a sex toy.

Work together to decide on a budget, then explore some sexy items (online or at the store) to enhance your sex life. This can start a discussion regarding what you both like and would be interested in adding to your sex life. For example: Are you excited by a particular outfit? Are you drawn to buying silk and being tied up in it? Would you like to explore getting a vibrator you can use during sex? Is there a couple’s sex toy to which you are drawn? If you can’t agree, perhaps the winner of the game gets to pick which toy you purchase first.

Take turns deciding what to do. 

Take turns calling the shots. Figure out the parameters. For example, perhaps you want to stay in the house or within your neighborhood. Maybe certain sex acts are out. Once the parameters are discussed, you can work together to jointly create a great date.

This might include a reflective activity, in which each partner works towards figuring out what they want to do and communicating it. Perhaps you want to learn a funny dance on YouTube. Maybe you want to take turns massaging each other. Maybe you want to pleasure your partner and have them express what they like or don’t like. The first round can be non-sexual, and the second round can become sexual. Choose your own adventure…together!

Create art.

It feels fantastic to create art with a partner. Buy $20 of supplies and practice painting or drawing. You can paint your plant pots, your boring white dresser, or each other. You can go on a photo mission where both partners get to develop their photo skills in your very own backyard. If the photos are good, perhaps you can print and frame one to commemorate the occasion. Find a way to create connection through creating!

Fill out an online survey.

If you need some structure to explore your desires further, you can fill out a Yes, No, Maybe list. This is an extended list that shows numerous sexual activities. You can go through this list with your partner and see what you are both interested in exploring. There is also an Erotic Blueprint Survey that you can fill out to discover your own brand of eroticism, then share with your date about applying this knowledge to your sex life.

Take turns picking what to watch. 

Sometimes there is nothing better than lying back and watching something together. If you are having a low-key date night, you can add a bit of meaning to the shows you watch. Perhaps take turns showing each other videos that helped shape you. What was your favorite music video growing up? What show taught you about love? What show did you find sexy when you were younger? How have these forms of media shaped your understanding of gender and sexuality? Watch media, then discuss!

With a little inspiration and guidance, it’s easy to transform a relaxing date night at home into something sexy, creative, communicative, and expansive. If any of these at-home date night ideas piqued your interest, suggest it as an alternative next time your date wants to just “Netflix and chill.” Not only will you have a great time, but you’ll get to know each other on a deeper level.

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