11.25.2011

The Friday Five: Holiday Season Edition (1)

With the holiday season being a time of stress and gimme-gimme-overload one thing I discovered gets lost in the shuffle is date-night. My husband and I had our first date on Black Friday. After an exhausting day of work we met up to go to the dollar theater behind the mall where we both worked. We were both barely making over minimum wage and trips to the dollar theater were something we did frequently because neither of us had much money to spare. Most of our dates were like that. Finding cheap ways to spend time together and stay warm in the nasty Montana winter weather.

So this week's Friday Five—the kick-off for this series of posts—is all about inexpensive holiday season date night ideas. I hope you'll find one or two worth trying. All are under $25 not including the cost of a sitter. Romance factor rating runs from 1 being frosty to 5 being steamy.


1. Caroling Coffee Cuddle
Cost: about $10-$15
Time: 2 hours
Romance Factor: 4

Once it's dark out hit the Starbucks drive-thru and grab two of the yummy holiday drinks on their menu Caramel BrulĂ©e Latte, Peppermint Mocha, and Gingerbread Latte. Drive to the nearest high point where you can park and get a good view of the city. Find a radio station playing Christmas songs or just whatever suits your mood. Enjoy the festive lights around town while you enjoy a classic coffee date in the privacy of your cozy car. Hang some mistletoe from the rear view mirror to inspire a good old fashioned make-out session.

2. Happy Ho-Ho-Ho-lidays

Cost: Free
Time: 1 hour
Romance Factor: 1

When the stress is piling on there are few things that can help bust the tension. Take a quick break from the madness and spend the kids' nap-time laughing together. Any old funny site would do but why not mock something seasonal? Ugly Christmas Sweaters sites like My Ugly Christmas Sweater make for some lighter mood making or why not share some LOLs over the internet's most hilarious collection of family pictures at AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com.


3. Get Wrapped Up

Cost: about $20-$25
Time: about 3 hours
Romance Factor: 2

Let's face it. Those bazillion presents for the kids aren't going to wrap themselves. Nobody loves the job—except for me!—but it can be made tolerable under the right circumstances. Every Christmas Eve the hubs and I pick our favorite holiday movies from our DVD collection and once the kids are asleep we drag out all of our wrapping gear. The cost factor for this date-night can get much higher really but we reuse gift bags and buy clearance bows, tissue paper, and gift wrap post-Christmas so it's usually the expense of buying tape that gets us. We pop in the flick and use the living room floor to wrap all of the final gifts making a pile for each of us to mow through. We get quiet time to enjoy a movie we haven't watched in a while and the chore of wrapping gets finished. Need romantic holiday movie suggestions? Our favorites include The Family Man and The Holiday. Prefer something funny over romantic? How about National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or Elf.

4. Treats for the Sweet 

Cost: about $10
Time: about 2 hours
Romance Factor: 3

When my husband had to leave the military for medical reasons we really missed our many friends who ended up on the other side of the world. To cheer some of them up we decided to make and send them cookies. Cooking and baking weren't usually things my husband helped with but since then we've discovered we really enjoy working together to make meals or fix a special treat. It's always rewarding and in the case of our sugar cookies and gingerbread boys... well, we ended up with an awful lot of them frosted to look like boobs and nude gingerbread men and women. While I wouldn't recommend sending them these days... our friends got a kick out of the naughty cookies. Know someone who'd love a treat? Spend some time in the kitchen together even if it's just some Pillsbury Refrigerated Cookie dough and a cookie sheet that brings you together. It's all about having a little fun, possibly making a treat to send or share with friends, and if you're the sort... make some flirty cookies to nibble together!

5. Fireside Flame Rekindler

Cost: about $20
Time: Overnight
Romance Factor: 5


Drop the kids off at grandma's. Turn your living room into a romantic 'suite' for two. Set up your air mattress, pull out the sofa's hide-a-bed, or just pile all of the extra blankets you can curl up on. Get a roaring fire going in your fireplace if you have one or pop in an fire ambiance DVD (I got mine for just $2!) or Blu-ray (such as HD Moods: FIRE [Blu-ray]). Open a bottle of wine or make your own mulled wine (we're fond of the German seasonal specialty called Gluhwein) and avoid the temptation to talk about the kids while you snuggle in the firelight.

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