10 Low-Cost Dates

Fun date ideas that won't break the bank.
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Frugal Fun

Interesting date ideas may be as hard to find as an interesting date. And harder yet if you're seeking romance on a shoestring. Whether you're getting to know someone better or looking to relax with your long-time love, go beyond the ordinary. Discover new activities together, share your personal interests with one another, or simply tweak your old favorites to give them new vitality. Shake up your social scene with these 10 simple pleasures that won't bust your budget.

1. Do-Good Dating. Share values as well as time together by volunteering for a favorite charity. An afternoon spent cleaning up an inner-city school playground, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, or participating in a 5K charity run are all worthy endeavors. It's a win-win situation: You help someone in need and by working as a team, you and your date will create a stronger bond.

2. Thrifty Gift Swap. Head to a town known for its vintage shops and thrift stores or seek out a super-sized flea market. Set a time limit, say 30 minutes to one hour, and a spending limit (try $10) and go your separate ways. Scope out a meaningful gift for your date (within your preset limit, of course). Cheap, chic treasures to seek: political campaign buttons, vinyl albums, or vintage postcards. If all else fails, hit the baked goods table for homemade double-fudge brownies. Meet up with your mate to exchange your gifts over lunch at a local cafe.

3. A Different Vintage. Visit a winery for a tasting and a tour. The fee, if any, is nominal and you'll have the chance to discover new varieties and stock up for a later date (think picnics and candlelight dinners). Not near wine country? A local restaurant or wine shop may host wine tastings. Or hold your own wine and cheese party. Select a few bottles of reds such as Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel; or sample a range of white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Riesling. Serve a compatible cheese with each glass of wine. Ask the expert at your local cheese shop or wine store to suggest appropriate pairings.

4. Seek Serenity. Reduce the stress of dating by taking a partner yoga class where you can help each other release tension. There's no need to be intimidated if you're not an experienced yogi; the only thing you need is a partner. Inquire about such workshops at a nearby yoga studio, the local Y, or try it at home with a partner yoga videotape or book for guidance. OM Yoga in a Box for Couples (Hay House, Ltd.) has everything you need for sharing a yoga session with your sweetie: an instructional CD, flashcards, a yoga strap for assisted stretching, even a candle and incense.

5. Swing, Baby, Swing. If the spectacular dance scenes in the movie Chicago tapped your desire to don swing-era threads and jump 'n jive the night away, head over to your local swing society. Two left feet? Swing nights at clubs often start with a lesson before the night kicks into high gear. Learn the basics of the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug and East Coast/West Coast Swing, then dazzle each other with your fancy footwork.

Continued on page 2:  5 More Low-Cost Dates


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