10 Low-Cost Dates

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5 More Low-Cost Dates

6. Heat Things Up. If your typical night out is discovering a hot new restaurant or you have a standing reservation at your favorite eatery, why not discover the joy of cooking a meal together? Culinary stores, colleges, and adult schools have courses and one-session workshops that teach techniques for cooking anything from Italian to Indian to vegetarian cuisine, and don't forget everyone's favorite course -- dessert! For a small tuition fee, you'll gain kitchen know-how, enjoy a satisfying meal, and savor a special night out together.

7. Get Fresh. Spend the morning picking strawberries at a "u-pick-it" farm and the afternoon creating luscious desserts (from the skills you learned at a culinary class, perhaps?). Enjoy the fruits of your labor year-round -- look for berries in the summer, apples and pumpkins in autumn, and citrus fruits in the winter -- if you're lucky enough to be in warm regions during the cooler months.

8. Film Flip-Flop. If a dinner and a movie date is your Saturday night mainstay, turn things around and attend the first showing of the day. You'll save money on the movie tickets to use toward a leisurely brunch in the afternoon. If sitting in a dark theater during daylight hours isn't your thing, plan on a late afternoon show with dinner reservations afterward. A simple switch will get you out of the rut -- and save you some dough.

9. Support the Arts. Check out author readings and book signings, appearances by acoustic musicians and poets, or an art opening for a local talent at your local library, bookstore, or coffeehouse. If you're at a coffee bar, relax and enjoy the free entertainment as you sip cappuccino or herbal tea. If not, cap off the night with a trip to one and linger over a latte and conversation.

10. Join the Club. Set on sailing? Find a sailing club that offers use of sailboats to members in exchange for chores around the boatyard. Want to see a local theater production gratis? Volunteer to act as an usher at the show. Be in the know by joining a group with activities you're interested in. And, keep in mind that most organizations offer year-round activities to raise money for their projects. A ski club may offer canoeing or hiking trips in the summer. The historical society may host garden tours in the spring and summer and holiday house tours in winter. From birdwatchers to microbrewery aficionados, people with similar interests band together. And, no doubt, they'll be glad to share their passion with you and yours.


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