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(Pixabay/jill111)

When my wife and I were first married, we were on a strict budget. Actually, not much has changed, but I laugh a bit at some of the ways we tried to save money. One of our favorite date night options is going to the movies. The theater we used to go to was connected to a mall, and you could walk through the concession stand area to get to the food court. Our "brilliant" money-saving plan followed this sequence. On the way in, we would purchase a large "refillable" soda at the movie theater to share. Then, we would head to the food court for a dinner at Chick-Fil-A, where we wouldn't need to order a drink. After dinner, we would head to our movie, where we would refill our soda cup and get popcorn. On the way out of the movie, we would refill the cup again (this time without ice) to take home and drink the next few days. All in all, I probably saved $2. The real way to save would have been to not get popcorn or a soda at all and, perhaps cut out even going to the movies.

I thought date nights were expensive back then. With the arrival of children comes the added expense of a babysitter. Whatever a night out used to cost is now double and then some. One of the ways to save is to have a date night in. Don't get me wrong. Going out is still a good investment, but a date night in here and there can save a lot of money while also being fun. Here are 7 things to do on a date at home.

Sit around the fire pit.

There's nothing cozier than sitting together and staring into a fire on a crisp night. Roast some hot dogs or kabobs on a stick. Make s'mores or just marshmallows. If you want to take it up a level, you could string white Christmas lights in the trees and/bushes around the yard.

Read a great book together.

Choose a book, magazine or poetry that both of you are interested in reading. Take turns reading out loud to one another. Stop occasionally to discuss what you are reading.

Dim the lights.

Leave the TV off, lower the lighting, choose a great Pandora station and talk. Go to the grocery store and get her favorite desserts and drinks. Arrange them nicely on a serving plate for the coffee table. Put some of her favorite flowers in vases and place them around the room. Provide her those little details that say, "I have been thinking of you."

Look at old photographs or home videos.

Get nostalgic and take a tour of how far you've come. Share how you were feeling during that time of life. Pay attention to the ones that are her favorites or that make her respond emotionally. You can take those and do something special with them as an anniversary, birthday or Mother's Day gift.

Have an outdoor movie night.

Look into borrowing or perhaps even purchasing your own projector. Hook it up to a DVD player or computer, plug in some speakers, hang a white sheet and have a movie night outside under the stars. You could also combine it with the fire pit.

Play your favorite games.

Break out games you haven't played since you were kids. Play card games like Uno or War. Try board games like Stratego or Monopoly and perhaps Connect Four. You could even go current and download game apps like Guess It or play video games. Just remember that it's not about winning.

Cook a new recipe together.

I was never into food or cooking before I met my wife. Food is something that can bring creativity and joy to life. Eating together builds community, but making food together offers a profound opportunity to bond. Pick a recipe from a great cookbook that neither of you has tried yet. Then you can talk about all of the flavors and what you like most about the dish. It may become one of your favorite activities together.

What are some things you do on a date at home?

B.J. Foster is the director of content creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

This article originally appeared at allprodad.com.

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