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10 at-home date night ideas that are definitely *not* ‘dinner and a movie’

Erin Bunch

Erin BunchApril 10, 2020

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Photo: Stocksy / Addictive Creatives

Whether you were living with your partner before the pandemic or were forced into cohabitation due to “safer at home” initiatives, I’m guessing that by now, you’re at least somewhat bored with ideas for TV and takeout for at-home date night.

My boyfriend and I have taken to reminiscing about how we used to waste the (in retrospect) precious opportunity to be out at a restaurant, bar, or show with fighting over things like his disdain for Billie Eilish and my inability to stop name-dropping my (now famous) ex-boyfriend. Those were the days.

These days, we’d give anything to smile at one another from across a table in a crowded dining room or, you know, ignore each other while paying live performers to entertain us in a room too noisy for talking. TV, once a refuge from the incessant hustle of our lives, now feels like—I don’t know—the subtly maddening sound of a vacuum cleaner, or something.

To keep banality at bay, the other night I surprised my boyfriend with a glamorous tablescape, an impeccably-plated delivery meal, and a cocktail flight. It lifted both our moods and allowed us to have, for the first time since the pandemic upended our lives and 401(k) plans, some actual fun. For a similar shakeup, try one of the 10 quarantine-friendly at-home date night ideas below.

At-home date night ideas that don’t feel like a conjugal visit when you can’t leave the house

1. Go deep

Rachel Hoffman, head of therapy at NYC-based mental health studio Real, recommends using the found time and quietude of life at home to try the New York Times’ “36 questions that lead to love” or build a love map. If ever there was a time to share your every inner thought and entire life story with someone, it’s now.

2. co-host a soirée

“Hang out with friends on HouseParty,” suggests Jess O’Reilly, PhD, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast. “You don’t need to be all alone to enjoy date night (and you probably have more time alone than ever before). Hanging with friends allows you to see new and varied sides of your partner as they interact with different personalities.”

3. TRY LANGUAGE LESSONS

“I’m such a big advocate of the love languages,” says relationship therapist and author of The Sunnyside Up: Celebrating Happiness Lauren Cook. “So maybe take the love language quiz and find out what your partner’s love language style is, because a lot of times we love people how we like to be loved rather than loving our partner how they like to be loved.” This, she says, will serve as a thought-starter, or even conversation-starter, around how you want to apply the findings to your relationship.

4. Take to the stage

Dr. O’Reilly is a big fan of role playing, and she specifically recommends pretending you’re in a long-distance relationship with your currently-too-close beau. “If you have an app-enabled toy, like the suite of We-Vibe products, you can pair your vibrators with your partner’s phone and let them control the speed, pressure and intensity from another room,” she says.

5. go on a trip

(Not that kind.) Cook recommends you work together to plan the trip of your dreams for when this is all over. If you’re thinking far enough in the future (as in, 2021), you might even want to book it as there are bound to be more than a few travel deals on offer at present. Or, you could pretend you’re on said vacation, e.g. by approximating a Mexican getaway with margaritas, tacos and guac, festive decor, a beach-y screensaver and, if it’s still not sunny where you live, maybe a S.A.D. lamp. (J/K on that last one… maybe.)

6. bring the bar home

Dr. O’Reilly suggests ordering up a smattering of different wines or brews for a tasting. (The Minibar App is a good way to go about this if you’d like to support your local liquor story while staying #SaferAtHome. Or, if you and your liver are feeling extra, you can take this idea to the next level by replicating the in-home pub crawl made famous by one family on TikTok.

7. strip it down

“Play strip anything,” says Hoffman, in what seems to me to be very simple but legit advice. Poker, Monopoly, Animal Crossing… whatever.

8. practice the art of seduction

Dr. O’Reilly’s upcoming book, The Ultimate Guide to Seduction and Foreplay: Techniques and Strategies for Mind-Blowing Sex, includes a full seduction interview, which she says is an exercise that will help you get to know your partner better in terms of turn-ons (and offs). Sample questions include: “What are the best and worst times to initiate sexual contact?”; “Are there words or phrases you like to hear that might put you in the mood for sex?”; “Which areas of your body should I avoid?”; “Is there a certain amount of pressure you prefer?”; “Do you like the feeling of nails against your skin and if so, where do you like this type of touch?”; etc.

9. Sweat

Try an online workout together, then have a smoothie date afterward followed by a hot bath (champagne encouraged) or sexy shower.

10. Drive in

Some of you may be lucky enough to have an actual drive-in situation happening somewhere in your ‘hood. The rest of you may have to settle for ordering some movie theater snacks on Amazon and then parking in the driveway (or somewhere scenic where you won’t be a nuisance) with a laptop. Either way, necking is encouraged.

In a similar-but-different vein, you can also make each other act out your favorite film scenes (love and sex-related or otherwise); here, a fairly comprehensive script library.

Nothing sets the scene like a candle; here, 7 scented to be calming, too. Plus, advice on how to change the conversation when it’s stuck on COVID-19, because nothing says buzzkill like pandemic talk.

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