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Eight date ideas for busy couples

There is a stranger living in your home. Well, really it's your partner, but between children, work obligations, managing a home and everything in between, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of neglecting your other half. Does this sound familiar to you? Don't worry — you are not alone. Many couples often find themselves separated by life's daily events. It can be a challenge to find the time and energy to devote to that special person in your life. But with a little creativity — and maybe some spontaneity — it is possible to enjoy some quality time with your sweetie. Below you will find a few of my favorite date ideas to get your romantic life back on track.

• Day date. I realize it's called "date night," but who says the date has to be at night? Have a date during the day and save yourself money. For example, instead of dinner at a trendy new restaurant, try having lunch there instead. Lunch menus tend to be lighter and a bit more inexpensive. Not to mention that restaurants tend to be less crowded during the day than in the prime dining hours of the evening. If you are looking to do something different than the traditional meal, try an outdoor activity — weather permitting — such as hiking, biking, or one of my personal favorites, kayaking. Or even pack up a small cooler and enjoy a lunchtime picnic under the trees. Many outdoor activities are inexpensive or free and offer great opportunities to spend some quality time with your loved one.

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• Mini-golfing. Spend the afternoon or evening hitting golf balls around exciting obstacles. Perhaps you haven't done this since you were a kid, but miniature golfing can be a really fun way to bond. Not only is this an inexpensive way to get out together, but there's definitely something therapeutic about acting like a kid again. If weather is a factor, try one of the local indoor courses and play all day regardless of whether it's cold or rainy.

• Tour the city. When's the last time you toured your own city? Pretend you're a tourist visiting a new town for the first time. Are there particular landmarks or monuments that you have not yet seen? A new exhibit at the local museum? Or maybe there's an art festival at a nearby park that you have been wanting to attend? Grab your camera and make some new memories.

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• Dancing. It's a classic date night event but for a good reason. Dancing is not only a great way to reduce stress, but it's also a fantastic way to bond with your better half. It can be as simple as placing an MP3 player on your deck with a few candles for ambience or splurging on that couples ballroom dancing package that you wanted.

• Game night. Who doesn't love a good, old-fashioned board or card game? Go back to your college days and pull out your old Jenga, Scrabble and Monopoly games. Or grab a deck of cards and hold a poker tournament. This date idea works well for couples who prefer a quiet evening at home or for those who may not want to spend money on a sitter.

• Dessert date. Couples with a sweet tooth will love this one. Why have dinner when all you really want is dessert? Eating together is great but making food together is even better. Plan a fun evening at home making some of your favorite treats like cookies, mousse and chocolate-covered strawberries. Make too much? Donate the leftovers to a local charity or send them in as a special treat for your child's class — be sure to check with your child's teacher regarding food restrictions.

• See a show. Depending on the area in which you live, you may have an abundance of choices when it comes to the arts. If you are being cost-conscious, check out local venues such as community colleges or lounges for inexpensive tickets to events like plays, comedy shows and concerts.

• Drive … anywhere. When all else fails, pack up a few snacks, get in the car and drive. Leave with a destination in mind or drive until you can't drive anymore. This is a great date for couples who are adventurous and would like to explore their surroundings. Along the way you may find cool antique shops, garage sales, restaurants serving delicious local cuisine, and maybe even meet a few new friends.

Danielle Moser is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at threepeasconsignments@gmail.com.

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