We love women, so we put up with a lot for them. One of those things is hemorrhaging our hard earned money on date after date. Sure, women are more apt to chip in nowadays, but it can still be draining on our wallets. Here's a collection of inexpensive date ideas that are genuinely fun, and have none of the negative connotations of say, suggesting your date order something from the children's menu or busting out a Groupon.
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The park is a great place to do a little walk and talk on a nice day. Having a catch is a fun ice-breaker, so if you have a Frisbee, bring it along. And if you own a dog, there's no question; the park should always be where you go on that first date. Serious puppy points.
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This is a good place to relax and get to know each other over a cup of something nice and hot. If you're in the type of coffee place that has comfy seating, try to sit next to each other rather than across. It will feel much less like a job interview, and more like two friends hanging out. Also, it'll be more apparent how much she's into you from this vantage point.
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When I say "cook," I don't mean re-heat, add water to or "shake ‘n bake." I mean make a meal. You don't have to go crazy and make 20 different tapas, but I'd recommend having one main dish with a side, if necessary, and a dessert (which you can just buy if you'd prefer). Get everything prepped, but don't start cooking until she gets there, because then you can give her a little show while she sips on some wine. I’d recommend that this be a second or third date, not the first.
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Yes, you can still go out to a restaurant and keep it within your budget without having to resort to Denny's. (Let's be honest, the only first date you have at Denny's occurs after 2 a.m. with a blood alcohol content that could only be offset by the sheer amount of saturated fat in their food.) Choose a restaurant with a “bring your own bottle” policy and pick up some wine before dinner. Another choice is going for a good price fixed menu (or prix fixe if you're feeling especially pretentious) that usually provides about three courses for $25.
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Going out for ice cream is a pretty old-fashioned date choice, but that doesn't mean it won't be appreciated. Women are being taken out for dinner pretty often, so when they're presented with a date that will be fun, casual, and different, it's a welcome break.
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Mini golf is a fun way to chat and play a game at the same time. It also provides a solid hour or two of entertainment. Most mini golf places have batting cages or a place to buy snacks as well, so if you feel the date is about to end prematurely, keep it going with another fun activity.
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(Previously published on September 29, 2011.)