Dating isn’t always cheap and sometimes that makes it hard. It also sometimes makes dating boring as you can fall into a rut of the same dates over and over again.
Sometimes Catholic dating feels even worse as our beliefs and morals bar us from doing certain things that could make some exciting dates cheaper.
Fear not! There are plenty of things to do on any budget.
Here are eight creative ideas for a low-cost date.
1. Go to a bookstore
The possibilities of a fun, low-cost date in a bookstore are endless!
You could plan a date in a Barnes and Noble, pick a book for each other, and then go to the cafe. Read the first chapters, and discuss.
You could take turns trying to guess which books the other person would like.
Maybe you could go to the travel section and talk about places you’ve visited or places you want to visit!
Or, you could head over to a used bookstore and see what kinds of cool covers editions of your favorite books have or read the notes scrawled in the margins of books.
Taking this in another direction altogether, go to a library and find the oldest books you can. Then smell them. That’s right, smell the old books together. Do they smell musty or leathery or earthy? Are the pages yellowed in accordance with the smell as you thought they’d be? This is a super hands-on, unusual date idea and you’ll have a blast. I promise!!
You could also really turn the Catholic dating world upside down with this one by trying to find the oldest theology and philosophy books you can and see if you can point out different doctrines or developments of thought.
2. Do a themed dinner
Go on an international tour and learn to cook at the same time! As a bonus, it can all be from the comfort of your own kitchen.
Commit to once a week or once or twice a month or however often this seems viable to you and pick a different country every time. You’ll be having fun, making food (you have to eat anyway!), and expanding your palate and cultural literacy.
You could turn this up a notch by making it Catholic-centric. How? Pick up an international cookbook like Cooking with the Saints, The Vatican Cookbook, or Feast! Then, pick something from there each time. You could choose recipes based on the liturgical year, favorite saints, or just randomly!
This can save you money in the long-run, too. Learning to efficiently and effectively cook a diverse range of food will keep you from leaning into ordering takeout later when life is busy or rough or you’re just bored.
3. Get outside
Doing something outside together is always so much fun and helps you engage each other in different ways. Plus, it’s free!
You can have a snowman building competition, a snow angel making competition, go sledding down a neighborhood hill or so many other things in winter weather! In other seasons you can go to the beach, pick wildflowers, collect rocks for a collage, or swing on swings at a local playground (so long as no children are waiting!).
4. Go to a date to a local high school sporting event
These are often low to no cost to get in and lots of fun! It’s a great way to get involved in the community you’re currently in, even if it’s not one you’ll likely stay in for the long-run.
As Catholics, we know that being part of a community is essential and being part of our local communities is no different!
Plus, the electric atmosphere of a sporting event just can’t be beat. It gives you something to do, something to discuss, and something to bond over.
Added bonus: it has an actual endpoint so your date doesn’t drag on into oblivion.
5. Attend a local theater company production
Local theater companies are often super underrated! There is such great talent hiding in our communities and people from all over the spectrum work hard to put on these productions.
Why choose a local production of a play over a movie? Generally they’re cheaper, for one. But another thing is there’s often some sort of audience participation or recognition and that added layer of energy is so different from what happens at a movie!
Read more: Your Guide to Meeting Local Singles
Again, you’ll be getting involved in your local community, which is important. Perhaps you’ll also find a new hobby or passion, too!
6. Pick a new hobby to try together
Think woodworking, painting, puzzles, gardening, etc. Something you can do together and that neither of you are particularly gifted at already.
There’s something really wonderful about working cooperatively toward a physically manifested common goal. You’re literally creating something together!
The great thing about a lot of hobbies is that you can get into them for relatively cheap. That way, if it doesn’t turn out to be something you like doing, you’re not out much of an investment.
Working on a common project together is also great practice for the married life!
7. Be a tourist in your own city
One of my favorite dates ever was going to the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles with my now-husband. It’s unique! It’s interesting! It allowed us to explore and learn together and it also taught us about the area in which we were living.
Even the tiniest towns have something unique about them, so go figure it out! Who founded the town and why was it named such? Who were the first people to live on that land? What is its chief export or way of life? What kind of grass grows there?
There is so much to learn about the places we live. Go around your town for a day like you’ve never been there before and discover all that an outsider would want to know about the place.
It’s fun to play detective!
8. Go on a local pilgrimage date
If you’re looking for great, low-cost Catholic dating ideas, this is the winner. Who can beat a local pilgrimage? Need ideas for what this date could look like?
Go to the Catholic parishes and other Catholic sites in the area, find out who their patrons are and what relics they have under their altars (this is a real thing!!).
Pray for the faithful departed at the cemetery.
Maybe you have a shrine near you– find out why and visit it! Or maybe you live near the missions (I’m looking at you SoCal and San Antonio, TX!).
Find out what our holy ancestors did, whom they had devotions to, and how they served their communities and God.
This is an awesome way to learn about local and ecclesial history, deepen your individual and relational prayer life, and connect to the universality of the Church. And guess what? It’s super cheap!