If summer is the perfect time to be single, with the endless opportunities to score some fun in the hot sunshine, winter is a season where mating is on everyone's mind (if only to keep from freezing to death).
But winter is also a time when many of us are opening up heating bills and crying over the numbers we see. We're discovering our boilers are broken and saving our pennies for that trip to Europe in June, assuming June ever comes.
Simple solution: Plan one of these seven fantastic and free winter dates, which just might even make you love — or at the very least, not despise — the cold.
You could spend a lot of money to ice skate at a fancy rink, but you're probably just paying a DJ to play the same Beyoncé songs over and over again. If you live within the vicinity of a pond that you know is safe (and I can't stress that enough — don't venture off onto a pond that you aren't 100 percent sure won't crack) there's something natural and freeing about holding your partner's hand and gliding across frozen water. If you want musical entertainment, bring an wireless speaker.
Strap on a pair of sturdy boots and pack hot cocoa in a thermos. Then set out and explore a snowy (and safe) hiking trail together. You have to look a little closer to see the beauty in February, but it's definitely there. It's also insanely sexy to navigate icy paths hand in hand and stare at bare, intertwining tree branches while the winter sun sets and colors the entire sky salmon.
You may want to snuggle under a blanket for three months, but you will do yourself a world of good getting out and continuing to exercise your brain when all you really want to do is watch bad TV. Many major museums and smaller galleries offer nights where you and your loved one can get your dose of Dali for free. And there are few things more romantic than exploring the works of old masters while the sky grows dark.
Got a Netflix account? Got a DVD player? Then you automatically have an instant hot date. This one works best for couples who have already seen the inside of each other's homes (otherwise you'll never make it through the first 20 minutes of any film). Suggest a few movies or TV series that neither of you has seen, throw on comfy clothes (a must), and binge watch the night away.
All you need are a few glasses of red wine and the will to crush your date by putting hotels on both Boardwalk and Park Place. Board game nights teach you a lot about your partner (my husband totally makes up words when we play Scrabble) and the competitive streak it brings out in you can be extremely sexy. Expect your game to end up with plenty of makeout time, but only after you take all of his pretend money, got it?
This one requires a bit more planning than you might think. If you're both into music, one of the greatest joys is introducing your partner to songs and bands (or even genres) that are unfamiliar to him. Plan a list of "topics" ahead of time, such as "Best song about the winter" or "Worst song by the best band" and then prepare your separate iPod playlists. Pour a drink or a hot latte and share your favorite tunes.
More: 16 Creative date ideas
OK, I'm cheating just a teeny bit here because you will need to buy food, but hey, chances are you would have done that anyway, right? Agree on a certain type of cuisine, such as Indian or Italian, and then work together to find brand new recipes — I'm talking appetizer, entree and dessert — and cook a meal fit for a queen and king. Even better, make it a contest for who can make the best homemade pizza.
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