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The perfect cheap date night in

From apps to drinks, dinner for two can set you back big bucks. That’s why most couples are opting to save cash and spend some date nights in. But if you’re bored with board games or the typical take-out and a movie combo, read on for easy ways to make a special occasion out of just hanging out at home.

Couple Cooking Together


Wine and Wii

Nothing pairs better with Merlot than Mario Kart. So, get your game face on and challenge your sweetie to a little friendly virtual competition instead of just zoning out in front of the TV.

>> Are Wii workouts really good exercise?


Night at the “Winery”

As you can see, vino is often a key component to a successful date night in. Swing by Trader Joe’s (they have a fabulous selection of budget-friendly bottles) or your local liquor store and pick up a few varieties of wine. Have your own wine tasting at home with your man, or invite some friends over to partake in the drinking festivities. If they each bring a bottle, you’ll have quite a spread to sample. Discuss the wines you like best and find some new faves to keep in the wine rack. Good bread and several hunks of cheese are a must.

Tip: If you’re not a wine drinker, try beer, cheese or chocolate … anything goes!

>> Hosting a wine party


Theme Night

Invite a few other couples over for a potluck dinner with a twist. Put on a pencil skirt and channel your inner Betty Draper for a Mad Men-themed meal, complete with pot roast and martinis.

>> “Mad Men” inspired cocktails & food


College Game Night

A little less classy, but equally fun is a college game night. Darts + beer pong + century club + flip cup = going back to college without leaving the house and a wicked hangover. If you’re up for the challenge, get decked in a tube top and black pants (or whatever you wore freshman year) and invite friends over to kick it old school. Just remember you’re a “mature adult” now and may not bounce back as quickly from the debauchery. (Maybe you should just choose one of these activities…)

>> Game night for couples


Kitchen Canoodling

Rather than order in your usual Thai take-out, put your chef’s hat on and go gourmet. Cooking together is a great way to spend some QT. And you’ll be rewarded with a tasty meal for half the price of a fancy restaurant.

>> 3 Benefits of making meals together


Go South of the Border

Speaking of cooking, it’s simple to create a Mexican fiesta in your living room. Whip up homemade guacamole, margaritas and a taco bar with all of your favorite fixins. Expand your horizons by trying a different cuisine every week.

>> Healthy Mexican food recipes


Fun with Fondue

Did you register for a fondue set and have yet to bust it out of the box? Now’s the time to heat things up! For cheese fondue, chop up some veggies, meat and French bread and dip away. Sliced fruit and marshmallows are the perfect accoutrements for chocolate fondue. Now that’s a delicious date night!

>> 7 Cooking tips for making low-fat fondue


The No-Gadget Challenge

Live like the Amish (without the butter churning, of course) and power down! Turn off the BlackBerry, computer, TV … even the lights. Sip wine in romantic candlelight and just talk. And when you’re all talked out… make out!

>> Turn off the TV — and turn on to physical activity!

Share your favorite date night ideas and leave a comment below!

For more date night ideas at SheKnows:

Two-hour dates for busy parents
De-stressing for couples
How to keep the romance alive (and hot!)

Live large... but spend small. Read more!

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