First Dates Don’t Have to Be Pricey
First dates are never what anyone would call “easy,” especially on your nerves or, in case you just graduated college like I did, on your wallet. But that doesn’t always have to be the case, especially if you’re prepared. To that end, I put together a list of five recommended first date options for those of you out there who are on a tight budget. Just because you don’t have a lot of money doesn’t mean you can go on a great first date — you’ll just have to be a little more creative than usual.
Also, as a reminder to everyone, put down your phone and pay attention to your date, no matter how awkward it’s getting. And yes, that goes for whether you met someone online or elsewhere. As much as you might be enjoying the new iPhone you recently got, it’s your date who gets top billing, not your smartphone. Unless, of course, you’re using it to show off some photos that you think would be a good fit for your conversation. Not too many, though, because that would be like a mobile equivalent of a slideshow.
Get tickets to a comedy club
While it’s an obvious choice, I definitely recommend checking the schedule at DC Improv first. And just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s a bad selection, especially when you consider that some of the lesser-known comedians don’t come with wallet-punishing price tags. RFD is also good if you want to get extra budget-friendly. They offer a great open mic series, Awesome Thursdays, that starts at 8:30 p.m. and is free.
Make dinner at home
This option is budget-friendly but not necessarily for everyone, because you probably don’t want to invite your date over if you have a few roomies. But if you do, make sure they’re out of the apartment or keeping to themselves. Otherwise, things could get weird. Anyway, making your own meal will be cheaper for a number of reasons — no tip, lower cost of booze, etc. — but it can also sometimes be even better than what you’d get at a restaurant. Have you made your own pizza, dough and all? No? Do it. Practice first, but this is a great route, especially if you can snag a variety of toppings for you both to choose from.
Prep a picnic for a park excursion
This option can go hand-in-hand with making dinner at home. Instead of making dinner and calling it a night, you can always put together a good meal beforehand and meet up at a park for lunch. I know, daytime dates can sometimes be the kiss of death and a waltz into the dreaded friend zone, but it takes the pressure off. You can also make it more than simply a meal by bringing along some games, whether it’s a board game, cards or something more physical. But, don’t let your competitive side get the best of you if you start losing.
Go to the National Zoo
Similar to the lunchtime picnic idea, heading to the National Zoo comes with the dreaded “Oh no we’re doing a daytime date.” But, again, don’t let that discourage you. The National Zoo is awesome and completely free. You do have to pay for parking unless you walk from the Metro. The only downside? The government shutdown means that the zoo is closed until a budget is passed.
Hit up a happy hour
Happy hours are the best when you’re on a budget — drinks are cheaper and sometimes there’s free or at least more reasonably priced food. And that’s certainly the case at Agora, which offers happy hour from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can snag some finger foods like hummus and flatbreads on the cheap in addition to a beer ($4), a mixed drink ($5) or wine ($6). Remember to pace yourself, though. You don’t want to open up too on the first date. Napoleon Bistro is another good choice.
Article by Kevin Gannon