You worked up the nerve, asked out your crush, and the answer was “Yes!” — now what? Whether you go with the classic and reliable dinner-and-a-movie date or choose something more adventurous, the main goal is to plan something fun with a romantic element. As long as you put some thought into your date partner’s preferences, you’re bound to have a good time.
Choosing an Activity
Do something reliably fun. The most basic step would be to choose a location. Classic first dates take place in a variety of places, such as the local mall, a movie theater (can be associated with the mall), or a nice restaurant. Some dates can be as simple as coming to each other’s houses or getting ice cream together. You decide what’s best for you and her/him. If you don’t know the person you’re taking out on a date very well, you might want to choose a classic date activity that most people enjoy. That way chances are high that the two of you will have a great time, and your date won’t feel pressure to pretend to like something he or she doesn’t. Steer clear of personality-driven activities like playing paintball or going to the opera, and try one of these neutral dates instead:
Be tourists in your own city. Go for a walk in the city’s prettiest park, visit a museum you’ve been meaning to go to, or take a ferry ride so you can appreciate the beautiful skyline. Find an activity everyone who lives in your area loves doing.
Get tickets to see a movie. Make it a popular one that both guys and girls will enjoy.
Find a place to see live music. You can get up and dance when the mood strikes.
Catch a baseball game. Granted, some people hate sports, but you probably know at least that much about your date, right?
Choose an activity you love doing. If your date ends up hating it, maybe that means you aren’t very compatible.
Plan an adventure. If you know your date well enough to think he or she will appreciate doing something out of the box, you have many options for planning a fantastically fun date. Doing something adventurous and maybe a little scary together is a great way to bond and get to know each other better as you face your fears. Here are some ideas:
Go to an amusement park and ride roller coasters together. Holding hands afterward on the Ferris wheel is also a plus.
Go to a water park and take advantage of the water slides. Remember to tell your date to bring a bathing suit!
Try an adventure sport together. Skiing, snowboarding, surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, rock climbing, rappelling and caving are all great options.
If you’re a couple of daredevils, you could try skydiving or bungee jumping. Don’t throw this at someone on a first date, though, or it could end badly!
Make it ultra romantic. If your idea of the perfect date is one that’s sweet from start to finish, plan a day that gives you and your date plenty of alone time and chances to help those first feelings of love grow ever stronger. Choosing a beautiful setting is key, so find a spot in your area that’s unquestionably pretty and an activity that doesn’t require the two of you to get covered in dirt or sweat. Try one of these:
Go for a walk on the shore of an ocean, lake, pond or river. Any kind of water will provide the perfect setting for romance to happen. If there’s a pretty stone bridge, stroll over it. If the area has boat rentals, rent a rowboat or paddle boat so you can spend some romantic time in the water without getting wet.
Walk around the historical section of town, preferably a street lined with quaint cafes, ice cream shops and cute boutiques where you can buy each other sweet gifts.
Book tickets to a play. It helps if the play has a romantic element and a happy ending, since a sad play could upset the night’s mood. If you don’t like plays, go to a planetarium or another place that will give the two of you time to spend in the dark next to each other.
Stay in for a cozy night. If it’s blustery outside, or you’re both introverts who prefer staying home to going out and partying, invite your date over for a cozy night in. Inviting someone to your house is a rather intimate affair, since the person will get to know a lot about you just by looking around your living room. If you’re ready to take this step, plan your quiet night by doing the following:
Make sure the house is very clean. If your date walks into a messy house, he or she will probably see that as a red flag. Cleaning up shows you care what he or she thinks.
Create a romantic ambiance. Make sure the lighting is soft and a little dim. Freshen the air by burning a light incense or a scented candle before your date’s arrival. Make sure the space feels welcoming.
Have an activity planned. Pick out a few movies or shows to watch, or gather some albums you want to share with your date.
Deciding Where to Eat
Choose the perfect restaurant. You can have an amazing date at almost any type of restaurant, whether it’s a cantina-style place with great margaritas or a French restaurant with $35 entrees. There’s no need to pick the most expensive one in town unless you’re trying to impress your date with your wealth. Choose a restaurant that’s known for having a good atmosphere and delicious food.
You may want to choose a place you’ve been to before, or that someone you know has recommended. Nothing sours a date like ending up in a restaurant with prices that are shockingly high or food and service that’s sub par.
Plan to pay for your date’s meal if you’re the one who’s organizing the date.
Keep it casual and fun. If you spent the day doing something adventurous like kayaking in the ocean, and a sit-down dinner seems too formal or expensive, consider having a casual meal. You could get lunch or dinner from a food truck, or buy sandwiches from a deli near the beach. Match the meal to the activity you plan to do.
If you’re going to be quite active all day, you could consider packing a picnic. Bring a bottle of champagne or wine to share to make it extra special.
While casual dining is great for a date, avoid eating at a fast food place if at all possible. It’s not the price of the food that matters, but the originality. Take your date somewhere special. When your date recounts details to her best friend, you don’t want her description to include, “And then we went to McDonalds.”
Cook dinner at home. Nothing could be more romantic than planning and cooking an entire meal for your date. If you’re planning to have a date night in, it’s a way to make your date feel very special. Plus, having good cooking skills is impressive and sexy. Just be sure to cook something you’ve made before, so you know it’ll turn out and taste delicious.
You don’t have to make a complicated six-course meal, but you also shouldn’t invite someone over for frozen pizza. If you’re going to cook at home, make something from scratch.
Pasta dishes are easy to make, and they make people think of Italy, so they’re automatically romantic.
Planning the Night’s End
Don’t forget dessert. You could get dessert at the same restaurant where you eat, or go to a different place to wind down the night. No matter what type of date you had, it’s nice to incorporate something sweet at the end. It’s one last thoughtful touch that shows your date you put a lot of thought into planning the evening. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to share a dessert, just like in the movies.
Going out for ice cream is a nice way to end a date during the summer.
If you’re cooking at home, consider serving something chocolatey. It’s the most romantic type of dessert.
If your date doesn’t have a sweet tooth, you could go to a bar to grab a nightcap instead.
Decide how and where you’ll part ways. The end of a date can be a little awkward if you haven’t thought about it beforehand. Put some thought into how you’d like it to go. Are you going home separately after dinner? Do you plan to drop your date off after you’re finished with dessert? Perhaps you’d like to invite the person back to your house. Think about the logistics so you don’t have that awkward “what now” moment after an otherwise perfect date.
Have your house ready in case you end up there. Don’t bring your date home to see your kitchen with last night’s dishes stacked in the sink and your dirty laundry in a pile on the floor.
Ask your date what he or she wants to do, and don’t be pushy. It’s tricky ending a date on the right note, and you don’t want to take things too far if your date isn’t ready.
Remember you can’t plan everything. Once all the plans are in place, all you can do is go with the flow and try to relax and have a nice time. If something goes awry, like the restaurant accidentally cancels your reservation or a traffic jam prevents you from getting to a show on time, it’s much better to act chill about it than pitch a fit in front of your date. Remember that the most important thing is to have a good time and get to know each other better, so you feel closer at the end of the night than you did in the beginning. If that happens, consider it a date well planned.
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