Help me come up with 12 completely awesome DIY dates!
September 1, 2011 5:41 PM   Subscribe

It’s my boyfriend’s birthday next week. Yay! Along with presents and activities lined up, I really really want to make him a series of date envelopes. So, he’ll get 12 envelopes, each one to be opened on the first of the month, for the next year. And in each envelope will be a piece of paper with a super fun thing for us to do together. The sticking point is, um, the super fun things. Kind, funny, romantics AskMe, will you hope me plan 12 months of super fun? Yes? Let's go!

Background: this is where I got the idea, via Pinterest. I won’t be scrapbooking though.
Things he’s liked in the past: the time I made a fort out of sheets and couch cushions and we had homemade pizza and watched DVDs and ate Cocopops for desert was a big hit. Also (and thanks for this Metafilter) a Birthday Treasure Hunt went down well.
Limiting factors: We live in the middle of absolutely nowhere. No theatre, no movies, no restaurants, limited shops, no takeaway. It’s a four hour drive to the nearest city. Also: we’re vegan, which eliminates the few eating out options we do have close by, ie pubs. We do go to the city on average once a month, but we’re paying off a mortgage, so “go to the city” including the things you’d usually do in the city, theatre, zoo etc, are all a bit expensive for this exercise. I’d rather not make weekends away part of this – we travel heaps for work and to visit other people as it is. Neither of us are sporty, so adventure kayaking or whatever isn’t really on the cards.
I’m really looking for fun creative things we can do together – like fort building! – but not things that rely on a destination or are kind of expensive, like “go to the theatre” or “have dinner at a nice restaurant”.
Resources at our disposal: at home, a big old house with lots of space, a decent kitchen, pool table, big, overgrown backyard, outdoor entertaining area, BBQ, a beach five minutes drive away, the desert ten minutes drive away.
Stuff I’ve thought of so far: going to local landmarks at sunset or sunrise and having champagne/candlelit swimming in the pool/reprise of the fort thing/entire day in bed watching movies… But that's only four months. Hope me!
posted by t0astie to Human Relations (18 answers total) 89 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Do you like home-improvementy things? I like to do them, but I hate setting them up. So if my SO suddenly surprised me with all the supplies for That Big Thing We've Been Meaning To Do, like all the paint and dropcloths and food and everything, say, it might be fun to spend a weekend crossing a project off the Big List. It's the kind of romantic that people who've been together for a while might appreciate more than rose petals.

Or, instead of taking a weekend away, why not give someone else a weekend away (if you like kids)? Invite the nieces and nephews/neighbor kids over for an all-day BBQ and take them out of your relatives'/friends' hair.

Campout in the yard? With s'mores and ghost stories?
posted by DU at 5:52 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could make a scavenger hunt for the place you live with whatever's appropriate for your area- things like a kid on a bicycle, a cherry tree, a yellow mailbox, someone wearing a hat, etc. If you find everything, you get to do something special (maybe wink-wink special).
posted by thewestinggame at 5:53 PM on September 1, 2011

Does he like to cook? You could invite over all your friends and build a cob oven! Then, two - three weeks later you can bake pizza.
posted by yb2006shasta at 5:55 PM on September 1, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Building off of DU's painting idea, and taking advantage of the fact that you have 1) a large backyard and 2) the kind of personality that enjoys fort building, how about painting a gigantic abstract mural?

To explain: get a very large, plain sheet (or bolt of white fabric, or paper (though it would be more fragile)), a lot of different colors of tempera paint (because it's cheap), and some disposable clothes. (OR BE NAKED.)

Spread the sheet out on the ground, stand on/around it, then have a paint fight. Really go to town squirting each other. You can even turn it into a paintball style game if you want. And then, for added craziness, you can tackle each other, roll around, and leave big body prints on it. Then you can hang it up. Or use it for future forts.

I know someone who had her bridesmaids do this with her wedding dress (i.e. attack her with paint), and the results were awesome.
posted by phunniemee at 5:58 PM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Country-of-choice Night: Pick a place you and he think is interesting, get food/decorations/movie to match. So, corned beef, Guinness, and Waking Ned Devine, or sushi, origami paper and folding patterns, and some silly anime.

Set up a picnic out in the woods. Have everything laid out before he opens the envelope (I think it would be cool to just have an awesome picnic just *there*, bing!)

Pumpkin carving in October? Actually, other theme months might be fun too. Make some paper chains and other kidlike ornaments in December (if you celebrate Christmas). Or find a list of those totally arbitrary holidays and say "Did you know that March is National Cupcake Month? We're making cupcakes to celebrate!"

I did something similar with my husband one year when we were long-distance (with the added challenge being things that were fun without my being there!) One thing I did was to make an incredibly silly Geocities-in-1996-styled website saying how awesome he was, and one card was just the URL.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:06 PM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Go on a picnic; it will be lovely. If you take measures to allay insect interest.

Get the board game "Pandemic" (it's collaborative, not competitive), and play it together.

Learn a song together; bonus if it's got two-part harmony.
posted by amtho at 6:07 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My god, you people are amazing! If I wasn't already smitten with the boyfriend, I'd beg you all to be my sister-wives. (Or sister...hubbies?) These are the bomb. Keep 'em coming!
posted by t0astie at 6:15 PM on September 1, 2011

Homemade play dough is very easy and cheap to make and lots of fun. Whip up a batch of it and maybe even set yourself some fun challenges of things to make. Similarly childish fun, pick up some tinker toys from a thrift store. Or a slip-n-slide. Or buy a stash of water guns / water balloons / silly string and have an all out war. You could pretty cheaply buy those paint-your-own-mugs kits and make each other a dedicated coffee mug or work together to decorate a huge bowl and make it the family popcorn bowl. Since it sounds like you own your home, it might be fun to bury a time capsule. Yes, I am a child.
posted by diamondsky at 6:31 PM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Geocaching, but would require you to have a GPS. If not that, then a scavenger hunt around the area that you live - ending up (combining the above idea) with you at the picnic site. If you did Geocache, you could plant your own treasure, with something from your first date, etc.

Is there a local community college or some such place - take a photography class together, knitting class, bridge class - oh oh ballroom dance class.

Bake pies in the fall. Go pick the apples and then makes pies for your friends and for two of you gorge on. Pick the recipe(s) together.

You mention the city - renting bikes and taking an architecture tour
posted by fluffycreature at 6:35 PM on September 1, 2011

Best answer: January - A different post it note every day detailing favorite traits and memories.
February - make chocolate truffles together to send to loved ones (cheap to make, might be pricey to package and send) for valentines day
March - Its springtime, baby! Get your galoshes and jump in puddles. Hot chocolate after.
April - Take him to the tulip / daffodil garden you planted in the fall
May - Give him a first edition copy of his favorite book
June - Sandcastle day, read up on techniques and do your best. Catch fireflies (and set them free)
July - Throw a party, make a great toast to him. Fireworks at home. Pick a random category in the county fair and do your best to win your category.
August - Go hiking in the desert, make Prickly pear jelly
September - Preserve leaves in wax
October - Carve Jack o lanterns and roast pumpkin seeds
November - Watch the meteor showers in a field under a warm blanket
December - Cut out snowflakes and hang them from your ceilings.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 6:42 PM on September 1, 2011 [4 favorites]

It's not as much a date as an ongoing activity, but my sweetie and I LOVE reading aloud to one another. We've had good luck with young adult fiction in particular partly because it's better for read-aloud than denser prose, partly because we, like diamondsky, are children.

ooh ooh ooh read-aloud in a blanket fort!
posted by heyforfour at 6:45 PM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, if you don't have a GPS for geocaching, check out letterboxing, which doesn't need anything more than a notebook and a compass.
posted by heyforfour at 6:46 PM on September 1, 2011

In the dead of winter, take him rollerskating. Extra points if you can find somewhere quirky and/or charming. In Portland, we have the roller rink at Oaks Park, where, twice a week, they have organ music instead of the cheesy top 40. It's oddly charming. HIGHLY recommended!
posted by 2oh1 at 7:15 PM on September 1, 2011

Another idea: Buy a bunch of disposable cameras and make a date for some sort of photography scavenger hunt. Or maybe just a silly photo walk around town. I've gone on dates like that and it's great fun. It's awesome with digital cameras, but for a date, for reasons I find hard to explain, film is more romantic. Perhaps it has something to do with the lack of immediacy?
posted by 2oh1 at 7:18 PM on September 1, 2011

Do either of you like making art? Drawing, painting, sewing, writing, poetry, sculpture, whatever. You could work on an art project* all day long and at the end have your own private showing with wine and hors d'oeuvres, etc.

*Example: If you like to draw/paint and he likes to write, you create an illustrated painting. Or vice versa. Another example: you love to write, he loves to imagine/talk: you have a free-form story planning session where you throw all your ideas into the mix, and when it comes to narrow, you (or he) take charge of organizing your ideas while the other person helps with clarifying and fine-tuning the words. Voila! You've got an outline for a short story! Or a screenplay! Or whatever.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 8:53 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Photo safari day trips to the beach/desert/your own backyard, and later you'll create art together for your new home.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:25 PM on September 1, 2011

Best answer: Pinata: Fill with candy, little toys, gifts, and non-breakable items that he might enjoy. Personally, I think that no pinata is complete without plastic dinosaurs or army men. If they suit your taste and budget, I've found that condoms, small plastic bottles of alcohol, and USB keys with fun things on them all tend to work well. Confetti and glitter are fun, but terrible to clean up.

Photo shoot: Hang a sheet on the wall, cluster some lamps around for makeshift lighting, and take pictures of each other. (You can switch off. It will probably easier to let him start off with the camera.) Have a stash of interesting costumes and zany hats on hand. Play it up for the camera. Make funny faces. If you feel drawn towards something risque, go for it. The point isn't to take artistic picture, the point is laugh and appreciate each other.

DIY theater: Sock puppets. Googly eyes glued to spoons. Action figures. Put on scenes from Shakespeare. (Or whatever strikes your fancy.) Announce at the last minute that you have lost your Hamlet puppet, and he will have to read the part. Alternately, make a puppet music video to Bohemian Rhapsody.

The beach is five minutes away? Make sand castles! I like the big ones that need to be planned ahead of time and require a full-sized shovel. Populate with plastic dinosaurs or whatever you have on hand.

Why settle for candlelight by the pool when you could have a candle-light dinner? Set up some food by the edge of the pool, find a couple inflatable lounge chairs, and enjoy your choice of food and drink while floating around.

Dress up in the nicest clothes you own. Put a flower in your hair. Learn to tango together.

Do a spa day. Learn a little bit of some fancy massage technique - Shiatsu, hot stone massage, whatever seems interesting. Give him whatever sort of lotions and skin treatments he's comfortable with. Use it as an excuse to slow down and appreciate being near each other.

Have a picnic. Bonus points for fresh fruit and local landmarks.

...I could probably go on, it if would help.
posted by catalytics at 9:13 AM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

The photoshoot idea is a nice one - you could do it in silly thrift-store costumes, or nude photos (if you're comfortable with that) or write and shoot a photo-story.
posted by mippy at 5:35 AM on September 3, 2011

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