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I was a little apprehensive when Lisa asked me to take my turn at this column, because John and I do not really do traditional “date nights.” At this point in our lives (sans children), we spend pretty much all of our time together, so it’s not as much of a priority for us as it might be in a few years (plus we are saving for some serious financial goals!). But, when I stopped and thought about it, we do have several things we love to do together, and I hope they might be inspiring to y’all!

Wife’s name: Emily Thomas
Husband’s name: John Thomas
Years married: 2
What do you both do? Emily is the Creative Director at Southern Weddings, and John is a 401k expert
How did you meet? We grew up in the same small town. When we encountered each other in middle school, I immediately had a crush on John, but it wasn’t returned until senior year of high school, when he asked me out on our first date (ice skating!). We’ve been together ever since.
Tell us the story of your wedding, in a few sentences: We celebrated with our favorite people in one of our favorite places in the world under the most perfect blue sky you could imagine. You can take a peek at it all here and here.

Date Night 1. Outdoor movie nights. There are several spots near us that show recently released movies in the summer for $3-$5. We love packing a picnic (Chipotle, anyone?), our special movie chairs (seriously, they save your back when watching a feature length movie!), and a blanket and making a night of it.

Date Night 2. Mystery rides. I have to laugh at this one, because this is actually something my parents used to do when we were kids! Last summer John announced that we were going on an adventure, and I willingly hopped in the car. We took a beautiful country drive to the rural town of Saxapahaw, walked along the Haw River exploring old dams, split a BLT at the Saxapahaw General Store, and finished our afternoon with ice cream at Maple View Farm. It was so fun, and even more exciting because I didn’t know what was coming!

Date Night 3. A walk in the woods. No, I’m not the first one to think of this, but it’s probably the “date” we go on most often, so I have to include it. We love to explore hiking trails in our area. For us, it’s not so much about the exercise, though that is a great bonus. I love walking with John because it’s when we have our best conversations. I think there’s something about being on the move and having uninterrupted, distraction-free time together that just lets the words flow!

Date Night 4. Front porch sittin’. Don’t laugh – I promise we are not 80 years old! John’s parents bought us rockers this spring for our front porch, and a highlight of our summer was sitting out front as the sun went down or late at night, chatting and eating some sort of fruit or dessert. You might feel antsy at first (we do live in a go-go-go world), but if you let yourself just sink into the slower pace, I think you’ll find yourself craving it. No phones allowed, of course.

Date Night 5. Go big or go home. We love trying new restaurants and going out to eat, but we don’t always want to pay for a full meal. We’ve found that a great alternative is to try an exciting specialty food or shop, and really go for it. For example, we finally visited Monuts, a Durham donut shop we’d been wanting to try for months. We went whole hog and split four donuts, and even though that felt very indulgent, we only spent about $11. The possibilities are endless, here, especially as specialty shops and food trucks are cropping up everywhere: crepes, biscuits, hot dogs, pretzels, nachos, popsicles…

I would love to know: Do you consciously set aside time for “date nights,” or do you just kind of wing it? Do you think that might change as you get older?

emily Written with love by Emily
5 Comments
  1. avatar Loverly reply

    Those donuts look absolutely delish! Great date ideas Emily!

  2. avatar Lisa reply

    So many awesome ideas! Monuts Donuts has been on my must-try list since I moved here, and surprise dates are the best–even if it’s just being taken to Chick Fil A after a long day :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Monuts = so good! My favorite was the strawberry frosted – it tasted like real mashed berries!

  3. avatar Mandy Volpe reply

    I love the mystery ride idea! Tucking that idea away for the future!!

    Also, now I want donuts. LOL!

  4. avatar Grace Upon Grace Vol. 14 – Rachel Nordgren reply

    […] Lovely Reads… What To Bring To A Conference Laid back Date Night Ideas A Fabulous Fall Wish List Blogs You Need To Know A Cookbook […]

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