Let’s be Real

We’d all love to be able to drop $300 a week on 5 Star date nights but this is totally ridiculous (particularly if you’re in a long term relationship or married!)

A much better plan is to ditch the caviar and find fun activities you actually enjoy doing together! This list is my best dates under $20 to get you started.


Real Life Escape Room

If you’ve ever played those Escape from the Room games you’ll have a good idea how this date night works. Basically, a player starts in a fictitious ‘locked room’ where they need to search for clues and objects that will help them escape.

For this date night, you’re going to be transforming your house into a real-life version just for her! Don’t worry there’s a downloadable which you can print so it’s fast to prep. Alternatively, you can make your own by following our guide.

Easy Escape Game Example:

Players are ‘locked’ room and finds:

  • A safe with a combination lock
  • A note with a date in the corner

To solve this one you need to work out that the date is the suitcase combination. This then contains the ‘Exit Key’.

An escape room party

All you need to do is print a ready to play game kit . Then place printed clues around your house and you’re ready to go.

From here just watch the intro video together and have fun “escaping”.

Epic Treasure Hunt


90m prep


One of the most unforgettable date ideas ever is making a real life treasure hunt for you partner! After all who doesn’t want to get their ‘Arrgh’ on with an authentic treasure map and good old fashioned adventure!

Here’s how to plan a hunt, craft a map, and make a totally epic outdoor date they’ll never forget!

Don’t worry if you’re not that good with a pencil since there’s a downloadable map pack that makes it feel epic!

Make a treasure map

Geocache Surprise Date

Totally Free!

10m prep

Day or Arvo

Geocaching Date

Geocaching is the real life treasure hunt you always wished existed! There’s no pirates but there’s millions all over the world, it’s free and is an epic outdoor date adventure for the two of you!

Basically you use the Check out the full guide >

Pimp My Fridge – Hipster Style!


No prep

Day or Night

Fridges are boring. Like really boring. You can fix this and have a fun date night by getting your inner hipster on and pimping your fridge!.

This’s one’s really simple – you’re just cutting pages out of an old book and using spray glue to stick them onto your fridge. You can even make getting the stuff part of the date night so it’s great for when there’s no time to prep!

OK perhaps you have one of those $15,000 fridges that look like a space station but chances are yours is just a dull box against the wall

Fridge before date night
Paper from old books
Hipster fridge after date

Cafe Game-a-thon


No prep

Day or

This is the easiest way to turn coffee/drinks into a date night! Just head to your favourite haunt with either a board game or iPad in hand and get your contest on! Many places actually have a few board games stashed for people to play so look out for this next time you’re out to keep the fun rolling!

Couples board games

Couples Games Under $3

Once you do this a few times it seams strange that gaming isn’t something more couples do. After all it’s always doable since it’s on your phone and lightens the mood if neither of you feel like talking. Amanda and I find this is usually enough to get the conversation flowing.

Photo Scavenger Hunt

$15+ dollars

90m prep

Day or night

It’s fun, It’s romantic, and it involves photos. Enough said

Before the day go for a walk around the coolest shopping area you know and take a photo on your phone every 30 or so steps. Then print these out and number them in order

On the day you give her the stack of photos and she becomes the Tour Guide trying to navigate the way through the adventure!

$15 buys you a round of drinks somewhere on the way as well as the cost to print the photos. You can easily drop more cash on this one but the scavenger hunt alone is epic fun!

Scavenger hunt clue

Garage Drive in Cinema


60m prep


The traditional ‘dinner and movie date’ is a classic hero because it works. Unfortunately there’s not much novelty and can cost some serious $$. Here’s how to bank all the awesomeness without the drawbacks!

Start by heading out for burgers – diner style! Usually this would be a pretty poor date dinner but it fits the old school drive in cinema theme so just tell her that It will make sense later. You can even skip this step to make it an awesomely frugal date night – just surprise her by setting up the cinema before doing the groceries.

When you arrive back home she’ll be blown away by a drive in cinema set up right in your garage!

Garage cinema setup

Simple Setup Steps:

  • Set the TV up on a table in the garage
  • Secretly prep some popcorn before you head out to dinner (cheap as from the grocery store)
  • Choose a good Netflix and set it up ready to play
  • Chuck some blankets and pillows in the garage ready to go
  • Put the TV remote, lube, and anything else in the glovebox

Ready Steady Cook

Totally Free!

0 mins prep

Day or night

Home cooked dinner!

One makes Dinner. The other dessert. The fun part is you don’t know what you’re making!

Start by heading to the grocery store with no shopping list and split up. The goal is to secretly choose 3 ingredients that the other will use that night.

Set a budget cap equal whatever you would spend on groceries for 1 meal – this way you can gave a fun date night out for totally free!

Chalk It Up

Cheap as $3

30m prep

Day or arvo

The two of you are out for a walk/jog when you ‘stumble’ across a trail of chalk arrows leading somewhere. You made the trail but pretend that you don’t know what’s going on and casually suggest you both follow it.

When you reach the end you drop that there’s a small present hidden nearby which is when she’ll realise that you’re the mastermind behind the adventure.

This one works because wrapping a $2 block of chocolate with a surprise makes it a lot of fun on the cheap!

Chalk on tree

Time Capsule!


No prep

Day or Arvo

Even if you totally forget about it in 10 years making the time capsule is a great balance of fun and romance.

Tell her what the plan for the night is then head to the store together to get a container. The easiest option is just 2x different sized plastic fridge tubs (one goes inside the other which keeps the water out).

Once you’ve filled it with gear it’s time to break the law and go hide it! Just find an out-of-the-way spot in a park or along a hike and bring a shovel. You’ll want to go pretty deep to keep it safe however this is all part of the adventure if you crank some upbeat tunes on your phone and make it fun.

This date idea works because it brings back those novelty feelings with a little romance. Just don’t forget to photograph where you hid the time capsule – trees all look the same after 10 years…

What to stash:

  • Raunchy photos of you both taken on the night
  • Note to future selves (keep it secret)
  • Newspaper (won’t exist)
  • Wedding keepsake
  • Favourite CD
  • Postage stamp
  • Spare phone
  • Household item

Arcade Adventure Date


No prep


Paying $20 for games that are older than the ones on your phone seam strange until you do it. It’s a total blast!

Arcades focus on mixing physical involvement with traditional gaming which makes for a whole new experience. From bashing beavers with mallets to Dance Dance Revolution it makes for a great night out.

One of the highlights for Amanda and I was trading in our tickets for 10c lollies that tasted pretty bad but made us feel like kids again. This made for a totally fun date night out!

What Makes a Budget Date Night Special?

Under the bonnet the most important part of a date is to have fun and make her feel feel valued – like she’s the hero of the story

Sure spending big is one way to say I totally value you but you can communicate the same thing with Effort or time spent (this is often more romantic too)

You may need to be a little more creative and will usually end up spending time and effort rather than dollars. If you’re prepared to do this you can totally nail some fun date nights!

Some Simple Ideas

  • A present you make is often worth more than an expensive one
  • Saying ‘no’ to a night out with the guys shows you’ve paid a pretty big cost just to be there
  • Getting up early and doing her part of the housework makes anything you do after that special!

Here’s 52 more unique date night ideas

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