7 Holiday Date Ideas on a Budget

Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images
Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images / Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images

Between all of the shopping, family gatherings, and traveling, the holidays are easily one of the busiest times of the year—but that’s no reason to put your love life on pause, even if you’re operating on a budget. Here are seven romantic holiday date ideas that won’t empty your wallet, presented by Discover and Mental Floss. Remember, paying for these dates gets even easier when you use the Discover it card, which will automatically match the cash back you earn on every purchase, dollar for dollar, at the end of your first year. Visit Discover.com/match to learn more.

1. Go window shopping.

A shopping outlet can be a stressful place to be around the holidays if you’re in a rush to buy something. But if you go there just to browse—preferably before things get too crowded—it can be a great spot to soak in the season with a date. Take a break from holiday shopping and find the stores in your area with the most intricate holiday window displays. Once inside the shops, browse dream gifts without worrying about budgets. While you’re there, keep your eyes open for budget-friendly gifts your date would love, like a new winter hat or a scarf.

2. Bake cookies.

With parties to host and cookie swaps to attend, baking can feel like another task on your holiday to-do list. But it doesn’t have to be. For your next baking session, invite over your special someone and turn it into a date. Blasting holiday music and making a mess of your kitchen is a lot more fun when you have someone to share with it. And if you are making the cookies for a specific occasion, plan to have a little extra leftover to share with your baking partner at the end of the date.

3. Decorate for the Holidays.

Whether your tree reaches the ceiling or takes up as little space as possible in your tiny apartment, it’s not ready for the holidays until it’s decorated. Decorating the tree is a great opportunity to have a romantic date at home. So head to the store and buy some budget-friendly decorations, like string lights, candy canes, and ornaments, and start a new tradition with your loved one.

4. Volunteer at a food pantry.

There’s no shortage of ways to volunteer around the holidays. If you’re looking for something to do with your date that makes everyone’s holidays a little brighter, head to your local grocery store to buy some canned goods and non-perishable foods and then donate your time to others by signing up to help at your local food pantry. Volunteering helps you get into the holiday spirit, and doing it with your date can be a great bonding experience.

5. Admire the neighborhood lights.

Many neighborhoods across the country are famous for their holiday light displays. See if there’s a community near you where residents go all out for the holidays with string lights, inflatable reindeer, and carols playing on a loop. Even if you can only find a street with a modest amount of decorations, the atmosphere will still make for an incredibly romantic nighttime stroll or slow drive with holiday music on the radio.

6. Watch a holiday movie.

It’s hard to beat a movie night with a date, and if you can make it a holiday-themed night, even better. So head to your favorite store or shopping website, because the perfect movie for the occasion can likely be found for far cheaper than tickets to a new movie—plus, this gives you the perfect opportunity to make some homemade popcorn and snacks for a real theater experience in your own home.

7. Go ice skating.

Ice skating may be the perfect winter date activity. If you’re great at it, it’s a chance to show off your skills. And if you can barely move an inch on your own, you can use it as an excuse to get close to your date. During the holiday season, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor ice-skating venues to choose from, and you can even rent skates if you don’t have a pair of your own.

The best time to capitalize on cashback deals is during the busy holiday spending season. And with the Discover it card, the cash back you get from every purchase will automatically be matched dollar for dollar at the end of your first year. Visit Discover.com/match to learn more.