Fun ways to have a ‘real’ date night while you’re stuck at home

Gabrielle Sharp

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Gabrielle Sharp

The coronavirus quarantine has been challenging on many levels, particularly on our personal relationships. The overwhelming amount of togetherness, mixed with cabin fever and frazzled nerves is not exactly an ideal recipe for romance. Yet, keeping a genuine, joyful connection with our significant other is more important than ever.

>> FUN AT HOME: Planning a virtual happy hour? Here are some do’s and don’ts

Relationship experts emphasize the need for “date nights” even when you’re married. Healthy relationships are based on a continuing renewal of friendship and desire through shared experiences and focused time together. Dr Dianne Grande, a clinical psychologist, calls date nights a necessity, not a luxury.

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, it was hard enough to get date nights to happen. Between exhaustion, limited budgets, lack of planning or sheer indifference, it's easy to become complacent. Now that couples are together constantly and can't leave the house, going on a date seems improbable. With a little imagination, however, you can have a "real" date with your loved one. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

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🛎️ Check into a “hotel”

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I were supposed to be on a cozy vacation in the mountains of Tennessee. Of course, the trip had to be canceled. The day we were scheduled to leave for the trip, my husband said he checked into the hotel. I assumed he was making a poor attempt at a joke.

It wasn’t until he opened a door we rarely use that I realized what he meant. He “checked in” to our own guest bedroom. The furniture is hand-me-downs and doesn’t feel familiar, so it felt like a genuine getaway!

You don’t have to have a spare bedroom to have this experience. It’s all about using your imagination and playing pretend. Try making a fort blanket in the living room or pitch a tent in the backyard. A change of scenery is key to feeling like you’re on an adventure together.

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🥘 Pick up fine dining takeout

Typically eating out is an important part of the date night experience. To elevate your at-home dining experience, try one of the delicious takeout options currently being offered by local restaurants.

The charcuterie boards and dinner packages being offered by Crafted and Cured are downright divine. They have collaborated with  Grist Provisions to create three curated take-home meal kits. The kits include a mix of slowly braised bolognese, mushroom agnolotti, rich egg yolk tagliatelle pasta, herb focaccia breads, cheeses and more. Add a bottle of wine, champagne, mead or cider and you're all set!

The meal kits are available Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To place an order for carryout, call 239-293-6135. Pickup is located at Grist Provisions, 521 Wayne Ave. in Dayton.

>> DINING IN: 3 carryout options in Dayton for a stay-at-home date night

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Gabrielle Sharp

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Gabrielle Sharp

Credit: Contributed

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Gabrielle Sharp

Credit: Contributed

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💃 Make your living room a dance floor

There's a reason dancing is a ritual at weddings — it's romantic! If you never learned how to dance properly, or need a refresher, this time provides an opportunity to live out your "Dancing with the Stars" dreams. Gabrielle Sharp, one of  Dayton's most fabulous ballroom instructors is giving free classes via Instagram live on Wednesdays from 6-6:45 p.m. Visit @daytondanceinitiative to follow along.

>> READ MORE: Dayton ballet dancers getting creative during COVID-19 pandemic

If ballroom isn't really your thing, how about just lettin' loose? On Friday nights, go old school and turn the radio to 91.3FM (or go online to WYSO.org) to listen to Dayton's own Rev Cool spin a two-hour dance party from 8-10 p.m. If that's not an ideal time to tune in, check out the dance party playlist I created just for Daytonians here, which you can listen to anytime.

PRO TIP: Make your dance experience extra special by dressing the part and setting the stage. Throw on that fancy dress you rarely have reason to wear, figure out some creative lighting, and clear the floor!

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🎨 Paint and sip together

You can explore your creative side with a painting party for two. Raise Your Brush at 169 N. Main St. in Centerville is offering beautiful take-home projects, including Wine Bottle PaintingWine Glass PaintingPaint Pour, and Wood Pallet Signs, which come with how-to videos. They also have "to go" bottles of wine of wine for sale, too!  Find out more information at raiseyourbrush.com (navigate to the far right for the "DIY Kits" menu).

🔍Try an “Escape Room” adventure

Since the coronavirus, puzzles have become the new American pastime. How about trying a puzzle that doesn't come in a box? The Washington-Centerville Public Library invites you to try out their spy-themed digital "escape room." Together, you solve tricky puzzles and "visit" beautiful locations all around the world.

🎭 Take in some culture together

One of my favorite date nights is going to see the performing arts, or some type of cultural experience. Luckily for us, there are lots of ways to have a theater experience from home. Locally, you can rent a film from downtown Dayton's beloved art house cinema, The Neon. Visit www.neonmovies.com for more details about which movies are playing and pricing.

>> READ MORE: You can enjoy a movie from The Neon at home

Perhaps this date night has taken you abroad where you can experience a full-length play from the UK's acclaimed National Theatre. Each Thursday evening, a new play is released, which you can stream anytime from their YouTube page. Or whisk yourselves off to Paris to virtually tour the Musée d'Orsa or to the famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The "street views" really do feel like you're walking down those famous gallery hallways.

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🧖 Enjoy a couples spa night

The virus has not been kind to our beauty regimes. Between added stress, schedules thrown off and salons closed, we’re not feeling our best. Why not make the most of your date night, and treat each other to some spa treats? There’s nothing like a little TLC to show you care.

I'm not suggesting hair cuts and coloring, as that could get dangerous quickly, but bubble baths, massages, and face masks are all doable. Suggestions to make your shared spa treatments extra special: add candles, a bath bomb, cucumber slices over the eyes and a crushed strawberry-honey mix for the face. Additionally, there are lots of videos online to guide you through massage techniques to give your partner some much needed relaxation.

Hopefully these ideas show that with a little effort and a dash of imagination, you can easily bring more joy, connection and love into your life and your relationship.

>>  READ MORE: Dayton-made beauty products for a spa day at home

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