We all dream of the perfect date.

Perhaps yours is sitting on an exotic beach front, drinking champagne and eating caviar, followed by a massage and a weekend in a five star hotel.

But spending good quality time together as a couple doesn’t have to cost the earth. So how do you do date night on a budget? Here’s a list of five alternative dates you’ll remember for years to come… without breaking the bank.

1. Swap a dinner date for a breakfast date

This is an outright obvious money saver. Breakfast is cheaper than dinner. When I go out for breakfast with my husband, we really splash out and regularly order the most expensive thing on the menu, like Eggs Benedict Royale or American pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. Even with drinks we generally still get change from a £20 note. Try doing that on a dinner date! The added bonus? You’re more awake and alert and therefore give each other the best of yourselves.

2. Try something new together

“Do you remember the time we…?” The memories that stick out most in the mind are often the first time experiences or out of the ordinary events. I can’t remember the last dinner date I had with my husband, but I sure can’t forget the time we went stand up paddle surfing or the time he took me climbing for the first time. Trying something new together will give you a new story to tell. Will it be funny, adventurous, fraught with mild peril, who knows? But it will bring you closer together. And perhaps you’ll come away with a new hobby you both love.

3. Save the world over a coffee

If I said fashion, you wouldn’t think corsets. If I said film stars, you wouldn’t think Charlie Chaplin. So if I say board games and you think Monopoly, Risk or Snakes and Ladders, then like corsets, you could be stuck in the past. The board game scene has seen a huge revolution over the last 20 years, and there are now tons of different games that appeal to pretty much anyone. Don’t believe me? Then try date night option three; visit a board game café.

There are so many types of two-player game, you are bound to find one you’ll enjoy. Be that saving the world together, racing hot air balloons or just fighting each other in a head to head battle of wits. And don’t worry if you’ve no idea where to start. The staff in board game cafés not only recommend games, but explain the rules and then serve you coffee and cake or beer and nachos while you play. Typically you’re looking at £5 entry each to play as many games as you can fit into four hours. Even after food and drink, that’s pretty money savvy. And what’s more, you might find a game you both love, order it online the next day and voila! Loads of free date nights playing board games at home.

4. Take a dog for a walk

Going for a walk through an autumnal forest, watching coloured leaves fluttering through the air can reconnect you with nature and is its own kind of wonderful. Doing this and holding the hand of someone you love takes it up a notch. Autumnal forest, hand holding, and a happy canine running circles round you is more wondrous still. But not everyone is in a situation where they can have a dog of their own, so taking a shelter dog for a walk is a great way to invest in your relationship, while making a big difference to a dog’s life. There’s a huge number of abandoned and mistreated dogs being admitted to shelters every month, and even though they’re given the best care possible, most still get little exercise. Going for walks can be great for generating conversation and with a four-legged friend in tow, you’ll even have something new to talk about.

5. Picnic with a twist

Organise a surprise picnic at home. Take your pick of garden or lounge floor, candlelight or twilight, home cooking or takeaway. This date is brilliant, because it’s super cheap, there’s no need for babysitters and you can be as creative as you like. Last winter I decided to surprise my hubby by decking out our campervan with fairy lights, candles and sparkly Christmas decorations. We then took our yummy dinner (cooked in our upstairs flat) down to munch in our cosily decked out van. Neither of us even thought about the fact we were only sitting on the drive. It doesn’t take much, but it will make for some great catch up time. Now get those creative juices flowing and surprise your spouse to something really special.

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