Sure, there’s the usual suspects – go on a hike, hire some bicycles, Netflix and chill – but there are a whole bunch of less standard options if you’re a bit creative with your thinking. Oh, and remember: it doesn’t *actually* matter what’s going on around you, as long as it’s distracting enough to fill any awkward silences.
HAVE A BAKE-OFF
Set of budget of $10 each, head to your local supermarket and buy the ingredients necessary for The Great British Bake Off: Your Kitchen edition. Not only is it a cute way to spend an hour of so, there’s nothing like like a bit of competition to get the flirty juices going. With your goodies are cooling on the table, it’s time to pretend-argue about who gets to lick the spoon.
VOLUNTEER AT AN ANIMAL SHELTER
Nothing moistens the nether regions quite like watching someone you’d like to bone cuddling a tiny pup. Or kitten. Or rabbit. Giving back by volunteering at your local animal shelter costs exactly $0 and can tell a lot about someone by how they treat animals, so it’s a win-win.
CRASH A BUNCH OF OPEN HOUSES
The bad news: you (probably) won’t be able to buy your own place before retirement age. The good news: there’s nothing stopping you from pretending. Pick one of the most affluent suburbs near yours, print out a list of open houses and make a day of it, fooling the real estate agent into thinking you’re serious contenders and laughing at rich people’s questionable decorating choices. All free… unless you accidentally place a bid.
LAUGH IT UP AT AN AMATEUR COMEDY NIGHT
Nothing breaks the ice on a date quite like guffawing at some else’s bad (or good / bar) jokes. For $10 or less, you can score entry to just about every decent comedy room in Australia’s major cities, which pays itself back in dividends in terms of stuff to talk about afterwards.
Poring over racks and shelves of unwanted stuff not only provides plenty of opportunities to fill awkward silences with wonderment at the weird shit that gets donated, it’s a rapid-fire way to learn about the other person’s personal taste (you’d wear that Hawaiian shirt, non-ironically? Bye). Even if the date’s a total bust, you could still walk away with a $2 addition to your wardrobe.
HOST A GAMES NIGHT / VISIT A GAMING ARCADE BAR
Whip out Punderdome, Articulate, Cards Against Humanity and – if you want the elevate your chances of skin-on-skin contact, Twister – for a night of good, clean fun and frivolity. If you and your partner have been dating a while, up the stakes by inviting over your couple mates and creating a mini-tournament.
If you want added atmosphere, gaming arcade bars are a dime-a-dozen in most cities these days. Most games will only set you back $1 or so, and 2 player pinball is heaps cute.
TAKE A FREE WALKING TOUR OF YOUR CITY
Free walking tours are always a good time in Europe, so why not embark on one in your own city? Pack a bottle of wine and then, once Wayne has told you all he knows about Sydney’s best convict pubs, pop a squat in a scenic location and enjoy a glass while discussing all the cool shit you learnt.
BUILD AN ADULTS-ONLY FORT
Remember how much fun building forts was as a kid? Guess what: it’s still heaps of fun, you just don’t do it anymore because society told you it was time to grow up. Gather up as many pillows and blankets as you can find, throw them in the living room and go wild.
Bonus: now that you’re an adult, you can also have sex in said fort. Things just keep getting better and better.
VISIT A MUSEUM ON OPEN DAY
Most museums offer $0 entry, with free talks and films at least one night a week, and charge a minimal amount for special exhibitions. Go for ones with an interactive element, so you and your date aren’t confined to whispering your way around Brett Whiteley‘s works.
Sorry, Ryan Gosling, but you don’t need an astrology tower to go stargazing. Head to the nearest hilltop, balcony or scalable rooftop and check out the constellations on a clear night. Just make sure you check the BoM app ahead of time, because nothing kills a boner faster than an expected hailstorm.
EAT A DESSERT-ONLY DINNER
Skip to the good stuff. And by good stuff, we mean dessert. Aside from the fact chocolate is a natural aphrodisiac and incredibly sexy when licked off any form of fruit, you’re getting the dinner experience for 1/3 of the price.
GET DOWN AND DIRTY AT A COMMUNITY GARDEN
This one divided the P.TV office into two camps: those who thought this was an adorable date idea, and those who thought it was a shortcut to never seeing that person again. As the writer of this story, I get to veto the opinions of the later and suggest this as a winning way to get to know someone – and give back to your local community. Most Working Bees are held on the first Sunday of every month (check the website of your local council) and a free lunch is usually served to workers as a t/y.
Plus, you *might* just get dirty enough to need a shower.
GO ON A TECHY TREASURE HUNT
Allow us to introduce you to geocaching. It’s basically a treasure hunt for adults, which sees you and your date try and find a hidden ‘cache’ using a set of coordinates and a GPS (or, far more likely, the GPS built into your phone). Plug your location into geocaching.com
, find a nearby cache, head outdoors and prepare to find out just how well you get along when you’re trying to solve a puzzle together. As long as at least one of you has a current smartphone, the date won’t cost you anything (except for the snacks you’ll obvs need).
RIDE PUBLIC TRANSPORT (SRLSY)
Ok, this sounds like a bore on the surface. But imagine the two of you, floating on the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour, Melbourne’s Yarra or Brisbane River, bound for New Farm Park (where you can drink! Legally!), or riding the Light Rail with the best form of entertainment on tap: people watching. To add a hint of excitement, blindfold each other and take turns picking out a random destination on the map.
HIT UP THE LOCAL MARKETS
Grab a freshly-cooked BAE roll and a coffee and stroll arm-in-arm through the endless rows of market stalls that you’ll find in multiple locations across every major city at least once a weekend. Buy some fresh flowers, try on some silly hats, discuss how cool it is that vinyl’s back in fashion and you’ve got the perfect recipe for romance.
TRACK DOWN A $10 PUB MEAL
Any pub worth its weight in VB has at least one night a week where you can order a main meal for $10, or get two for the price of one. Split a bottle of wine and you can easy get away with it for $40 or less.
NETFLIX AND CHILL BUT WITH A TWIST
Decide on a theme for your date and center everything – from the food, to the booze to the movie – around it. For example, if you’re vibing Italian, make spag bol or a homemade pizza, crack open a bottle of Chianti and stream Roman Holiday or The Italian Job. Finish with gelato. And the other thing.