It’s that time of year again. You know the one. It’s when you want to stay in bed all morning because even though you have the heat on, you can just feel winter lurking above the covers. Sure, we don’t have to deal with snowstorms anymore but even Jacksonville gets chilly from time to time. As I write this, I’ve got my little space heater on my feet and a blanket wrapped around me like a cloak. It’s not so much that I’m cold… being cozy is just a state of mind. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to be and now that I live in this sunshine state, my days of wearing big wool socks and oversized sweaters are limited. So, in the spirit of coziness, I’m sharing 7 romantic date ideas to keep you warm this winter!
Let me start by saying, all of these dates would be ideal with a blanket, a thermos of hot chocolate, and a lover on your arm.
1. Look for Christmas Lights
We like to do this later in December. Even the procrastinators have their lights up by then (ok, I’m talking about me)… If you don’t live in a neighborhood that is big on decorating, just drive to one. In every town I’ve ever lived in, there was a street that was known for going all out with their decorations. A quick google search of “places to see Christmas lights near me” brought up tons of neighborhoods to visit. News stations usually share a list like this too so it’s super easy to find. Here’s a quick tip: depending on when you go, it can get pretty crowded. Instead of driving through, park at the end of the street and walk. Trust me, it’s much nicer to see the lights outside of the confines of your windshield.
2. Do a Wine Tasting
I’ve heard alcohol warms the tummy. Not sure if this is true but what I do know is that if you keep drinking, you’ll stop caring about being cold. Now, getting drunk at the bar isn’t very romantic, is it? Enter wine tasting. Wine tasting is so much fun to do on a date. Especially in the winter (hello, it’s indoors). You could go to a wine bar that offers this or you can organize your own. I prefer to leave this to the professionals so I can just show up and drink. If you can find a tasting that includes pairing with food, even better! We aren’t wine connoisseurs, but at a wine tasting everyone’s a connoisseur! So talk about how fruity or robust that wine is and how it makes the nutty flavor of the cheese stand out. As Michael Scott would say, “this wine has an oaky afterbirth…” There are no wrong answers. Weird ones maybe, but not wrong… so have fun with it! If you have too much fun, just make sure to call an Uber.
3. Have a Backyard Bonfire
If you step out of my house from September to March, you’ll more than likely smell a fire. We call it bonfire season because at least one neighbor has a bonfire going every single day. There is something so cozy about sitting next to a bonfire, sharing a blanket, and roasting marshmallows (on your respective marshmallow sticks obviously, I love Ben but I need my own stick). There’s a reason they sell bonfire-scented candles. The smell of a fire, the sound of those crackling logs, what can I say? It just brings people together. I don’t make the rules. It’s that cozy state of mind I was talking about. If you want to step up your bonfire game, bring a projector for an outdoor movie night. And hey, if you don’t have a yard or a bonfire pit, just invite yourself over to the neighbor’s house. Don’t worry, they won’t mind or they’ll be too caught off guard to say no. Either way, that means marshmallows and cuddles for you!
4. Do a Barnes & Noble Scavenger Hunt
This one is probably the most work but it’s so fun and definitely a good way to change up your date night routine if you’re stuck in a “watch a movie on the couch” rut. Here’s how it works: you each come up with 5 scavenger hunt items so you have a list of 10 total. You want to include things like “favorite book as a child,” “book you never read but always wanted to,” “something you want to learn how to do,” etc. Pick a meeting place, set a timer for the first item, and go look for your book! When the time is up, you meet and share the book you chose before moving to the next thing on the list. This is a great way to get to know more about the other person, even if you’ve been together for a while. When Ben and I did this, we gave each other 10-15 minutes between books so you should definitely allow for at least 2 hours. Bonus, you can take breaks at the café for some apple cider and cookies (and by cookies, I mean slice of cheesecake).
5. Plan a DIY Food Tour
Story time. When Ben and I first started dating, I was living in NY. Anyone who has done a long distance relationship knows how precious visiting weekends are and you want to do something special to make the most of your time together. Sure, eating take-out while binging Netflix shows is pretty special (sitting around doing nothing together is probably one of our favorite things) but there’s just no time for it when you only see each other a few days out of the year. One weekend, I decided to take Ben on a little food tour of new places I wanted to share with him. We went to four different places for: drinks, an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. I love thinking about that memory, running around the city, eating all the things… And it’s such an easy date to plan, whether you want to try new places together or visit all your faves in one day. It creates a little anticipation that lasts throughout the whole date.
6. Have a Beach Day
I know the beach is usually reserved for warmer days but hear me out. If you live somewhere that’s pretty touristy or that doesn’t have a lot of beaches to begin with, you stay away at all costs because in the summer, it is PACKED. Amiright? We like to go to the beach all year round and we would have missed some pretty amazing beaches if we stayed away when it was cold. We’ve had entire beaches to ourselves. Beaches that are normally so packed during the height of the season that you can’t even see a clear path to the water. As long as you’re bundled up (and in FL, that really just means wearing long sleeves, right?), walking on the beach is still just as calming in the winter as it is in the summer. You can walk hand in hand, or bring a blanket to cuddle on while you watch the sandpipers wipe out in the waves. If it’s really cold, bring a second blanket. And obvs don’t forget the hot chocolate.
7. Stay Home and Bake Together
I love baking so we do this one pretty regularly, and what’s cozier than standing in front of a warm oven with cookies smells coming out of it? Our favorite things to bake are things from our childhood. When you make family recipes, it brings up so many memories you’d forgotten about. Remember when you were a kid and your mom would give you a special job, like adding the chocolate chips or measuring the sugar? I love hearing about what special jobs Ben had when making cookies with his mom. In our house, baking is really something we bond over because it reminds us of our families. The best part? We’re grown-ups now and can eat as much cookie batter as we want! In all seriousness, do you even know anyone that got salmonella from licking the bowl? I didn’t think so…
Schedule a photoshoot! Okay, obviously I’m a little biased here because I always have photography on the brain (it’s a blessing and a curse) but how cute are winter photoshoots? We could photograph any one of these romantic dates but the baking one is probably the cutest. Oversized sweaters, mugs topped with whipped cream? Yes, please! I’ve been dying to do an in-home session and winter is the perfect time to get cozy.
And since you’re here, you should check out this romantic fall wedding, complete with a cozy bonfire and warm apple pies.