A Year of Creative Dates: Thinking Outside the Box

By Shelly Lopez

If you have come seeking creative date ideas, you have come to the right place.  Shelly and Jershon are the most fun, creative couple I know.  It is a pure delight to hang out with them and participate in some of their creative genius.  I feel like most date nights Rich and I are “too tired” to think of something creative.  Good thing we have such great friends to remind us that creativity does take more energy but it is so worth it to have fun and awesome memories with your spouse.

Also Shelly is all-knowing about all things always.  She is endlessly inspiring, giving and wise.  And she’s moving away from me this month!! Waaa 🙁  How does anybody live without Shelly???  I don’t think I can do it.  Anyway, creativity onward.  – Celeste


A Year of Creative Dates from the MASTERS of creative dates: Shelly and Jershon

[Note: This is not Shelly or Jershon. I do not know these people, but they give off a certain Shelly/Jershon aura I felt was appropriate for this post]
“I think I like him.”
“I wish I knew if he liked me or not…”
“He talked to me!  Aaaaaaa!!!  This is getting serious….”
“Does he LIKE ME like me? … or is he just being nice?”
“I wish I could read his mind to see what he really thinks of me.”
“Yay!  He asked me out!”
“Yay!  He asked me out again!”
“A walk?  What does he want to go on a walk for?”
“I’m so bummed.  He wants to take a break.”
“Yay!  He wants to date again!”
“What… another walk?”
“Ok, fine, we’ll break up for real this time.”
……………..”Oooo, he’s cute!”

These are just a handful of real thoughts that I had while playing the dating game during college.  And what a stressful, brutal, heartbreaking, exciting, fun game that was.  I join the masses of married people who express the thought of “Phew!  I’m so glad to be done with the dating phase of life.  Playing those games can be so exhausting.”

But although I may be past the stage of looking for a husband, I am definitely not done dating.  Quite the contrary actually.  Getting married was the beginning of the most important dating relationship of my life.

Continuing to date your spouse after marriage is extremely important. In a sense, your wife should be your forever girlfriend and your husband your forever boyfriend.  The dating should not decrease or stop after marriage.  If anything, it should increase and be even more consistent than before.

My husband, Jershon, is really creative.  So when we were dating before we got married, our dates were really fun and not your average “dinner and a movie.”  We did usually have a meal together (at a restaurant or one we cooked together) but after the meal we did fun things like painting a mural on an old door, taking fake engagement pictures, visiting a Catholic Cathedral, going on a tree tour on our college campus, and painting a collage of our previous dates on a plate.

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After we got married, we continued to do creative things on our dates every once in a while.  We probably would have done even more if I was always feeling adventurous and open to Jershon’s ideas. If I’m not careful, I can keep myself from having fun by rejecting his date ideas.  Some of the best dates that we’ve done together have been things that are a bit outside of my comfort zone or something that I definitely wouldn’t have picked to do on my own.

One of these dates (and the one that I still look back on with fond and hilarious memories) is from September 2009.  I was 35 weeks pregnant with our first son.  Jershon somehow had the creative idea to blow up and print pictures of two people’s faces that we thought looked similar.  We ended up choosing Tom Cruise and my cousin Nathan.  We blew them up, cropped the picture to just include the head, and then made them into masks.  Then we walked around our college campus taking pictures of us in random places and with random objects.  I remember laughing so hard during this date.

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Another favorite date was making this stop motion video after we put our kids to bed a few years ago.  Jershon had the idea to do a series of jumping pictures and make it look like we were floating around the room.  We took over 600 pictures…that means we jumped A LOT.  We were really sweaty by the end.  Ha ha.  After we took the pictures, we put the movie together and Jershon “composed” the song on Garageband.
I wouldn’t say that we are artists but Jershon and I do like to create artwork together occasionally. Jershon is a master stenciler so we decided to make an Andy Warhol inspired grouping of canvases to hang above our couch (September 2012.)  Jershon made the stencils of our faces and then we spray painted them onto some canvases that we had painted.  This was a really fun project to do together and it has been a great conversation starter for people that come to our house.
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Another hilarious one is when Jershon thought it would be fun to recreate a picture of his parents.  I was pregnant with our second son and ended up laughing so hard that I threw up!
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One that wasn’t so successful was when Jershon came up with the idea to shoot spit balls at each other’s faces.  I don’t know why I agreed to this, but I must have been feeling supportive at the moment.  We sat across the couch from each other, got some straws, some little wads of paper, and you can imagine the rest.  Let’s just say that it didn’t last long because I almost threw up!  Not from laughing this time. But still the memory of that little five minute home date is priceless.  🙂

We have also turned gift giving occasions into dates.  When we were first married we wrote songs for a few of our family members and sang to them on their birthday.  Jershon taught me how to play a few chords on the Ukulele and with our very limited (or lack) of musical talent, we would perform the song.  We had a lot of fun doing this and named ourselves the LoDown.

Another date was making a Christmas present for my dad (December 2011).  We wanted to make a little clay sculpture of my dad wearing his signature clothes.  We call it the Lloyd Doll.
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We have used our dates to make many other presents for friends and family.

I give all these examples to illustrate that Jershon and I have tried to make dating a priority since we got married. Having kids (we have three) has definitely made it more challenging though.  Over the past couple years we have fallen into the habit of doing the same type of date (going to dinner) over and over again and our dates were getting a little bit monotonous.  It was still fun to go out together but the agenda (usually just a restaurant) was never planned until two seconds before we left.  We still had a good time but we both recognized that doing planned, creative, fun (and sometimes humorous) things for our dates really strengthens our marriage and adds a spark to our relationship.  I love seeing Jershon get excited about an idea.  I also love being reminded of some reasons that I fell in love with him in the first place.

This resolution was sparked because of the gift that I decided to give my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas a few weeks ago – “A Year of Dates”.  I sent them packets for planned/paid for dates for each month – one night out and one home date.  I have actually only sent them two so far (December – which was a little getaway for their anniversary) and January.  I will be sending their other packets at the end of the previous month.

As I was planning and preparing the date information and ideas for my brother and sister-in-law, Jershon was sneakily planning some of his own!  He ended up surprising me on our anniversary (which is a few days before Christmas) with a year of dates of our own!  He presented me with a calendar where he had written out a brief description for a date on every Friday for this entire year!   That’s 52 dates that have already been planned and are waiting for us. 🙂

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I was so happy that he had copied the gift that I gave to my brother and sister-in-law, but he made it even better because that guy definitely has the creative gene!  He can really think outside the box when it comes to date ideas so I’m glad he took the time to come up with a ton and plan them out so we don’t have to fall into the “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” rut again.

Some of these date ideas are long.  Some are short.  Some require some planning ahead to buy supplies.  Some are free.  Some require going out.  Some are home dates.  All are guaranteed to strengthen our marriage. 🙂

When he was researching ideas he found very few that appealed to him and were creative/unique enough.  So he just started brainstorming ideas of his own.  He came up with way more than the 52 that he needed for the calendar.  So he started a date ideas spreadsheet/database.

I don’t say all of this to brag.  Ok, who am I kidding… it’s hard not to brag about my husband.  He is amazing.  I can’t get enough of that guy. 🙂

But I do say all of this to emphasize how important dating your spouse is and how fun it can really be with a little thought and preparation.

Here is the list of dates that we will be doing this year…

A Year of Creative Dates:

  1. Make our own record player, buy some old records
  2. Play dungeons and dragons
  3. Dress up as ninjas and prowl campus
  4. Make a family handbook
  5. Knit a hat
  6. Watercolor painting
  7. Learn how to massage
  8. Make a lamp from something cool
  9. Yodeling
  10. Learn lock picking
  11. Learn Jiu-Jitsu
  12. Learn and practice photography principles
  13. Make jewelry
  14. Write our bucket list
  15. Make a fire without matches
  16. Learn to draw portraits
  17. Recreate dating/engagement pictures
  18. Make a clock out of something cool
  19. Wood carving, make a relief
  20. Buy and fly a drone
  21. Random secret Santa on a budget
  22. Plan our dream home
  23. Play a new 2 player board game
  24. Find a small mom and pop shop, make friends, buy stuff
  25. Learn CPR
  26. Make our own constellation, stargaze, and eat snacks
  27. Make a piñata
  28. Bookbinding
  29. Pinterest re-purpose project
  30. Do street magic
  31. Make wooden rings
  32. Rock balancing competition
  33. Home spa
  34. Gourmet cooking
  35. At-home photo shoot
  36. Learn to step, make video
  37. Bird watching
  38. Record a video for our posterity
  39. Visit someone lonely
  40. Learn calligraphy, lettering
  41. Prepare exotic cultural dish
  42. Watch an academic lecture online
  43. Wash someone’s car
  44. Bury some treasure, make treasure map for someone
  45. Learn to salsa
  46. Paper craft a deer head
  47. Rake leaves for someone
  48. Voice lessons online
  49. Balancing competition, coin stacking, card stacking
  50. Make a care package for someone
  51. Knife throwing
  52. Plan our dream vacation

Feel free to join us on this year of dates journey by copying these ideas or coming up with your own!

A Few More Dating Suggestions:

  • Dress to impress!  Ask yourself “Would I wear this if I were going on a date in college?”  
  • A good date with your spouse doesn’t have to be expensive.  Leaving the house isn’t always required either.  Planning ahead (leaving some room for spontaneity) and being creative are key.   
  • Have fun!  Be a good sport if you weren’t the one to plan the date.  You might be surprised by how much fun you end up having.  Like I said, if I’m not careful, I can miss out and keep myself from having fun by rejecting my husband’s date ideas.
  • Take pictures!  Enjoy keeping a record of your dates.  This is something we are trying to improve on.  
  • Turn regular nights into “date nights” (play a board game, just sit and chat, answer “newly wed game” questions, use a conversation jar, etc.)  
  • Make going to bed together a priority.  Pillow talk conversation time before falling asleep can be like a mini date every night.

11 thoughts on “A Year of Creative Dates: Thinking Outside the Box

  1. Haha! I love the picture that you chose to represent us with. Looks just like us! Thanks for letting me post on your blog. 🙂

  2. This list is so amazing and AND doesn’t even include my personal favorite stop motion video of theirs!! That they did for another date. It’s amazing.

  3. This is great! We just had our 3rd and need some new ideas for fun at-home dates while it’s not practical to go out and leave the kids yet.

  4. Wow, what a fun couple! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and watching their videos. My husband and I clearly need to have more fun together. 🙂

  5. What a great list of date ideas! I just heard about this from a comment someone made in Sunday School! Love it. Thanks for posting!

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