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    Between work, kids and all the other pressures of modern life, planning a date night can feel like moving mountains. Finding a time, a babysitter, and a nice outfit (plus the cash) can seem like just another "to-do" in your already jam-packed schedule. That said, it's essential to carve out some quality time with your partner, giving you both the chance to recharge and reconnect.


    Thankfully, all it takes is a little creativity to come up with a few at-home date night ideas that are fun, lower-stress alternatives to planning a big evening out. And, it's worth the effort: Studies show that couples who make time for date nights report stronger connections and greater overall happiness.


    "Couples who devote time specifically to dating one another at least once or twice a month are markedly more likely to report better relationship quality compared to couples who do not go on dates as often," notes a recent report from the National Marriage Project.


    Read on for a date night ideas list to fuel the romantic flames — all without leaving the house!


    1. Movie Night With Snacks

    It doesn't get more classic than movie night! Grab your fave blankets and cuddle up to a new release, or perhaps the first movie you saw together as a couple! Feeling fancy? Surprise your partner with a movie night charcuterie board.


    All you need is a large cutting board or platter, filled with a variety of munchies.  Arrange in small bowls or cups, or in sections on your board. Some fun choices that mix up the salty & sweet:



    2. Game On

    There's nothing like a little healthy competition to ignite that spark. If you're creating a date night ideas list, make sure to include some gameplay. Playing games together can highlight things about you and your partner that may get lost in the day-to-day, reminding each other how funny, smart, collaborative or competitive each of you can be. Or, it could simply give you an opportunity to have fun and be silly together!


    Work together as detectives to catch the killer with Unsolved Case Files, a game that includes realistic elements like newspaper clippings and crime scene photographs. For a bit of nostalgia, consider a classic board game like Yahtzee or Scrabble. Or, if you're looking to burn more energy, set up a more active game like Ladderball in the living room.


    3. Get Cozy in the Kitchen

    Channel your inner Gordon Ramsay or Giada De Laurentiis and whip up something delicious together. Cooking with the one you love is a multisensory experience, allowing you to enjoy good smells, flavors and your partner's company as you prepare and savor your creation together. After all, food is love!


    Make an easy gourmet snack by microwaving popcorn, drizzling melted chocolate chips over the top, and sprinkling in some chopped Kit Kat bars or pretzel sticks before mixing it all together.


    Wash it down with a quick date night cocktail:


    1. Simply mix kiwi-strawberry sparkling spring water with kiwi slices & strawberry slices
    2. Add 1 shot of vodka and ice
    3. Serve! And remember: Always drink responsibly!


    4. Backyard Bliss

    Time in nature is calming and restorative — plus, it allows you to be in the present moment together. In today's busy world, that can be hard to come by. For a more relaxing outdoor activity, get a couple camping or Adirondack chairs and look up at the stars above. Stargazing has long been a romantic staple, and for good reason.


    You can enjoy some "grown-up" and less messy s'mores by filling ice cream cones with chocolate-dipped marshmallows; wrap in foil and warm them by the fire. Or, simply enjoy the time together and the warm glow of a lantern or string lights. You can even add to the ambiance with a citronella candle to keep bugs away.


    5. Stoke the Flames

    Lastly, here's another item to add to your date night ideas list: dedicated time to just "be" with your partner, without the pressure of dinner, drinks and a late bedtime. Creating intentional opportunities to physically connect and remind one another what brought you together in the first place is essential to your long-term happiness as a couple. Want to get close, but maybe looking for a more low-key night? Give one another a massage using nourishing body oil. Massage has been shown to reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, and reduce anxiety, depression and stress hormones.


    Date night needn't be expensive — or even require real pants! These at-home date night ideas can nurture your relationship and help you to see your partner in a new light. With just a little creativity, you can connect and relax with your partner in the comfort of your own home — all while wearing your favorite sweats. What could be better?


    Written by: Jaime Budzienski