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43 Date-Night Ideas


WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

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REDBOOK's new book, 500 Great Dates, has tons of fun plans for you and your guy — no matter how much (or how little) time, money, or babysitter access you have!

You'd think by the time you're a couple, and possibly have a child or three under your belt, you'd be able to handle the intricacies of going out for the night with your man. After all, that was part of the allure of going from "me" to "we": You were finally able to leave the whole dating game and its so-called rules behind.

But dating for long-term couples comes with its own new his and her matching set of pressures, especially when kids are in the picture. You no longer have the time to make sure you have five minutes together without interruption, let alone set aside an entire evening to dote on each other. So when the stars are finally aligned — you've cleared your calendars, you've found someone not featured on America's Most Wanted to look after the kids — you want the evening to be perfect, which practically begs for a Murphy's law moment.

Don't sweat it. You can lay the foundation for lots of fun nights out (or in) by following these simple save the date guidelines. First, make sure that at least every other date gets you out of the house and away from your daily life. Second, be clear about who is doing what planning wise, or you may end up doing nothing. Finally, take turns organizing your dates. So what if he has no clue which restaurant got the best review? This isn't about planning the perfect evening; it's about having time with the person you love so you can rediscover, talk, laugh, and enjoy each other.

Here, 43 ways to do just that:

Dinner and a Movie, Done Better

Upgrade the Saturday night standard with these tips:

Turn your night into a mini-vacation by matching the menu to the movie: Kung fu action flick? Order some spicy noodles at your local Chinese restaurant. French film noir? Hit the nearest bistro. Italian family drama? Share a big bowl of spaghetti.

Choose a restaurant that has small tables, or ask to sit side by side, so you can't help but rub knees.

Try brunch and a matinee: Your neighborhood's fancier restaurants are way more affordable (and just as delicious) in the daytime hours.

Find a restaurant with a dance floor. Even if you've got less coordination than a Dancing With the Stars early round reject, you can still hold each other close and sway to the beat.

Laugh like a kid again at the latest G or PG-rated movie. "It makes me laugh to watch him giggling like some 7-year-old," says one woman who regularly goes to children's movies with her husband. "It reminds me of why I fell in love with him: his silly, fun side." Get enough animated fare in your daily life? Skip Shrek the Third and chuckle over the infectious goofy humor of whatever Farrelly brothers or Ben Stiller flick is on offer.

Create your own "drive-in" experience. If you have a laptop with a DVD drive, take it out with you. Rent or download a movie you never got around to seeing, order something simple at a dimly lit bistro, find a love seat to cuddle up in, and watch. Netflix's most popular DVD rental plan now lets users access movies (up to 18 hours' worth a month) from its "Instant Watching" library of 1,000 films, which can be zapped straight to a PC in seconds. Another option: For around $20 a month you can get software that will let you download a wide assortment of movies (check out cinemanow.com and movielink.com).

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