‘Tis the season for holiday date nights. With all the pressures and chores that the holiday season brings, it’s easy to put your marriage on the back burner. But the holiday season should be all about love. You and your husband or wife should be spending as much time together as possible. Savor the season by painting the town red...and green, rather than getting caught up in all the work. Remember, the holidays should be fun, especially as you are creating a family of your own. Here are some suggestions on what you can do together to get in the spirit of the season:
Get out your holiday decorations and go to town. If you celebrate Christmas, throw a tree trimming party for two, replete with all the ornaments you need, some hot chocolate (spike it if you’d like), and Christmas cookies. Beforehand, picking out the tree – or cutting it down if you’re into that – can make the date even more special. When the tree is done, get a picture of the two of you in front of it. And be sure to hang the mistletoe and kiss each other under it. If you celebrate another holiday, such as Chanukah, then decorate for that holiday and whip up some potato pancakes for your snack. The point is to get in the spirit of the season and prepare your home together.
Most cities and some towns offer carriage rides. The ones available for a tour of New York’s Central Park are probably the best known. There are few things more romantic than getting cozy under one of those velvet blankets while a horse pulls your carriage. If there’s a light snowfall, all the better. Those in warmer climates might also find places that make fake snow to set the ambiance during the holiday season.
Local theaters are always putting on holiday shows – from a concert to a live nativity. In New York, the Rockettes, in the Christmas Spectacular, are a must see. The Nutcracker is performed during this time of year in almost every town in the United States. There are many other options if you keep an eye on your local paper or Website. Many of them are free, especially tree and menorah lighting ceremonies, which often feature food and entertainment.
This is a tricky date night. If you are not smart about it, holiday shopping can turn into a fiasco. And you won’t have any fun at all. It could be more of a nightmare. To keep it romantic, go with a plan and stick to it. Don’t expect to make it a date night (or afternoon), if you go on Black Friday or Christmas Eve. Instead, go earlier in the day during the week, if you can, or at a time when there will be fewer people. You could also shop locally at a boutique, instead of heading to a giant mall. While you can cross off some people on your list or separate from one another to get each other’s gifts only to meet up later, you should make the trip more about spending time together and less about the gifts you have to pick up. Be sure to take a break from the shopping and relax together on a bench or share a treat, such as a warm pastry or ice cream.
Pictures with Santa
Many a mall or town plaza hosts Santa himself this time of year. Even though little kids are usually the ones in line waiting to chat with the big man, there’s no law saying adults can’t go too. You and your husband or wife can wait in line, take a picture, and even tell Santa what you’d like for Christmas this year. The photos might even make their way into your holiday card.
Spin the Dreidel
If you're not believers in Santa (or Christmas), then turn to your own childhood traditions for inspiration. For example, Jewish couples might enjoy spinning the dreidel just as they did when they were kids or indulging in some of those gold coins. Yum! The point is to delightfully pass the time together and see the holidays with child-like wonder.
Sing. Sing a song. Head out together or sign up for a group that plans to sing holiday tunes in your neighborhood. Even if you don't have the best singing voice, this can be fun. You could sing the songs out of tune on purpose or pick some of the more humorous seasonal songs, such as "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," "Dominick the Donkey," or "The Hanukkah Song." If you have the voices of angels, then go for it. Just be safe. Don't actually enter homes you don't know. And leave if the receiver of your caroling would rather you weren't there.
Get to Baking
There's nothing quite like the scent of vanilla baking in your oven. It's intoxicating and relaxing all at once. And cooking together can be all sorts of magical, sensual even. Kneading dough, brushing shoulders as you work together, the flour that is now adorably dotting your hubby's nose up the romance factor. Nothing says holidays to your belly more than Christmas cookies. Together, you could make double the batch, which sounds like a delicious date to me. And you don't have to feel limited to cookies. You could make other traditional recipes, such as turkey, ham, or apple pie. For recipes on almost anything you can imagine, check out the About.com Food page.
Random Act of Kindness
Work together to do something nice for a neighbor. A search on the Internet will uncover how some families are placing gift baskets on their neighbor's porches. You can prepare the gift basket together for your date. Some people do this anonymously, but I would suggest including a note about who this is from simply because I would likely throw away any gifts - especially ones featuring homemade food - that someone just left on my porch. There are a lot of crazies in this world, too. If that's not your thing, you can decide to clean up your elderly neighbor's yard together or deliver meals to those who can't get out.
Visit a House of Worship
Whatever your faith, attending a service at your house of worship during this time of year can be uplifting. It can also remind both of you of your higher purpose, the importance of your relationship, and the real reasons to celebrate (read: NOT the gifts you're exchanging). Some couples enjoy attending Mass or synagogue or mosque or whatever house of worship they attend together. This is also a nice activity for interfaith couples, who would like to support one another and attend each other's different houses of worship. In this instance, it's a cultural experience as much as a spiritual one.
Pick out your favorite holiday movies, cuddle together under a blanket on your couch, eat popcorn, and laugh and cry. Some good ones to consider watching are the original Miracle on 34th Street, Fred Clause, the Santa Claus, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol, Love Actually, Home Alone, and Scrooged. If you’re lucky, before the movie’s end, you’ll be making out like teenagers. Now, that’s a merry holiday!