DC Winter Date Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 80)

i-give-you-my-heart-winter-wallpaperCatch Erika tonight at Adas Israel! Finding Your Beshert… Online Dating with founder of “A Little Nudge,” Erika Ettin

We’re in the thick of the holiday season.  There are Christmas trees adorning pretty much every office building in town, too many excuses to eat that extra slice of cake at the holiday party (dark chocolate is healthy, right?), and threats of snow that finally came to fruition this past weekend.

But the holiday season also brings with it a strain on our wallets.  We took advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals (I was way too excited about the 50% off at Wet Seal that I got!), and now we’ll likely do the same with the day-after-Christmas sales.  How about all the presents we have to get for our co-workers, family, and friends?  And then there are these prix fixe menus at many restaurants on major holidays.  And don’t forget all the gas money you’ll be spending if you’re driving out of town and the exorbitant flight prices at this time of year.

My goal here is certainly not to get you depressed.  It’s instead to share some cost-effective (and often free!) date ideas in the DC area that won’t break the bank this holiday season.

For the Dorothy Hamill or Brian Boitano types:
Take your date ice skating.  There are more ice skating rinks in the area than you would have guessed, including the ones at the Sculpture Garden, the Georgetown Waterfront, Pentagon City, Navy Yard, and Shaw, which I believe is opening later this month.  More information can be found here: http://redtri.com/ice-skating-rinks-in-dc/.

For the Padma Lakshmi or Tom Sietsema types:
One food-centric idea that one of my clients recently did with her new boyfriend (yay) was to go to the supermarket with only $20 in an attempt to make the best gourmet meal on a budget.  (They did a surprisingly good job!)  You could also enjoy a winter drink to keep you warm, like the salted caramel hot chocolate at Co Co. Sala in Chinatown.  Even better, if you’re a bourbon drinker like I am, they have a drink called the Wild Winter that has bourbon and spiked apple cider in it.  Yum.  (Maybe it’s a little more expensive, but I think it’s worth it.)  Poste also has a special winter cocktail menu that you can ask for at the bar.  Or, if you’re feeling like Derek Brown, one of DC’s best mixologists, then you can attempt to make some of these winter cocktail recipes together.  Even if they don’t come out as planned, at least you’ll have fun making them… or you’ll be too drunk to notice.

For the Angelina Jolie or George Clooney types:
No, I’m not telling you to write and direct your own screenplay!  I’m talking about volunteering together.  Many organizations have volunteer activities in the winter to help people in need, such as throwing holiday parties, wrapping gifts, or packing meals.  The DC JCC is a great place to start.  You can show each other your caring side.

For the Bill Nye or Bob Ross types:
We are so lucky to live in a place where so many museums are free.  Explore the planets at the Air & Space Museum, walk through the live butterfly room at the Museum of Natural History, or check out some work by the photographer Charles Marville at the National Gallery of Art.  (The National Gallery has a surprisingly nice food court, too.)  To make it even more exciting, you could design your own scavenger hunt before heading to the museum and then do it together.  I even found an app that thinks of the challenges for you!

For the Steve Urkel or Ben Stein types:
Go to Board Room or Thomas Foolery and get to know each other over a game of Don’t Break the Ice (remember that one?) or Battleship.  Go to Continental in Rosslyn and play a game of pool or their giant version of Connect Four.  Challenge each other to a game of ping pong at Comet in Van Ness.  Attend a trivia night to show off your Jeopardy-esque prowess.

For the Shaun White or Indiana Jones types:
While I’m not necessarily one to spend too much time out in the cold, I know there there are people who are, so I want to make sure we cover all of our bases.  You could take a walk along the Mall to see the monuments all lit up, go hiking in Great Falls, walk to a dog park and pet some of the pups, or take a ride out to Gravelly Point Park, bring a blanket and a picnic lunch, and watch the planes take off and land.  While you don’t necessarily have to spend any time outside for this one, take a drive (or a walk) through different neighborhoods to find the best, worst, and gaudiest Christmas lights/decorations.  Don’t forget to take pictures!

Just because you can’t bask in the sun at a Nats game or sit on the roof of El Centro, it doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have fun with your date… winter style.  Plus, who doesn’t like a pair of tall boots, right?  Enjoy… and button up.

erika ettin-49334smallErika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.