Having a Great Date Even on a Tight Budget

I’ve always thought that dating was part of the dance that built romance and love between two people. Men and women have been doing this dance since the dawn of time and I’ve seen the prospect and face of dating evolve from the more formal, demure musings of a man trying to sway the woman she desires to the more laid back, coffee dates that everyone seems to be into these days. Getting to know someone you like is really amazing, and I personally feel that it doesn’t matter how you ask or get asked out on the date, but it’s what the date entails that really matters. I prefer going on a memorable date that doesn’t necessarily mean the other person spending a small fortune to impress me.

I think that dating can be pretty tricky. It is not all about flowers and impressing your date with a whole bunch of extravagant gifts and gestures. Aside from the date itself, it naturally makes both parties identify and have various expectations in order for the date to be considered a success. I think that when it comes to dating, you should always keep an open mind because it won’t always be successful – you will find, as I have experienced that some of the best dates you will ever have might not necessarily start off on the wrong foot.

Of course when someone asks you on a date, its important to feel comfortable and relaxed around that person especially during the date proper. There are so many activities available and places to go to, which can be anything from a picnic in the park or a swanky dinner in a restaurant. I’ve noticed that going out on a date can be pretty expensive these days, and it doesn’t matter if you are the one asking or being asked; both parties spend a considerable amount of dough to prepare for that special fun day. But like what I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to spend a lot to be ready for your date.

What to Think About When Planning a Date

If someone asks you on a date, I think its important to reach out to that person and let them know about your interests and preferences so that both of you don’t end up having a horrible time. Dating these days are practical and straight forward, a guy won’t be put off if you tell them that you are vegetarian or that you prefer to go to a gluten-free restaurant. It’s better that he knows what he is in for and prepares to have an evening that is mutually enjoyable. I’ve made the mistake of not saying anything during a date and it has gotten me in some pretty silly situations. I understand that as women, we want to be wooed and its really nice if the guy takes the initiative to ask us about where we want to go and what we like for the date, but let’s face it 90 percent of men will never ask and will only do good if you guide them. Take advantage of the date to do something that you would enjoy personally.  This will help you be more relaxed around your date and will help lighten the atmosphere.

What Not to Do on a Date

Going on a first date with someone is always an awkward and nerve wrecking thing to experience, no matter how exciting and potentially fun it is. Since this is a getting-to-know you phase, there are things that should be best left to the imagination or maybe reserved for the 6th or 7th date. I personally think that you should observe dating etiquette on the first date since you are still trying to “feel out” your date’s persona and attitude. Play it safe so that your date doesn’t get the wrong impression about you.

I think that hand-holding on the first date is asking for trouble. You don’t want to start out really intense especially because holding hands puts that pressure of the date getting serious. You don’t know what’s going to happen after two or three dates so stick to a casual interlude and don’t act too needy or clingy. It doesn’t matter if you are dating a man or woman, no one likes a cling-wrap date who invades personal space.

I wouldn’t recommend talking about your ex. Its common decency, no one likes to listen about how your ex-beau hurt your feelings or how they used to do this and that for you. Frankly its pretty pathetic and a major turn off. The person you are on a date with will think that you aren’t over your ex and that you can be a pretty bitter lover. If the other person casually mentions their past relationship don’t play into the “overshare” and just nonchalantly address it without harboring any negativity or bad mouthing.

I don’t recommend getting plastered on your first date. You don’t want to reveal your alcoholic tendencies to the date of your dreams right away. Habits and booze binging is better reserved when you have been with the person for a while. Don’t use alcohol as a defense mechanism because chances are, if you get drunk you will end up saying something that you’ll regret in the long run.

What Presents to Give or Ask for

We live in the modern age where giving a gift to your date or asking for one isn’t construed as weird or imposing. Men and women are confident enough that they won’t feel dominated if you decide to give them a nice present, as not only does it convey your interest but it’s also thoughtful and sweet. The trick to gifting for your date or asking for a special treat is to not go overboard, you want to be perceived as thoughtful but not desperate. You don’t need to spend a fortune as well, keep your gifts casual and not too personal. I recommend going for something economical but not homemade, you don’t want to seem like a creepy hippie. I think anywhere from $3 to $8 should be sufficient.

Something sweet. I think that chocolates are a nice gift to receive or give, and they do not cost much. You can easily buy a box of 6 pieces of brownies at the mall or a small sized cake as a gift to your date. A box of brownies will cost about less than a hundred bucks while a small cake has a price range of about $5 to $10. Not only are sweet treats yummy, but your date will appreciate the extra effort. Of course if your date asked you out to dine at a restaurant, don’t buy them these sweet things, it will just spoil his/her appetite plus it seems weird that you are gifting them food when you’re already going to eat-out.

A simple bouquet. I think that asking or expecting flowers when going on a first date is a given for women, so men should have the initiative to be sweet and buy a dozen of something fragrant and cute. Personally, I prefer if my date doesn’t give me roses, but something more unique and thought of. In the old days, the flower that you sent to someone would convey how you feel about them. Of course there’s probably no guy in the planet these days who would know what it means when you send a woman pink lilacs, so the customization of a bouquet is enough to show your date that you think they’re extra special.

A CD of your favorite jam. I am not talking about the marmalade treat that your grandmother makes. Why not let the other person know about your musical interests and make a mix CD of your favorite tunes? A mix CD gives your date a glimpse of your taste in music as well as your personality. This is probably the most inexpensive but still meaningful gift that you can give to your date.

Things to Do and Places to Visit

I’ve gone out on fabulous dates that didn’t cost more than a thousand pesos. It’s true that you want your date to be a bit mysterious and the thought of a surprise romantic location sure is fun. But if you are the practical dater, I suggest working with your date on setting up the perfect and cost effective date so he doesn’t blow his budget and you have a memorable and fun time. If you are asking someone out, there are more than quite a few inexpensive locations where you can have a great first date.

The Movies. Thankfully, watching movies these days is still quite affordable. I have had a lot of first dates where my date took me to a movie theater. You can watch a nice movie with comfortable seats for as little as $5. Personally I’d prefer it if my date wasn’t completely cheap and would actually spend for reserved seating, which is only an additional $1 aside from the ticket price. If someone asks you on a movie date, don’t hesitate to tell them what movie genres you enjoy and what you hate.

The Arcade. Going on a date is all about fun. If your date is not so picky about where to spend the date at and is game for anything, it would be a great idea to relax and have a fun time at an arcade. Who wouldn’t enjoy a nostalgic time playing all those cool and fun video games right? I think that the atmosphere at the arcade won’t be so awkward and you will actually get to enjoy each other’s company.

Amusement Park. Another great place to spend a first date at is an amusement park. I had such a great time when my date took me to Star City. There were a lot of fun rides and booths that sold delightful souvenirs. What I like about theme parks is that it has the best of both worlds – you can ride all you want and there is everything from the nerve-racking caterpillar rides to the fun and whimsical tea pot.

Exhibits at a Gallery. I think that going on an artsy date is also a great romantic experience and is equally as fun as say, going to a theme park. Enjoying the local art scene will give you a better perspective of your date’s appreciation for the finer things in life, if any, as well as provide you with a more robust medium of conversation. There are a lot of places in the metro where you can go, such as museums and cultural centers.

Where to Dine

If you want to be practical and not spend a fortune on your date, then consider these dining options that are equally as satisfying but is less heavy on the wallet. Of course if you are the person being asked on a date, its best to have a more street-smart expectation so that your date doesn’t feel pressured to spend half their salary on fine dining. Its important to voice out your dining preferences as well, especially if you only eat certain types of food. A lot of people may think that restaurants with expensive prices and a high class atmosphere would be best for a first date but I beg to differ. These places can be quite uncomfortable and could make a date more awkward. If you truly want to get to know a person I think a date that’s set in a comfortable and inviting location is just the ticket.

The Food court at the mall. If you are planning a date wherein you would be watching a movie at the mall or simply playing video games at the arcade, the most practical place to grab a bite is at the mall’s food court. Yes it can be quite noisy and overcrowded but the good thing about eating here is that you get to choose from a wide variety of cuisine and the prices would range from $2 to $4 per meal which would really fit into your $10 to $20 budget. I think that chowing at the food court keeps things casual and light, no one will feel the pressure to ask for a salad fork or review for a four course meal.

Restaurants near various Universities. In my experience, local restaurants, especially ones near universities, offer budget prices without sacrificing taste and portion size. These places have to serve big and yummy to keep students coming back and the college atmosphere is enough to keep your date hip and interesting. Restaurants within close proximity to schools will naturally offer cheap prices and would be a great place to look for a place that fits your budget.

Chinatown in Binondo. Chinatown is known to sell food and other goods at cheaper prices so do what I do, and make your way there to enjoy some good food at really affordable prices. Many restaurants such as Wai Ying, Quick Snack and Eng Bee Tin provide an authentic Chinese cuisine experience at prices which cost less than $2.50 pesos per entree. In my experience it’s a great place to have a meal you’re your date because you can take a stroll to burn off the calories after, with a lot of specialty shops and flea markets in the vicinity.

Weekend Food Markets. I feel like these flea market type food stalls are the new craze when it comes to late night chow-downs and casual dinner dates. Prices range from $3 to $8 per meal, so a $20 date budget will definitely be more than enough.

Where to Go After Dining

I’ve had dates that extend well beyond the basic two course meal and an hour’s worth of getting to know you. Its natural to want an extension of your first date if things go well and you hit it off with the other person. For these moments, you don’t have to worry about your date extending their wallet capacity to cater to your extension requests. Take the initiative and suggest these meaningful yet affordable locations for that night cap.

Neighborhood park. After dinner, why not visit the neighborhood park or club house and spend a little time getting to know each other even further. A park is casual enough to make the other person open up while keeping things light and fun. You can opt to sit on the grass or take a leisurely stroll. I think that it’s important to let your date see you in a relaxed and truly laid back setting because it will be easier for them to open up and find more things you both may have in common.

Free concert at a bar. I’ve gone out on a date with the other person taking me to an open mic night and I thought it was interesting and unique. After dinner, one way to experience an inexpensive way to spend the evening with your date is to go to a bar or restaurant that has a live band. There are a lot of bars these days that have entertainment with drinks that are moderately priced. Enjoy the music, talk about your interests and be careful not to get plastered so you can keep a great first impression on your date.

At the end of the day, the important thing is that you have a lot of things in common and you both have a positive attitude about your first date. In my experience, the kind of date doesn’t really matter in the end – it was more of whether or not I found common interests with the other person and hit it off.