We all have those hard-to-shop for people in our lives, and if your hard-to-shop people are anything like mine, they are typically our most loved people. Like my husband. I like to give meaningful gifts, not just another item for them to find a home for in their already overstuffed closet, so a couple years ago, I gave him 12 Months of Dates, and it was a huge hit!
I shared a couple of our dates HERE and HERE, but based on the questions I get on those posts, I decided to put together this post to show you How to Plan 12 Months of Dates, plus I made you a FREE PRINTABLE!!
HOW TO PLAN 12 MONTHS OF DATES
This gift shouldn’t just be reserved for Christmas. You can give 12 months of dates for anniversary gifts, birthday gifts, Valentine’s gifts, or just because you love somebody!
AND you don’t have to give 12 months of dates only to your spouse! You can give the gift of quality time to anybody – your kids, your parents, your best friend, your siblings… It’s such a versatile and meaningful gift idea that you want to give it again year after year!
PLAN YOUR MONTHLY DATE BUDGET
Before you plan your actual dates, you need to set a budget, because planning 12 monthly dates can quickly go off the rails.
#1 – Pre-paid dates or pay-as-you-go
You might choose to set a flat budget for the gift as a whole, then divide your budget across all 12 dates. The other option is to pay as you go. This is the route I took with my 12 months of dates.
Since I’m in charge of our household budget, I was able to work out a monthly allotment for each date, rather than using one big chunk of money right at Christmas. Plus, some of the dates I planned were things like sporting events, and tickets weren’t available for purchase in December.
#2 – Plan for at least one “splurge” or special occasion date
Not every date has to be some elaborate, expensive date to be meaningful, but I do recommend you build in at least one “splurge” date. So when you plan your budget, set aside a bigger chunk of your budget to this one super special date, and balance it out with a few cheap or free dates.
#3 – Decide if some dates will replace other gifts
This kind of goes hand in hand with #2 above. For example, our wedding anniversary is in April, so our April date is also our anniversary date.
You also need to decide if any of your monthly dates will double as birthday dates, or be wrapped up in vacations. Don’t feel like you have to plan dates AND all the other celebrations throughout your year. Just figure out how to make those celebrations extra special for the two of you.
#4 – Free dates can be epic
Remember, the 12 months of dates gift is meant to be a gift of quality time, so not all of your dates (or any of them, for that matter) need to cost a dime. When we get to the date ideas below, you’ll see that you can have a really sweet time together for no money at all, you just have to be a little creative!
HOW TO GIFT 12 MONTHS OF DATES
I’m a sucker for beautiful packaging, so of course I want to make sure that the most meaningful gift is as beautiful on the outside as it is special on the inside.
#1 – New Each Month or All At Once
Before you wrap your 12 months of dates gift, decide if you want your loved one to get a new date each month or if you want them to know what each date encompasses on the day you give them the gift.
There’s no right or wrong way to do it so it’s totally up to you! I gave Mark all of his dates as one gift, but he had to wait until the first of each new month to find out what each date was. I can honestly say, he was so excited to see the first of each month – it was like Christmas all year!
#2 – Monthly Letter & Envelopes
Gift each of your monthly dates in an envelope tied with ribbon, and include a sweet letter explaining your date idea. This is extra sweet if there is a bit of a back story to your date idea. You can tie up each individual envelope with twine or pretty ribbon, or tie up the stack of 12 envelopes as one big gift.
#3 – Memory Box or Memory Book
This is probably my favorite way to gift 12 Months of Dates. You’ll be making lots of memories on each of your monthly dates, so why not be prepared and gift a beautiful memory box of photo album with the set of pre-planned date ideas!
Grab an album and some cute cards (like the Project Life cards by Becky Higgins HERE). After each date, you can each write your memories on cards to add to the album along with all the photos you take.
CREATIVE MONTHLY DATE IDEAS
Alright, you’ve figured out who you’re giving 12 months of dates to, you’ve established your budget, and you’ve decided how you’ll gift them. Now it’s time to have some fun and plan the actual dates!
I’ve designed a gorgeous printable gift for you that includes over 60 fun date ideas, but I’ve decided to go more in-depth about a few of my favorites on that list here in this post.
FREE DATE IDEAS:
#1 – Visit Open House You Never Intent To Buy
Ok, pretty much everybody, including husbands (although secretly) are fans of Fixer Upper and other HGTV shows, right? Spend a day touring some open houses that are WAY out of your price range, just for fun! You might even get inspired by their design choices and start a new project in your own home! (Or you’ll make fun of some of the horrible design choices after you leave and have a funny story to talk about over dinner!)
#2 – Volunteer At An Animal Shelter or Pet Adoption
What’s cuter than a grown man going ga-ga over puppies?! This fun date is a win-win: you get to spend some one-on-one time with your loved one and you are doing something good! (And if you’re really lucky, you might come home with a new furry family member!)
If you’re gifting 12 Months of Dates to your child, this is a really fun date idea to do with them, plus it teaches them to think about someone other than themselves.
#3 – Teach Each Other Something New
My hubby plays guitar beautifully, and I always love it when I come home to the sound of him playing in the living room, but I can’t play at all. We each have a talent we can share, so spend a day learning from your loved one.
Just remember: this is meant to be fun, so practice patience with one another and don’t expect to master your newly acquired skill in a day!
SEASONAL DATE IDEAS:
#1 – Shop For and Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes
Operation Christmas Child is led by Samaritan’s Purse, and encourages people to pack shoeboxes full of small gifts for kids in poverty around the world. Spend a day shopping for shoebox items and packing those shoeboxes.
You could even make a game out of it, creating a scavenger hunt for certain items, or challenging each other to come up with the most gifts in a certain amount of time. Have fun with it, and enjoy giving back to someone in need. For more information on Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child, click HERE.
#2 – Attend a Local Festival
There’s a festival for every season, so find your nearest small town and check out their calendar of events (typically available on their Chamber of Commerce website). Have fun strolling the vendor booths, eating delicious food from food trucks, and maybe even doing a little shopping for one another!
EDUCATIONAL DATE IDEAS:
#1 – Take a Class Together
Whether it’s pottery, paint, cooking, or dancing, learning a new skill together can be so much fun! If you’re competitive, you can create a friendly wager to see who ends up with the best painting or food dish by the end of class. And you might find that you enjoy this new skill so much, lessons become part of your normal routine!
#2 – Taste & Tour
Brewery, distillery, and winery tours are a lot of fun because you get to sample the flavors, but you learn about the brewing, distillation, or wine making process, too. Most tours are guided by an expert in their field who walks you through the process, telling you about what each machine does, and the care that goes into their product. You end your tour with a tasting, and can take home a bottle or two to enjoy later and reminisce about your fun date!
TOURISTY DATE IDEAS:
#1 – Visit a Local Museum
My husband and I live just outside of Atlanta, GA, which is packed full of museums and tourist attractions. Yet as locals, we rarely make an effort to take advantage of being close to so many things to do! Last year, I took my husband to the Museum of Georgia History and Cyclorama, and we had a blast! He talked about going there as a kid on school field trips, and loved showing me around.
Whether it’s the zoo, the aquarium, an art museum, or history museum, be a tourist in your home town and enjoy the day exploring the city.
#2 – Take a Self-Guided City Tour
Create your own tour of your town. This could include places you used to go when you were a kid, or places that are special to the two of you, or just places you’ve always said you’d like to visit but never take the opportunity. Map out your tour and learn about each location together.
SPECIAL OCCASION DATE IDEAS:
It can be stressful thinking up 12 different dates, especially when you also have to come up with anniversary and birthday gift ideas, too. Instead, make your monthly date correspond with a special occasion, but make it extra special!
#1 – Take A Vacation
You don’t have to stay home for every date. Maybe you just need a quick weekend getaway to relax and refresh. Plan out a surprise trip for your loved one and make that your date for the month. Consider locations that you’ve never been to before so it’s something new for both of you.
#2 – Recreate Your First Date
This would be a great way to spend an anniversary! Think back to your very first date and try to recreate it as best as you can. If a restaurant is no longer in business, think about what meal you ordered and either make it at home, or find a restaurant who makes something similar. You could even have your hubby play along, ringing the doorbell to pick you up for your big date!
ANYTIME DATE IDEAS:
#1 – Progressive Dinner
You know all those restaurants you drive by and you say, “We should try that place some time,” but you never do? Create a progressive dinner, enjoying each part of your meal at a different restaurant – appetizers at one place, main course at another, and dessert at another. You’ll get to sample the faire and atmosphere at each place, and you might find a new favorite!
#2 – Redecorate Your Bedroom
Your bedroom is your love nest, but is often the most neglected space in the home. Spend a weekend redecorating and refreshing that space, and remember to let both of you have a decision in the process. You could refresh simply with brand new bedding and rearranging furniture, or go big with all new all paint, decor, and a few special pieces of furniture! Never framed your wedding pictures? This is a great time to create a gallery wall of your special day!
#3 – Pick Out a New Outfit for One Another
There are certain things that I wear that my husband just loves, like long maxi skirts and anything camo. (Hey, I married a Southern boy, what do you expect!) And I’m sure you love him in certain colors or clothing styles, right ladies?
Whether it’s from your own closet or a brand new outfit, choose a new outfit for one another then go out to dinner wearing whatever the other person chose for you. (Beware ladies: This one could backfire. My husband would find a pair of camo capri pants for me to wear << Ugh!) Whatever he chooses, be a good sport and wear it without complaining. He’ll enjoy seeing you in something he loves.
#4 – Do Good Deeds All Day
Set a budget, then spend an entire day doing good deeds for other people together. This might start with paying for the person in line behind you at Starbuck’s, then pumping someone’s gas for them, or simply saying a kind word. Doing good things for other people makes you feel better about yourself, and doing good things for other people as a couple will improve your relationship with one another, too!
DOWNLOAD THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO 12 MONTHS OF DATES
I created a 16 page freebie for you to use to plan your own 12 Months of Dates! Take a peek inside:
The cover is so pretty, and there’s a space at the top to write the name of your recipient, and your name. Then you’ll have a page to write “A Letter to My Love”, explaining your gift and telling your gift recipient how much you love them!
There are also 2 full pages of over 60 date ideas, some of which are detailed in this blog post!
Plus, I’ve designed 12 Monthly Date Pages, each with a beautiful header image and room for you to outline each monthly date.
AND IT’S FREE!
Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!