SGR 021 | How to Have an Awesome Date Night in the Midst of Holiday Chaos
We know, the holidays are crazy.
But, you can’t put your relationship on the back burner!
It’s even more important now to carve out time for one another with a consistent date night. We talk a lot about Rituals of Connection - activities you do together with consistency that are enjoyable - and how they benefit your emotional bank account. Holiday stress, hectic schedules, and trying to manage it all can lead to more withdrawals than usual. Combat this with a pre-planned, weekly date!
We understand money is tight this time of year.
We know there is literally “no time.”
There are ways around this. We’ve come up with a list of our Top 10 Holiday Date Night Ideas that you can use with very little time and very little money. Be sure to download the PDF below and start working your way through our suggestions!
If you’re still wondering how you’re going to get it all done, check out this week’s episode. We’re talking about:
- What makes date night extra important during this time of year
- What makes it hard to be consistent
- The benefits of having a consistent date night
- How to prioritize date night when you have limited time
- What to focus on during date night to max out the benefits
- Quick and easy date night ideas for the holiday season
SGR 002 - Getting Back to the Honeymoon Phase - One Habit at a Time
SGR 003 - Creating More Pleasure in your Relationship
SGR 010 - Bringing Sexy Back
SGR 011 - MICRO REJECTION: THE SILENT RELATIONSHIP KILLER
SGR 019 - Fight-Proof Your Next Big Event
SGR 020 - Surviving Thanksgiving
Love Maps app
NY Times 36 questions
Short on time? Here’s a list of today’s topics and when to listen:
What makes date night extra important during this time of year - 3:28
What makes it hard to be consistent during the holidays - 5:13
The benefits of having a consistent date night - 9:40
Making deposits in your emotional bank account - 12:35
How to prioritize date night when you have limited time - 14:24
What to focus on during date night to max out the benefits - 18:51
Quick and easy date night ideas for the holiday season - 24:11
Meredith and Marina’s Takeaways - 27:45
Meredith: Hey there, and welcome to episode twenty one of the Simply Great Relationships podcast. We’re so glad you could join us. I’m Meredith Silversmith and this is Marina Voron. And today, we are talking about How to Have an Awesome Date Night in the Midst of Holiday Chaos.
Marina: That’s a good topic. I’m really excited about this one.
Meredith: Very important! So, we’re gonna be covering what makes date night extra important around this time of year, what makes it hard to be consistent with date night during the holidays, the benefits of having a consistent date night, how to prioritize date night when you have limited time…
Marina: That’s a good one.
Meredith: Yup! How to focus on date night to max out the benefits, so specifics on what to do, and quick and easy date night ideas for the holiday season. So, make sure you stay with us until the very end because we’ve got a very great bonus for you and we’ll tell you how to get it.
Marina: So, what makes date night extra important around this time of year specifically?
Meredith: That’s a good question! I think we know from previous episodes, specifically episode nineteen, Fight-Proof Your Next Big Event, and twenty, Surviving Thanksgiving, the holidays can be very triggering.
Marina: Yeah, exactly! A lot of emotionality, a lot of commitment, a lot of shuttling, transportation, who’s responsible for what, who’s picking up who. It’s a lot! It’s overwhelm, right? Things that are not so sexy.
Meredith: Yeah. Not much, not much to that.
Marina: Yeah. But the thing about date night is date night offers that time to reconnect, to support each other, almost to press refresh on all that chaos. I’m a big fan of date night, I’m an even bigger fan of date night when you’re dealing with something like the holidays because that’s when you extra need that refresh button. When you’re coasting and things are going well like a pro, date night is great but it’s almost like the function that date night serves around this time of year has so much positive impact.
Meredith: Mhmm. Absolutely! And the holidays can be overwhelming! There’s a lot of expectations, a lot of pressure, and you really have to make sure that you’re protecting that time where you and your partner can kinda duck away from all of that. Have a break, decompress, reconnect, it’s really, really beneficial.
Marina: Yeah. So, I guess the million dollar question is why does date night tend to fall off? What makes it hard to have a consistent date night during the holiday?
Meredith: Oh my gosh! I know, for me and Tom, our schedules just get so much busier around the holidays between family events and he’s got a very large family. So there’s always something going on. We don’t have to travel but I think that’s something you and George face around the holiday time.
Marina: Yeah! And I think with travel, there is a lot of expectation because we’re both traveling to the west coast that we’re completely immersed in 100% family time and there’s a little bit of guilt that comes with being like, “Sorry, we’re gonna take some time for ourselves when we’re only there for such a short time.” So I’d say maybe guilt plays into it a little bit if you’re traveling and you don’t get to see your family as often because they’re not local.
Meredith: Sure. Yeah. And then prep time especially if you’re hosting, or even if you’re not, just prepping. Prepping food, prepping gifts, shopping, cleaning, there’s so much extra tasks that get layered in around the holidays. So that definitely pulls on your free time.
Marina: Mhmm! There’s also a lot of family and social obligations, and I almost wanna put obligations in quotes because the reality is no one’s holding a gun to your head but it certainly feels that way sometimes.
Marina: A part of the overwhelm and the triggers that go with holidays is this sense of “I have to”, “I must”. There’s no flexibility, there’s no wiggle room. So just having that mentality of “this is an obligation. We have to do this.” is something that’s kind of confining, constricting, and can stand in the way of date night especially if you’re a couple that’s very routine where Friday night is date night and all of a sudden, no, Friday night is meal at aunt Suzy’s house, and you’re like…
Meredith: “What do we do?!”
Marina: Yeah! And that why I like even for really consistent couples, throwing all this other stuff into the mix can throw date night off.
Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely! And I think there’s a bit of pressure or a “supposed-to” belief about how the holidays being family-centric.
Meredith: So it’s sort of like “Well, this time of year, you have to shift your focus to your family outside of your relationship.” and everyone has a finite amount of time so by making that shift, you’re inherently losing some of your time as a couple and in your relationship. So it’s bound to happen.
Marina: Yeah. The other thing I think and this is what not a lot of people touch on or think about is finances. A lot of people, date night is going for a nice dinner or a movie. There’s a certain budget involved with it and around the holidays, it’s like “where did all my money go?”.
Marina: You have gifts if you’re hosting, that’s a big financial investment. If you’re just getting a cleaning lady because you don’t want to clean all day, that’s another financial investment. I find for us, a lot more expenses tend to come up and I feel like that’s almost an easy, I don’t want to use the word excuse, but almost like an easy out to say “Well, we’re budgeting so let’s put date night on the back burner” as opposed to, again, the “have to’s”.
Marina: The gifts, the hosting, whatever.
Meredith: Yeah! That’s a good point! And I mean that’s a choice, right? And we’re gonna give you some tips later on today about ways to do a budget-friendly date night that doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but…
Marina: Exactly! Because date night is about creating a feeling not about how much money you spend necessarily.
Meredith: Yeah. So let’s talk about the benefits because I think it’s really important to know why it’s so important to have a date night. You have to have a motivation, right, to keep it going. So, what do you think are some of the benefits of having a consistent date night?
Marina: My biggest one is the message that it sends to your relationship. Keeping a date night consistent, especially when you’re in a chaotic, busy, overwhelming time, sends that message that your relationship is important and your relationship comes first regardless of what external stuff life throws your way. And I think that is such a powerful message to internalize as a couple that “Regardless, we have this really, really great ritual of connection and this really consistent habit that enriches our relationship.”
Meredith: Yeah! That’s a great point. And it does, we’ve talked about this before with the emotional bank account concept that having a consistent date night buffers against external stress. And we know that the holidays tend to be a more stressful time period for everybody, so you need it even more than you would in the day to day. So it’s really important.
Marina: Yeah. And to add on to that, it give you an opportunity to check in. A date night is not always rose-colored glasses. Sometimes, it’s just about really taking that time to focus on your relationship and using that time to check in which is really, really important around this time especially if you know that either for you or for your partner or both, the holidays can be a really triggering time, a specific event you’ve committed to can be a really triggering time. It prevents these issues from compounding and then come February, you’re, “Well, that time in November….” or “That time in December, you didn’t check in with me and I was really hurting.” It prevents that and helps dissolve it and address it and give that support in the moment when it’s most valuable.
Meredith: Yeah! Definitely! That’s a benefit. And I think some questions to open that topic up with your partner is to sit down and say, “What’s going well right now?” Start with the positives; what’s going well in our relationship, what feels good to me, what feels good to you. And then to follow up in an effort to set it up to not be critical, to say “What could I have done better to support you?”. So inviting that feedback and asking your partner to let you know what you could have done better is a really positive way to open up a discussion.
Marina: Yeah, that’s a great one. Date nights also create a little room for some sexy time.
Marina: We talked about this in episode three, Creating More Pleasure in Your Relationship. I think couples that are good with being consistent with date night are also really good at being consistent with creating intimacy because I think a date night is a part of that intimate repertoire in a relationship and you don’t want your intimacy to fall off. That sucks!
Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely!
Marina: So a date night creates an opportunity to share some intimacy, to share some sexy time in a chaotic time.
Meredith: Yeah! And listen, you can go way back to episode three, creating more pleasure in your relationship. It’s a good one. There’s a really good freebie with that one so definitely check it out. We’ll put a link in the show notes below. And we did touch on this before. The added benefit is date night creates deposits in your emotional bank account and you always wanna be making deposits and especially, keeping in mind that during times of stress, there are going to be more withdrawals.
Meredith: So you wanna buffer against that as much as possible and this is a really simple way to do that.
Marina: Yeah. I love that you mentioned that you can prepare for more withdrawals.
Marina: You don’t just have to go into it and say, “We’ll deal with that when it comes.” You know you’re going into that time when there’s gonna be more withdrawals just because there’s a lot of stuff going on. How do we prepare for that? I think strong couples are strategic and this is a part of being strategic is knowing that there’s gonna be withdrawals. How do we counter balance that with really meaningful deposits? So, how do we prioritize date night when we’re in such a time crunch?
Meredith: One of my favorite! Scheduling! Scheduling it is really the first step! You have to do that! Really, it’s good to do that anyway. It’s hard to make something happen with consistency if you’re not scheduling it and planning ahead, but especially when it’s busy and it’s the holiday time, you have to schedule. You have to sit down with your calendar and say, “Okay, when are we gonna do this, how are we gonna do this, how long are we gonna spend?” and write it down!
Marina: I feel like whatever goes on the calendar is sacred and I think blocking out these chunks of time, George and I have really learned to do this especially when we’re going back for the holidays to Portland or to Vancouver, block out chunks of time that are just George and Marina time and they’re protected and if somebody says “Oh, let’s go do this!”, we say, “Sorry, we already have this planned.” And an extra tip and trick for people who travel back home and it’s far away and you feel like you have to be with your family, I always say make reservations ahead and say, “Sorry, we have a reservation. It took a really long time to get.”
Meredith: That’s a good tip!
Marina: Yeah. That’s our little trick that we resort to is we pick some places we want to check out and make all those reservations in advance and I feel like people respect reservations.
Meredith: Yeah! It’s very official!
Marina: Yeah. So we do that and that helps protect our time.
Meredith: That’s good!
Marina: Another one is think outside the box in terms of time. Usually, if you’re used to having date night Friday night or Saturday night, that might not be realistic during this time. There might be an office party, a friend’s party, a holiday that falls, and Friday night that just might not be feasible but going for breakfast and a coffee and a walk in the park or packing a little picnic if you’re somewhere warm or going somewhere indoors and spending time together on a Tuesday morning if you’re off, just as good! Date night is not defined by Friday night. So be flexible with time!
Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely! And time in that sense is “When in the week are we going to do it?”, and also being flexible with time duration, right? How long does date night have to be? It doesn’t have to be 3 hours to be a date night, you know. Think small, short, manageable, something that’s not gonna be super time consuming, it’s not gonna be a production. Sometimes they could be as small as going to, you know, maybe it’s not even a full full sit down dinner. Maybe it’s lunch. That can be a date night. It doesn’t have to be start to finish a five-course meal.
Marina: Mhmm! Yeah and I think to go with that, now is not the time to overcomplicate date night. Now is not where you’re gonna do the scavenger hunt in the city and the lunch and the play and the this and the that and the boat ride. That is lovely. Please do do that during more feasible time of the year, but now is not the time to overcomplicate. Keep it simple and focus, again, what’s the point of date night? The point of date night is to create a feeling. The feeling of connection, the feeling of intimacy, the feeling of support. Focus on creating that feeling. Almost workshop backwards, what will strategically give us this feeling in the shortest, easiest time possible?
Marina: As opposed to “how do we produce the best of ever?”.
Meredith: Right, right! Definitely being clear on what the intention is and it’s gonna be more, it’s gonna be easier to create that when you’re not thinking too big.
Meredith: That’s a good tip. So since we’re working with limited time and potentially limited resources, what are the most important things to focus on to max out the benefits of date night?
Marina: So my number one thing is... you’re focusing on each other. My number one thing, my biggest rule especially when it comes to time crunched date night is phones away.
Marina: Because the second the phone comes out, you’re robbing time away from your date night. You’re going into that micro-rejection that we talked about. I don’t remember the episode but we will put it in the show notes. But go back and listen to that episode. Those micro-rejections become not so micro when you’re time crunched and you’ve done all this planning to have a date night and then your partner whips out the phone. So I would say my absolute concrete rule here is phone’s away.
Meredith: Yeah! Definitely agree with that. And I think depending on how short your date night is, it’s okay to plan a bit what you wanna talk about. You don’t have to put this pressure on where “Okay, we’re having a 45-minute date night and we’re gonna sit there and stare at each other because we feel a bit like, okay, there’s time crunch. We wanna make the best out of this. What should we talk about?”. It’s okay to plan ahead! And there are some really cool things we can use! Marina and I love this app, it’s called the Love Maps app. You can download it definitely on iTunes. I don’t know if it’s available for android at the moment. I think it is! I feel like someone, one of my clients, have looked into that. But basically, it’s a list of questions and they’re questions that deepen your knowledge and understanding of your partner’s inner world and it’s really fun! So you just sort of flip through the questions and you sort of light-heartedly quiz each other like, “Who are my three best friends? What is my biggest struggle right now?”. It works. Stuff like that. That’s a really light directed way to facilitate conversation during date night.
Marina: Yeah! Another great one for people who don’t love apps is table topics. It gives you a physical, cute little box with a lot, I wanna say at least maybe a hundred different cards with questions. Same type of questions, really open-ended, facilitate nice conversation, a lot of them are like get to know your partner, some of them are sexy. I really like those. Another great one if you don’t wanna buy an app or a table topics box is, New York Times had this article. I feel like this was the most read article ever, with 36 questions that make you fall in love which was like a study they did about people who were just meeting, and if they answered these 36 questions with each other, they were like lead to fall in love but I’ve used it with couples, I’ve used it with George. Some of the questions are so lovely and you probably haven’t asked them in such a long time that it’s just so great to go through them. I’m a big fan of those.
Meredith: Yeah! That’s a great suggestion. And a good use of your time during date night as Marina referenced before is to get it back to a little bit of sexy time so reminiscing about the good old sexy days, right? And we talked about this in episode ten, Bringing Sexy Back, talking about past experiences you’ve had, reminiscing, you know. Sort of bringing those memories back to the forefront and letting them work their magic.
Marina: Mhmm! I also think incorporating physical touch, so like sitting close together, showing some physical affection, six second kiss, hugs, however PG or XXX, you wanna make it, but focusing on sharing that physical touch because again, that might be a bit by the way side and it also what I find, and tell me if you see this also, holidays, there’s a lot of hugging relatives that you haven’t hugged in a while and for some people, that maybe a little awkward. And it’s almost like when we do that, we become a little touch reclusive and touch avoided and sometimes that translates into our relationship and that’s a really good thing to very consciously counteract.
Meredith: Yeah! That’s a great point! Yeah, there’s a lot of hugging. A lot of hugging, a lot of kissing, hello, goodbye.
Meredith: And again, setting apart your relationship from that. This isn’t just another “relative” that you’re greeting and saying goodbye to. This is your partner, this is your most important person. So that’s important.
Meredith: What do you think are some good quick and easy date night suggestions for the holidays?
Marina: So this is one from the book of Marina and George. This is our favorite date night activity - we love a walk and wine. We love to just set some time, have some wine, go for a nice long walk, talk, explore, especially when we’re away. Portland and Vancouver, they change so quickly so every time we’re there, there’s like a hundred new things. So we like walk and explore. So we’re sharing a new experience together and it’s not pressured, it’s not about spending money, it’s not about having dinner, it’s about taking a walk which is really nice, we hold hands, we have great conversation and it feels like a really great “Us” time. So walk and wine.
Meredith: That sounds fun! Tom and I really like the breakfast date.
Meredith: We like breakfast food a lot so that helps. You know, we’re big brunchers or probably on the earlier end of what would be considered brunch at this point, but yeah! Just going out for breakfast or even staying home for breakfast. You don’t even have to go out but just to set that we’re gonna have breakfast together and we’re gonna make it a nice experience. So we might cook something out of the ordinary, a little more involved, we’ll sit together at the table and play music, we’ll talk. That’s a really nice way to start the day in general but especially when you set it aside as a date, it’s really enjoyable!
Marina: Yup! If you exercise, I find it’s always interesting to me how people are so good at staying committed to their workout routine, but maybe not so good at staying with their couple’s rituals and couple’s routines. But incorporating your partner into your workout routine. So doing a couple’s yoga or a couple’s workout class or even just going to the gym together and going to the gym together, working out together, not being separate like, “I’ll go do my zumba class, you go lift weights.” but like going through circuits together and doing some cardio together and doing some partner exercises together is kind of a fun date day/date night. George and I have done it and we’ve had a good time doing it, you know, doing couple’s stretches. A lot of touch incorporated in those.
Meredith: Yeah! I think that’s a great thing and then if you are under a time crunch, you’re integrating date night into something that you’re already gonna be doing. So it’s even easier!
Meredith: I think that’s a great suggestion. We put together something for you this week that I think is gonna be really helpful. We’ve created a list of our top ten holiday date night ideas for you so you don’t even have to sit down and try to think of things. You can just pull this list, pick the ones you like and put them into practice because you know we don’t want you to just listen. We you to listen and integrate this into your relationship. So be sure to download this list. You can get it at www.simplygreatrelationships.com/021.
Marina: So, let’s talk about takeaways.
Meredith: Let’s talk about takeaways. Oh my goodness! My biggest takeaway. I think something I think about before is the increased amount of touch that you’re having during the holidays by saying hello and goodbye to everybody. Tom’s got a big Italian family so there’s a lot of hugging and kissing a lot of people. So that’s a really good point to kind of clearly and consciously separate out your partner and making sure you’re devoting that time to your type of touch. That it’s more intimate, more affectionate, to try to keep that separate and apart from the generic greetings that are going on.
Meredith: That’s a good one.
Marina: My big one is nothing new but schedule, schedule, schedule. Like you said, the scheduling is really important. Everybody is… nobody’s schedule is completely fully blocked. Our schedules are more like squeezed cheese and you wanna find those holes and then protect them and really, if you take the five minutes to do that, those five minutes will pay off beyond. So just knowing that that tiny investment in going over your schedule can have such big reward. I just love that concept.
Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely!
Marina: So that’s my big takeaway.
Meredith: Those are good ones! So that’s all for today! That was a lot!
Meredith: I feel like that was a lot! We hope you take these tips and start using them right away. Be sure to download the bonus. We’d love for you to continue the conversation with us in our Facebook group where we’ll hook you up with tips, tricks and live streams exclusively for our members. You can find the group at www.facebook.com/groups/simplygreatrelationships or you can click the link on our website www.simplygreatrelationships.com. So good luck implementing your date night! We’d love to hear about it! And until next week!
Marina and Meredith: Bye!