Though the weather outside is frightful, winter romance can be especially delightful.
There's a reason that some of the most beloved romantic movies are set in the winter — just look at 'Love Actually' and 'The Holiday'. There's just something about those cold days and long nights that inspires people to look for love. After all, chilly weather provides the perfect excuse to snuggle.
Whether you're willing to brave frigid temperatures or prefer to settle in by the fire at home, winter is the perfect time to fan the flames of romance.
With the right person by your side, even the iciest ventures will warm your heart. Take in the winter sights on a snowy stroll (or drive), or bring back childhood memories and play in the snow together.
Get into the seasonal spirit with holiday-themed activities like decorating a gingerbread house and strolling through light displays.
If the weather gets a little too frosty for your taste, cultivate a cozy vibe by playing board games or baking sweet treats at home.
From budget dates to big-ticket outings, winter provides a multitude of romantic opportunities, and TODAY.com spoke with relationship experts to round up the best of the best winter date ideas out there.
Strike up a spark even on the coldest days with these winter date ideas.
Plan a weekend getaway
If this is far from a first date, why not extend it with some travel? While many trips involve jetting off to a warm and sunny locale, there’s just something so romantic about cozying up in the cold.
Barbie Adler, the founder of Selective Search, a matchmaking company that works with business executives and celebrities, recommends going to a ski resort or cabin where you can “take a break from the holiday hustle and create new memories and traditions of your own as a couple.” Picture it: After a day of frolicking through the snow, you grab your partner for a cuddle by the fire as you sip warm drinks under a lush blanket.
Host a game night
Up for a round of ping pong? Visit an indoor game center for a night of friendly competition. “Remember that a date should feel fun, not like a job interview,” Logan Ury, Hinge’s director of relationship science, tells TODAY.com. “Plan a date that allows you to relax and show off your playful side. The goal is to laugh, which causes our brains to release the bonding hormone oxytocin, which increases our sense of connection to our date.”?
Play in the snow
Take a cue from "Frozen" and ask your partner if they want to build a snowman. Having fun in the snow is a great way to connect with your partner and recreate some of the winter season's childhood whimsy. You could even get creative and try to sculpt each other or your pets out of snow. And remember: you're never too old to have a snowball fight.
Create a new holiday tradition
Everyone goes into the holidays with at least one tradition they’ve held on to over the years. While it can be great to share said tradition with your partner, the holidays serve as an excuse to start your own traditions together. “Creating a special date or ritual provides shared memories and gives you both something to look forward to each holiday,” Adler says.
Try a holiday-themed cooking class
The holidays are all about food, so what better time to learn some new culinary skills? "Whether it’s cookies, cocktails or mastering beef Wellington, taking a class together to make something delicious is a fun shared experience and one that can be used in the future,” Adler says. Plus, it provides you with culinary skills to use on future dates together.?
Have an at-home spa day
With a little inspiration, you can create a luxury spa experience in the comfort of your own home. You and your partner can take turns giving each other relaxing massages, or you can both chill out on the couch and apply face masks (with classic cucumber eye patches, of course). Light some candles, shrug on a robe, and you'll soon forget that you aren't actually at a five-star spa.
Visit a bookstore or library
Some of the world's greatest romances can be found within the pages of a book. Browse the shelves together and pick out a book for each other to read. Afterward, get cozy at home in front of the fire and curl up for a prolonged reading session.
Take turns playing songs
There is something undeniably intimate about playing someone your favorite songs. Lisa Concepcion, a certified love life strategist, dating and relationship expert, and founder of LoveQuest Coaching, recommends alternating playlists on a date, especially if you’re generally shy to share things about yourself. Do you have a specific memory attached to a tune? Does a certain song remind you of your meet-cute? Press play and crank up the volume.
Visit your local holiday market
A simple stroll through a local holiday market is perfect for any couple — new or otherwise. Nancy Ruth Deen, a former matchmaker and relationship expert, says it's an excellent option for people who don’t drink alcohol, anyone looking for an inexpensive date (as long as you don’t pick up too many tchotchkes!) or someone looking for an easy out if their date goes poorly.?
Have a bake-off
Sweeten things up — literally — by challenging each other to a bake-off. “See who can make the best cookies or pies,” Jessica Alderson, co-founder and relationship expert at So Syncd, a dating app matching people by personality type, tells TODAY.com. “Plus, you’ll get to eat some tasty treats at the end.” It’s a win from start to finish.
Build a gingerbread house together
If want something more specific to the season, decorate a gingerbread house together. “This is a great way to get creative and have some festive fun,” Alderson says. Whether you design it together or each take a side, this activity is a lighthearted way to stir up some competition and ultimately, grow closer as a team. Plus, you get to eat some gingerbread along the way.?
Go on a winter scavenger hunt
Planning a cold-weather scavenger hunt is an excuse to take in the winter sights in your neighborhood. Search for classic winter staples like snowmen or deer tracks in the fresh flurries. Take home a couple small souvenirs like pinecones or maple leaves, or you can bring a camera to document your most picturesque findings.
Shake up some fancy mocktails
Why brave the cold when you could enjoy an elevated drinks experience at home? Stir up a fun menu of your favorite cocktails or mocktails, and take turns trying each other's libations. You and your partner can even create a few new concoctions together and name them after your favorite inside jokes.
Volunteer your time
Winter can be challenging for many people, which is why Adler suggests spending your time helping others by working at a local charity kitchen or taking part in a toy or food drive.
“Giving back to the community while spending time with your partner allows you to have the shared experience of doing something good together,” she says. “Not only will you be able to learn more about each other, but you will both have accomplished something meaningful together.”
Shop for holiday gifts together
Why not make your shopping run into an impromptu date night? If you're in a newer relationship, a shopping date is a great opportunity to learn more about your partner's taste and discuss the people they're shopping for. Want to go all out? "Make the day memorable by stopping for an upscale lunch or ending the day with seasonal cocktails in a festive holiday setting," Adler says.
Take in the holiday lights
There's something romantic about strolling — or driving — through lights with your beau. “Cuddle up together while taking in some amazing Christmas displays,” Alderson says. Whip up some hot chocolate beforehand so you can keep warm on your adventure.
Have a 'no phones or tech night'
Getting rid of all technology may not sound like a fun date night, but hear us out. “The evening can be anytime you choose, with an emphasis on growing together and learning more about the other person," Adler says. Plan something fun to do, whether it's a spa date, game night or at-home wine tasting. Putting away any and all distractions will help to maintain and grow your connection.
Laurel House, a relationship expert at eharmony, recommends heading outside for a day of sledding. Take a moment to discover your inner child together and sled down nearby hills. To feel even closer in your outdoor endeavor, hop on the same sled or share a toboggan.
Visit a museum
Get out of the cold and spark deeper conversations at a local museum. You can take turns showing each other your favorite artwork, or simply hold hands as you peruse the gallery. Find a portrait that bears a resemblance to your partner, or count the number of dogs you spot in paintings.
Take an exercise class
When it's too chilly for a morning jog, switch it up with an indoor exercise activity like hot yoga or cycling. You can try each others' go-to workout routine, or learn a new exercise method together.
Attend a holiday ballet or musical performance
Get into the seasonal spirit by going to a winter performance, whether it be a local product of The Nutcracker of a concert. “The holidays are a time rich with arts, music, and theater, so take advantage of all that is available and enjoy a luxurious evening with your partner,” Adler says. If you don’t have one in mind, pick a random show playing that night since often, day-of tickets are often discounted.
Go ice skating
Pretend you’re in "Serendipity" — minus the part where you struggle to find the love of your life years after first meeting them — and go ice skating. “You don’t have to be a pro to ice skate — it’s a cute way to try something new and have some laughs,” Deen says. Lacking some balance on the ice? Just hold on to your date, of course.?
Have dinner together (but apart)
If you’re not in the same place as your partner, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a nice meal together. “Cook dinner for yourselves or order food and eat together via video,” Concepcion says. “It’s a fun way to keep communication flowing in an environment that you both are most comfortable in.” While you eat, turn on some holiday music or watch a movie together for extra merriment.?
Cut down your very own Christmas tree
One of the most wholesome traditions of the winter season is getting a Christmas tree. Even if you don't live together, you can help the other person pick out a true Tannenbaum. “Go drive out to the actual Christmas tree farm, choose your tree and cut it down,” Chris Rabanera, LMFT, and founder of The Base EQ, tells TODAY.com. Want to extend the date? Hang lights, drape tinsel and dress it up with some ornaments.
Go for a drive
If it's too cold for a stroll, then take in nature from the comfort and warmth of your car. Go for a drive on a sunny day — you know, when the snow is glistening and the world looks magical, suggests Concepcion. See where the roads take you or head to a viewpoint you've always wanted to look at. Either way, it’s a clever way to spend time together “outside” without, ya know, actually being outside.
Attend a paint and sip class
Pick up a paintbrush and a wine glass, suggests House. You never know how you'll walk away feeling after a first date, so at the very least, you'll have a small souvenir (and perhaps, a little buzz) to bring home with you on the cold winter night.?
Have an indoor picnic á la 'The Notebook'
There are few things as simple and romantic as an indoor picnic. Set up candles and blankets in the bedroom or living room, suggests House. Add in a spread of your favorite foods and your special someone, and you're in for a cozy date night to remember.