8 Socially-Distanced Winter Date Nights So Good, You Won’t Even Notice It’s Freezing

Short, dark days, frigid temperatures, chapped lips. Winter can be a tough time in the best years … and safe to say, most people would agree 2020 hasn’t been the best year. Add in the general existential dread and all the small stressors—like, say, reliving third grade math with your Zoom schooler—and it’s not exactly a prime time for heating up your relationship. But, it turns out, you can actually take advantage of this time at home with your partner to strengthen your bond, and have a little fun in the process. 

“Being shut in shouldn't [mean you’re] shut down,” says Suzann Pileggi Pawelski, who, with her husband Dr. James Pawelski, director of education in University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, wrote Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts. “It's really important to reach out to our loved one or significant other, and be intentional about how you want to spend these moments.” 

Suzann holds a masters degree in applied positive psychology, the study of what makes individuals and communities thrive – focusing on gratitude, savoring, resilience and mindfulness, or “the science of strengths” she explains.. “Research shows that those small moments of connection are much more important than the momentous.”

Comparing last year’s packed schedule of parties with this year’s couch-bound Hallmark binge “is a good way to frustrate ourselves,” says James. “What we can do is acknowledge this year is different, but there are new opportunities.” 

For instance: your schedule is filled with fewer obligations, so now there’s more availability to focus on connecting with your partner. You might ordinarily go for a big night out at a buzzy restaurant or a splashy getaway to reconnect, but this year, you can use your quiet time to focus on those “small moments” Suzann touts.

Below, find eight socially-distanced and safe – but still fun and engaging! – ideas to connect with your partner and savor the small moments this holiday season, and throughout the winter. 

Sing Holiday Songs with a Broadway Star

You’d ordinarily splurge on a show for the holidays, but that’s not an option this year – but you can still support the arts in a way that’s even more interactive. Several sites can connect you with Broadway stars: Tap into Airbnb’s series of online experiences to try things you’d never get to do pre-Covid, including belting out holiday classics with a Lion King baddie, or book a private session on Broadway Plus with pros who can help you perfect a holiday serenade for your sweetheart.

Pretend You’re in a Restaurant

Cook a restaurant-quality meal, guided by a professional chef. Deri Dari is a new platform that connects chefs with home cooks. You can sign up for a small class or get personal, step-by-step instruction on dishes from Mexican esquites to classic creme brulée. 

But if, like us, you spent the first few months of the pandemic making elaborate meals and endless loaves of sourdough and never want to turn your oven on again, let someone else cook. Elevate your typical takeout by ordering a splurge-y meal from one of your favorite fancy restaurants, or reminisce about your last vacation while feasting on their local cuisine. You can order hot chicken from Nashville, crab cakes from Maryland, or cupcakes from New York City’s Magnolia bakery via Goldbelly. 

Find Your Signature Cocktail

If you want to branch out from your usual glass of whatever red wine is currently on sale, book an online cocktail making class. Liquor Labs will send you the ingredients and tools to make a few elevated drinks, and an expert will take you through how to muddle, mix, and master each one. If cocktails don’t appeal, though, the company also organizes coffee, wine, or beer tastings.

Bundle up for Winter Sports

Snowshoeing, sledding, or cross country skiing will get your pulse racing. Or lace up your skates, hit the outdoor rink and channel your inner Johnny Weir. Most ice skating spots offer timed tickets, so together you can practice your triple axel. Or take wobbly laps while holding on to each other for dear life.

Go to a Concert

If your ideal pre-pandemic night out meant listening to live music, seek out the virtual version instead. Dua Lipa recently spearheaded a livestream special dubbed Studio 2054 that featured Miley Cyrus, Elton John, and other artists. (It broke records for its over 5 million global viewers.) Some major symphony orchestras are putting on live performances, like the Berlin Philharmonic, or the Philadelphia Orchestra, which is playing Favorites from the Nutcracker in December. Bonus: tickets are less expensive than they are for the IRL version, and the dress code is slightly more relaxed.

Take a Painting Class

For a more intimate paint and sip, buy a kit that comes with video instruction and all the supplies to create a masterpiece from home. A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology indicates that engaging in creative activities can boost overall feelings of well-being. 

Stage a Safe Movie Night

Many restaurants and event spaces have gotten creative and turned their parking lots into drive-in theaters. But if a Google search doesn’t turn up one near you, build your own theater-for-two with a projector and screen, then take it outside with a firepit, camp chairs, and a pile of cozy blankets. Don’t forget the snacks—like Scarlett Johansson’s salted caramel and chocolate hazelnut popcorn.

Engage in Some Friendly Competition

A little low-stakes competition between couples is shown to promote bonding and can even reignite passion, so turn off your phones and plan an old school game night. Pursue more than 800 games on Thirsty Dice, from classics like Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit to more delightfully obscure options. They’ll ship you one, plus walk you through how to play (and referee any, ahem, friendly disputes) when you reach out to their on-call “gametenders.”

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