Did you resolve to save money this year? With news of impending tax increases, many individuals and couples have been thinking about how to live more frugally. While saving money isn’t always a ton of fun, it doesn’t have to mean resigning yourselves to evenings of watching reruns and eating ramen noodles. While it might seem that your date night options are pretty limited when you’re on a budget (especially in winter), there are plenty of fun dates that cost little or nothing, allowing you to keep your resolution to save, whether you’re trying to stow away some cash for a rainy day or have enough to buy that perfect 1 carat diamond ring. Here are six ideas to get you started:
Go to a play or concert at a local college. Many colleges and universities regularly make a wide range of plays and concerts available to the public for just a fraction of what you’d pay at a professional theater. And, you just might see a star of tomorrow.
Pack a picnic. Even if you live in an area where it’s too cold to eat outside, you can still plan a romantic picnic. Try eating by the fireplace if you have one, or simply set up candles and a blanket on the floor. The food doesn’t have to be fancy—it’s about the experience! If you have access to an outdoor fireplace, try making camping classics like hobo packets and s’mores.
Take advantage of the library. Chances are, your local library allows you to check out more than just books. Most of them also loan out vast collections of movies, allowing you to share a few flicks without spending a cent. In addition, some libraries allow you to borrow passes to local museums and other attractions, allowing you to get in for free or just a few dollars.
Break out the board games. When was the last time you played Scrabble with a board and pieces rather than on your phone? Spend an afternoon or evening playing the games that likely inspired your favorite ways to kill time on a screen.
Get active together. Whether you resolved to get in shape in the new year or you’re a regular at the gym, getting active together can be a healthy date activity for both your body and your relationship. Try a new sport, take a dance class at a community center (or just go dancing), go roller skating or bowling or even play an active video game.
Cook up some fun. Eating in is almost always cheaper than going out and it almost always generates more memories. While it’s romantic to cook for the one you love, why not try whipping up dinner together? Try making homemade pizza or tackle a new recipe.
Don’t let a budget stunt your dating life! Try one of these date on a dime ideas to give your relationship a boost and still have cash left over for a gemstone ring—or a honeymoon.
Tis the season for resolutions! This year, instead of resolving to get in shape, save more money or get organized, why not make a resolution that will improve your relationship with your significant other?
Many New Year’s resolutions fall flat by Valentine’s Day, and often, it’s because they’re too vague or too lofty. However, there is a way to make a resolution that you’re likely to keep. We’re far more likely to follow through when a goal is attainable and broken down into small steps, and by setting the right goal, you can set yourself up for success.
Each of the goals to follow is actually a part of a larger goal: improving your relationship. Unlike resolutions to lose 25 pounds or run a marathon, you can fulfill any of these resolutions today. They’re measurable, doable steps that add up over time to help your relationship grow stronger.
I will give compliments. Some experts say that it takes as many as 20 bits of positive feedback to outweigh a single bit of criticism, and when that criticism comes from someone you love, it can be even more impactful. That isn’t to say that you should never offer constructive feedback, but be aware of the power of your words. Consider starting with the goal of offering at least one compliment a day and going from there. Just be sure to make your compliments sincere and thoughtful—otherwise they lose their meaning. Like a diamond pendant that is always complementary, words that build up the one you love bring out the best in that person.
I will be honest. They say that honestly is always the best policy, and it’s true. Honestly is essential to trust, and trust is essential to any lasting relationship. Sometimes being honest isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it’s worth it in the long run. Resolve to speak the truth in love, even when it would be easier to tell a lie.
I will say thank you. Saying thanks is a key component of a healthy relationship. It lets the other person know that they are appreciated and it helps you cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Strive to say thank you five times a day—whether for something your partner does (like take out the trash) or something he or she is (such as a good listener). Or, if you’d really like to say thank you, consider doing it with a piece of jewelry, such as a garnet ring.
I will speak well of the one I love. It’s easy to gripe to friends about all of the little things that irk you about your significant other; however, spending too much time complaining not only casts your partner in a bad light, but also changes your perception of him or her, making you more likely to notice (and be bothered by) all of those little quirks.
While building a strong relationship is a lofty goal, it’s reached by small, everyday steps such as these. Try one of these resolutions to take one step at a time.
Whether you’ve been dating for a few months, are planning your wedding or have been married for years, the Christmas season can easily become a time of year when you see less of each other. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with shopping, wrapping gifts and enjoying the festivities, these things can all cut into your couple time. Staying connected throughout the holidays often takes a little extra effort, but it’s always worth it.
If you’re planning a wedding on top of enjoying the holiday, you’re probably even busier, but it’s important to take time away from the whirlwind of seating charts and diamond engagement rings to spend some quality time together. It’s unlikely that you’ll look back on this Christmas season and wish that you had baked another batch of cookies or attended a particular party, but if you don’t spend time with the one you love most, you’re likely to regret it.
In “The Purpose-Driven Life,” Rick Warren writes,
Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.
It is not enough to just say relationships are important; we must prove it by investing time in them. Words alone are worthless. “My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.” Relationships take time and effort, and the best way to spell love is “T-I-M-E.”
In other words, the best way to show another person that we love them is by giving them our time. This statement of love becomes even stronger when there any many things competing for our time and energy. By putting the one that you love first, you demonstrate that they are more important than anything on your to-do list.
While intentionally spending time with one another is important in any stage of a relationship, it can be especially critical if your white gold engagement ring hasn’t been on your finger very long. Engagement is a time to not only prepare for a wedding, but also to prepare for marriage, and everything you do during this time helps to establish the habits you’ll keep as a married couple.
So, how do you carve out some time just for the two of you? First, you need to make it a priority. Writing together time on your calendar may not seem very romantic, but by putting it on your schedule, you’re more likely to follow through. Second, you may need to say no to a few things that won’t really matter in a month or two.
Time is at a premium at Christmas, which makes it even more precious. Don’t miss this chance to give the one your love such a valuable gift.
Has the busyness of the Christmas season taken a bite out of your time with the person you care about the most? December is often packed with commitments and extra responsibilities, and while many of these activities are fun, they can cut into the quality time you spend with that special someone.
Planning a Christmas date allows you to reconnect and enjoy the season together rather than rushing from one thing to the next. Put one of these date night ideas on your calendar to ensure that you get some quality time together this December. You may even start a new tradition!
Tour the holiday lights. While there are plenty of light displays that you can drive through for a fee, there’s a good chance that there’s a brightly-decorated neighborhood nearby that you can enjoy for free. If weather permits, view the lights on foot—there are few things more romantic than walking hand in hand down sparkling streets! If not, fill a thermos with hot chocolate and take a self-guided driving tour.
Get baking. Few things get you in a festive mood quite like baking Christmas cookies can. If you’re not big on measuring and mixing, pick up a package of prepared cookie dough and break out the red and green sprinkles—just be sure to remove any diamond rings before you get your hands in the dough. After your creations cool, consider delivering them to friends and family together or a taking a tray or two to a deserving organization in your community.
Go sledding. It’s hard to feel stressed about your holiday to-do list when you’re flying down a snowy hill with the one you love. Find a toboggan or another sizeable sled so that you can ride together and get ready for a lot of laughs (and maybe a few screams). Once you get tired of trudging back up the hill, have a snowball fight or head to your favorite coffee shop for a warming drink.
Construct a gingerbread house. Getting creative together is a great way to bond, and it can be a ton of fun! If you’re feeling ambitious, bake your own gingerbread; if not, build your house out of graham crackers and purchased icing. (You can even use a small cardboard box to give your house stability.) Decorating your house together allows you to fuse your personal styles and then admire what you’ve created by working together.
Plan a fireside picnic. Christmas is the perfect time for a picnic by the fireplace. Spread a blanket nearby and enjoy a leisurely meal as you watch the flames dance. (Or, if you don’t have a fireplace, eat by the Christmas tree.)The food doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy—try fruit, cheese and bread or purchased fondue and dippers. If you have a gift of romantic jewelry up your sleeve, consider presenting it when you finish eating to cap off an evening that won’t soon be forgotten.
Don’t let the season go by without spending some quality time with the one you love most! Try one of these date ideas to reconnect and create a Christmas memory.
If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then her engagement ring must be her soulmate (besides her future mate, of course). Therefore, it’s imperative that the ring she’ll rock for the rest of her life be something that is sensible, yet fits her personality and style. Today’s engagement rings are no longer confined to a simple cluster of diamonds attached to a gold band. Look at the left fingers of modern brides-to-be, and you’ll notice a variety of cuts, settings, and stones. So how do you know what ring will make her say “I do”? Check out the latest engagement ring trends that’ll guarantee your proposal gets a yes.
The traditional, solitaire diamond is a thing of the past. Since “Big” presented Carrie with a black diamond in Sex in the City 2 and Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with his mother’s sapphire engagement ring, colored diamonds and stones have become a major trend among the fashion-forward. Try a ring with the bride-to-be’s birth stone or, if you have the money to spare, make her feel like Heidi Klum with a luxurious canary diamond.
Set It Off
The second most significant aspect of an engagement ring is the setting. Although the stone or diamond is the actual focal point of the engagement ring, the setting is like a singer’s backup vocalistsit pronounces the jewel and makes it the focal point of the ring. Settings such as the double halo or bezel set are more contemporary and give the illusion of a much larger solitaire or flaunt the band. Often you can view a range of settings for engagement rings online to get a sense of the different setting styles and designs.
Making the Cut
Finding the ideal shape, or cut, for the ring’s stone is another important factor in choosing an engagement ring. Not everyone can afford, or desires, a huge diamond, and many of the current engagement ring trends include simple, yet elegant cuts. Some of the most popular cuts are vintage-inspired classics, such as the emerald or cushion cuts. Other traditional cuts like the oval may appear to be simple as a solitaire; however, pairing a conventional cut with a unique setting, such as the east-west setting, can make it more modern. If you’re feeling really adventurous, or your future wife has an unparalleled sense of style, you may want to try an asscher cut, which is a trendy, and affordable, variation of the common princess cut.
Are you planning a proposal this Christmas? If so, why not take advantage of the traditions of the season and pop the question in a unique way that will give every Christmas to come an extra touch of romance? Try of these proposal ideas to present the ring—and your request—in a way that she’ll recount over and over with a gleam in her eye.
Write it on a cookie. Christmas cookies are everywhere throughout the month of December, giving you plenty of opportunities to pop the question. Write “Will you marry me?” on a cookie or series of cookies with icing or a food coloring marker and plan to present a very sweet surprise. Or, if you’re not confident in your cookie-decorating skills, tie a note, or even the ring, to one of cookies.
Hang it on the tree. Diamond engagement rings look especially dazzling when surrounded by Christmas lights, making the Christmas tree a perfect location to place the symbol of your proposal. Challenge your girlfriend to find the “special ornament” if she doesn’t see the ring. Or, attach it to an ornament and hand it to her as you’re decorating.
Write it in the snow. A snow-covered lawn provides the perfect canvas for a romantic proposal. Keep it simple by writing “Marry me?” with a stick (be sure to illuminate it if it won’t be seen until evening) or go more elaborate and create your message with candles in the snow.
Disguise it. If you wrap a ring box as is, you’re likely raise suspicion; however, there are plenty of ways to conceal your gift’s true identity. For example, wrap the ring box is a series of larger boxes or place it in a gift bag that’s much too large. You could also wrap the ring inside of another present such as a pair of gloves. (Ask her to try them on if she doesn’t find the ring.)
Use mistletoe. The classic kiss-prompting greenery is a perfect place to hide a ring—just make sure that you hang or hold it low enough so that the ring can be seen. Or, hold a sprig of mistletoe over your own head and, when she comes in for a kiss, get down on one knee.
Pop the question by the fire. Yes, proposing in front of a roaring fire is a cliché, but it’s also a time-honored way to pop the question that’s sure to sweep her off her feet. This traditional means is a romantic and memorable way to present both vintage engagement rings and modern styles.
Light up your proposal. The glow of Christmas lights is already romantic—why not use it to spell out your big question? Try spreading them in the front yard, on the roof or across your mantle to create a glowing message of love.
A Christmas proposal is inherently romantic and when you incorporate a holiday tradition, you give every Christmas you’ll spend together an extra touch of meaning. Try one of these ideas to pop the question in seasonal style!
One of the best parts about being loved is being known by another person and being fully accepted for who you are and not who you could be. That’s why gifts with a personal touch are particularly meaningful—they demonstrate that you know the one you love well enough to pick a gift that’s especially for him or her. Personalized gifts also demonstrate that you care enough to think about the gift ahead of time, showing that you value the one who receives it.
A personalized gift can be especially meaningful at Christmas, a time when many of us are even busier than usual. A present with a personal touch requires a little extra effort, and the fact that you were willing to put forth this effort during an already hectic time demonstrates your willingness to put the one you love ahead of your to-do list.
Many types of gold jewelry can be personalized, from pendants to bangles. Try pendant that features that name or initials of that special someone or go for a piece with a birthstone for a present with both meaning and colorful sparkle. If the one you love is more of a fan of silver jewelry, you have many options as well. Consider a pendant engraved with both of your names or initials or a bracelet with a message from you stamped on the inside.
Monogramming may have been popular in your grandparent’s era, but it remains a lovely way to create a gift with a personal touch. Think beyond traditional towel sets and look for modern options such as scarves and tablet or smartphone cases.
- If you haven’t met the one you love yet, consider using the new social network, MyZamana, to reach out to your potential future mate -
Names, initials and birthstones aren’t the only means of personalization. We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words and when that picture is chosen for its ability to represent your love, it speaks volumes. For example, you could have a favorite snapshot if the two of you turned into a custom canvas to hang on the wall. Or, consider using a photo of a place that’s significant in your relationship.
A personalized picture frame is a thoughtful and practical gift. Have one engraved with a message of love, and fill it with a picture that reminds you of a particularly happy moment together. Or go for a personalized locket—essentially a picture frame in jewelry form—for a reminder of you that also serves as a beautiful pendant.
I’ve you’re planning a wedding, a wedding band with a personalized touch can serve as an incredibly meaningful symbol of the love and closeness you share. Many wedding rings can be engraved with a date on the inside, providing a reminder of your special day. Or, choose one that’s engraved with a personalized message of love for all to see. You can even buy a ring that’s engraved with your own handwriting!
No matter how you choose to give your Christmas gift a personal touch, it’s sure to mean more to the one who receives it when he or she sees that it’s been made with them in mind.
Whether you’ve just started dating or you’ve been wearing yellow gold wedding bands for years, saying thank you is a vital piece of a healthy relationship. It doesn’t take long to express gratitude, nor does it take a lot of effort, but the payoff is huge, especially when you making saying thanks a habit.
Saying thank you is something that many of us learn to do as children, and it’s a habit that we should never outgrow. However, expressing gratitude shouldn’t merely be a habit like brushing your teeth or always tying your left shoe first. If you only say thank you because it’s what you’re used to doing, you miss out on the benefits of expressing your thanks, both for yourself and for your relationship.
When you take time to truly appreciate someone, it changes you. For example, if you take time to look your significant other in the eye and tell him why you appreciate him picking up your favorite takeout on a busy evening, you’ll feel much more gratitude than if you had half-heartedly mumbled “thanks for dinner” as you started to chow down.
Simply recognizing the specific things for which you’re thankful and expressing why you’re thankful for them cultivates an attitude of gratitude that helps you see the person you love in a more positive light. Research has even shown that being thankful can stave off depression. Even if saying thanks had no impact on your relationship, it would be worth it; however, the reality is that saying thank you is a key component in building a lasting bond between two people.
When you thank your partner for something they’ve done (Thanks for giving me a ride! You know how much I hate driving in the city and getting a ride from you was a big relief.) or for something they are (Thanks for being such a good listener.) you let them know that you appreciate them. Feeling appreciated in important in any relationship, but it’s crucial in a romantic relationship. No one wants to feel as if they and their contributions have gone unnoticed, and by demonstrating that you notice and appreciate your partner, you let them know that not only do you recognize their contributions; you value what they do and who they are.
Saying thank you for the little things can have a big impact over time as it grows in you an attitude of gratitude and reinforces your love and appreciation. If you have a hard time remembering to say thank you to the person you love most, consider designating something that you regularly see, such as a piece of jewelry, as a reminder. For married couples, wedding bands can serve this purpose, but that’s far from your only option. Just choose anything that you see often enough to make it an effective gratitude aid.
In a roundabout way, saying thank you is one way to say I love you. It communicates that you value the other person and, over time, it’s an essential building block in a lasting relationship. What’s not to love about that?
What little girl doesn’t dream of being a princess at one time or another? Although the spotlight at any wedding should be on the bride, there’s a good chance that the youngest member of your bridal party will have a very special day as well. While a flower girl’s dress is certainly important in creating her look, accessories are often the finishing touches that make her ensemble one that she—and all who see her—will remember with a smile. Here are a number of accessory ideas, from functional accessories like purses and shrugs to jewelry such as silver cross pendants.
Shrug or shawl: If you’re planning a winter wedding (or one in an air-conditioned venue) an accessory that keeps your flower girl warm can be both a practical and a beautiful addition.
Purse: For many little girls, carrying a purse is a fun, grown-up thing to do. An elegant little bag can not only make your flower girl feel special; it can also serve to keep her occupied when she’s not playing an active role in your wedding, if you include a surprise inside such as a few small toys or crayons and an activity pad.
Floral Headpiece: Whether you pin a few blossoms behind your flower girl’s ear or adorn her head with a full crown of blooms, flowers in her hair serve as a timelessly pretty touch. Choose traditional fresh flowers or opt for dried ones or high-quality artificial varieties to provide your flower girl with a lasting memento of her part in your big day.
Tiara: A tiny crown is the ultimate princess-worthy accessory, and one that your flower girl will love to wear. Find a tiara that’s a tiny variation of the bride’s headpiece or choose one with a style all its own.
Pearls: Few types of jewelry are more ladylike or more timeless than pearls. Present your flower girl with a pearl pendant or earrings, or a full strand to adorn her neck or her wrist. In doing so, you’ll give her an accessory that she can wear for years to come.
Parasol: As an accessory you don’t see every day, a parasol is a signal that it’s a special occasion. Of course, if your wedding is outdoors, it’s a practical choice, too, as it protects the little princess at your wedding from the sun.
Cross Jewelry: Jewelry that celebrates your faith can add a meaningful touch to your wedding ceremony and provide your flower girl with a lasting accessory. Choose from pieces such as a simply-styled cross rings or pendants featuring a dove or the Star of David.
Ribbon: A simple ribbon can easily turn into a versatile accessory. Tie one in your flower girl’s hair, around her wrist or around her neck for an instantly pretty touch.
The brides will always be the true princess of a wedding, but it’s nice to let your flower girl feel like one on your special day. Any of these accessories will help her dress the part, adding the perfect finishing touch.
A diamond may be the traditional gemstone choice for engagement rings, but it’s far from the only way to go. From the exclusive beauty of tanzanite to the deep allure of garnet rings, a rainbow of gemstone options exist for those looking for pieces that are one-of-a-kind and that convey a specific message about the love that you share.
If your love is bold, a gemstone engagement ring with a pop of bright color can help you express that when it comes to how you feel, you’re far from shy. Pink topaz rings are an unmistakably unflinching choice as they dazzle with a lively yet ladylike hue. Despite its can’t-miss-it attitude, this stone works well in a range of styles from classic to vintage. And, as a semiprecious gem, pink topaz is relatively affordable, allowing you to invest in a sizeable stone if you’d really like to make a statement.
If you’re seeking a ring that conveys a sense of exclusivity and exotic beauty, an engagement style that features tanzanite could be the perfect choice. Since this gemstone is found in just one tiny five-square-mile area, it’s ideal for expressing that your love is reserved only for that one special someone. The color of tanzanite is unlike that of any other stone: it sparkles with a soft yet vibrant cornflower-like blue that draws eyes in and doesn’t let go. Its unique look allows it to give a fresh spin to time-honored designs and a striking touch to simple styles.
Usually, amethyst is thought of as a regal choice for rings of all kinds due to a fit-for-royalty violet hue. But, did you know that this gemstone also has a mesmerizing green variety? Green amethyst rings are a refreshing choice, perfect for expressing a love that gives you a new start. Their cool light green glimmer is as soothing as gentle ocean waves, and as alive as the first signs of spring.
At the subdued end of spectrum are smokey topaz engagement rings that gently beckon rather than shout. The name of this stone gives a hint about its appearance: it’s a soft brown with a touch of gray that brings to mind the swirling smoke rising from a campfire on a crisp fall evening. The beauty of smokey topaz lies in its understated nature, which bestows this gem with incredible versatility and allows it to communicate a love that’s always complementary.
Garnet engagement rings display the traditional color of love with depth and sparkle. Whether in modern heart-shaped cuts that capitalize on its ability to communicate affection or in Victorian-inspired styles, the rich crimson of this gemstone is timelessly beautiful, making it an ideal choice for fans of eye-catching, perpetually elegant style.
If you’re shopping for an engagement ring to represent a unique love, why limit yourself to the ordinary? Choosing a gemstone that’s slightly unexpected can allow you to make a statement about your relationship—not to mention a statement of your good taste.