20 awesome date ideas for under $20

Step outside of "dinner and a movie" and look no further for 20 awesome dates that won't break your budget.

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  • Whether married or single, these memorable dates are sure to help you score originality points. Use these ideas as a starting point, but feel free to add your own twist! Mix and match, combine ideas together, or switch out materials...do whatever you'd like. Oh and don't forget - you can pull all these dates off for under $20. Boom.

  • 1. Box boats

  • This date demands a little preparation, but certainly pays off. Start saving up all the cardboard boxes you can find. When you've collected your materials, pull out your roll of duct tape and construct a small boat with your significant other. Of course, give it a quick paint job for style.

  • Next, pull on your swimwear (don't forget lifejackets!) and take your cardboard boat out to the river, pool, lake etc. and see how long you both last before it sinks! Make this a group date by seeing which couple can row out the farthest before sinking.

  • 2. Pancake-making contest

  • Grab a couple squeeze-bottles and fill them with pancake batter. Add food coloring and see who can create the coolest-looking pancake creation Then, throw them at each other...or eat them. Whatever makes you happy.

  • 3. The Jenga Twist

  • Borrow or buy Jenga (Jumbling Tower is a great knockoff option) and write a question on each block. Go get ice cream or drinks, pull out the game right there at your table, and begin. Take turns answering the questions on the blocks you wiggle out. This is especially great for first dates - Jenga keeps the conversation going for you, so no awkwardness.

  • 4. Couple canvases

  • Get some cheap face paint and turn each other's faces into works of art. Get glow-in-the-dark paint for that wow factor, or see who can paint the best while blindfolded.

  • 5. The Cereal Sampler

  • This date starts at the grocery store, but bear with me. Peruse the cereal aisle and grab several cereals that neither of you have never tried. Return home and try them all out. This is a great breakfast date for those with busy afternoons. Plus, you won't have to buy more cereal for a year. It's a win/win.

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  • 6. Rockin' it (literally)

  • Go outside. Gather rocks. Go to the store. Get some paint (free sample paint works well) and decorate the rocks together. Glue on some googly eyes. Hide them in public places and see how long they stay there. Every time your significant other passes one of those spots he/she will be thinking of you - hopefully that's a good thing.

  • 7. The Thrift Shopper

  • Take your date to Goodwill, Burlington Coat Factory, or anywhere with a strange assortment of clothes. Pick out crazy clothes for each other. Try them on. Take pictures. Repeat.

  • 8. Melted crayon art

  • Grab some crayons and a white canvas from the store. Glue the crayons in a pattern along one edge of the panel. Use a hairdryer to melt the crayons, letting them run all over the canvas. Dry thoroughly, and behold: melted crayon art. Give it to your date to hang on his/her wall. Genius.

  • 9. Human Bingo

  • Before the date, prepare two homemade Bingo cards. Fill the boxes with things like Socks with Sandals, Blue Hair, A Third Wheel, etc. Now go explore the mall with your date and see who can win the game by spotting people who meet the requirements on the cards. If you lose too quickly, try a blackout round.

  • 10. DIY Designing

  • Snag some blank white hats, craft aprons, socks, etc. along with some fabric paint at the store. Work together to design your own personalized clothing line. Sell the line for millions (maybe).

  • 11. Pizza- must I say more?

  • Run to the store and grab ingredients to make your very own pizzas. Fun, super-cheap, and... it's pizza. Wear the aprons you made using idea #10, because after designing your own cothing line, of course you're going on another date to make pizza.

  • 12. Metal stamping

  • You can find metal stamping kits online for about $15. When it (finally) arrives, grab your date and a hammer. Pound the night away by hammering your names or a phrase into some spare change. Blank dogtags are cheap and also work perfectly for this date.

  • 13. Write a short story

  • Try writing a short story together. Make yourselves the main characters. Take turns writing one sentence each and see where your story goes. This date idea works great paired with a picnic in a park, or somewhere similar.

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  • Writing a short story is also a great group date - share your finished story with your friends and compare: which couple is the next Shakespeare?

  • 14. The Adventure

  • Travel to a neighboring town neither of you are very familiar with. Explore Main Street, and act like total tourists. Along the way, you'd better find a cute little shop to get ice cream at.

  • 15. Peanut M&M's Poker Night

  • This would be hard to pull off with two people, but is great with a group. Buy a large bag of peanut M&M's, divide them up between the players, and play some poker. Add in a twist of your own by assigning different values to different colored M&M's. Try playing as a team with your date. Don't forget to wash your hands before playing!

  • 16. Get your Iron-On

  • Supplies: A couple of solid-colored T-shirts and some printable iron-on paper. Take a bunch of terrible pictures together, print them out on your iron-on paper in whatever style strikes your fancy, and iron the pictures onto your T-shirts. Wear every day, forever.

  • 17. Kitchen creation

  • Behold, the grocery store. (Again.) Split up and gather 6 items, but all items must be selected from different aisles. Buy your new ingredients, take them home, and figure out how to combine them ALL into a meal. Feast.

  • 18. World Record Holders

  • Breaking a world record can be tough (although is still a great idea), but you can always make your own world record! Check out this website to create your own world record. Set a new record for the longest time breath held under water in sink while clapping with bare feet. Or something. You get the idea.

  • 19. The Firefly (Part 1)

  • Basic supplies: Marshmallows and assorted candy, and stuff for a campfire. First, go hiking. Then, roast marshmallows over a fire. Proceed to stuff your 'mallows with different candy until you figure out which combination is best. Snickers? Starburst? Butterfingers? Be cheesy and feed each other your marshmallow creations if that's your thing.

  • 20. The Firefly (Part 2)

  • When the sun has fully gone down, pull a few clear, empty jars and an assortment of glowsticks out of your satchel. Make sure you bring scissors. Cut your glowsticks open and dump all of the glowstick liquid into the jars. Close tightly, and shake em' up. Ta-da: Glowing lanterns. (Totally awesome.) Use your laterns to hike back to the car. Check out this website for more detailed instructions.

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David Snell is a writer for the FamilyShare team, specializing in humor writing. He's trilingual (English, Spanish and Movie Quotes), passionate about all things communication and is always up for learning something new.

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