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Date Your Mate – For Free! (the finale)

            You’ve been dating your mate for free since (or before) March bigstock-romantic-dinner-date-5704986when part one of Date Your Mate was published. You revved things up with all the options provided in April’s part two. But wait – there’s more! As we head into summer, this last installment of the Date Your Mate series offers suggestions for fun (and free-ish) outdoor entertainment.

·        Go fly a kite. Yes, I’m serious – there is not an age limit on this delightful activity. Check out a kite-making book from the library or Google “how to make a kite” and you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that you probably already have all the required materials. Some assembly required, of course! Take your new creation out on a breezy day to a spot where the sky is free of telephone wires and let it, as well as your spirits, soar. 

·        Music, music, music. If you have already located fairs and festivals within a comfortable drive (as suggested in Part 1) check out what they list for entertainment. Many have schedules for musical events such as bands, singers, symphonies, and choirs. You may also find dance exhibitions on the lists – cloggers, jiggers, tappers, and belly dancers to name a few. In addition, do a computer search for ‘free concerts’ in the geographic range you are interested in, check with the chamber of commerce in nearby cities, and peruse the entertainment section of your local newspaper. The problem won’t be finding options, it will be choosing which events to attend. Lose the earbuds and iPods for an evening and enjoy.

·        Farmers market. They are not just for foodies anymore. In addition to fresh produce, one might find wares from locals such as bee products, goat products, hand-crafted soaps and candles, yarns, brooms, breads and baked goods. It’s a learning experience, too – merchants love to answer questions about their products. Who knew a goat could help produce safe and effective shampoo, body lotion, chapstick, detergent? And you’re going to buy food to eat anyway, so why not make it something fresh while supporting local providers?

·        Flea Markets and Garage Sales. Can you say “people watching?” No better place to enjoy that hobby. In addition, one can find a myriad of inexpensive treasures and idea generators. Get silly and wear outfits that will contribute to the enjoyment of other people watchers!

·        Firework displays. For those of you who haven’t been for a few years, plan ahead for an explosive date night. Bring with you the big-enough-for-two (but not too big) blanket to sit on and do lots of hand-holding. Who says the fireworks have to end when the light show is over??

Now you have plenty of date options for inside and out, warm weather and cold, daytime and night, winter and summer. And none will cost you much more than the ink used to write it on the calendar. Notice I didn’t say “lead?” Don’t “pencil it in.” Use ink. Make it happen. Make dating your mate a priority and receive maximum returns on your marital investment.

Many low-cost dating ideas have been set forth in the Date Your Mate articles as well as your suggestions, but I know there are still plenty of good ideas that we haven’t covered. Tell us what we missed in the comment section below.

Shel Harrington
 

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