Whether you’re doing dry January or you don’t drink at all, dating without alcohol can seem surprisingly difficult. “Let’s go for a drink” may be the most common way of asking someone out that you might have trouble thinking of another way to arrange a date. Or maybe you do drink but you know the person you’d like to go out with doesn’t.
Finding an activity that makes you both comfortable may seem like a daunting task. Never fear, though. Whatever the situation, rest assured there are ways to get to know people that don’t require a drink in your hand. Here are some suggestions for alcohol-free date night ideas.
Second only to “I’d like to buy you a drink” is “let’s get coffee sometime” — and with good reason! Most people drink coffee, so it’s a pretty safe bet, date-wise. It also gives you the advantage of not being tied to evenings for dates: unless you’re worried about calling it an early evening, you can have coffee at almost any time of day.
And if you’re not a caffeine junkie, most coffee shops have decaf or tea—so unlike a bar, where beer, wine, or cocktails are the order of the day, most people won’t think twice if you choose an alternate beverage.
Finding out someone’s coffee order can also give you great insight into a person: do they drink their coffee black, indicating they’re a straight-shooter, or do they stir in so much sugar that they might as well not be drinking coffee at all? Do they have a coffee order so specific that the barista’s head starts spinning?
They may be a little high maintenance—especially if they seem impatient and rude about it. Do they seem knowledgeable about different types of coffee, or do they ask a lot of questions about the beans? They may be curious types who love to learn.
Dinner and a Movie
Here’s another solid go-to. The dinner and a movie option gives you plenty of variables, and the two-part date idea gives you the option of bowing out in between if things aren’t going well. It may involve more planning—What types of food does your date like? Should you see an action movie, a comedy, or a documentary—but it’s a go-to alcohol-free option.
You might be wondering which comes first: Dinner or movie? It depends, but swapping the order—a movie, then dinner, will ensure you’ve got something to talk about during your meal.
Plus, it can be stressful trying to get dinner squared away if you’ve got a movie to get to. Slow service or a traffic jam can add some unneeded pressure to the night, so consider taking in the show before you sit down for dinner.
Go for a Picnic
A picnic takes advantage of often-scenic parks while you enjoy some great food. It can also be as casual or as fancy as you’d like. Don’t even worry about cooking, if that’s not your strong suit. Pick up some high-quality cheese and some cold drinks—think sparkling juice—and relax in the sunshine. Obviously this is a better choice for weekend afternoons, but a picnic as the sun sets can be romantic, too!
Have a Plan B, though: a little rain or a rowdy party nearby can change the vibe in seconds.
Go to a Game
While many people assume a baseball or basketball game means downing a few beers, it’s just as fun without the booze. Many stadiums have upped their games and offer high-end or even gourmet food. However fancy you’d like to go, there’s an arena experience for you. You could even—gasp!—watch the game.
Take a Class
Nothing is more fun than learning something new. Why not take a cooking or craft class and get to know each other while you pick up a new skill? It’s also a great way to keep the conversation going: if you can’t think of anything to say, you can ask if a dish needs salt or garlic.
Plus, even if it doesn’t go well, you’ve made good use of your time. Check the schedule of your local library or community center to see what each has on offer.
Try a Game Night
Maybe you haven’t played a board game since you were a kid. Well, it’s time to change that! There are cafes and shops where you can spend an evening with a nice, relaxing game. Gaming is also another great way to subtly get insight into your date.
Are they overly competitive? Are they a sore loser? Chances are those are traits that may pop up in other parts of their life.
Scope things out beforehand, though: some board games can take hours, or some require large groups that won’t give you much time to chat. There are plenty of different types of game, though, so even if you think you’re not a board game person, you might surprise yourself.
What About My Date?
Here’s a little secret—there are very few dates that can’t be made alcohol-free. Focus on the activity rather than the beverage, and you’ll find that there’s not much to worry about.
But what if your date is dead-set on drinking? If your date has sour grapes about not having a cocktail in their hand, are they really the kind of person you want to spend time with? And if they’re that grumpy having one evening without a drink, it may clue you in to bigger issues.
Whether it’s alcohol or something else, a date that’s not willing to meet you in the middle is unlikely to be the kind of person you’d want to date long term anyway. Sometimes you need to be willing to accept when it’s time to move on and find someone that will support your sober lifestyle.
The bottom line is that if you and your date have chemistry, you’ll find that what you do on date night isn’t as important as who you’re with. While a fun activity can be a great icebreaker, it’s likely you’ll click without forcing the issue—and without drinking if it’s the right person.