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Romance On A Shoestring

Romance On A Shoestring
M.S. Beltran

Want to sweep someone off of their feet, but on a budget? You don't have to spend a lot of money to make an impression, just use a little imagination. You can plan a creative, memorable date for around $20 or less.
Consider some of these alternatives to the boring old dinner and a movie fallback that will make your day, and not break your bank:

Love & Lattes: Head over to a coffee house, order a couple of cups of java and scones, and bring a poetry book you've checked out of your local library. Curl up on a comfy sofa to discuss literature and recite some favorite verses aloud. Total cost for the evening: about $15.

Just For Sport: If the object of your affection is a die-hard sports fan, but the NFL or NBA is out of the question, consider getting tickets for a local high school game. Try your old alma matter, or a game in which you might know a child on the team. Bring a blanket for two if its an outdoor winter event, get cozy, and cheer a team on to victory. Cost, with concession snacks, under $20.

Class in a Glass: Look up a local winery; many have tours and tasting bars free to visitors (reservations usually required; check in advance). While you are there, pick up a favorite bottle you and your date have sampled (some excellent wines can be obtained for only $10 to $15 a bottle). Take it to a nearby park or beach with a blanket, a couple of dollar-store wine glasses, a radio, and a small assortment of cheese and crackers. Cost: around $20.

Good, Old-Fashioned Date: Do an Internet search for drive-in movie theaters; most states still have at least a couple in operation, and the experience is worth a bit of a drive. Admission usually runs equivalent to or less than regular movie tickets (two admissions-- $6 to $16). Bring your own snacks-- sandwiches, pre-microwaved popcorn, and a jug of iced tea. Wrap up the evening by bringing your date to an ice-cream parlor for a sweet treat ($6). Total cost: $15 to $22.

Reach For The Stars: Rent a telescope (around $30) and go out on a clear night to a park, beach, or some other romantic, open space for a bit of star gazing. Bring a thermos of hot coffee and some buttered bagels, a blanket, and a book on some constellations to seek. Even better, nix the telescope and plan the night around a meteor shower or lunar eclipse. Cost, with telescope: under $40.

Where Romance Blooms: Visit a local botanic garden (some can cost up to $6 or $7 per person, most cost less or are free). Walk hand in hand amid the picturesque paths laden with the heady scent of budding blooms. Bring a snack of fresh, seasonal fruit, and don't forget some old bread to feed to the birds. Total cost: under $15.

Okay! Dinner And A Movie: You can't let go of this old favorite, I understand. But how about this twist: Go together for a leisurely stroll through a farmer's market for some fresh produce, a pastry shop for some sweet dessert, and choose a movie together at the video store (or library, to save a few extra bucks). Then go home, cook together, share your meal, and enjoy dessert over the movie of your choice. Total cost for dinner and a movie: under $20!

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