By Walker James Loetscher | HowAboutWe.com

While we’ve been conditioned to associate the idea of a “romantic date night” with a restaurant that’s tastefully decorated, moodily lit and perhaps exorbitantly priced, there are also occasions when the best kind of date is one you spend in the comfort of your own home. For the nights when the weather’s uncooperative, you’re looking to save some money, or you’d just rather not go out, try one of these 10 in-home date ideas that beat just about anything you’ll find elsewhere.

1. Cooking Dinner Together

This one is a definite crowd-pleaser. It requires cooperation, invention and an unexpected dose of sensuality. Experiment with a new recipe or -- for the true gourmets among you -- make something from scratch after a trip to the neighborhood grocer. A three-course fondue sampling (cheese, meats, chocolate) may qualify as the benchmark for culinary romance.

2. Wine, Candles and Netflix

Find a title you can agree on or introduce your partner to one of your dearest favorites. For those that have been together for some time, re-watching the first movie you ever saw together is a guaranteed heartstring-tugger.

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3. In-Home Picnic

Imagine the elation on his/her face when he/she walks in from a brutal day at work to find a blanket adorning the living room floor, and atop it a healthy spread of delicious edibles and libations from which to graze. Goes well with idea number two if you’re the ambitious type.

4. Dance Party

Ok, maybe less a party and more a nostalgic romantic gesture that Gen-X and Y-ers could never be complicit to without making it a self-aware parody of something their grandparents used to do. But try to pretend you’re not a consummate ironist for once, put on some scratchy jazz that sounds like it’s blaring through a gramophone, and transport yourself to simpler times.

5. Strip Poker

It’s not just for hormonal teenagers who have no idea how to tactfully initiate foreplay! Grab a six-pack of tallboys, park yourselves at the kitchen table and cross your fingers that Lady Luck be in your favor. Dressing for a snowstorm will probably help your cause, too.

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6. Spa Night

For this one you’ll need some massage oils, fresh towels, ambient tunes, a large porcelain (or cheaper, imitation-grade ceramic) tub and bath salts (no, not that kind, silly). Be gentle, be sensual and always offer your client the option of a happy ending.

7. Plan a Trip

Remember that game you played in third grade geography class in which you spun a globe with your eyes closed and then stopped it mid-revolution with a pointer finger to foretell where you’d live when you grew up? (Yeah, I know: I too was mystified by the fact that I ended up somewhere in the ocean 2/3 of the time, the simple logic of which evaded me until years later.) Play a variation of this game involving your favorite travel-booking site and a decent regional travel guide. The excitement of your impending getaway -- along with the beers over which you do your planning -- will have you hot and bothered in no time.

8. Board Games or Puzzles

Family game night (for two) is a great alternative to your normal routine of mac and cheese followed by half-a-season of that new show everyone is talking about via On Demand. Mostly because you actually, like, engage one another instead of mindlessly sharing space but not conscious thought. As I’ve discussed before, hyper-competitive couples may find playing a tête-à-tête board game (especially Scrabble; avoid that one if you’re a win-at-all-costs type) to be too stressful to handle, so opt for something more lighthearted (“No threes. Go fish.”) or work on a jigsaw puzzle together instead.

9. Paint a Room in Your House/Apartment

I really just cannot even begin to describe how unintentionally romantic painting a room together is. Not only are you knocking out a piece of home improvement that is nearly unbearable when performed solo, there’s also about a 99 percent chance that things devolve into foreplay before you even finish the first wall.

10. Make S’Mores

If you don’t have a pit out back (or a yard, for that matter), try the fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace, toast them over the stove. If you have an electric stove, well, I guess you can try the microwave or an especially large candle. S’Mores are delicious and inevitably require the removal of mess from your face at the hands/tongue of a willing and able partner.

Want more great date ideas? Sign up for HowAboutWe for Couples, a new site that makes it easy for you and your partner to share one-of-a-kind experiences together. Still looking for that special someone? Check out HowAboutWe Dating, the offline dating site.

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