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Philly winter date ideas that won’t break the bank

We’re in the thick of the holiday season.

We're in the thick of the holiday season.  There are Christmas trees adorning pretty much every office building in town, too many excuses to eat that extra slice of cake at the holiday party (dark chocolate is healthy, right?), and threats of snow that finally came to fruition this past weekend.

But the holiday season also brings with it a strain on our wallets.  We took advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals (I was way too excited about the 50% off at Wet Seal that I got!), and now we'll likely do the same with the day-after-Christmas sales.  How about all the presents we have to get for our co-workers, family, and friends?  And then there are these prix fixe menus at many restaurants on major holidays.  And don't forget all the gas money you'll be spending if you're driving out of town and the exorbitant flight prices at this time of year.

My goal here is certainly not to get you depressed.  It's instead to share some cost-effective (and often free!) date ideas in the Philly area that won't break the bank this holiday season.

For the Dorothy Hamill or Brian Boitano types:

Take your date ice skating.  There are more ice skating rinks in the area than you would have guessed, including the ones at Penn's Landing and Cobbs Creek Park.  More information can be found here.

For the Padma Lakshmi or Craig LaBan types:

One food-centric idea that one of my clients recently did with her new boyfriend (yay) was to go to the supermarket with only $20 in an attempt to make the best gourmet meal on a budget.  (They did a surprisingly good job!)  You could also enjoy a winter drink to keep you warm, like the hot chocolate at Max Brenner or one of the hot chocolate volcanos at Rim Café.  Or try a local winter beer instead if chocolate's not your thing.  If you're feeling adventurous, you can attempt to make some of these winter cocktail recipes together.  Even if they don't come out as planned, at least you'll have fun making them… or you'll be too drunk to notice.

For the Angelina Jolie or George Clooney types:

No, I'm not telling you to write and direct your own screenplay!  I'm talking about volunteering together.  Many organizations have volunteer activities in the winter to help people in need, such as throwing holiday parties, wrapping gifts, or packing meals.  Volunteer Match is a great place to start.  You can show each other your caring side.

For the Bill Nye or Bob Ross types:

We are so lucky to have quite a few free museums in town.  For the Breaking Bad fans, you could discover the history of chemistry and how it shapes our lives today at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (though I'm sure cooking meth isn't on the agenda), take a peek at the famous crack in the Liberty Bell, or check out some local artists' works at the Woodmere Art Museum.  To make it even more exciting, you could design your own scavenger hunt before heading to the museum and then do it together.

For the Steve Urkel or Ben Stein types:

Go to Raven Lounge or Doobies to chat over a friendly board game.  Challenge each other to a game of darts or pool at a sports bar near you.  Attend a trivia night to show off your Jeopardy-esque prowess.

For the Shaun White or Indiana Jones types:

While I'm not necessarily one to spend too much time out in the cold, I know there there are people who are, so I want to make sure we cover all of our bases.  There are so many wonderful hiking trails in the Philadelphia area.  Why not explore a new one?  And while you don't necessarily have to spend any time outside for this one, take a drive (or a walk) through different neighborhoods to find the best, worst, and gaudiest Christmas lights/decorations.  Don't forget to take pictures!

Just because you can't bask in the sun at a Phillies game it doesn't mean you can't go out and have fun with your date… winter style.  Enjoy… and button up.