12 Months of Date Nights Gift & Free Printable!

Mark planned some pretty sweet date nights in 2013.  I mean, the guy feels constricted in most t-shirts, so you know that’s love when he willingly suggests we get dolled up to go out to eat, he in a tux, I in my black sequined jacket.  Everyone at the Mexican restaurant asked us where we were going.  To which we replied,  “Here!”

Our server was sweet enough to offer to take some photos of us to remember the occasion by.  They are some of my favorite of last year!

Date Night Photo Shoot!
Date Night Photo Shoot!

Anyway, I felt like it was my turn to show Mark some major love through some special date nights this new year, so for Christmas, I gave him a collection of pre-planned date nights, one for each month in 2014!

12 Months of Pre-Planned Date Nights: Creative Gift Idea with FREE Printable from thinkingcloset.com

And here is Mark’s priceless reaction to it on Christmas morning:

(NOTE: the particular date he is getting excited about is a board game marathon.)

I think he liked it!

And really, this is a gift to both of us.  We’ve committed to “date” each other through the years, no matter how busy life gets.  It’s important to us to carve out intentional time together to grow our relationship.  That way, when life’s storms do hit (and they will), we’ll have a solid foundation to stand on, so we can weather whatever comes our way…together.

How to Make Your Own!

12 Months of Pre-Planned Date Nights: Creative Gift Idea with FREE Printable from thinkingcloset.com

Here’s all you need in order to create a mini-book with 12 Pre-Planned Date Nights for you and your sweetheart:


  • 2 sheets of white cardstock
  • assorted divider pages (scrapbook paper, magazine paper, photos, book pages…you can really use whatever suits your fancy!)
  • pen
  • scissors
  • hole punch  (some of these are affiliate links)
  • binder ring, twine, or ribbon
  • free PDF printable (download instructions below!)

So, in terms of the gift design, I adopted the idea of a “pocket-sized mini-book” from Ashley over at The Creative Place who offers up an awesome free printable for a Mother’s Day gift akin to this one; in fact, that’s a project idea you just might want to squirrel away for the next few months.

First, I used PicMonkey to design my mini-book cards, utilizing some of my favorite fonts: Ostritch Sans Inline, Black Jack, and Tall Dark and Handsome.

Then, I printed them on white cardstock, adjusting my printer settings to the highest quality photo settings.

Just inside the cover, there’s a dedication page…

Creative Valentine's Day Gift Idea...a mini-book with pre-planned date nights!

…followed by each month of the year and the specific date night I’ve planned out.  At the beginning of each new month, it’ll be my responsibility to look at the calendar and designate an evening (or afternoon) for our special date that month.

Creative Valentine's Day Gift Idea...a mini-book with pre-planned date nights!   FREE Printable via thinkingcloset.com

Creative Valentine's Day Gift Idea...a mini-book with pre-planned date nights!   FREE Printable via thinkingcloset.com

Creative Valentine's Day Gift Idea...a mini-book with pre-planned date nights!   FREE Printable via thinkingcloset.com

I even included a “wild card,” which either of us can put into play when we’re feeling extra…well…wild!

Creative Valentine's Day Gift Idea...a mini-book with pre-planned date nights!   FREE Printable via thinkingcloset.com

In between each sheet of cardstock, I included cut-outs of red, pink, and gray scrapbook paper for added whimsy.  This was another idea from Ashley’s post that I was keen on.  It makes the collection even more thick and colorful!  You could even replace the scrapbook paper with memorabilia or photographs.

Insert colorful paper in between your date night cards for added whimsy!

And for the grand finale card, I made a special Valentine’s Day farewell…with space for a personal note and signature.

Creative Valentine's Day Gift Idea...a mini-book with pre-planned date nights!   FREE Printable via thinkingcloset.com

I cut out all my cardstock and scrapbook paper dividers, punched holes in the upper-left corner of each of them, and strung them on a binder ring.  Done and done!

Free Printable

UPDATE: Since publishing this initial post, I created a new-and-improved version of this printable with new color schemes, cover options, occasion cards…and so much more.  (Yup, it’s now a 14 page printable PACK chock full of gift-giving goodness.)  It’s a free gift from me to all of my email subscribers.

To subscribe and receive your free download, click HERE.

To see the new Printable Pack in action, click HERE.

Subscribers have the option to receive daily or weekly updates, and after confirming your subscription via email, you’ll receive a follow-up email within 24 hours with the link to your FREE download.  And gmail users be sure to keep an eye on your PROMOTIONS tab as it can sometimes get trapped there.  Enjoy!

12 Months of Pre-Planned Dates Mini-Book | Such a creative and meaningful gift idea for the loved ones in your life. The FREE Printable Pack also comes with everything you need to create mini-books for Parent-Kid Dates, Friend Dates, and wedding gifts! So many gifts in one!

Our 12 Months of Date Nights

Here’s a run-down of all of our 12 months of date nights just to get your creative juices flowing as you plan out your own:

JANUARY:  Let’s enjoy our evening by the fire pit, roasting s’mores and picking up where we left off in reading aloud Catching Fire.

FEBRUARY:  We’ll pack a picnic dinner and head to Leu Gardens for an outdoor movie: “Stuck in Love.”  Gardens open at 6p, movie at 7:30p.

MARCH:  Let’s get dolled up for a night at the theatre to see Children of Eden at the Cocoa Village Playhouse!

APRIL:  Road trip!  Let’s head north to Blue Springs State Park.  We can explore the park by canoe and look out for manatees.

MAY:  How ’bout a game of singles tennis?  Followed up by brunch at White Wolf Cafe.  We’ll ride our bikes, of course!

JUNE:  Now that you’ve seen the light about Downton Abbey, let’s plan a D.A. Marathon!  And make fondue!

JULY:  In honor of our anniversary month (5 years!), let’s open up the chest and read through some of our old love letters.  Then, let’s each write a letter to each other to open in 20 years!

AUGUST:  To College Park we go!  Part I – We each have $20 to spend at Dechoes thrift store.  Part II – We’ll grab a bite to eat at Infusion Tea!

SEPTEMBER:  D.I.Y. Duo Date!  We’ll scour Pinterest for a project that suits our fancy, then pull out the power tools and craft supplies to make it happen…together!

OCTOBER:  Food Crawl: first we’ll enjoy appetizers at Cafe Tu Tango, followed by the main course at Pho 88, and top it off with dessert at the Blue Bird Bake Shop!

NOVEMBER:  I’ll grab the wine if you grab the cheese…for a sunset boat cruise to look for owls and to enjoy the night air.

DECEMBER:  Game Night!  Carcassone followed by Small World followed by Ticket to Ride.  And a hot drink for each game.

WILD CARD:  After a bike around Lake Baldwin, let’s get some frozen yogurt, then sit on the dock and draw up the blueprints of our dream home!

Update: In response to the overwhelmingly positive response to this post, I created a follow-up post entitled 101 Creative Date Nights on Dime to further help you brainstorm what date nights you might include in your 12 months.  Check out that post HERE.

101 Creative Date Nights on a Dime!  via thinkingcloset.com

And a Pinterest-friendly graphic for the pinners:

FREE Printable for a super creative gift idea: 12 Months of Pre-Planned Date Nights.  Great for Valentine's Day, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, or ordinary days.  via thinkingcloset.com

Although Valentine’s Day is around the bend, I think this gift would be lovely year-round be it for a birthday, Christmas, Father’s Day, on an anniversary…or one of those unexpected gifts on a random Monday.  I guarantee it will turn even the most ordinary day into something extraordinary.

Happy dating!

{Once again, here’s the link to subscribe so you can receive the FREE 12 Months of Dates Printable Pack!}

Extra, extra!  I’ve got two exciting UPDATES for ya!

On a Mini-Book Kick?

If you’re like me and just can’t get enough of these mini-books, be sure to check out my latest one, a “What I Love About You From A to Z” Mini-Book Gift.  Your recipient will receive a barrage of love through 26 different affirmations, one for each letter of the alphabet!  Check it out HERE.

"What I Love About You from A to Z" Mini-Book | Creative gift idea that will lavish your recipient with love through 26 different affirmations, one for each letter of the alphabet! Gotta love it when gifts are inexpensive, yet oh so meaningful. This is a great one for birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, Christmas...or ordinary days!

Check it out HERE.

Hungry for More Meaningful Gift Ideas?

Thinking Outside the Gift Box eBook by Lauren from ThinkingCloset.com - Chock FULL of frugal yet meaningful gift ideas to get your creative juices flowing!If this post has whet your appetite for more gifts that aren’t too expensive but come straight from the heart, guess what?  I wrote a 143-page eBook to help my comrades come up with meaningful and one-of-a-kind gift ideas quickly, some in as short as 5 minutes.

The book includes:

  • 21 gift ideas
  • 78 actionable-examples
  • 20 pages of printables.

Oh, and most of the gift ideas will cost you $10 or less.  Truth.  So, what are you waiting for, friend?  Click HERE so you can read the sample chapters before nabbing your copy of Thinking Outside the Gift Box.

Join the revolution as we rediscover the joy of giving.


Lovely comments so far...

  1. says

    Lauren, I knew there was a reason we were online buds. Carcassonne, Small World, and Ticket to Ride? Definitely good choices. Plus, I know you have Dominion! Have you played 7 Wonders yet? It’s definitely a favorite of ours! (Oh, and Chrononauts is pretty awesome too, along with a long list of games that I will do you the favor of not listing here). Or, have you seen Wil Wheaton’s youtube show Tabletop {http://geekandsundry.com/shows/tabletop/}? Definitely a must if you’re a gamer (and you clearly are).

    Oh, and I love the date a month idea! Plus, your dates are so cute. If only I could steal them all! Unfortunately, it’s way to cold here for an outdoor movie in February!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      So glad we’re on the same game wavelength, Kristy! And yep, we’re fans of Dominion and now a new game we just recently discovered: Pandemic. Wish Mark and I could enjoy a game night with you and Earl sometime. (You could teach us 7 Wonders or Chrononauts!) We’re familiar with Wil Wheaton, though we haven’t watched much Tabletop; something to add to the MUST-SEE list.

      Ha ha. And I forget how bizarre it is sometimes to imagine an outdoor movie in February. Though we might have to bundle up in fleeces and blankets, it’ll be NOTHING like the cold climes up north. We’re spoiled rotten in the winters here, but it all evens out once summer hits! 😉

  2. says


    What a great gift!! I’m already thinking of dates that I can put together for L and I! :-) This year we went through and planned day trips/adventures for each month of the year so that we would get out and explore. I love the idea of adding a few dates to the mix too! :-)


    • thethinkingcloset says

      Yay! So glad it got your gears turning, Kenley. And I love that you did something so similar with day trips and adventures – – it sounds like you and L have a shared zest for life! And that is such a wonderful thing to nurture!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      July 18th! Just days before you guys. Love that we share that special connection, my friend. Do you know if you guys will do anything special to celebrate your 5 years? I’m wondering if a trip is in order for us!

  3. says

    what a lovely idea! this sounds like such fun for the both of you. i may have to do this. I really like the date ideas you chose, all fun and unique (I wouldn’t expect anything less from you, my dear!). i am so glad he enjoyed it! That is probably one of the best feelings when you land on a cute, simple and creative idea that he really enjoys too. so glad!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Could be a fun idea for your first year of marriage! Though I’m sure you’ll show Brian a million and one ways you love him regardless…that’s just your nature!

  4. Mom L says

    So cute and thoughtful! Reminds me of my little book you made me last year for Mothers day – entitled “10 things I love about you” in which you each wrote 5 beautiful pages in the booklet. So good for the soul….. I love these ideas of simple, meaningful date nights, so creative and sooo you and Mark!! Great job!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      So glad you like it, Mom. And yes! I totally found my inspiration in that design! (Which I got from Ashley from The Creative Place.) We so loved creating those gifts for you and my Mom…and I thought this would be a fun play on the mini-book gift. Now, my gears are turning with a million other mini-book gift ideas! 😉

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Oooo…good thinking, friend! I never can remember all those traditional anniversary gifts, but I think it’s such a fun idea. Do you and Alex follow in the traditions? It’s nice to have a bit of structure when it comes to gift giving with just enough elbow room for creativity to come into play. “Freedom in form!” as my college theatre professor would say.

  5. says

    What an adorable idea! I love that your husband created such a beautiful night for you– he has to hint to my boyfriend to do the same! 😉 What a great idea just in time for Valentine’s Day!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Ha ha. I’ll see what Mark can do…. 😉 Yes, he’s quite the romantic! And get this: we met in Romantic Literature class in college…so I guess we’re fated for such mushy gushy things like this!

  6. says

    Lauren, these are so crafty. I did something similar last year and by similar I mean I wrote down the dates on a card. Yours are so much cuter and creative! I love February! You will have a great date night at Leu Gardens, we may even see you there. If you see a group of friends all drinking wine and having a good time, that will be us. We like to celebrate Valentines as a group, that way single friends can join us and celebrate.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Great minds think alike, Christina! And it was because of our conversation about Leu Gardens that I thought to look up the movie schedule for the next few months…so thanks for that one! I’ll definitely have to look out for you and your happy throng!

  7. Marmie says

    I had to keep watching the video of Mark getting this gift from you! He’s so excited–especially about the game night! All of your ideas seem wonderful and many don’t cost money either–just time, which is very valuable.
    I love that you are intentional about dating and strengthening your relationship through big and small adventures together.
    Perfect for a first year of marriage and perhaps even for 34 years! :-)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Ha ha. Yes, I love watching it, too! His enthusiasm is palpable! What this video didn’t capture, however, was the moment he realized that the date is for NEXT December, so he has to wait a whole YEAR for that game marathon. Poor guy. We’ll be sure to play plenty of games in the meantime to tie us over; we just got a fun new one from Andy and Liz: Pandemic! We’ll have to play with you all next time we’re together.

      And I’m glad you like the gift idea! Yes, perfect for any stage in the relationship. Thanks to you and Dad for always setting such a great example in terms of your marriage; I remember well how intentional you were and still are about going out on dates! In fact, you just came back from a long weekend date! 😉

      • Marmie says

        Pandemic sounds perfect esp. for healthcare professionals like Mark and me….hopefully these epidemics are just fictional and will never really happen!!
        Yes, your dad has always been intentional about dating, esp. when he was in graduate school! Date nights and special get-aways that would gradually unfold. I need to do more of my own plotting and planning and have a few ideas in mind for him!
        Might be more like “giving your wife a baseball mitt”, but hopefully he’ll enjoy them, too!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Heather, I totally spaced on your connection to Orlando! We’ll have to swap more stories sometime…and maybe you can clue me in to some more of your favorite spots! We’re still getting a lay of the land after 1.5 years here…and I still haven’t quite found all the goldmine thrift stores I KNOW are out there just waiting to be discovered. 😉

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Yes it does, doesn’t it, Sharon? And your comment immediately makes me want to sing the song from the King and I, “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you…” Everything relates back to musical theatre with me! Ha ha.

  8. says

    This is such a great idea, Lauren! I love the idea of dating throughout the years.

    Though my hubby would be looking for the “Watch a sports game and not try to divert the conversation to something else” card. :)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Ha ha. If you made him one of these mini-books, you should totally toss that one in as a wild card…though tell him he can only use it once! 😉

  9. says

    Lauren, this came at the bestest time ever. I had planned on making something similar for my hubs for his birthday and was struggling to find the time to do it! Thank you for removing part of the stress and hassle!!!!

  10. says

    Hi Lauren,
    This is FABULOUS!!! My husband and I will be celebrating our 30th Anniversary in February and I think we need to start “dating” again! Love this idea!!! Thanks for sharing the files so we can all copy the project. Who knows what sparks it might ignite!!!
    Peace, Love and Joy,
    P.S. May I share this project on my http://www.peaceloveandjoyce.com website?

  11. says

    You always have the best ideas! I seriously love this. I know by Feb the year has already begun, but I think I may make a set for hubby for Valentines :) Pinning now, thanks for stopping by & linking up this week to the Lovely Ladies link party, GREAT project!

  12. says

    Lauren, I LOVE THIS!!!! I’m thinking I might have to do this as a wedding gift to my fiance. I’m thinking 12 months of dating for our first year of marriage. :O I’m excited! I love that not all of the date nights are go out and spend money dates. Even more so that the date night Mark got excited about was a night in. Very cute and well done! I’ve pinned it!

    Hugs to you, friend!
    ~ Bethany

  13. Kim Aldrich says

    I finished this little project today and love it! Thank you so much! Now I can’t wait to give it to my hubby!

  14. says

    Lauren – this is SUCH a great idea! And since I live close by, I might totally steal a few of your date nights 😉 Thanks for sharing at the Creativity Unleashed party this week – you’ve been pinned!!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Best gift-receiver award goes to…my man!!!

      Our January date was awesome, but our February date night can’t come soon enough! #impatientmuch? #cantwait

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thanks, Jen! I appreciate the pin-love, and really do hope you can use it to shower some love on your hubby this Valentine’s Day!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Aw, thanks so much for hosting, Kelly, and for taking the time to stop by and comment bomb us! You rock!

  15. Misty says

    What a great idea! I am going to do this for my honey as a Valentine’s gift. Your date for March especially caught my attention. The Cocoa Village Playhouse was originally a blacksmith shop, my great grandfather’s shop actually. I grew up there but live in Houston now so I think this is good karma that I found your blog through Pinterest.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Misty, I can’t believe that crazy cool coincidence about The Cocoa Village Playhouse and your family’s connection to it! Wow, the world really is so small, isn’t it? So glad you happed upon this post!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Oh yes! I hope you do get to use this printable or create some sort of rendition of your own. We had our January date this past week, and already we cannot wait for February! I’m starting to think this might have to be an annual tradition…. Thanks for the pin-love, Alexis.

  16. Loring says

    Lauren, your little book is really cute, but I fear I would get an eye-roll if I gave my man something cutesy like that. I love the date book idea, though. Often it takes some planning and inspiration to get the ball rolling. Your dates would be a perfect gift for me, but the hub might like some other sorts of things. A craft project together? THAT would never happen here! Perhaps remembering when the Tigers are in Lakeland for spring training or a night out at Dave & Busters would be more his style. He humors me with dance lessons, zumba classes and getaways to the beach, but truth-be-told he loves them too.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Yeah, this style mini-book might not be for every man, but hopefully you could transfer the same idea into something your guy would really enjoy. I think that just showing that you cared to plan out intentional time together throughout the year will just speak volumes to him, however you choose to show it. (And you should TOTALLY gift your man a night at Dave & Busters! Especially if that would make him smile. I love it!) And that warms my heart that he gifts you with things he knows you loves…and maybe even secretly enjoys them, too! Lol. Mark even tried Zumba with me once since my sister is an instructor; it was hilarious.

  17. Jen says

    I’m passing this on to my parents because it is a great idea, but I unfortunately have no one of my own to share it with =(. Also, I love the scrapbook paper in there (I actually have that same pack at home)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Ashley, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and for the super sweet comment! It means so much coming from you. Thanks again for the initial inspiration with the mini-book idea. I’m in love!

  18. Cali says

    Knew you were from Orlando when I spotted the date at White Wolf! Looks like I stumbled on a really awesome blog, thanks for all the Valentines Day inspiration!

  19. Jessica says

    Thank you so much for this!! We are on tight budget and we not going to do valentines gifts this year, but I made this for less than two dollars and it will be a way for us to make sure we are staying connected and making us a priority! Hard to do when you both work and have two kids. I know he will love the thoughtfulness behind this and we will have a blast trying new things together!

  20. Julia says

    Hi Lauren,
    I love this idea! I would love to do it for my husband, but I can’t get the download to work. Box says you are out of bandwidth. Would you be willing to email the file to me? Thanks so much for sharing!!

  21. says

    Really great idea and done in such a fun way! I posted and tweeted for my peeps that are trying to #spendless.

    Thanks! Stacey @ thefinancegym.com

    p.s. I’m a gamer too! Agricola is our current favorite.

  22. says

    Lauren, I just wanted to thank you for these awesome printables! We had a super limited budget for Valentine’s Day and when I came across your post, I knew this would be the perfect gift for my husband. He loved it! While store bought goodies are nice, sometimes the best gift you can give is TIME. This ensures that even when life gets busy, this mom and dad will make time for EACH OTHER – at least monthly. Thank you for sparking a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Ashley, that YOU for taking the time to come back and comment! Seriously, it makes me so happy to know that you were able to use my printable to create a Valentine’s Day gift that you not only felt proud of, but that will allow you and your hubby to spend some quality time together this next year! Woot woot! P.S. Also, can we just pause for a moment to acknowledge how hilariously amazing your blog title is? Love it!


  1. […] forgotten. Thanks to Pinterest, I found Thinking Closet & her handy date-book template, found here, which made the process of putting together my gift oh so easy. I came up with 12 dates, some […]

  2. […] 6.  12 Months of Date Nights Gift by The Thinking Closet- This is GENIUS!  We are all busy and if you are like my husband and I, you don’t schedule date nights as often as you should.  This adorable gift solves that problem.  It’s another incredibly thoughtful gift that your man is sure to appreciate.  Check out the full post and FREE printables over at The Thinking Closet. […]

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