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Joe and I registered for a four-man tent for our wedding and later we purchased sleeping bags and an air mattress. In almost seven years of marriage, the number of times that we've used that camping equipment together is..... once. Joe has used them all for scout overnighters on multiple occasions but we've only taken them out for our family's use once for a family reunion in 2011.
Joe's work schedule for the first five years of our marriage didn't allow us to get away on the weekends very much, so we never went camping together. By the time he'd changed jobs and had a regular schedule again, we had a newborn and he was scoutmaster and camping one weekend a month already. We have a goal to go on a small campout this summer with the kids, maybe after we have a test run in our backyard to make sure we'll all get decent sleep.
If your stage of life is similar to ours, if you're not an outdoorsy couple, if the woods are too far away from you or if it's the middle of winter and you're missing the summer weekends when you would escape to somewhere without cell phone service, this date night might be for you. In the summer, you could do this in your backyard, but you'll want to make sure you have long lasting batteries in your baby monitors or an extension cord that reaches out to your tent so you can keep an eye on the kids.
One of the best things about this date is that you can still wake up the next morning and go to work if you need to. Middle of the week dates or date nights when one of you has to work all weekend are totally doable with this kind of campout! I loved that we could do this on a Saturday night and still get up the next morning and have the entire family ready and at church by 9am.
Indoor Campout - At Home Date Ideas
We pulled out all the stops for this date night with the tent, our air mattress and the sleeping bags. In the future, we probably won't set up the tent because it was a lot of work and took up lots of space but the kids thought that it was a lot of fun and it did add to the atmosphere for our date. Even if this took place in our backyard, I would choose to sleep out under the stars, except for the mosquitoes in our area so I'd probably set the tent up still but leave off the cover.
I'm a big fan of double sleeping bags, especially for date night or a camping getaway. This sleeping bag is perfect for indoor campouts becaue it's lightweight and it has pillows attached. It's the one that I'm planning to purchase for our next campout date night. If you're looking for a warmer sleeping bag to use for winter temperatures and campouts, this one is great.
We set up camp in our living room, where we could watch a movie on our TV through the roof of the tent. You could set up in your basement or even in your bedroom. If you don't have a tent or an air mattress, turn your bed into a fort so it has a tent like feel. You can find tutorials on Pinterest for creating a tent over your bed if you need a place to start.
If you want to fully commit to the camping experience try turning off your wifi and putting your cell phones on airplane mode for a few hours or even overnight. You can still use the alarm on your phone when it's in airplane mode so you don't need to worry about having to get up in the morning. Your kids will be upstairs sleeping (unless you decide to send them to grandma's for the night) so you won't need to worry about calls from the babysitter. Disconnect for an entire night and see how connected you are as a couple when you do.
Go all in with this date night and make a dinner out of foods that you would normally take camping. Hot dogs, beef stew, tin foil dinners, sandwiches or make everything in the dutch oven. We'd had a big day and a long week, so we decided to go the easy route for this date and picked up takeout from one of our favorite restaurants. You could also make dinner together, no specific theme, just enjoy making a meal together. We always love to do homemade pizza or you can check out one of the delicious meals from the Date Night in the Kitchen series here on the blog.
My favorite part of this date was the s'mores! There are a lot of different indoor s'more variations out there and you can find them all by searching Pinterest. I found this great indoor s'mores maker on Amazon and that's what we used on our date. I love it because it creates a classic s'more in the oven or on the grill (no campfire smells required) and doesn't require any skills to assemble the s'more without leaving any marshmallow on the roasting stick or making a mess of your fingers.
You can check out this post for some ideas to create some unique s'mores flavor combinations. The great thing about the s'mores maker that we purchased is that it makes up to six s'mores at a time. You can create a few different types of s'mores, split them in half and taste them all. We also bought the s'mores specific marshmallows , they come in a sort of square shape rather than the regular round shape. The s'mores ready marshmallows make assembly more simple and eating s'mores less messy.
I was cracking up while we were eating our s'mores because while I had chocolate and marshmallow all over my face, Joe was nibbling off all of the marshmallow that was squishing out around the crackers. We definitely do things differently... This s'mores maker is a game changer for us. Quick and easy s'mores any time of year without having to light a fire. I'm excited to introduce our kids to a new, delicious treat as well.
If your date night continues through to morning, you could plan to make pancakes, bacon and hot chocolate together. There's nothing I love more than breakfast while camping. Everyone brings a cooktop and makes something warm while they're bundled up in lots of layers. We didn't have time for a big breakfast before we headed out to church the morning after our date but you can bet that next time, we'll make breakfast a priority.
You've set the mood and enjoyed delicious food, but don't end your evening there! What fun camping activities could you do together for date night as well? If it's not too cold outside, you might go out and stargaze. There are apps out there that will help you locate constellations in the sky above you depending on the time of year. One of the classic campout things to do is to play board games or card games. Freshly Married has a great list of two player games that you should check out.
We watched a new show on Netflix for a while; Comedians in Cars Drinking Coffee. It's actually pretty fun if you like comedy! Jerry Seinfeld drives a different "cool car" in every episode and picks up a different comedian to take to coffee. We skip around a bit because we're not the biggest fans of some of the comedians featured on the show. It's fun to hear a little bit about their different careers and get some laughs at the same time.
Another thing we did was play the This or That Date from The Dating Divas. It was simple to put together and simple to play but led to great conversation! The printables are free and you will love playing this together! We chose to take turns picking cards and then the person who picked a card would guess what the other person's choice would be. After that, we shared our personal choices and usually had a quick discussion. Seven years in a relationship and I still learned new things about Joe that I didn't know before! I loved how low-key this game was but how well it helped us connect.
We had a lot of fun on this date and plan to recreate it again in the future. Same basic idea, different food, activities and atmosphere. You can find over 200 other date night ideas like this one in our Prioritizing Date Night Ebook. You will also find tips to help you make date night happen, no matter what obstacles stand in your way. The book is currently on sale so grab your copy now!
What details would you be sure to include on your indoor campout date?
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography