Cheap Dates: Brought to You by Birthday Season

I turned 27 on Saturday. There have been lots of celebrations and I’ve relished every one. But the type I want to discuss today fall into the category of cheap dates.

Birthday season may or may not mean cake and candles, but for David and me it definitely means a free Coldstone Creation, free Baskin Robbins cone, free entree at Moe’s, free dinner plate from Captain D’s, free smoothie from Tropical Smoothie, and free sub from Firehouse Subs. And those are just the totally free options. I’m usually get Buy One, Get One Free coupons from other restaurants and chains too, but I generally go for the totally free before moving to BOGOs.

I’m signed up for every birthday perk in my area. I think I started out by Googling “free birthday clubs” and landing on a long birthday club list. Then I happily started signing up. It’s been birthday bliss ever since.

All the birthday loot mentioned above translates into two or three cheap dates. We usually split whatever freebie we get and take it to the beach to enjoy. This year, we took advantage of being locals during the off-season and booked a getaway to Sandestin’s Baytowne Wharf. Our snug little room had a cute little table and chairs and a dimmer switch on the light above, so we made a Moe’s run, brought the food back, and poured out some Sobi Water into goblets and toasted the day.

That’s what life is made of: cheap dates and taking all the chances you can to have fun with those you love.

Homemade Question Cube . . . er, Jar

I shopped for one of these last year . . . only to discover that after my $15 discount had been applied, this little plastic box of questions was still going to ring up $25. I love the idea—not the price tag. No matter. Making your own is only that much more fun, plus the questions get to be tailored to fit your tastes.

You’ll need a washed baby food jar, spray paint, ribbon, stamp, ink, and questions. I got mine from all over the internet. Just google “icebreaker questions.” First, spray paint your jar lid and let dry overnight. Then get to work on selecting the questions. Then format your document  so the question cards fit neatly into the bottle. (I used a spreadsheet feature in Apple’s Pages.) Then I printed them up, cut them out, and put them into the bottle. Lastly I stamped a question mark (from an alphabet stamp set) onto a ribbon and tied it.

I plan on using these for my next “cheap date” with my Dearest!

Thrift Store Outfits

I love thrift stores. At least, I love the ones I feel safe going to by myself. 🙂 Most of the time, I find it hard to find people who are willing to go with me, so my trips have been few and far between since I moved to Crestview. When I lived in Fort Walton, our apartments were right next to a strip mall that contained a nice new Salvation Army. I remember waiting in eager anticipation for that store to open! (I guess it takes all kinds for the world to go round.)

Anyway, I recently went to the Waterfront Rescue Mission, armed with Christmas money and a few hours of undisturbed searching. I went looking for outfits. Whole, complete outfits. First I found a top. Then I went looking for a bottom to match. And vice versa. It was an adventure that turned up quite a few treasures. First up: a grey wool dress that was just bubbling over with vintage charm. $5.

Next up, a Merona (Target) dress that looked like it’d never even been worn. Brown-and-white polka dots. $5.

Then I found a sweet Old Navy shirt and a ruffly American Eagle skirt that went well together. Shirt, $5. Skirt, $4.

At first I tried on this black top and liked it, but put it back on the return rack because I knew I didn’t have a skirt or pants that matched. But when I caught sight of this skirt, I quickly retrieved it. I would go perfectly with the White House, Black Market jewelry that my sister gave me for Christmas! Earring and bracelets were perfect: no need for a necklace with this flowery neckline.

Then I bought this blouse, because my wardrobe consists of so many solids. Trying to branch out a little. And I had two pairs of khakis that would match well.

Last but not least, I bought a pair of Faded Glory jeans and an American Eagle tshirt. And for whatever reason (probably because I tried on dozens of outfits), the jeans ended up being the only dud. They are too big. And they were the most expensive too, at $6. Sigh. And you know, jeans were the reason I went shopping. So I still need to find some that fit.

All in all, I spent about $38. I was very pleased.

Ping Pong Ball Lights

I found a great tutorial over on Instructables: and followed it line by line, picture by picture. The lights were about $2 (after Christmas sale) and the beer pong balls were $15 on Ebay. Here’s how the adventure went.

Picked up a gross (144 balls), enough lights to make about 1 and 1/2 strings (100 and 44).

Then my wonderful husband rigged up a way to drill the holes in a fast, safe, easy way. Take a look:

We used some Viva paper towels to pad the ping ping ball as it was held in the clamp. Then we could pop a ball down into the “cushion” easily and quickly.

A semi-clean hole was drilled. If there was any denting, we just gently squeezed the plastic back into shape. Using this method helped us drill the hole in about the same place on each ball too.

My job was to pop the newly-drilled balls out of the drilling station we rigged and onto the strings of lights. It was fast and easy.

Finished product! We had some fun right away, taking pictures and getting the tangles out:

I don’t have a picture, but we hung them from tacks in the living room ceiling for a big birthday party we had, and finally hung them up in the backyard, decorating the perimeter of the fence.

My sweet husband, you’re such a good egg.

And that’s it! You try it now. 🙂