First Date Ideas and Tips

Planning a first date does not have to be stressful, most people just approach it entirely wrong. The first date is merely your way of getting to know the person so you can each decide if you are interested in a second date. It is not an attempt to secure a second date, or to impress the person. Focus on the person you are dating, not the date itself.

If you search for first date ideas online, you will undoubtedly find dozens of websites with lists of random things to do. Half of these aren't feasible and the other half are absolutely ridiculous first date options. Our aim is to provide you with the advice necessary to choose a first date perfect for anyone you meet while still offering ideas that break away from your traditional dinner and a movie. We start with important tips to keep in mind when planning and going on the first date and then incorporate specific first date examples that follow these guidelines.

Initial Planning

Even if you don't create a love connection, you can still have a good time on the first date. In an ideal world, two people could collaborate to come up with a great idea that appeals to both parties. It is more realistic, however, that one person will have to make the decision and present it to the other. This is the reason behind the pressure of planning the first date. An interesting alternative:

  • Split the Date: Each person thinks of half of the date. You may choose the food while your date decides on the entertainment, adding a unique twist on the traditional dinner/movie combo. Splitting the date lets you both contribute and learn something about one another's tastes.

Men: When the first date plans are presented, offer to drive but let her know you are fine with meeting. You want to show that you are a gentleman but don't want to pressure her. We generally recommend that women meet men on the first date rather than accept a ride, especially if you met at an online dating website, but it is still a good idea to offer.

Modifiable Ideas

When you think of ideas, focus on what you will do if the date goes either exceptionally well or exceptionally awful. You want a date that can be easily extended or ended. If there is a connection, have a plan that comfortably allows the two of you to spend more time together; on the other hand, even good chemistry can be smothered if the date drags out. Most outdoor activities lend themselves to extension by taking a walk after the planned portion ends. Some ideas include:

  • Sunrise: Wake up early and watch a sunrise together. This is a good, nontraditional option for early risers, and lets you see if someone who does not traditionally wake up early is open to trying new things. The date could continue as long as desired. You could even opt for going to a nearby coffee shop afterward, but it might be a good idea to bring your own as well.
  • Fitness Activity: Be it hiking, biking, jogging, tennis, or even miniature golf, these outdoor activities create a carefree atmosphere that can be ended or extended with ease. Furthermore, you could cool down with a walk for a change of pace and scenery.

Allow for Conversation

Creating and continuing conversation is the key to success for any first date. Your main priority is getting to know the other person, and one good strategy for maintaining conversation is to incorporate an element into the date that you can fall back on during awkward silences. Activities that are outside the box usually accomplish this nicely; some ideas are as follows:

  • Take a Class: Most communities offer classes on all kinds of activities, such as cooking, painting, music, drink-making, pottery, dance, and just about everything else. It would be best to pick something neither of you has much experience with. The activity itself serves as an unlimited topic of conversation.
  • Volunteer Together: You could stick with the traditional soup kitchen or try planting flowers with your local Parks Department. This idea appears on most other lists, but it really is a long way from dinner and a movie, and this opens the door for a unique topic of conversation that would not likely come up otherwise.
  • Visit a Nursing Home: Along the same lines as volunteering, you will get to meet various people who can serve as a third party in the conversation, taking a lot of the pressure off you and your date. Watching your date interact with the residents may also shed some light onto their true personality.

Lose the Tie

A good rule of thumb is to keep the first date relaxed and casual. The dating environment should be as non-threatening as possible. Too many people try to impress their date with a fancy, which undoubtedly means formal, dinner. Atmospheres that are overly formal are too stuffy to really get to know one another; they can choke conversation and add unnecessary awkwardness to the date. Similarly, activities like going to the movies also restrict dialogue by preventing you from conversing freely. If you feel more comfortable with food on the date, try one of these alternative options:

  • Early Bird Breakfast: Get up early and meet for breakfast before most people arrive at the restaurant. Of course, your date has to be willing to set an alarm.
  • Brunch: Offered at many hotels, brunch allows for a more casual meal and lets you either end the date or follow it with another activity, such as a walk.
  • Picnic: A clichéd idea, but for a reason. Having a picnic is fun, romantic, and casual all at the same time.
  • Progressive Dinner: You could jump from one restaurant to another, having your appetizer, soup, main course, dessert, and coffee each at a different location. The constant running around adds a playful twist to the normal dinner date.

Unconventional First Dates

Your idea does not have to be the first of its kind to be successful; we simply suggest that you step outside the traditional first date mentality. Focus on ideas that would truly be enjoyable while allowing you and your date to get to know one another. A good approach is to try something neither of you have every done. This could be challenging without prior communication with the person, such as online messaging at a dating website or a phone conversation with someone you met in person. Some unconventional first date ideas include the following:

  • Tourist Attractions: Many places have planetariums, aquariums or natural history museums, but it is not uncommon for local residents to have never visited these sights.
  • Paddle Boating: If you can find a place that offers paddle boating, it usually works well as a first date destination.

Remember, the first date is your chance to get to know someone and decide if you are both interested in a second date. Too many people fixate on making the other person like them and completely lose sight of whether or not there is actually any chemistry. Don't focus on going over the top or worry about impressing your date; fun ideas create a relaxed atmosphere that lends itself to casual, quality conversation. As long as you apply the tips outlined above, you should be just fine.