Table for Two: DIY Dating

In the slightly bastardized words of Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a young person enrolled in any sort of continued education must be in desperate want of a large fortune. The horror stories of subsiding off of half-packets of ramen and doubled-steeped bags of tea are, unfortunately, all true. And having recently passed into the academic afterlife, I am here as the bearer of bad news to tell you another depressing fact of life: it doesn’t get much better. I’ve spent the past three months living under my (incredibly generous) parents’ roof, working a hostessing job that I maybe kind of hate, saving as much as possible every week only to barely make ends meet after getting my first loan repayment bill in the mail yesterday. Just when you think you’re financially stable, life throws you a $250 curve ball and keeps them coming every month from now until forever.

Ready for some even better news (and by better I mean not at all)? When two twenty-somethings get together, the relationship can take a turn for the worst if the lovebirds let money get between them. It is extremely hard to be cost conscious when all you want to do is cute things; you have a new partner who is funny, amazing, and/or hot-to-trot and you want to show him or her the world, and vice versa. Unfortunately, all of those fancy dinners, summer superhero blockbusters, and happy hours once (or four) times a week can take a toll on your pocketbook. Soon enough, you’ll be so broke that you’ll be unable to afford next semester’s textbooks, let alone pay for a meal plan, and all of that stress could affect your romance.

But fear not, young lovers! There is hope yet! I have recently deemed us all part of the Generation Pinterest. We can DIY with the best of them. We are full of creativity and spontaneity. We have the ability to stretch a dollar so far, we could use it for a blanket fort. Having just lived through a recession, we have also adopted that beautiful, resilient optimism: we know we’re poor but we don’t have to be sad about it. I read an eye-opening piece that said that in your twenties you should strive “… to feel and see as much as you can, to take advantage of not being tied down to anything and anyone and to go balls to the wall with everything that you do. You’re a raw nerve… We’re the opposite of stuck… we’re constantly moving… Anything is possible.” We sometimes forget what we can do with the amazing things we’ve been given, and how handcrafted can be a thousand times more romantic than store-bought. Here are some ideas to kick-start your DIY heart:

**Ideas for DIY Dating**

1. Homemade breakfast-in-bed is far superior to anything a common diner could provide you. Besides, at home you don’t have that silly “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rule.

2. Stove-top popcorn and a Netflix marathon gives you the movie theater experience without the movie theater mark-ups.

3. Potluck dinner parties bring the people you love together in a place that you love without all of the noisy bustle and hefty price tag of a busy restaurant.

4. Download a recipe application for your phone, one preferably with a spinner function. Just shake your phone, and voila! A new plate for you and your honey to try your hands at.

5. A personally packed picnic is worth a thousand reservations.

6. Brew your own coffee, put on some Jack Johnson, dim the lights, and cuddle on the couch for that cafe atmosphere.

7. Two words: pudding fight. I got this idea from a book I read in middle school. The rules are simple: make pudding, take pudding outside, go all Mortal Kombat on each other with pudding as your preferred weapon for as long as you wish, each as much pudding off of yourself (or each other) when the fight is over, and shower the rest away. I ask you, how could that not be fun?

Johanna Caruthers just graduated with an English degree from McDaniel College. She is terrified about post-grad life, but is looking into becoming a professional body glitter tester.

Originally posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

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