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12 Christmas Date Ideas by Relationship Experts

Kick off the holiday season with fun and festive date ideas that are scientifically-proven to bring you closer over the holidays

When it comes to relationship satisfaction during the holidays, a well-orchestrated Christmas date night can bring so much more than some festive cheer; or so say the experts...

Whether you’ve been together a few months, years or decades, the holidays are a great time for couples to get closer, reflect on the previous year and have real conversations – and a Christmas date is the perfect occasion. Research shows that couples who make quality time to date each other and try new things together, build up fun memory banks and report higher levels of relationship satisfaction overall.

Feeling inspired? We’ve recruited Paired’s team of expert relationship therapists, counsellors and academics to share their favorite fun, Christmas date ideas and how they can help give your relationship a boost during the holiday season.

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1. Recreate your first date

“Whether it be the restaurant, movie, food or place where you first met, recreate your first date. These activities and memories hold a special place in your heart because it’s what brought you together. You could even put a holiday season spin on it with a festive menu or holiday playlist. Spending time with your partner in this way shows you appreciate each other, because it says – even through all the stress and business of the holidays – I want to take time to recognize and spend time with you, my partner.”

Dr. Terri Orbuch, Professor of Sociology at Oakland University

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2. Have a Christmas ‘crafternoon’

“Christmas is a wonderful time to get creative. Make a Christmas tree ornament or make fireside s'mores or decorate a gingerbread house. Working together on a common goal both helps to build trust in a relationship and also to pushes you to deliver. This Christmas date idea is also an opportunity to teach each other new skills. If one of you is good at baking while the other knows a little thing or two about decorations, you can share your knowledge, so you’ll make the perfect team.”

Pam Custers, Couple Therapist

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3. Plan a Christmas movie marathon

“Christmas is a great time to snuggle up on the sofa together and relax together amid the holiday rush – and with a new Christmas movie being released by the day, it’s the perfect occasion. In my ‘Enduring Love?’ study, we found that TV time created deeper bonds between some couples, helped them build shared memories and provided lasting biographical anchors over the course of their relationship. So plan a Christmas marathon, set the scene with sweets, treats, and a bottle of something bubbly, then switch on Netflix … and Chill.”

Dr. Jacqui Gabb, Professor of Sociology and Intimacy at Open University, and Chief Relationships Office at Paired

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4. Hang a ‘relationship stocking’

“Here’s a twist on the traditional Christmas stocking and a fun Christmas Eve date idea, agree to have a ‘relationship stocking’ each this year that can be hung on your bedside for Christmas morning. Inside it each partner places either a positive memory, a special word or a gift or object, that recognises and affirms the specialness of your love. Whilst still in bed, (or returning to bed to unpack these stockings) share your thoughts and feelings about what you have found.

Affirmations like these are a way of strengthening your relationship and letting your partner know that they matter to you, and are used in a range of therapies from CBT to Psychodrama.”

Martin Gill, Couple Therapist

Couple walking in the woods during the holidays

5. Go for a walk in the woods

“This year’s Christmas might be quite fraught, anxious-making, or difficult, so getting outside into nature for a long walk can be calming respite. Walking side-by-side can offer up interesting conversations; in fact, even just walking and holding hands or simply ‘being’ together will create bonding moments.

Plus, it’s great for your mental and physical health. Research shows that walking among the trees reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and boosts the immune system through breathing in the natural oils that trees emit. The Japanese call this Shinrin-Yoku, meaning ‘forest bathing' – literally soaking up nature. Christmas is a great time to try it – it’s free, it’s simple, and it’s unlocked!”

Anjula Mutanda, Couple Therapist

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6. Volunteer

“Doing something ‘good’ together (that will make a difference to others) is not your typical holiday date idea, but your relationship will thank you for it, believe me. Wrap packages for a food drive or a children's hospital and be part of a visit that delivers them to these deserving people. Then go out afterwards for hot chocolate and feel good that you are mutually helping the world be a bit better of a place to live in. That sense of joint goodness and joint purpose brings mutual respect – which every relationship needs.”

Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington

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7. Take a trip to see the Christmas lights

“My favorite romantic Christmas date idea is to go and look at the lights together. This is a playful thing to do and will allow you both to enjoy the magic, create memories and smile and laugh together. Many studies cite playfulness and a sense of humour as important components of a successful relationship. This is all good for your mood and wellbeing, and research shows that when we are in a good mood, we are more successful partners. Who can feel grumpy surrounded by beautiful lights?

Plus, don’t forget to say “thank you” to each other for sharing such a lovely time and show your partner they are appreciated. Perhaps this can be done with a mince pie and a cup of mulled wine. Enjoy!”

Judith Lask, Couple and Family Therapist

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8. Have a Christmas cook off

“The holiday season is a time for family and traditions spanning multiple religions and cultures, old and new. One great way to bring them together? Food! This is a good way to revisit the rituals and traditions from your childhood and heritage and turn them into a Christmas date. Decide on your favorite Christmas recipes and cook them up together. This can be a lovely way to share memories that are important to you, and to teach each other something new – about food and about you. Plus cooking a meal with your partner can bring you closer together emotionally, mentally, and physically. It can even be sensual and sexy.

Whether you enjoy one big feast or cook up a storm every night in the run up to Christmas, sharing this with your partner will be romantic and a whole lot of fun.”

Dr. Jacqui Gabb, Professor of Sociology and Intimacy at Open University, and Chief Relationships Office at Paired

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9. Take a dance class together

“Taking any class together, where the activity is new and novel to both you and your partner is great for your relationship. There are even virtual classes available on anything from jazz to salsa. Doing new and novel activities with your partner will create passion and excitement in your relationship, and with dancing you also add touch (which physically bonds you).”

Dr. Terri Orbuch, Professor of Sociology at Oakland University

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10. Bring back the good old days

“Introduce some romance from days gone by with a moonlight picnic under the stars, ice skating in the park, or even get a ride in a horse driven sleigh in the snow – trust me, this can be done, they even do it in Sun Valley during the winter. Whatever you choose, bring brandy and blankets and feel like you are part of a 1940s movie. The cozyness and creativity of this date are going to increase your oxytocin – the bliss hormone. It will definitely create a loving feeling.”

Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington

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11. Make a couple's Christmas album

"Create an album to document your favorite couple holiday moments from this year and beyond. You can roll it out every year and enjoy the combination of looking back and looking forward. Couples who spend time fondly reflecting on their relationship history learn to appreciate their togetherness, special bond and loving feelings, so this will provide a great point of connection during the busy festive season."

Dr. Hannah Sherbersky, Couple and Family Therapist

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12. Put your Christmas date idea on repeat

“Agree to recreate your Christmas date every year. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it could just be having hot cocoa in front of the fire every night before you get into bed for the week of Christmas, for example. It could be going to a romantic restaurant on New Year’s Eve, reviewing the year together, and thanking one another for what you each bring to your life together. The repetition will underscore your connection, strengthen your bond, and highlight that the two of you belong together.”

Dr. Duana Welch, Author and Dating Coach

Happy Holidays!

For more Christmas relationship advice from our experts and to take ourChristmas relationship quiz, download Paired.

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