The Best Winter Date Ideas For Every Relationship Stage

Just because it's chilly outside doesn't mean that your love life needs to go cold. Winter months can be tough — it's darker earlier and the thought of going outside is less tempting — but there are still ways to find cool things to do as a couple. In fact, the creativity can actually lead to better dates! Relationships are all about keeping the spark alive, no matter how long you've been together as a couple. So whether you're newly in love or enjoying a long-term relationship — or even in need of a little jolt! — we've curated a list of great winter dates that'll give you and your significant other the chance to bond, connect, and smile, even while bundled up. 

Consciously crafting date ideas is a great way to show your partner that you care; in a budding relationship, try some unconventional first dates as a way to break the ice and get to know each other. There are ideas for all types here. Dawn daters — those who love to connect at the crack of dawn — will find some ideas. Heck, a ski day gets you up bright and early, doesn't it? There are ideas for athletic dates and ideas for cozy dates, depending on your needs as a couple through the winter months. Some are decadent, and some are budget-friendly. So without further ado, let it snow down some love!

Holiday ideas for the newly dating

For those who are brand new to a relationship, say one to four dates, the goal is to get to know each other. Of course, you want to plan a fun date, but you don't want to overwhelm yourself. "First dates are inherently stressful — it's hard to meet new people, let alone to meet a person that you hope likes you. Even harder if you're the one planning the date," licensed marriage and family therapist Elizabeth Earnshaw told Today. No pressure! 

To ease your nerves, pick something cheerful and as stress-free as possible for both of you. If your city has a skating rink set up, give that a try. If there's a cafe that's famous for its hot chocolate, go for it. That's always a win, and very on-theme for winter coziness. Of course, it's always a good idea to ask ahead about food allergies or athletic preferences, in case your date can't skate or wouldn't enjoy the activity. A holiday market, like Bryant Park's Winter Village in New York City, is a great spot for a first date. It's simple and whimsical, but gives both of you enough diversion that there isn't a ton of stress to keep a conversation bubbling for hours. You can immerse yourself in sights and flavors while enjoying (hopefully) each other's company.

Winter fun for couples with a few months under their belts

Once you've been dating for a few months, you can start to explore more adventurous winter dates. And why not? This is the period that most couples' therapists call the honeymoon phase. It lasts anywhere from six months to two years, and it's when everything your partner does is just fantastic. "It is the very beginning of a new relationship," Michelle Mouhtis, licensed therapist and a dating and relationship coach, told Brides. "It's when every part of the person you're dating is fascinating, down to the minute details and weird quirks." So take those weird quirks snow tobogganing! 

Enjoy the bliss of this period and get creative. Outdoor activities, like winter hikes, sledding, and snow-shoeing, are fun ways to do something active together. Plus, since you're so in love, nothing you do will look ridiculous to your partner. If you want something cozier, make some homemade kettle corn and watch your favorite Hallmark movies together to get into the holiday spirit. Who cares if they're cheesy? The whole point is that you two get to cuddle up and do something together.

Snowy activities for couples who've been together for a few years

Couples who have been together for a few years have an abundance of winter date options. Once you've settled into the relationship, it's important to continue dating each other, and not let those special times together disappear. Since so much of the holidays is about food, challenge each other to a cooking competition. Have an at-home baking contest, because what are the winter months without cookies, anyway? 

If you want to head out of the house, use this time as a chance to get really decked up and go to the theater. The Nutcracker is a holiday classic, so take advantage of the timing and go enjoy it. See if your area is offering any candlelight performances or holiday concerts. The chance to watch a performance together is a great way to bond and smile during winter. You can also organize a holiday-themed photo shoot as a couple. Hire a photographer and organize a special day to take photos as a couple; snow is the perfect backdrop for some memorable pics. You can send the photos with a holiday card or newsletter to friends and family since by this point, they're all likely integrated into your relationship. You'll cherish those photos forever.

How married couples can bond during the winter

Once you're married or partnered, it's important to carve out time together, especially throughout the winter, since the darker days and cooler weather can make folks a bit gloomy. Make sure that you're carving out regular, solo time together. Licensed marriage and family therapist Susan Hartman Brenizer told Brides that one of the most important things to keep marriages healthy is to spend quality time listening to each other. "We don't need facts nor do we want the other to problem-solve for us," Hartman Brenizer explained. "We just want to be heard by the person who is still the most important person in each of our lives."

So make some time to be alone; if you need a babysitter or petsitter, book someone and take a getaway weekend where you can enjoy some winter magic. Book a ski weekend, or go relax in a hot spring. There'll be no lack of warmth! Airbnb has a search option for winter getaways, so see what's out there. Check out the cute cabins and ski-in/ski-out locations that are accessible. 

If going away isn't an option, bring the winter magic right to your home. Make a pizza together and watch "The Holiday" or "Elf." You can even make S'mores right in your kitchen, by roasting the marshmallows in the oven if you don't have a fireplace. Have a spa night at home; turn off the lights, light some candles, and relax in the tub. 

If you need to revive a spark in your relationship

Take advantage of the twinkle of winter lights to reignite a spark in your relationship, no matter what phase of love you're in. For new couples and long-term couples, the winter months can be a perfect time to spice things up if love and life have been feeling stale. So do something extra special around the holidays to rev things up. Doing something adventurous and new as a couple can be just the thing to build that passionate bond again. According to Verywell Mind, Dr. Art Aron and his wife, Dr. Elaine Aron, psychologist on intimacy, said, "The benefits of new and challenging experiences together are enormous. And they last."

If you've both been meaning to learn something, take a lesson together. Having a challenging experience doesn't have to mean heli-skiing. Take a cooking class or yoga class together. Book cross-country ski lessons. Go rock climbing indoors to escape the cold. Learning together creates a strong bond. Do something challenging and new with your partner and enjoy the bond it brings. Chase the aurora borealis, and book a trip to Norway or Iceland. Spend the night in an ice hotel; the Hôtel de Glace in Quebec City, Canada, is epic, or stay at the Icehotel in Sweden. If you want to keep things closer to home, take each other around your city and sample every fondu restaurant in town. At the end of the winter, pick your favorite place.