December is usually the busiest time of year for young professionals — from work holiday parties to traveling to see family, it can be hard to squeeze in time for dating, too. While it might not seem like the ideal time to start a new relationship, it is a great time to get a sense of someone’s character by inviting them on a date that gives back.
While drinks or coffee give you an opportunity to talk to your could-be-partner, volunteering together or helping out your community will give you time to chat and do something to help other people. Sounds like a win-win to us, don’t you think? (And plus, what cuter how-we-met story could there be?!)
Dating coach and author of Screwing the Rules, Laurel House, says these date ideas will help bring out both the fun and kind side of your date. “More than exposing their sensitive side, when you have a soul-tapping experience together, something of substance beyond a dinner date or movie, you connect on a deeper level,” she says. “Those levels of depth are where true and lasting relationships are formed.”
Here are some holiday-themed charitable date ideas to suggest with your next match:
Join a caroling group
You don’t have to have perfect pitch or be able to harmonize to sing holiday carols in a neighborhood. After grabbing hot chocolate, encourage your date to sing a few tunes and spread cheer in your town.
Volunteer for a shared cause
Maybe you’re both big animal lovers, or you were close to your grandparents. If you’re both athletic, try participating in a park clean-up together, and then grab drinks together. Relationship expert Vanessa Marin says donating your time to a cause you both support is a good opportunity to bond and a reminder of what’s really important when picking the right mate: their heart.
Plan an event that gives back
Instead of doing your annual gift exchange with a group of friends, find a local bar to partner with and make a portion of each drink donated to a charity of your choice. This will encourage local patrons to stop by and give back, and give you the chance to meet someone who wants to help the same cause that you do.
Find your passion
Even if you don’t invite someone out for a first date to a charity event, consider volunteering throughout the season as a way to meet genuine people. Relationship expert and therapist Dr. Kat Van Kirk actually met her husband while volunteering at a children’s theater over the holidays. “I believe that community service not only offers you great places to meet people who are like minded, but devising dates around local volunteer opportunities can be the perfect opportunity to get to know someone with a lot less pressure,” she says. “Plus, regardless of how it turns out, you’ll leave feeling better about yourself and about the world.”
Lindsay Tigar is a writer, editor and blogger in New York City. She’s the voice behind the 20-something dating blog, Confessions of a Love Addict and was named NYC’s most eligible single in 2014. Her work can be found at iVillage, Today.com, AskMen.com, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Engagement 101 and more. Follow her on Twitter.