I always watched The Bachelor with my sisters.
I mean, we watched it at exactly the same time in three different houses on three different TVs and sent tons of group texts back and forth.
In fact, there were always so many group texts that we would have to pause to catch up on them, which completely threw off the synchronicity of watching “together.”
So, when my little sister was getting married, I knew I wanted to make some kind of creative gift involving dates.
When my best friend got married, I made a Year of Firsts Wedding Wine basket, which was a huge hit (free printables).
Yet, I wanted to do something different this time.
So, I took that idea and revamped it into a “Year of Dates” gift basket.
The Perfect Gift Idea
The “Year of Dates” gift basket would include a planned and paid date for every month of their first married year.
My sister and her fiancé were always looking for new things to do in their new city.
Plus, planning 12 dates would make me feel like Chris Harrison.
There would be date cards, roses, and lots of silly jokes!
This was the perfect opportunity to make a special DIY wedding gift and use my creativity.
How to Make a Year of Dates Gift Basket
1. Set a Budget
I shared the idea with my mom and sisters and asked if they wanted to go in on it with me. That way we could plan some really nice dates for the Year of Dates wedding gift. I was happy to hear they loved the idea.
Variety is Key
You can make the dates as expensive or inexpensive as you’d like. Or, you could vary it as we did.
Some of the attractions we included were free, so we could make other dates more expensive.
Once you set your budget, divide by 12 so you know how much you can spend on each date.
2. Collect Materials – Free Year of Dates Printables
To make the Year of Dates gift basket, I used the following materials. The printables and templates are available as free downloads.
- Organza pouches to hold money, tickets, and gift cards
- Mini envelopes to hold the date cards & money pouches
- Burlap ribbon
- Tissue paper
- Stickers or washi tape for decoration
- Large basket
- Items/trinkets to go with the dates (see below for explanation & ideas)
- Free printables (see below) – date cards, spreadsheet, month labels, and sign
Organizing the Dates
I made a spreadsheet to track all of the information for the Year of Dates wedding gift.
I am in love with spreadsheets, and this was the easiest way to organize everything.
On this Year of Dates spreadsheet, there’s a column for the date venue, date card poem, website, address, helpful hints, cost, item/trinket, and the months (so you don’t plan an ice skating date in the summer),
The item/trinket was my favorite part, but more on this later.
3. Research Date Ideas
The next thing I did was research things to do in their city. I found lots of great blogs and articles with plenty of ideas for date nights.
Before I finalized any of the 12 dates, I read the reviews of the places on Trip Advisor.
That’s the absolute best way to find out if a museum, restaurant, or attraction is worth the time.
Research & Review Tip
Before I had kids, I was a teacher, and my husband and I used to travel during all of the breaks.
We some amazing trips, and I would research our destinations for hours before I made our detailed itinerary. Trip Advisor always had the most accurate and detailed reviews.
So I channeled my traveling days and used Trip Advisor to plan out the dates.
I used the reviews to make a helpful hints list for each date. More on this later 🙂
If you are looking for date ideas, some general date ideas are:
- ice cream dates
- movie dates
- ice skating dates
- tree lighting dates
- beach or lake day trips
- picnic dates
- swimming dates
- gym dates
- rock climbing dates
- hiking dates
- bike riding trips
- cooking class dates
- dessert dates
- sports games
- zoo dates
There are so many possibilities.
When researching the 12 dates, we stayed away from anything where we had to lock in a particular date because we had no idea what their work schedules are like.
So, any festivals, concerts, or games were out.
As soon as a date attraction/venue looked good, I added it to my Year of Dates Excel list.
4. Choose an Item/Trinket/Gift for Each Date
When putting together the 12 Months of Dates gift, we had another idea. We thought it would be super cute to put a small gift with each date.
So instead of just giving an envelope with the date card and money/tickets, there were trinkets that went along with the theme of the date.
So, we creatively found items for the 12 date ideas.
Little Gift Examples
Here are a few of the ones we used. As you can see, they’re super cute!
- Beer cozies for the beer tour date
- Colored pencils and a little sketchbook for the art museum trip
- Easily-foldable blanket for their picnic
- Cute mason jar cups and a mini bottle of champagne for their beach date
- Hot cocoa and hand warmers for the Christmas tree lighting
- Walkable map for their city tour
- Chocolate bar sample to go with the chocolate tour
- Star book to go with their observatory date
Other items we paired were a fancy wine cork, magnets, and a photo album with a map on the cover.
These little gifts can add up so I suggest going to Target’s Dollar Spot section or using a coupon at the craft stores.
I love the idea of trinkets because it really made for a nice gift basket.
Truly it made the gift so much more visually and creatively than giving envelopes of money.
However, you could make this gift basket without the little gifts. You could actually give the gift as a binder.
5. Make the Date Cards
For the date cards, I wrote simple poems for each of the 12 dates. To tie in the theme of the Bachelor, I tied in “should you accept this rose.”
On the front, the date card said:
A free outdoor pool that’s located by the Charles, a bike path, and a Trader Joe’s,
you’ll have a blast at this best kept secret if you accept this rose.
On the back, the date card said:
“Should you accept this rose, enjoy your date at:“
We also included any helpful hints, such as the hours the pool was open or the availability of bathrooms/changing rooms/lockers.
We used the information in the reviews on Trip Advisor to compile the Helpful Hints for each of the 12 dates.
It’s the same research that I would have done if I were going.
And remember, I have the date card template that I created available for you in the free printables. 🙂
6. Acquire gift cards or tickets (or cash)
For as many of the dates as could, we attained gift cards or tickets.
Being out of town, we couldn’t pick up everything we wanted – but lots of places were able to mail us these, or we were able to buy/print online.
Keep in mind that since it is a year of dates, some of the dates won’t happen for several months.
For those far-off dates, we tended to include cash – just in case the place went out of business or went downhill before their scheduled date.
We also included cash if there were any places that we were unsure about. For example, we included a museum that we thought my sister would love; however, we weren’t sure if she’s been there before.
If she’s already been there several times, she might not want to return. So, we did cash for that one – and she could decide.
7. Put everything together!
I wasn’t sure how I was going to present the Year of Dates wedding gift. I was thinking maybe a cooler bag, and then they could use that for their picnic.
However, I felt that this wouldn’t be the best presentation because you wouldn’t be able to see everything. It would look like I was gifting just the cooler bag.
Going with the Gift Basket
I ultimately went with a gift basket and really thick burlap lace ribbon for the envelopes and items. This gave all the assorted trinkets a uniform look.
Also, I didn’t want the money or tickets to get lost. So, I bought these organza pouches. These pouches made it easy for the recipient to keep track of money or gift cards.
Then, I put the date card and the organza pouch in little colorful envelopes. I printed the month labels (free printables) and glued them on the cards. This also contributed to a uniform look.
I found a nice basket at Michaels for the 12 Months of Dates wedding gift and got to work filling it up.
Then, I used the burlap lace ribbon to wrap around the items, and then I slipped the envelope in.
Between the monthly labels (free printable) and the burlap ribbon, it tied together all the “random” trinkets we picked up. I stuffed some tissue paper at the bottom to keep items in place.
I also printed off a Year of Dates poem and taped it to a little wooden skewer.
Last, when doing my research for the Year of Dates basket, I found out that you can get free or discounted passed to many places in their city through their library.
So I added a little “Bonus” date card and printed out the list of places they could go by reserving the tickets in advance at their local library.
All the Ooohhhs & Ahhhhsss
The Year of Dates wedding gift went over so well! Every girl at the shower was swooning over the creative gift basket.
So many gifts at showers are pretty boring – and right off the registry- so this gift gave life to those “ooohhhs” and “ahhhhs.”
Plus, who wouldn’t love all those planned (and paid for) adventures for the entire first year of marriage?!
It definitely topped my Year of Firsts Gift Basket. It might even be my most creative gift ever.
You don’t have to use this gift idea for a shower or a wedding – you can make it for anyone you love!
It’s perfect for girlfriends or even boyfriends – anyone who is looking for a fun, unique, and thoughtful gift!
It’s also perfect for those who have moved to a new city.
You could also make it for kids, and call it a Year of Adventures! Boy, my kids would love that.
Basically, you can’t go wrong!
Let me know if you make your own Year of Dates gift basket. I would love to hear about it!