Manly and I had the most special immersive at-home date night recently, and it hardly cost us anything! Considering the hours of affordable fun, and the memories and connection it created, I just couldn’t keep it to myself! I’ll be planning themed dates like this to come so make sure to stay tuned for more creative ideas that you can try out with your person! In the meantime, let’s plan out an African Safari date for the two of you from the comfort of your own home!
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So the idea of an immersive date is a whole day/night centered around one theme or concept with cuisine, activities, and outfits to match. For example, an ordinary date night might lead you two to watch the movie Ratatouille together. An immersive date, on the other hand, would be attempting to cook ratatouille together while French opera plays in the background. One of you plays “little chef”, guiding the other’s hands as you cook the meal. You’re either wearing chef hats or berets and drinking wine or sparkling cider. You may end the night with the movie, but the movie is more for inspiration than anything.
The goal is to feel as if you’re in the world of the theme you chose and are experiencing all of it together.
Safari Date Night Set-up
So, for this unique date night, I turned our living room into an African jungle and planned out a bunch of activities and food to go with it. We had so much fun “on safari” together and I had a blast just planning and setting it all up!
Let’s break down each aspect of the safari set-up so you can do the same:
The Jungle (AKA the fort)
First things first! Your entire Safari adventure will take place inside a cozy blanket fort…
Now lets be honest… Forts are easy to envision but so much harder to build! Especially when it comes to building a solid one that is tall enough to sit up straight in… So I thought it might help if I shared my secret!
My trick is to prop our dining room chairs onto the back of our sofas for height and use clamps to attach the blanket/sheet to the top of the back of each chair. This gives structure and keeps the blankets from sliding off.
Heavy duty clamps like these are the key to a stable fort! And they are so useful to have in your home for anything from building forts to hanging movie projectors, etc…
Also, when you’re building your fort, make sure the roof of it is tall enough so that you can comfortably see the TV.
I put a foam mattress topper on the floor for max comfiness, but this is definitely not necessary. You could also use an air mattress or couch cushions instead. Just work with what you have! Creative dates are all about resourcefulness.
And of course, you’ll add plenty of blankets and pillows to the inside!
I was excited to be able to use my cozy floor cushions in the fort. They happen to be my favorite new addition to our living room! I typically keep them tucked under our coffee table until I pull one out to use it. I love that they provide extra cute and comfy seating options; and they’re especially useful when we have a lot guests over!
INNA Thick Chenille Floor Cushions
In order to feel immersed in your African Jungle adventure, you’re going to have to decorate like it! It might seem excessive now, but trust me — you won’t regret going the extra mile!
Grab a stuffed animal or two and some plants or florals that look like what you’d see on a safari. Scatter these around the fort and TV stand.
And of course, make sure to place some candles around for ambiance. Twinkly lights are also a great idea for cozy lighting in a fort!
Now for the best part… turn on your TV.
YouTube is the best for it’s mood-setting background videos. And it’s all free! I just searched “African Safari Ambience” and went with this Instrumental Folk Music option.
This 4k African Safari Video is insanely beautiful as well.
The music and ambience on the TV is the easiest solution to bringing in the theme if you don’t happen to have the right decorative pieces available.
Ah, I just love a good itinerary. I’m sorry if that’s so nerdy, but it’s true.
But nerdy or not, if this date is a surprise to your man, an itinerary really is a great way to introduce them to the evening and let them know what they can expect.
Start it out with an introduction like, “Welcome to the Jungle!” Keep it cute and playful; nothing too serious.
Highlight aspects of the night like their tour guide (that’s you!), the dinner menu, and scheduled activities for the evening. Don’t forget to think immersive: You’re writing this all out as if it’s your reality for the night.
Here’s an example, written by yours truly (Safari Ari):
You guessed it. You and your love are going to be dressing for the occasion.
Imagine the look on my husband’s face when he came home to me dressed up as a safari guide, handing him the itinerary as I introduced him to the “jungle”. He loved it! I even had an outfit laid out for him to get into before coming upstairs so he was set to join the fun.
Do your best to put together a safari style outfit. You know the look: a white top tucked into high-waisted khakis. A vest, button down or polo with belted khakis for him. Even better if you can find a hat that works.
My outfit is composed of my Dad’s favorite hat and my sister’s khaki dress. No need to go shopping!
Another fun idea is to dress your guy for the safari while you dress up in animal print! I have an adorable leopard print dress that I almost wore but I really wanted to be Safari Ari so the khaki look won out!
Now that your looking the part and are all set up, the fun can begin! Here’s a run-down of the activities of the night:
1. Sight-See with a Jungle Animal Documentary
Let’s start the night off right. Grab your safari partner and hit the fort for some “sight-seeing”.
Turn your TV to Animal Planet or Netflix’s new docu-show Our Planet and find a jungle episode. The footage is always stunning and it’s actually really fun to learn something new together about the wildlife that exists on the other side of our world.
2. Indulge in Jungle Cuisine
A little pit stop in the kitchen for dinnertime and some edible appreciation for the circle of life.
Time to experience all the jungle has to offer with a primal steak dinner and some refreshing jungle drinks!
This is the steak and potato recipe I followed (YUM) along with some grilled asparagus – straight from the rainforest of course.
For drinks, what would fit better in the jungle than a mojito? A few mint leaves on a bubbly drink ties in with the vibrant green foliage of the jungle (and our fort). It’s perfect.
We rarely drink alcohol so our beverages that night were mocktails. Sparkling water, lime juice, and honey simple syrup all muddled with cucumber and mint leaves… cheap and easy! And absolutely delicious. So if you’re not a drinker either, no problem! You can still enjoy a fun jungle-inspired drink on your date.
No need for dinner tables when your on a safari. Take your food with you into the fort!
For snacks, here are a few really fun ideas I found on Pinterest! (The snake sandwich is no joke, but I just love the idea for a birthday party or family night!)
3. Game Time in the Fort!
The itinerary reads, “Venture deeper into the jungle with your guide to complete a quest of epic challenges”.
In other words: time to play a game!
Jumanji is a great on-theme game choice, however it’s made for kids so it’s not very challenging. We had fun regardless though!
Another great idea would be jungle charades. Or playing a few rounds of Head’s Up in the zoo animal category. And tell me it wouldn’t be tons of fun dominating your S.O. in a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos! Just some fun ideas… 🙂
4.Watch a Jungle Based Movie
Now you really get to take advantage of the cozy fort you worked so hard to make. Luckily, there are so many great movies that are Jungle-themed.
Here are some great options:
- The Jungle Book (the live action remake is visually stunning!)
- The Lion King
- Jungle Cruise
- Buddy (1997)
Okay, I’ve officially shared all my at-home safari date night secrets with you. Now it’s your turn!
I hope you have as much fun as Manly and I had with this date. I loved sharing it with you.
If you try it out, I’d love to hear how it goes. Keep me posted! <3