I don’t love winter weather. I appreciate a good snowstorm, which seem to be getting fewer and more far between, but I don’t find it at all endearing to be pimp slapped by a gust of wind as soon as I crack the door open. I don’t think it’s cute to see my breath become visible in little clouds of whitish smoke when I walk outside. I don’t even check the mail on a regular basis during a cold snap—which, to my internal thermometer, is 45 degrees or below—and I surely don’t do a lot of voluntary going out and diddling around. My clothes aren’t even as cute.

Aside from the winter solstice, this portion of the year is known as cuffing season, ushered in around the end of September when the warm days start waning and driving folks indoors to be all booed up. After the spring thaw, dating becomes easier again, at least for me. We can sit outside for dinner on summery evenings, take long constitutionals around the monuments here in lovely D.C., have philosophical debates on a park bench because it’s too nice to be cooped up inside.

Until then, options are limited. It’s the movies, which I’m not usually pressed about, bowling, which I can only take but so much of, and ice skating, which brings me back to the original gripe at the top of the post. But, for the very brave, the very self-confident, the very disciplined, there is the home date. The home date. Key word: home. Other key word: date.

There are good things about them. They’re generally cheaper than going out, they offer an opportunity for better get-to-know-you time and they’re fun. Sometimes, too fun. In the middle of all of that inexpensive, interpersonal magic-making, sexual temptation can spill over mighty quick. Mention a home date to any one of your guy friends and watch his eyes light up. Mine grinned like a car salesman when I told him I was writing on the subject and said, “Home date means she’ll be making me breakfast in the morning.” Presumptuous in more ways than one, methinks.

Yes, y’all are in fact at home. With a bed. Or a couch. Or a floor. And that, given the right circumstances, can get it poppin’ before it’s wise to do so. My personal advice? Forget movies, TV and anything that involves long moments of inactivity. That’s too much idle time to pretend like you’re into what’s going on on the screen when, in actuality, he or you or maybe even both of y’all might be playing a whole different script in your head. Instead, try these to keep the home date vertical:

Have a game night. Talk trash over pitty-pat, rock a 60 point word in Scrabble, strategize over a chess match. A competitive spirit is subtly sexy.

Host a two-person pot luck or cook dinner together. Plan a menu ahead of time and come prepared to burn, even if your only contribution is boiling the water and bringing a bottle of merlot.

Enjoy a wine and spirit tasting. Just know how to hold your liquor and when to say when. You know, just in case.

Build a theme night around another country, and incorporate its music, food and dancing. Use your imagination to convert his place or yours into a cultural experience.

Swap high school yearbooks. It doesn’t matter whose memory lane it is—throwback pics and awkward teenage moments are always good for a laugh.

Get artistic. Stop by the craft store and get some cheap canvases and paints and freestyle or turn to an online painting class for instruction (there are plenty offered through Etsy and Pinterest).

Plan your next date. Google interesting things to do in your area or a neighboring city and map out a day of fun that appeals to both of you. As an added bonus, you learn a little more about what each of you like to do.

Make desserts. Maybe you’re more of a baker than a cook. Maybe you’re more of a taster than a baker. Doesn’t matter, especially if you have a sweet tooth.

Swap music. Bring your iPod, marvel (or poke fun at) each other’s musical tastes and expand your catalog for free.

Play video games. Madden might not be your thing, but Just Dance and Michael Jackson: The Experience are guaranteed good times.

What's your best home date idea?