By Rob Teigen
As a younger dad, I lost count of how many times Joanna dropped me off at the airport for yet another business trip. One morning stands out in my memory. The minute I opened my car door, carry-on in hand, I heard the heartbreaking sounds of crying from the back seat. My little four-year-old simply didn’t want to say goodbye to her daddy one more time.
My child’s tears made an impact on me as her father. Ultimately, I left my job for one that required far less travel. Yet, while in that season I couldn’t wait for my circumstances to change—I later learned I had to change me. In my heart, I doubled down on my commitment to love and connect with my children no matter what.
That renewed dedication to spending quality time with my daughters shifted my priorities. It altered my calendar and my routines. When I was home, I put energy into making memories through one-on-one “dates” together. Those hours of playful fun, yummy snacks, and heartfelt conversations shaped my relationship with my girls forever.
I know you’re just as motivated to create meaningful moments with your kids too. Here are 10 daddy-daughter dates for you to try as you pursue your daughter’s heart!
(By the way, these ideas can also be used by moms, and could apply to relationships with daughters or sons! If you’re looking for even more date ideas, I actually have a book that includes 88 date ideas!)
Date Idea #1: Silly Sock Day
Make your way to a mall or shopping center. Your goal: get the silliest, wackiest pair of socks for each of you that you can find! Take your time browsing until you find the pairs that make you laugh the most.
Take some time to enjoy a favorite snack, and then head for home and put on your socks. They can be your secret sign to each other from now on. Whenever you see your daughter’s silly socks or she sees yours, it means “I’m crazy about you!”
Date Idea #2: Around the World in 80 Minutes
Get your taste buds ready to travel around the world! Drive to a nearby Asian restaurant and order an appetizer from the menu. Take a moment to identify the food’s origin on your phone’s map and learn one fun fact about the country.
Next, continue visiting a variety of restaurants with international fare. Grab a burrito, for example, or French baguettes or crepes. Try a slice of pizza or gelato, German potato salad, a gyro, or some delicious naan with hummus. When you’re feeling stuffed, walk it off in your own neighborhood and talk about the places you’d love to visit together someday.
Date Idea #3: You’ve Got Mail
Make a stop at the craft store to purchase the following:
- A wooden or cardboard mailbox or box with a hinged lid.
- A metallic paint pen and glitter glue.
- Stickers, pom poms, plastic gems, etc. to embellish the box.
- A set of small blank notecards or a colorful sticky note pad
At home, work together to decorate your daughter’s new mailbox. When the glue and paint have dried, place it where it’s easy to find in her room. Make a habit of writing notes to your daughter to place in her mailbox, telling her why she’s unique and special to you. Write Bible verses to encourage her heart. Place invitations for other daddy-daughter dates and thank-you notes for how she’s been a helper to your family. Your notes just might be the treasures she keeps for always.
Date Idea #4: Up in the Air
Take a deep breath and blow up several balloons with your daughter. In a room with some open space, tape a long piece of crepe paper or yarn on opposite walls to serve as your “net.” Stand on opposite sides and begin hitting a balloon back and forth. How many times can you volley before the balloon hits the floor? For a challenge, add in a second balloon and see if you can keep both in the air at the same time.
Gather your balloons near a bare wall and rub them against a rug or your shirt to create static electricity. How many electrified balloons can you get to stick to the wall at once?
Sit on the floor and see if you can keep a balloon in the air by only using your feet. Try it again, this time only using your head or elbows! When you’ve finished with balloon games for the day, snip a small hole near the knot, let them go, and see how far your balloons will fly before they run out of air.
Date Idea #5: Animal Pancakes
Team up with your daughter to mix up a batch of pancake batter. Heat a skillet to medium heat, and fill up an empty ketchup or squeeze bottle with your batter. Use the bottle to squeeze the batter in the skillet in the shape of various animals. For example, a larger circle of batter with two circles at the top for ears makes a funny mouse or bear. Let your daughter choose an animal for you to attempt, and if it doesn’t turn out, just call it an alien!
Give your daughter some chocolate chips or small pieces of fruit to create faces on her animal pancakes. Pour on some syrup and enjoy breakfast together.
Date Idea #6: “Sticking” Together
Shop together for rolls of colorful duct tape. Grab a drive-thru ice cream cone on your way home, then explore crafting ideas online for the kinds of creations you can make with your tape. (Take a look here and here for great ideas!)
A favorite at our house was covering empty tissue boxes with duct tape. These boxes can hold your daughter’s little notes, toys, or trinkets that she enjoys collecting. You can also use various colors of tape to cover or embellish an old backpack or purse.
Date Idea #7: Play with Your Food
Grocery shop or raid the fridge for raw vegetables and fruits, cheese slices, pickles, olives and nuts, chips and crunchy snacks, veggie dip or hummus. Grab your cutting board, knife, and potato peeler, plus a flat tray.
Dad, slice up some cheese, fruits, and vegetables into a variety of shapes and sizes. Use the potato peeler to cut long strips from your cucumber or carrots. Work together to put your variety of ingredients into bowls. On the tray, arrange the different pieces of food to make silly faces, animals, vehicles, flowers, etc. When you’ve had lots of fun “playing with your food,” enjoy eating it up with the vegetable dip.
Date Idea #8: Luck of the Draw
Grab three pieces of paper, each of a different color. Have your daughter cut each sheet of paper into six pieces. On each of the first six pieces, write an activity you can share together such as playing at the park, swimming, bowling, or a board game.
On the next six pieces, write the name of a small gift like stickers, nail polish, a notebook, or bubble mix. For the last six pieces, write different places to go for a treat or snack.
Fold the pieces of paper to hide what’s written on them. Place the first six papers in a sack, fold the top closed, and give it a shake. Have your daughter draw one piece of paper to see what your activity will be today. Repeat with the next two colors to choose the gift she’ll receive from you and the treat you’ll share while you’re out together.
Date Idea #9: Bubble Trouble
In a large container, mix together 4 cups of water, ½ cup of dish soap, and 2 Tablespoons of glycerin or light corn syrup. While the solution stands for a few minutes, gather plastic cups, a wire coat hanger, plastic straws, and rubber bands.
Cut the bottom from your plastic cups to make rings. Bend the wire coat hanger to make a large circle. Cluster several straws and hold them together with rubber bands. Ask your daughter to brainstorm other items, like a funnel or a slotted spoon, that you can use for bubble blowing.
Head outdoors and begin your bubble mania! How many bubbles can you make at one time? What makes the largest, longest-lasting bubble of all? Experiment with catching bubbles with wet hands or soft gloves. Try to pass a bubble back and forth between you without popping it. See if your daughter can pop all the bubbles you blow before they touch the ground.
Date Idea #10: Indoor Campout
It’s time to enjoy the great indoors! Work together to build a cozy “tent” by fastening blankets and sheets to furniture with rubber bands and clothespins. Arrange sleeping bags and pillows inside. Let your daughter bring as many wild creatures as she likes in the form of stuffed animals. Stock your tent with flashlights, fun books and conversation cards, and games.
Make s’mores by stacking chocolate pieces and marshmallows on graham crackers and heating them for a few seconds in the microwave.
Turn out the lights and settle into your tent for the night. Tell some jokes, play games, and read by flashlight. Remind her that even in the dark, God is watching over you. Read Psalm 139:1-14 to tell her she’s seen, loved, and wonderfully made!
Want 78 more date ideas!? Grab a copy of 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates!