Keli Gwyn
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Romance on a Budget: Fast-Food Celebration

You can add romance to your life without spending a ton of money.

A little time and some creativity is all it takes.

When Gwynly and I were younger and our mortage payment was taking a big bite out of our monthly budget, we decided to celebrate our 13th anniversary on the cheap. We couldn’t afford to go to a swanky restaurant, so on Dec. 19, 2000 we headed to In ‘n Out Burger with a few items to spiff up our table.

The staff thought our decorations were great. Some of the customers were impressed, others were amused, and still others looked at us like we were nuts. The important thing was that, despite our financial limitations, we had a blast.


A recipe for romance fast-food style.

Pick a date to celebrate.
An anniversary works. So do birthdays.

Choose your favorite fast-food restaurant.

Fill a bag or basket with some table decorations.
Tablecloth, cloth napkins, place mats.
Candlesticks, candles, vase, flowers.
Real plates, utensils, and glasses.

Select a table and decorate.

Order your meal and enjoy.

 ❤ ❤ ❤

What special days have you celebrated at a fast-food restaurant?
How did you make your celebration special?

Keli Gwyn


  • Amy Leigh Simpson says:

    So sweet! We usually do a really low budget valentines day…sometimes we do it the day after to avoid the madness and opt for breakfast date 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Amy, Gwynly and I have been known to celebrate a day before or after a holiday in order to avoid the crowds. Mother’s Day is one in particular where I request dinner out the night before.

  • So cute! I love your creativity.

    We haven’t necessarily done fast food, but my friends make fun of us when we use coupons for our birthday celebrations. For instance, one pizza place gives a free large pizza for your birthday (yum). So Mike and I go, order two waters, a salad to split ($5), and give a good tip. We get out of there for the same price as we might have spent at fast food, and it’s fun!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Lindsay, I love your frugal way of celebrating birthdays. It was fun seeing the pics of the pizza dinner you enjoyed on your birthday just a few days ago. Looked like you were having a great time.

  • Loree Huebner says:

    Love the picture, Keli! Love your idea too – Bring along a celebration in a bag.

    This year, I worked on my birthday (it was during the week) so we had a Panera lunch – nothing fancy…we did toast my birthday with our plastic drink cups…Hubby made a nice speech. On the weekend we went out for an awesome lake perch dinner.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Loree, I think it’s neat that your hubby joined you for lunch on your birthday. I’m guessing the toast and speech were your favorite parts. The more leisurely celebration on the weekend sounds like it was lots of fun, too.

  • What a fun idea, Keli! (Although I must say I’m surprised Taco Bell wasn’t on the menu.) 😉

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Sarah, I’ve spent the past twenty-five years trying to convince Gwynly that Taco Bell is a great place to eat, but the best I can do is to get him to have a burrito there about once a year. He’s a sweetheart, though, and sits with me while I munch out on my TB fare.

  • What a cute idea, and I love the expression on Gwynly’s face. 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Erica, looking at this picture makes me realize how many years have gone by. When it was taken I was in my denim jumper/fanny pack phase, and it was before my LASIK surgery. I ditched the jumpers and fanny packs long ago, but I think my frugal fellow might still have that sweater he’s wearing. 🙂

  • Even without mortgage payments prompting you to economize, choosing a unique way to celebrate obviously made the outing extra special! I love how creative you are!

    You might not ‘love’ me in return when I tell you that I couldn’t resist tagging you in “The Next Big Thing” meme that recently caught me. My response is on my blog today:

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Carol, Gwynly and I have celebrated twenty-four anniversaries so far, but the one we talk about the most often is our In ‘n Out dinner. By making something ordinary extraordinary, we made a special memory.

      Off to read your post.

  • Beth K .Vogt says:

    You and Gwynly are the most creative couple I have ever met!!!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Beth, much of the credit for the idea behind our Fast-Food Celebration goes to Gwynly. He spent two years as a missionary with Young Life over in Germany. One of their special events was a formal dinner at McD’s. The high school students dressed up, as did the staff. The staff then served as waiters, taking the students’ orders, delivering them, and waiting on them as though they were at a high-class restaurant. They had a blast at their event, as we did at ours.

  • Love that oldie but goodie picture. You are even more lovely today! :O)

  • Keli, you were both always romantics at heart and it shows in that celebration 🙂 I once spent Thanksgiving at a corner McDonalds in Brooklyn. Can’t remember exactly how I ended up alone that year, but I thought it was very creative to have a Big Mac instead of turkey.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Florence, how sad that you ended up alone on that Thanksgiving. At least McD’s was open so you didn’t have to eat all by yourself. A burger with strangers in the same situation had to have been better than turkey by yourself. At least I hope it was.

  • my husband and i would celebrate his birthday at chick-fil-a, his favorite fastfood. unfortunately, there isn’t one up here in northern CA (RIDICULOUS, i know….i hope someone is scouring the net for you, Mr. Cathy, and letting you know Eureka is badly in need of one….but i digress. we would always go do something special or unique afterward…like a swamp tour when we lived in louisiana. that was probably the most memorable.

    i absolutely love that pic of you and gwenly. is that a fanny pack? you are rockin’ it, keli!!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Take heart, Jeannie. Chick-fil-A is making its way to NorCal. There are four in the greater Sacramento area. One of them just opened in Folsom, which is only half an hour from where I live. I’ll be eating there this week for the first time. It will be my second Chick-fil-A meal ever, my first having been in Indy when I was at the ACFW conference. If you come visit me, I would take you there to eat. How’s that for incentive?

      Yes, that is a fanny pack. I was at my frumpy best back in those days. What was I thinking? I’m surprised the Fashion Police didn’t show up at my door. Perhaps that explains why our daughter ate at a table by herself that night instead of joining us. 🙂

  • This is so cute! I love the photo. 🙂 We don’t celebrate too much but if we do, it’s usually not fast food. Neither of us likes it much. lol
    But we LOVE pizza. 😉

  • Love the idea, Keli! You always inspire me to reach for romance and make it a priority. I love that it’s always been important to you and your hubby.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Gabrielle, I’d imagine finding time for romance could be hard for you and your hubby, what with four young children. That’s one reason I like to discover ways it can be worked into everyday activities.

  • What fun! And way to embrace the moment! Great picture of you two 🙂 I’m sure it was a fun occasion for those around you as well.

    Whenever my husband and I talk about moving out of CA–which happens occasionally– aside from missing my parents, I go weak in the knees at the thought of no more In n Out. Hands down, the best burgers.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Joanne, there was a great deal of rejoicing in our small town when In ‘n Out opened. There was, however, sadness for many of us when our city council made them take out their crossed palms.

  • Oh, Keli, I love that picture! And I love yours and Gwynly’s flair for style! 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Heather, weren’t we really something back then? I have no idea why we didn’t dress up. I’m sure our daughter wishes we would have. She chose to eat at a different table by herself. When I look at this picture, I can see why. LOL