Date night these days looks a bit different than it used to, but it’s just as important. It is a time to reconnect as people instead of Mommy and Daddy, to see each other without a screen between us and to find a bit of familiarity in the midst of this uncertainty.
I reached out to Avenue’s own Shop Talk columnist Lani Griffiths who, when not writing, can often be found serving delicious meals at restaurants around town. I also talked to DTB’s Executive Chef Jonathan Klaskala (who took over shortly before the stay-at-home order was given and who’s “extraordinarily eager to resume my career”).
Below are our tips for hosting the perfect date night. If you’ve gotten this far but aren’t staying-at-home with a date, consider taking yourself! Reconnecting with ourselves is just as important as connecting with our partners.
Find Your Inspiration
Whether it’s your favorite dish to make together, recreating your first date or the color palate of the flowers in your backyard, find something to give you a direction.
Setting the Scene
You are going to want to actually sit at a table – not on the couch. Think about going outside or eating in your formal dining room, somewhere that feels fresh and different from your everyday meals.
“Set your table with the ‘nice’ china, crystal and silver that you only pull out for other people,” says Lani, “and bonus points for candles.” Or pull out the “fun” plates you bought on vacation and shoved to the back of the cabinet. Mix-and-match or go all-out, just make it different.
For me, flowers always set the mood and uplift any occasion. Whether you have a bouquet delivered, buy some from the grocery or pick them while on a walk or in your backyard, make sure to add some to your table, your hair or even weave them into your furniture.
Set aside some extra time to get ready. Think about how long you used to spend getting ready for a first date and replicate that. Find a new makeup look on YouTube and try it out. Put on the perfume that makes you feel good in your skin. Dance around your bathroom. In other words, pamper yourself a bit and get in an amazing mood.
Dress up a bit, says Lani. “And consider wearing the outfit you know is your date’s favorite.” But make sure to be comfortable, this is about having fun.
And, why not wear your extra special jewelry? I often find myself not wearing my best pieces because I’m afraid to lose them. But, this is a great time to shine and, if you drop a piece, you know where to look!
“When cooking at home I try to make it as easy as possible on myself and my partner. I would also recommend cooking something that’s in your ‘wheelhouse.’ This means cooking something familiar that you know exactly what the end result will be,” Jon says. “As for as the food your serving, it doesn’t matter as much as one may think it does. The thought behind the food will make it more special than going all out on ‘fancy’ ingredients.”
“Cook together! Lani says. “Especially if you don’t usually. Or take this time to teach your date how to make your favorite meal.”
And, if you’re ordering out (I don’t cook, and for a date night I’d love to give my husband a break from cooking), why not order foods that recreate a favorite date?
“I try to focus on serving items that are very personal and specific to our relationship,” Jon says. “For example, we always order a kir royals before our dinners, and I like to keep a bottle of creme de cassis at home to celebrate our special occasions.”
“Splurge on a nice bottle of wine or more expensive bottle of whiskey,” Lani adds. “And remember to have the ingredients you need for your favorite cocktails to try making them from scratch.”
You could also make creating these cocktails part of the experience! If you have a specialty cocktail from a favorite restaurant, try to find the recipe online or call the restaurant to ask them to walk you through it. Failure is part of the fun!
There is one point that the three of us truly agree on: No cellphones or TV during the meal!
Create or find a special playlist or bring your record player into the room. Music sets the mood.
Think about eating dessert on special plates in a different room with an activity. Start that puzzle you’ve been talking about for two months, get involved in a heated game of Monopoly or “buy a disposable camera and take pictures,” Lani says. Those photos will be a fantastic memory.
“At the end of the day, the point of having an evening at home is to be able to spend quality time with one another,” Jon says. “I believe the most important part of a date night at home is to make it as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. Focus more on enjoying one another more so than trying to impress.”