In 2016 Match.com surveyed 5,500 singles and found that the average unmarried American spent $1,596 on their dating life in the past year. I don’t need to tell you that’s a lot of money. If you’re looking to keep your dates cost conscious but still bring the romance, learning how to plan the perfect date night is where it’s at.
When done right, at-home date nights can be awesome. Instead of dealing with crowds and reservations, you can relax at home, seamlessly moving from eating at the dinner table to cuddling on the couch. Plus, who doesn’t love a home-cooked meal?
Looking to stay in for the night? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Don’t invite them over too soon.
While inviting someone to your place is super convenient, you also want to be cognizant of safety issues. If you’ve just met someone online, inviting them into your home or going to theirs before you’ve met or had a chance to get to know them is a big no-no. At home date nights are a lot more intimate than meeting someone in a public place. Make sure that you’ve gone on a couple dates with this person already before you take this step and let a friend know about your plans.
- Clean your place.
This seems like it would be a no-brainer, but sadly it isn’t. You wouldn’t eat in a restaurant that had a sink overflowing with crusty, week-old dishes and a clogged toilet, so make sure your home is in tip-top shape before you invite over your date. The last thing you want is for them to get turned off before they even get to taste your amazing risotto.
- Get their dietary restrictions before you start cooking.
As someone who has a few dietary restrictions of their own, there’s nothing worse than having to tell someone who’s spent time making a meal that you’re unable to eat it. Is your date allergic to gluten? Vegetarian? Vegan? Allergic to nuts? Find out in advance before you head to the grocery store.
- Create ambiance.
Okay, so your home is looking fresh and clean, now’s the time to create some ambiance. Light a few candles. Fire up that aromatherapy diffuser. Put up some string lights. Anything you can do to make your home feel more cozy and romantic is a good thing!
- Develop a signature dish.
You don’t need to be a Michelin starred chef to make a good impression on your date. You don’t even have to be a fantastic cook. The trick to hosting a great stay at home date is to have a “signature dish.” This is something that you know how to cook well. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy — in fact, simple is often better! Think: a simple but delicious pasta dish. A grilled steak. An amazing curry. Figure out what you enjoy cooking and become very good at one, simple dish to start.
- Don’t forget the dessert and wine.
If your date imbibes, make sure you have a bottle of wine that goes well with whatever you’re cooking. If you’re not sure what works with your signature dish, your local wine shop should be more than willing to provide a recommendation. Finish the meal with a small dessert. This can be anything from a scoop of gelato or yogurt parfait to homemade cookies.
- Have a plan.
As I mentioned above, going for dinner at someone’s home for the first time can be an intimate experience. To ensure that the other person doesn’t feel any pressure after you’ve wrapped up the meal, have a plan for what to do after dinner. This could involve watching an old movie, playing a board game or sitting outside on your balcony star-gazing. The trick here is to keep things fun, light and playfully romantic so that your date feels comfortable and at ease.