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Family Starts with Two

Make Your Own Restaurant

Regular date nights are great for bonding and keeping your romance alive, but it’s not always possible — or practical — to book a weekly table at the hottest restaurant in town. Besides the challenges that can sometimes come with coordinating your schedules around work deadlines, meetings, and travel, restaurant meals can be hard on your budget.

A fun and romantic alternative can be setting up your own restaurant at home. In-home date nights are particularly special when you can surprise your partner after a late day at the office, or to commemorate a significant occasion in your relationship. Follow these steps to create a cozy, private “restaurant” date night you’ll both enjoy:

1. Pick a theme.

Is there a restaurant or type of food that’s especially enjoyable for you and your partner? Maybe you want to re-create the experience of a Paris sidewalk cafe from your honeymoon, that barbecue joint where you met in college, or something sweet and goofy like the Italian restaurant scene from “Lady and the Tramp.” Having a specific experience in mind elevates the in-home restaurant idea from “nice candlelight dinner” to “adorably romantic gesture.”

2. Set the scene.

Borrow from friends or scour thrift shops; the decor doesn’t have to be expensive. Lighting and music go a long way towards setting the mood, so light some candles and choose the right playlist on Spotify. Make sure you get the table set before your significant other arrives, so it really feels like a restaurant experience. And whatever you do, don’t turn on the TV!

3. Manage the menu.

Cooking your meal at home will likely save you money and earn you bonus points with your partner. If you’re not comfortable with cooking, consider arranging for takeout from your favorite restaurant and re-heating the food for your dinner date. If you do plan to cook, make sure to do your shopping and prep well in advance so you’re not scrambling around the kitchen trying to finish the meal when you’d rather be focusing on relaxing together. Remember: It doesn’t have to be a five-course meal to be a great experience. One of our team members created a “restaurant” experience for her husband by getting the corn chowder recipe from a tavern they’d enjoyed on their honeymoon, and simply serving the soup with biscuits and a salad. (He recognized the chowder right away!)

4. Dress for the occasion.

You might be at home, but that doesn’t mean you get to throw on your comfiest sweats. Go the extra mile and wear what you’d wear if you were going out for a night on the town. If you look like you’re ready for date night, you’ll feel more like you’re in the midst of a romantic rendezvous (and so will your partner).

5. Relax.

You’ve put thought and care into creating a special at-home experience to help the two of you connect — but the connection is really the most important part! There’s no such thing as a “perfect” evening. As long as you’re together and enjoying each other’s company, your date night will be a success.