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How to Plan a Romantic Dinner at Home

Two Methods:Planning a MenuSetting the Mood

Having a romantic dinner at home can be much more special than eating out -- not to mention less expensive. If you want to plan a romantic dinner at home with your date, all you have to do is thoughtfully prepare a menu and set the mood before the dinner date starts. Follow these steps to find out how to have romantic night in with your special someone.

Method 1
Planning a Menu

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    Choose your drinks carefully. If you're planning to have a romantic dinner at home, then the first thing you'll do is have a drink to inaugurate the start of your nice home-cooked meal. Wine is the most romantic choice, so if you and yours are wine drinkers, be prepared with a bottle of red or white wine (or more), depending on what you're eating. Red wines tend to go best with steak and other meats, while white wines are better on summer evenings and go well with lighter foods like shrimp or salads. If you're having a more casual meal or just really like beer, then beer is fine, too.
    • If you plan to drink beer, white wine, or another beverage that should be cold, make sure to put it in the fridge well in advance.
    • You should also prepare some water with lemon in it for a nice touch. Put a pitcher of cold water on the table. You don't want to run to the fridge for water in the middle of the meal.
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    Choose simple appetizers. After you pour your drinks, you should be ready with some simple appetizers. You don't want to spend an hour sipping your drinks and standing around waiting for the food to be ready. Though preparing food together -- or some of it -- is part of the fun of having a romantic dinner at home, it won't be much fun if you're both too hungry to feel romantic. Having a few simple appetizers ready, or planning for very simple treats that are easy to assemble, will get your meal off on the right foot. Pick simple finger foods that are fun and easy to eat while you're in the kitchen. Here are some perfect appetizers to try:[1]
    • Make some bruschetta earlier in the day. All you need is a baguette, garlic, olive oil, onion, tomatoes, and a few other simple ingredients.
    • If you're feeling fancy, you can make deviled eggs the night before and enjoy them while you wait.
    • Prepare some home-made guacamole (or buy it) earlier in the day and serve it with a small bowl of tortilla chips.
    • For the summer, make simple salad with four ingredients: watermelon, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, and mint.
    • Hummus with pita chips and fresh veggies is always a big hit.
    • Though cheese and crackers are traditionally eaten at the end of a meal, mix things up and enjoy a plate of them as an appetizer. Gouda, brie, and fontina are great cheeses for crackers.
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    Choose your main course. Your main course should be something simple that doesn't require a lot of prep -- or something that you prepared, or partially prepared earlier in the day, so it only takes about 45 minutes or so to finish the meal. If you're making home made pizza, start the dinner with all of the ingredients out and your oven preheated, so all you have to do is place the ingredients on the pizza together and place it in the oven. Here are some other things to keep in mind as you choose your main course:[2]
    • Sautéed chicken and vegetables are a good candidate for a romantic dinner at home. Just make sure you wash, marinate, and bread the chicken in advance so you don't take up too much time.
    • Baked salmon with rice and brussels sprouts is another great option for your home-cooked meal.
    • If you're choosing pasta, instead of messier spaghetti or fettuccine, choose penne pasta, tortellini, orzo, or ravioli, which will be easier to eat.
    • Don't make foods that require too many ingredients and which will require a lot of cleanup during or after dinner. You may love making your mother's twelve-layer lasagna, but it will take all night and will leave a mess.
    • Choose foods that are aphrodisiacs for an even more romantic night. These foods include oysters, almonds, basil, and asparagus
    • Don't cook with too much garlic or onion, or you may not be feeling so romantic after your meal. The same goes for foods that are too rich and creamy, which will leave you feeling bloated.
    • Avoid foods that are too messy to eat, like lobster or French Onion Soup. If you made a salad, make sure that the lettuce is chopped well so it's not hard to get it in your mouth.
    • As you choose your main course, you should think of something simple that your date can do to help you out, whether it's to chop celery and tomatoes, or to put together a simple salad.
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    Choose a simple dessert. If you've done a good job with the wine, appetizers, and main course, then chances are that you won't have much room in your stomach by dessert time. Instead of preparing an elaborate dessert, just pick up some cupcakes from your favorite local bakery or put some ice cream in the freezer and serve it with whipped cream and a handful of raspberries and blueberries.
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    Have a backup plan. Though your romantic dinner at home should go as smoothly as possible, you should have a backup plan just in case. This doesn't mean that you should have another home-cooked meal prepared, but it does mean that you should have a safety plan in case something goes wrong. This could just mean having the menu to your favorite sushi restaurant or popping a frozen pizza in the fridge. If you're stuck at home with no other food and no other options, then you may be in trouble.

Method 2
Setting the Mood

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    Decide on the location. You can always eat in the garden if you have one. This can be very romantic if the season of the year is right, and if you have a nice, bug-free garden. You can also eat in the kitchen, but then you will have to hurry to clean everything and make it look nice. If you can, pick a location where you don't normally eat, so the night feels special. If you have a "fancy" dining table that you never use, now's the time.
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    Plan to use your nice dishes. You may have a nice set of crystal glasses and fancy plates, napkins, and silverware that you never use because they're only for special occasions. Well, the occasion is now -- bring them out and take pleasure in how much they add to the romantic atmosphere.
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    Choose your romantic decorations. Flowers, rose petals, and unscented candles will do the trick - you have many options and will just have to be creative. Remember that candles are essential for a romantic dinner, so light several candles and place them on or near the table. Flowers, such as elegant roses, are almost as important. They look really good at the table, whether it's something extravagant or simple. Just keep in mind that you should be able to look at each other over the table.
    • Playing some soft jazz or romantic music in the background can add to the romantic ambience as long as it's not too distracting.
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    Dress up. Before you start your dinner date, take a shower and put on some perfume or cologne. Dress up just like you were going out to dinner. Put on some casual, but nice clothes, and look refreshed and effortlessly attractive. Your partner will appreciate the effort, and the night will feel even more special. Just make sure you decide on a dress code with your partner before the date, so you both look equally fancy.
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    Avoid all distractions. Make a plan to avoid all distractions so that you and your date can be free to enjoy your delicious meal -- and each other's company. So, if you have kids, arrange to have a sitter watch them away from home well in advance. Other than that, turn off your phones, the television, and radio, and focus only on each other. If there's going to be a big game on that night and one or both of you is a big sports fan, you may want to reschedule your date so that you aren't distracted. Once all the distractions are put away, you can focus on having a romantic evening.


  • Make sure there's a nice scent in the house.
  • Make the house seem nice and clean.
  • Put on some slow, very low volume music that you both like.
  • Dim the light and light up the candles just before your partner arrives.
  • Make sure the house is a nice temperature.
  • Unplug the phone or turn them off, nothing like a phone call to crash the mood.
  • The dinner and table should be ready when your partner arrives.
  • Get rid of any distractions - take the dog for a walk, feed any pet so it won't complain, put the kids to bed or to watch TV in the room, or at a friends house, and turn off both TV and computers.
  • There's always a chance that your partner will get home either earlier or later, so remember to call to check the situation.
  • A good idea is to eat, talk together, let your partner take a shower and change clothes and maybe watch a movie or cuddle in bed.
  • Prepare the bedroom, dim the lights and lighten candles there as well - if you plan any action, that is. You might not want to if you have eaten too much.
  • Try to be neat but leave any mess after the dinner to the next day.
  • Don't be shy. Chances are your date will love whatever you cook for them. After all, they are going out with you!

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