Date Night. Two words that can incite either excitement or dread. It should be a time to escape the daily routine of life and connect with your partner, but the planning and logistics always cause unnecessary stress and headache.
We have an alternative. Do Date Night at home — but do it for real. Pick a night, put the kids to bed and turn off your phones. For the next three to four hours, devote your time and attention to your partner. Just follow these simple rules:
Rule 1: Make. It. Happen.
Failing to plan is planning to fail — it’s true. Commit to a night, mark it on your calendar and set reminders as needed. You don’t want what could have been a romantic Wednesday to roll around and suddenly you only have eggs and raw broccoli in your fridge.
SET THE MOOD
Rule 2: Pick a Playlist.
Cue the cartoon heart eyes with a romantic playlist curated by none other than Michelle Obama
. Or channel your inner Parisian with tunes from the city of love. From serenades
to sonatas and everything in between, all you need is a phone and some speakers to get the good vibes going.
Rule 3: Freshen Up.
Staying in does not give you license to wear sweatpants. But you don’t need to bust out the little black dress and four-inch heels either. Show up for your partner both mentally and physically by spending a few minutes on your hair and makeup. This ritual helps separate Date Night from just any old weeknight dinner.
Rule 4: Set the Scene.
While you’re at it, spruce up your dining area, too. Now that the kids are in bed, both flowers and candles can safely reside on the table without fear of spilling or setting a napkin on fire. Pro tip: If you go for candles, stick to the unscented kind so you don’t compete with the aromas of food.
THE MAIN EVENT
Rule 5: Follow the Formula.
According to Ashley Rodriguez, food blogger and author of Date Night In, date night meals must follow this formula: Drink + New Entreé + Dessert = Date Night. It’s all about training your body and mind to treat this night differently. Sip something nice, savor new flavors and finish with something sweet. Make this night uniquely yours, and make it special.
Rule 6: Stick to a Theme.
Bust out of meal-planning boredom with a cuisine from a new or different culture. If you love Mediterranean food, try making your own gyros or moussaka. The best part? Once you pick a theme, the corresponding drink all but chooses itself. Tacos and margaritas. Bolognese and red wine. Shrimp and bubbly. You get it.
Rule 7: Trade Places.
Making dinner together is half the fun. But the last thing you want is to step on each other’s toes or battle for counter space. Avoid this by picking a chef and a sous chef each week. The chef gets to pick the menu and assign responsibilities; the sous chef is there to assist. Ready? Go team!
Rule 8: Outsource When Needed.
Life happens. You don’t always have time to make dinner from scratch, so take out to the rescue! The goal of Date Night is to set aside time to connect with your partner. If you need some outside help to make it happen, do it. Use whatever resources are necessary and available.
Rule 9: Start a Real Conversation.
This is your opportunity to focus on each other, not life’s day-to-day logistics. Eradicate questions like “How was your day?” from your arsenal in favor of “What are you proud of?” “What keeps you up at night?” “How can I help you achieve your goals?” It may feel awkward at first, but over time you’ll naturally dive into more meaningful discussions.
Rule 10: Phone a Friend.
Not all date nights need to be just the two of you. If you’ve had plenty of alone time recently, invite another couple over. Make it a potluck-style dinner to share some of the work. Plus, the more you know your significant other’s friends and vice versa, the closer you’ll be to each other. So next time you’re stuck in a date night rut, make it a party of four.