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How to Set Up a Romantic Date Night In

You don't need to leave the house to rekindle the romance. You may, however, need chocolate.

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Lovely couple in the kitchenPhoto: Shutterstock / Y Photo Studio

Are you and the S.O. (significant other) overdue for a date night, but trapped at home because of tiny humans/funding issues/lack of gumption/a gigantic snowstorm? Are you considering doing takeout and Netflix for the 25th Friday in a row? There’s nothing wrong with that—Stranger Things isn’t going to watch itself—but maybe it’s time to mix it up a little. Why not step out on a romantic limb and try one (or all!) of these ideas instead? All you need is a little pre-prep and an open mind.

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Closeup of man cooking dinner and putting food into the plate at the tablePhoto: Shutterstock / Dean Drobot

Start with the Food

You knew we had to suggest cooking, right? Frankly, cooking together can be a date unto itself—especially when you add adult beverages, and maybe some jazz, to the mix. Wait until the kids are down for the night before nixing the nuggets and going for something a bit more adult-themed. Recipes to try: Spicy Lemon Chicken Kabobs or Creamy Herb Grilled Salmon. Want to skip right to the eating part? Start the cooking earlier in the day with a slow cooker meal like carnitas. Fancy tacos for the win.

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Happy couple holding wineglasses while sitting on picnic blanketPhoto: Shutterstock / wavebreakmedia

Nix the Table

One draw of going out on a date is that you’re in a new environment, and trying to re-create that at home by topping your dining room table with placemats and a candle won’t cut it. Step outside the normal eating area and consider taking your fancy-shmancy dinner to the living room—lay down a blanket and have a picnic—or head to the backyard. After all, what’s more romantic than a meal under the stars? You’ll find the change of scenery will make the night memorable.

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Tasting of wine and pattie chocolate pastries.Photo: Shutterstock / Arina P Habich

Take Flight

Sorry, we’re not talking about hopping aboard your private jet. From wine flights to beer flights—I even know someone who enjoys creating her own ice cream shake flight—the concept is simply to have a sample-sized portion of several different types of the same thing. Set up anything from a champagne flight to a chocolate-covered desserts flight to a smelly cheeses flight. Choose some of each and sample away. Compare and discuss which ones are your most and least favorite.

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Fortune Cookies and Chopsticks compositionPhoto: Shutterstock / marla dawn studio

Travel the World

You don’t have to go to another country to experience its culture at home. Simply choose a destination and use it as the theme of your date night by re-creating some of its flavors and traditions. Salivating over Spain? Whip up some paella, put on some flamenco music and rent Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Thinking Tokyo? Try out Japanese Steak Salad, make your own (romantic!) fortune cookies and rent Lost in Translation.

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Handsome man getting ready for the big occasion.Photo: Shutterstock / And-One

Get Dressed Up

Give date night all the pomp and circumstance it deserves and wear date-night clothes. You can take this challenge seriously and put on that cocktail dress that desperately wants a turn in your wardrobe rotation, or go the more humorous route—when was the last time you put on your bridesmaid’s dress from your best friend’s wedding? See if you and your partner can outstyle one another with your fashion choices. If anything, it’ll make cooking pasta together all the more fun.

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Couple getting homemade facial maskPhoto: Shutterstock / varuna

Spa Night

Toddlers shouldn’t be the only ones who get mashed bananas all over their faces, am I right? There’s something cute about a controlled food fight, so go with this. Mash up half of a banana, half a cup of yogurt and a teaspoon of honey. Smear it on each other’s faces. Let sit for 15 minutes while you feed each other some sustenance. Dr. Oz says this mask will smooth out wrinkles, and we believe him. It’ll probably cause some laugh lines, though, so you may even out in the end. (These spa recipes work, too.)

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Young couple smiling and having fun at homePhoto: Shutterstock / Branislav Nenin

Pop Quiz, Hotshot

Each person comes up with a list of 10 questions for their partner; things they should—in theory—know. “Where did we first kiss?” “What’s my favorite movie?” Go back and forth asking the questions. Each wrong answer earns that person a dare they have to take. (Keep it fun, like “I dare you to jump in the swimming pool even though it’s October,” not “I dare you to do my laundry.”). Turn down a dare? You can come up with the consequences, but maybe that’s where the laundry comes in.

Amanda Kippert
Amanda Kippert has been an award-winning freelance journalist for nearly two decades. She is based in Tucson, Arizona and specializes in food, health, fitness, parenting and humor, as well as social issues. She is the content editor of the domestic violence nonprofit

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