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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. Find fun ideas for Valentine's Day—or any day!

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Mature Couple Preparing Food For DinnerHinterhaus Productions/Getty Images

Are you and the S.O. overdue for a date night? And are you considering doing takeout and Netflix for the 25th Friday in a row? There’s nothing wrong with that—Bridgerton 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 prep and an open mind.

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Hands Of Couple Sharing And Enjoying Freshly Made Pasta In A Restaurantd3sign/Getty Images

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 classic cocktails, 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: Homemade Manicotti, Stuffed Chicken Rolls or any of our other date night dinners. Want to skip right to the eating part? Start the cooking earlier in the day with a meal like slow-cooker carnitas. And for even more delicious ideas, check out the Date Night In cookbook.

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Young Couple Having Fun, Eating Fresh CupcakesWestend61/Getty Images

Don’t Forget Dessert

Every date night needs dessert! End your meal with something sweet (looking at you, chocolate). Bonus points if you make a treat together. Our monthly Bakeable challenge is a great place to start.

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Two Women Having Picnic On Rugsiesta siesta/Getty Images

Nix the Table

One perk 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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Flight of four beers lined up on a wooden table, with selective focus. Photo taken outdoors with natural lighting; beers range in color from light to very dark. Background out of focus.VisualCommunications/Getty Images

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 strawberry 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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Spanish Style Paella Exps Ft20 39254 F 0311 1 3Taste of Home

Travel the World

You don’t have to go to another country to experience its culture at home. 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? Put on flamenco music and whip up Spanish-style paella. Pining for Paris? Try your hand at coq au vin and homemade macarons.

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Man Tying TieImage Source/Getty Images

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 out-style one another with your fashion choices. If anything, it’ll make cooking pasta together all the more fun (though you may want an apron).

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Mixed Race Couple Watching Television On LaptopJGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Try Something New—Virtually

You don’t have to leave the house to enjoy a new experience. Enroll in an online cooking class and learn how to make sushi together. Or, pick up tickets to a virtual theatre performance. Tight budget? There are plenty of free virtual tours for museums, theme parks and zoos.

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Spa Kit. Shampoo, Soap Bar And Liquid. Shower Gel. AromatherapyCarol Yepes/Getty Images

DIY 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 pick one of our favorite homemade beauty recipes and get to work. (Don’t worry—they all rely on common kitchen ingredients like turmeric, olive oil and cucumber). For an even more relaxing experience, dim the lights and put on some calming music. Bathrobes required.

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Usa, New Jersey, Jersey City, Couple Using Digital TabletTetra Images/Getty Images

Pop Quiz, Hotshot

It’s time to get personal. Come up with a list of 10 questions for your 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.

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Closeup shot of a woman signing for her delivery from the courierLaylaBird/Getty Images

Order a Date Night Kit

For an out-of-the-box date night, you may want to look in the box. There are plenty of fun subscription services—like Happily and Date Night in Box—that send everything you need for a romantic evening right to your door.

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 DomesticShelters.org.
Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.

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