Setting The Scene For Date Night At Home

When dating, dining out can get old fast. Sure, being cooked for, and cared for, is stress-free and relaxing, but where is the romance in being seated elbow-to-elbow like sardines at that tiny Italian hot spot, or having to scream across the table just to be heard?

Click here to see the How to Set the Scene for Date Night Slideshow.

For your next date night, instead of making a reservation out, surprise the loved one in your life with a romantic dinner at home. Nothing shows how much you care more than a home-cooked meal — and being able to control elements like the menu, drinks, music, and lighting, ensures that there is little risk for surprise (or disappointment).

Knowing where to begin, and what details to pay attention to, when planning date night at home will go a long way to ensuring success. That's why we turned to Liza Utter, an experienced host and former restauranteur, for advice. As the mother of two small kids, Utter knows how important a romantic dinner is for a couple. She's shared some of her easy tips and wisdom with us.

When having date night at home, ordering delivery is not an option for Utter, even if she's exhausted. Head into the kitchen with your date, but don't get caught up planning an elaborate menu (even if your date is a trained chef or restauranteur). This isn't a time for experimental cuisine, especially if you're looking to impress your date. Keep the menu simple. Serving up something that requires you to use your fingers, like mussels, keeps the atmosphere relaxed and casual.

Part of the magic of dining out is the starched white table linens and flickering candlelight. So when planning a date night at home, pay attention to these sorts of details when recreating a similar ambiance. Utter recommends mixing up where you dine. If it's usually at the counter, opt for the coffee table. A change of location adds something new, unexpected, and fun that will make the evening memorable. Be sure to set a proper table, put on some good music to complete the experience, and then make sure that your phone is off. Not on vibrate, not on silent. Off. Whether you've been married for years, or have recently met the love of your life, hosting date night at home will surely make for a memorable evening together.

Click here to see the How to Set the Scene for Date Night Slideshow.