Romantic Night Ideas

by Nicola Heath

This Valentine’s Day forget the tired old dinner reservation for two with every other committed couple in your neighbourhood. Instead, plan a romantic night in. Here’s what you should – and shouldn’t – do to impress your date, from planning the perfect menu to choosing a flick that’s not too cheesy. 


Set the scene

DO get the mood right. Opt for low lighting – a lamp will do if candles are too over-the-top. To put all parties at ease consider kicking off proceedings with a cocktail. Choose a crowd-pleaser like a Mojito, with white rum, sugar, lime juice, sparkling water, and mint, or if you’re feeling brave, try whipping up a Between the Sheets (white rum, cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice).

DON’T invite your smartphone to the party. Leave your devices at the door – their chirping and buzzing are an unwelcome distraction. So are housemates and children for that matter. 

Pizza sauce on base

On the menu

DO suss out dietary requirements ahead of time. Nothing kills the mood more for a vegetarian than being presented with an unwanted plate of milk-fed veal scallopini for a main course. Be particularly mindful of allergies. A trip to the emergency room brought about by the satay surprise entrée is not the way you want your date night to end. 

DON’T serve anything too garlicky, as it will haunt you later on. Unless you’re planning a Lady and the Tramp reenactment, spaghetti and noodles are off limits. So is anything greasy you eat with your hands like ribs or chicken wings.

DON’T be afraid of injecting some fun into your date night. Try making pizzas together. You can chat as you choose your own toppings, and there’s no risk of serving up something your date finds unpalatable.

DO include chocolate in your menu. While the hard science behind claims about the efficacy of aphrodisiac foods is pointedly lacking, there is no harm including one or two on your Valentine’s Day menu. Oysters are divisive but everyone loves chocolate, also popularly associated with amorous feelings. Choose your level of difficulty – the eight-texture chocolate cake might be a technical triumph, but a tub of fancy choc chip ice cream shared together on the couch is just as effective.

DON’T skimp on the wine! Skip past the bargain bin and choose something nice.

Game of chess


DO play a game. A conversation game like Two Truths and a Lie is a novel way of getting to know each other. Board games can be fun too – bond over chess, checkers or Guess Who? (did someone say Twister?!).

DON’T make that board game of Cards Against Humanity, if you’re interested in a second date. You’ve been warned.

DO choose a romantic movie. Keep the aphrodisiac theme running with films that celebrate the sensual power of food, like Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate or choose a classic like Casablanca. For lovers of modern movies, safe options are rom-com par excellence Notting Hill or dreamy love story Before Sunrise.

DON’T put on a tearjerker, like The Notebook. You should also steer clear of films examining relationship breakdown (watch Blue Valentine some other time). Likewise troubling subject matter like psychopathic sexual violence and sex addiction are also best avoided – so no Fatal Attraction or Shame. And finally, tonight is definitely not the night to watch Requiem for a Dream.

DO make sure you are subscribed to Netflix before you invite anyone over to “Netflix and chill”. 

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