If you're in a relationship, there's a good chance you spend a lot of time at home with your partner. Whether you've promised to wait to watch the next episode of that new show together, or you're just playing hooky from the party you didn't really want to go to, why not take the time to make your night in a date-worthy experience?
We talked to 10 date night pros (i.e. actual) couples, to get their tips on how to have a date night in that rivals, nay, beats a spendy night on the town.
Make Fancy Cocktails (and Order Takeout)
Gary and Chelsey Knight (pictured above) have a home built for entertaining friends, family, or just themselves. They like to give movie night in a boozy twist and relinquish cooking duties so there's more time for cocktails and cuddles.
- Treat yourself to a drink: Your bar cart isn't just for when you have houseguests. Chelsey says they love to treat themselves to a good Grasshopper cocktail, or when a romantic night of watching Jane Austen films is in order, a bottle of wine from their Winc subscription. (And yes, Gary concurs).
- Order takeout: With so many amazing food options in their bustling Queens neighborhood, staying in doesn't give this couple food FOMO. "Seamless is almost always involved," says Chelsea. (If you're not familiar, Seamless is a food ordering services that gives equal date night opportunity to the cooking-impaired stayer-inners.)
Dress Up and Stay In
For Remy Ortiz and Peter Browne, just approaching their year anniversary as a couple, staying in together is always a good time. "At the end of the day, give me a bottle of red wine, a Billie Holiday record, and a cheese plate with my boyfriend and I'm a happy man." Still, they like to get a bit creative and go the extra mile to make their evening unique. Here's how they do it.
- Dress the part: Peter says classing it up "can be as simple as getting a few candles from your local dollar store and putting on a nice shirt and a tie."
- Read aloud to one another: Peter also suggests "deciding on a fun activity you can do together, like playing a card game or reading aloud to one another." When's the last time you read aloud to your significant other? We suggest you try it ASAP.
- Try a change of scenery: Another tip? Get out of the living room rut. "Listening to a favorite old record in bed with a nice bottle of wine" is a favorite date night in activity for Peter and Remy. Or, if you have a friend who is out of town, why not ask if you can stay over?
Trader Joe's as Date Night Helper
Lori and Abdeel Ortega have conflicting work schedules — Lori is an editor, while Abdeel often works nights as a sound engineer — that can be an impediment to date night in. So, when the couple does get solo time together, they want something more special than ordering pizza and re-watching Parks and Rec. The secret is cocktails (or rather mocktails, as the couple is expecting), music, and Trader Joe's.
- Put some music on: Lori loves the simplicity of having a mocktail while listening to some tunes. Her pick? Damien Jurado's Maraqopa.
- Enlist the help of Trader Joe's: "When I'm feeling a little 'pretend fancy' I like to put together a cheese and charcuterie board," says Lori. "It doesn't have to be expensive or extravagant. I find that Trader Joe's has a great selection of cured meats and cheeses that won't break the bank." She'll sometimes make dessert to go with it — or just pick up Trader Joe's molten chocolate lava cake.
More Date Night in Ideas from Trader Joe's
Pizza and a Movie (at Home)
For Kyle Deven and Michelle Jeurgen, who have been dating for two years, date night in is all about dividing and conquering. That usually means Kyle takes on the cooking duties while Michelle contributes in other ways. Music is definitely part of the equation, "something like Benji Hughes or the newest Jenny Lewis album (something that's not as heavy as Rabbit Fur Coat)," says Kyle.
- Pizza is always a good idea: Michelle admits she isn't the most proficient cook and concedes, "complicated dishes stress me out, so pizza is always a great option, especially because Kyle is good at making it and I can just grab little pieces of dough and toppings and say I helped. I'll usually make us some kind of whisky cocktail and offer moral support and vocal backups to whatever record we're listening to."
- Ditto, zombies: It helps make the night go more smoothly if you've agreed what you're going to watch ahead of time, the couple advises. Michelle says they often end up watching a horror movie or a "silly B-disaster movie," elaborating that, "nothing too intense, and something that's fun to make fun of is always good." Basically, if there are zombies, psychotic clowns, or moon-dwelling nazis involved, you've probably made the right choice.
Go Classic (and Kid-Free)
Scott and Carol Cantino are date night veterans. They've been married for 31 years and have done it all and then some. Their conclusion? Dinner and a movie is a date night in standard for a reason. It just works.
- Snacks are essential: When Carol's in charge of date night provisions, she always grabs Tim's Cascade Jalapeño Chips and pizza with pineapple and Canadian bacon. Scott knows that he needn't look further than pepperoni and olive pizza, and peanut M&Ms for a date night with Carol.
- No kids allowed: Carol warns there is one wrench that can wreak havoc on a relaxing evening in. She advises that, "no kids can be home because, even if you wait till they're asleep, they'll wake up and bug you the second the movie starts."
What are your favorite tips and good ideas for a great date night at home?