Would you rather spend two hundred dollars at a restaurant and enjoy an hour or two out or be in your own home with your significant other doing something a little outside of the box for your date night? We’ve got some ideas to help with the latter. Restaurants offer a great experience, but it can get boring doing the same things all the time, plus on days like Valentine’s Day, you might struggle to find a reservation. We’ve got you covered with a ton of different dinner date ideas at home to shake things up.
From sampling cuisines from around the globe to fun and unique ways to enjoy dinner at home, we’ve got you covered. Plan your next ten date nights with these ideas and have some fun with them!
Fun At Home With Adventures From Scratch
The perfect at-home date should include Adventures From Scratch! This book includes over 50 suggestions to bond with your other half and share quality time together. Using the handy key, you and your partner can pick an activity page that suits just about any situation. Once you scratch the surface and see what’s in store, we know you’ll look forward to months of date nights ahead!
Things to Consider When Planning At-Home Dinner Dates
When you’re planning a special date night at home, there are a few simple things to consider. Decide what you are going to do in advance so you have enough time to pick up any supplies you need. Try and use tools and ingredients you already have laying around. You might have some spices you bought for a recipe six months ago that could give you some inspiration and help you avoid wasting anything.
It’s important to think about what your partner likes. Do you know their love language? Plan a dinner and activities they’ll enjoy and that will show them you pay attention to the things they love. Those who love quality time together might want to work on planning and organizing the evening with you, whereas others might prefer a surprise.
Last, it’s important not to underestimate the impact of even the smallest effort. By changing up the setting or introducing a dish you cooked inspired by a previous trip, you will really wow your partner and allow them to feel special.
At-Home Dinner Date Ideas
Romantic night date nights at home just require a little creativity. We’ve got a few ideas to help jumpstart those creative juices to help you plan something that you will both love and might make a permanent part of your date night rotation.
An International Trip Right From Your Table
One fun idea is to enjoy a romantic dinner like you’re on vacation without leaving home. With so many incredible global cuisines available, this is an idea that you can do over and over again without ever repeating the same meal. Pick a country that you’ve always wanted to visit or one that you have visited in the past and make it the theme of your dinner date at home.
We are giving you some ideas to get started, but you can make this work for any location in the world with a little creativity.
1. Taste the favors of India.
Indian food is incredible. There are so many different flavors and spices. You can cook a feast yourself using online recipes, order in from a local Indian restaurant and sample a little bit of everything, or opt for the Trader Joe’s freezer section, which has some surprisingly good Indian meals that will be ready in just a few minutes in the microwave.
Enjoy some chai tea or lassi before or after your meal. Once you’re done with dinner, you can put in a Bollywood classic or watch something that might inspire a trip to this exotic country. Jungle Book, Lion, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are all great options.
If you want something more interactive than a movie, pick up Parcheesi, which is the American adaptation of the Indian game, Pachisi.
2. Practice the Japanese art of sushi rolling.
Sushi is a popular food option when visiting Japan but it’s also considered a true art form in Japanese culture. If you love different flavor options of rice, veggies, and fish rolled up, you can plan a date night where you start mastering this art with your partner. There are options for masterclasses online or even in-person cooking classes that will teach you the fundamentals to create sushi rolls and then you’ll need to just practice and hone your skills.
Set aside a day each month where you lay out all the supplies and each of you gets the chance to practice. You can sip on some Sake or Matcha tea. Decorate your table with a lantern or some cherry blossoms (if it’s the right season). Sushi is an interactive meal, so you’ll be able to enjoy the process of making it as well as tasting it.
3. Sample African flavors and foods.
Going on a safari in Africa is a popular bucket list item for many people. But it also costs thousands of dollars and requires a lot of planning. You can bring the flavors of Africa home for a dinner date instead and use that time to dream up all the places you want to see in this gigantic continent.
Check to see if you have an Ethiopian restaurant near you where you can order takeout. Many of the options are gluten-free and vegan, and it’s a popular choice. You can eat it while watching a special on some of the nature and animals you would experience if you were in the Sahara region or further south on the savannahs.
Countries, like Botswana, have more wetlands and are home to animals like water buffalo and hippos. The food there often comes in the form of a stew with beans and corn. Try the cuisine of a few different countries if you can swing it.
Africa is a magical place and has so much to offer. Take time during dinner to dream about your future trip and make sure to pour a sundowner for sunset. It’s a tradition on safaris to toast one another with a cold drink in a beautiful setting.
4. Indulge in food from Eastern Europe.
Make some Pierogies, which can be made sweet or savory, and serve with a goulash. Eastern European food is hearty and comforting, so it’s perfect for colder weather and cozy nights indoors. Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Hungary each have their own versions of the dishes, so you can try just one or make a few and then decide which you like the best.
If you want to expand to more than just food, you can pick up some Czech Pilsners or other beer that comes from that region of the world. Fruit brandy is also popular if you want to try something new. Look for Slivovitz, usually made from plums, and see what you think.
5. Order Chinese Takeout.
Dinner date nights at home don’t always require a ton of effort in the kitchen. You can plan a night in with some Chinese takeout. Try a new spot or order something different than your usual. Use the color red as much as you can in your decorations, even if it’s just some red candles or red napkins. Have fun sharing your fortunes with each other and then settle in for a movie date. Some of the popular movies set in China include The Last Emperor, Seven Years in Tibet, and Mulan.
6. Bring the vineyards of France home.
France is known as a land of romance, so why not bring that setting to your home? Pick up a few different types of french cheese to put together a board to taste along with a glass of wine. You can build your own wine flight by grabbing a few different bottles of wine from regions of France. Sample a red, a white, and some of the famous French Champagne.
Set the mood with a little French music playing in the background and include some fresh flowers on the table. Basically, anything that screams romance will work great for this theme. Make sure you have some high-quality chocolate to snack on after your sips of wine. If you want to take on some French cooking, you can try a classic Julia Child recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
7. Pretend You’re in Germany for Oktoberfest.
German beers and brats are typically served at any Oktoberfest, whether you’re in Munich or somewhere local. If you love this type of food, you can throw your own Oktoberfest festival in your own kitchen. Pick up some giant pretzels to heat in the oven with some mustard or beer cheese to dip them in. Grab a giant stein and enjoy some ice-cold beers.
Bonus points if you have any lederhosen or traditional German attire from the Bavaria region. You can find all kinds of different playlists to have in the background during your fun. Traditionally, you’ll see lots of blue and white, so decorate accordingly. You might have so much fun that you book a trip to Munich for a future Oktoberfest.
8. Head for the border with a Mexican dinner.
Mexican food is a favorite for many people and there are hundreds of ways you can prepare tacos. Put together a taco sampler and serve them alongside some margaritas for a Mexican date night. Set the mood with some music and maybe even turn the thermometer up a few degrees and wear your best beach vacation outfits.
Another option for ambiance is the sound of waves crashing while you’re eating (even when you’re right at your own dining room table). You can visit just about any party store for decorations to liven up the mood if you want. Grab some avocados and mix up some guac and enjoy your trip south to Mexico for the evening.
9. Escape to Italy.
We all remember that scene from Lady and the Tramp when the pups are eating spaghetti and they share one noodle. You can set up an evening with Italian food and recreate that magical moment. Serve up spaghetti or a different kind of pasta with parmesan cheese and your favorite spices. Pair it with an Italian bottle of wine and some gelato. There are so many different movies and TV shows that were filmed in Italy, so you can have them on in the background or cozy up after dinner to watch.
Italian food doesn’t have to just be pasta and gelato, you can swap that out for pizzas, seafood dishes, and spritzes if you want to feel like you’re on the Amalfi Coast instead of a cafe in Rome. Maybe you can even practice a little Italian language and learn how to say a few phrases together.
10. Take a trip down the Amazon River.
South America is a huge continent with tons of incredible culture and scenery. If you’ve dreamed of a getaway to Machu Picchu or Patagonia, you can daydream together with a fun date night focusing on some of the best South America has to offer. Start with some wine tasting with wine from Argentina. Taste some ceviche or arepas. Enjoy some chocolate for dessert or dulce de leche.
There are so many incredible documentaries about the Amazon Rainforest and the mighty Amazon River that you can watch to learn more about some of the regions that are almost impossible to visit. Write out your dream itinerary and have fun considering all the options for a future trip to the actual place.
Cooking Together For a Romantic Experience
If global cuisines aren’t your thing or you want to try something familiar, you can always make the preparation part of your special night and cook something together. You can make any recipe, but we’ve got a few ideas to help you think outside the box.
11. Recreate a family recipe.
Dinner recipes from your childhood can bring up all kinds of great memories. Take advantage of that sentimental feeling and share it with your partner. You can each pick something that you remember eating when you were a kid. Share photos, special items, and memories of your loved ones and family members with your partner.
Whether you have your grandma’s recipe book or you just have to look up a version online that gets close to what you have in your memory, it’s a fun experience to share with your partner. You can even put your own spin on classics to make them your own.
12. Build Your own pizzas.
Pizzas are always a yummy option. You can pick up premade dough or spend the time prepping and making your own. Each person can put their favorite toppings on the pizza and share it with the other or just keep it for themselves. Try something new with some of the funky pizza toppings as well. It’s easy to involve both people when making the pizzas, so it’s a great date night activity.
13. Use a kit to make cheese for your meal.
There are DIY kits for making your own cheese and that can be a fun activity for a couple. Prep what you need to start the process and plan to make something fun with it when you’re done. There are some great kits for beginners that come with everything you need to make your own cheese. Once you’re comfortable with the process, you can get fancy with the different types you create. It might turn into a full-fledged hobby for both of you that you can enjoy together for years to come.
14. Try baking something fancy.
Did you have a unique wedding cake or favorite dessert from a restaurant? Work together in the kitchen to try and recreate a special treat for you. It is a perfect teamwork opportunity as you measure, stir, and decorate. For most people, it isn’t often that you create fancy desserts in your kitchen on a random weeknight, so have fun together.
15. Put together a multi-course meal.
Recreate a meal you’ve had at a fancy restaurant or come up with your own menu that includes a few fun courses. Dinners with more than one course are definitely difficult to plan and organize, but putting in that extra effort will be worth it in the long run. This is good for anniversaries and special occasions. More than one course means that your date will be longer, so you can really enjoy each other’s company plus enjoy an incredible dining experience.
Switching It Up
The best date night is usually something a little outside of the ordinary that allows two people to connect on a deeper level and spend time together. One fun way to do that is to think about the different rooms in your house and how to utilize them in a different way. Try having a dinner date somewhere other than your dining room and have some fun with it. We’ve got a few ideas you can try.
16. Set up an indoor picnic.
Picnics are romantic, so why not create an indoor picnic on your living room floor or somewhere else in your home. Put out a blanket and pack a basket of sandwiches and snacks. You can enjoy a bottle of wine or champagne while sitting on the blanket and chatting. The best part is that if you forget something or run out of it, you can quickly pop over to the kitchen and grab it.
17. Enjoy breakfast (or dinner) in bed.
Breakfast in bed is a favorite for many couples. You can put together some simple breakfast items like pastries, fruit, and eggs to serve up on a tray and let your partner stay in bed. This is a great way to enjoy a relaxing morning and feel a little more luxurious. Include some hot coffee or favorite morning drinks and spend the morning browsing the newspaper or reading your favorite books.
You can even try something other than breakfast if you want, like an evening dessert or maybe even a lunch picnic. Choose food items that don’t have too many crumbs unless you want reminders of this meal for weeks to come.
18. Try a blindfolded meal.
There has been a new trend in recent years that taps into the senses while you’re enjoying your food. Restaurants typically seat diners in a blacked-out room where the servers use night vision goggles. You can do it a little easier at home with a blindfold. Just put together a dinner and serve your partner while they are blindfolded. This is a fun way to test out the idea and see if you notice anything different about eating while you can’t see.
19. Organize a progressive dinner.
Progressive dinners are fun and get you up and moving around. The idea is that you have different courses and each one is enjoyed in a new spot. Some people do this in neighborhoods where they visit a different restaurant for each course, but you can also set something like this up at home.
Start with a pre-dinner cocktail in your garage, appetizers in the living room, salads on the back porch, a main course in the dining room, and dessert in the bathroom (maybe with a bath). Changing up the location can help you connect in a different way because you’re changing up the scenery and the backdrop.
20. Transform your backyard.
We mentioned a picnic, but what about taking your meals outside for your dinner dates? If the weather is semi-decent, you can put out some candles and flowers on the table and create a romantic setting. Once you’re done eating, you can start a fire and make some s’mores or just lay out a blanket and enjoy some stargazing. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported somewhere far away.
21. Set up a drive-in.
Have you ever been to the drive-in movie theater? It can be a really fun date night and if it’s something that you and your partner enjoy, you can set it up in your own garage or driveway. Use a projector, or even just an iPad, and pick a movie that you both want to see. You can make snacks like the kind you can find at the movie theater and get cozy in your car to watch the movie.
It might not be quite like being outside, but the more creative you are, the more you’ll feel like you’re actually at the drive-in on a date. Popcorn just tastes better when there’s a movie playing in the background.
The Best Date Night Ideas and Activities to Pair With Dinner at Home
If you want to make your dinner date night at home extra special, you can pair your meal with an activity that you both enjoy. We are so used to our daily routines that it’s refreshing and energizing to change it up every once in a while. There are tons of different activities you can set up, but we are giving you just a few ideas here.
22. Play your favorite board game.
Have a game night along with your dinner date. You can play video games, card games, or one of your favorite classic board games. Once dinner wraps up, move your date to a table or space that is good for games and enjoy a little friendly competition with each other. There are so many great two-player games and even somewhere you work together to beat the game. You’ll enjoy the extra interaction that you get when playing together instead of just sitting next to each other watching TV or scrolling on phones.
23. Complete a DIY project together.
Do you have some projects around the house that you’ve been putting off for a while? Make it a fun date and order some takeout and check something off your list. Maybe you want to decorate some canvases together so you have some artwork that you did yourselves. Maybe you have some cabinets you want to sand and refinish. Make a great playlist and get out the tools. Working together to accomplish something on your list will make you both feel productive and give you a new space to enjoy together with a constant reminder of your teamwork.
24. Turn your living room into a movie theater.
Movie marathons can be a blast if you are intentional with your time and attention. Movies at home don’t make great date nights if both of you are checking Instagram or trying to multitask. Instead, pretend you are at the theater for your movie night, even if you are just watching something on Netflix.
Take time after the movie to chat about it, and share your thoughts and opinions. This is a cheap and easy way to spend some quality time together and relax in your own home. Make sure to stock up on some snacks because you can’t have a movie night with snacks.
25. Set up an at-home spa.
Either before or after your dinner date, you can treat your partner to an at-home spa night. There are tons of simple tools you can pick up to enjoy together. Face masks are easy and enjoyable. If you have a bathtub, you can grab the supplies for a premium, luxury bubble bath with candles and relaxing music.
Massages are another romantic and popular gift for your loved ones. Either do it yourself with lotion and oil or hire a traveling masseuse to come to your home and set up their table. Getting to relax and shut off while being pampered is not something anyone is going to turn down.
26. Recreate your first date.
One more fun way to spice up your dinner date is to bring in something to recreate your very first date. Think about what you did and what you ate. Did you stop for ice cream sundaes for dessert? Surprise your significant other with all the fixings for an ice cream sundae. Even if you went to a sporting event or concert for your first date, you can find a YouTube video of the same band or team and play it in the background while you enjoy dinner.
Get Planning and Have Fun Together Without Leaving Home
Date nights are all about finding new ways to surprise your partner and let them know that you love them and care about them. The smallest details can make the biggest difference, so don’t overthink it. Just have fun.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are tons of dinner date ideas at home to take advantage of. Try a new cuisine for a place you want to travel to, set up a picnic indoors, or even cook together and make a special recipe. Just change it up a bit.
When you’re planning an anniversary date, don’t be afraid to try an at-home dinner date idea to save some cash. It doesn’t need to be expensive to be special. Consider adding Adventures From Scratch to your evening!
At-home dinner dates can be incredibly special if you plan them right! Include activities like pampering/spa services, board games, indoor camping, or suggestions from Adventures From Scratch: Date Edition.