It’s a question many couples would love to know the answer to; just how do you elevate that meal at home into a romantic, ‘date night’ experience? For what it’s worth, we think that the secret lies in paying attention to the finer details. And while making an extra effort on your appearance and the food is, of course, crucial to a romantic evening,  as much thought should be given to the other little things that elevate your night from good to great. With that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL steps for giving your dinner table the fine dining treatment.

CRACK OUT THE QUALITY CROCKERY

Too often, the best crockery sits in the cupboard, reserved only for Christmas, and gathering dust for the rest of the year. But why not bring it out for your romantic night? Putting your date night on a par with the biggest events of the year shows the emphasis you place on your shared love. Pull out the fine silverware and dishware, polish it up and serve your loved one with pride. Do the same with your best glasses, and serve something fizzy in them. The rest, we think, will write itself. 

DECORATE THE TABLE

Although you wouldn’t want to draw too much attention away from the food, especially if you’ve made a particular effort in the presentation of your dishes, some simple table decoration is a good idea. If done right, this will serve to enhance the appearance of the food, framing it perfectly. Think about an elegant but understated flower arrangement; and even make use of functional items to bring an aesthetic, fine dining element; folded napkins, cutlery holders and candles. Which brings us on to……

GET THE AMBIENCE & LIGHTING RIGHT

‘Romantic’ and ‘candlelit’ go hand in hand, that’s for sure. There’s something about the unpredictable flicker, the shadows it casts, the intimacy it suggests…

However, don’t just light up any old candle you find lying around. While certain scented candles can encourage romance, the wrong type may clash with the food you’re serving and too much fragrance can literally make people feel sick. So invest in a quality candle that will compliment the ambience of your meal. Go for something special, such as these Laura Ashley deals, which throw a fragrant but subtle scent around the room as well as that much sought after glimmer. Although you want the lighting to be low enough to create a little mystique, you don’t want to be shrouded in utter darkness; it’s better to admire your partner (and the food, too!). And don’t forget to play some sultry, smooth music in the background.

DESIGN A MENU

Although it might seem a little cheesy, designing a menu with dish descriptions (and perhaps wine pairings) will create a feeling of special occasion. Don’t forget to include appetisers and cocktails on your menu to begin the evening with; think of them as the foreplay prior to the main event. Indeed, nothing brings elegance and sophistication to a special event quite like a cocktail and offering a choice of carefully curated drinks is a fun, classy way of getting an evening off to a good start, and if done well, an unforgettable evening is assured. Remember that designing a menu is just a little fun, so don’t overthink it and spend a bundle on printing. And of course, don’t write prices next to each item. That would just be weird.

THE ‘CORRECT’ WAY TO SET THE TABLE

There are certain rules which dictate the ‘correct’ way to set the table. And while we wouldn’t suggest getting bogged down in decree and guideline, putting that little bit of extra thought into how you lay your table will inject that sense of occasion into proceedings. If you’re planning to serve wine, remember that certain glass shapes work better for specific wines. Red wine glasses require a larger bowl to allow its aromas and flavours to emerge, while white wine glasses usually have a narrow bowl that tapers slightly making it easier to detect the aromas of the wine.

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.