It’s always unnerving to entertain someone for the first time, especially when that person is a new love interest. Even the most seasoned cooks have stage fright when they are preparing a meal for someone new. Indeed, when you’re cooking for another with the aim to impress them, it’s like you’re putting on a little show and the pressure can be nerve-racking. But worry not, we’re here to help with these 5 IDEAL tips for a successful first dinner date at home.

DON’T FORGET THE NIBBLES & WELCOME DRINK

Plan ahead and don’t forget some nibbles and a welcome drink to begin the evening. Think of them as the foreplay prior to the main event; equally as important and sometimes the best part. Indeed, it’s always nice to have a drink on arrival and a few nibbles on offer when your date arrives to get the juices flowing. Just keep them light so you have room for the main event.

THE WINE

A perfect glass of wine for a date is essential – and that doesn’t mean a £4.99 bottle from Tesco’s bargain bin. It means class, it cries sophistication and it positively bellows WINE SNOBBERY at the top of its tasting notes. When you select a great bottle of wine – whether that’s a full-bodied red or a light rose – it’s a marker of taste that will impress your date, even if they don’t like wine. The cultural cache society has given to wine is peerless, so make sure you get your selection right with a bottle from La Vino, a company which excels in terms of price and taste.

THE MEAL AND THE HOSTING

A two part tip, make no mistake. We’ll start with the cooking. Of course, you want your food to wow your date. That’s a given. But to be a great host, you can’t be slaving away for the duration of the meal; you’ll be seldom seen and when you are, stressed and distracted. So, the choice of dishes you serve is going to be make or break to the success of the evening.

After a fancy starter, try to keep the main course simple. Think of cooking something that can largely be prepared in advance and finished off quickly, as you don’t want to leave you date sitting alone for too long.  The dish every diner will depart discussing is going to be dessert. Most people have a sweet tooth and owing to it being the last course, the final act is the one whose taste will linger and your date will remember. So, do it in style. Again, something prepared a little in advance will save stress so close to the finish line.

DON’T CROCK IT UP

You’ve gone to all the effort of cooking up a carefully considered meal and then you serve it all up on paper plates. Okay, this an extreme example, but you want to get your crockery right if you want a romantic, sophisticated feel to the evening and the food to shine as it should. The same goes for drinking vessels; if you’re going to serve good wine (see below) then you’ll want an appropriate glass to bring out the best characteristics of every last drop.

MAKE SOMETHING TOGETHER

If you’re cooking for a date it helps if you can cook of course, but if you’re hopeless in the kitchen fear not. Why not get your date involved in the cooking process? Think about making pizzas together.Not only will be great fun, getting the ingredients together and making the dough beforehand takes enough effort to prove you tried.

THE AMBIANCE 

If the meal’s a disaster and the wine tastes like vinegar, your fall back plan is your ambiance. Perfect this and you’ll be able to save your date from almost any impending disaster. That means exquisite lighting, a well laid out table, a playlist more chilled than the ice cubes in your freezer, and oodles of sartorial suaveness.