romantic dinnerValentine’s Day is coming around again; do you have something unique in mind for you’re your special someone? You don’t need to battle it out with all of the other couples filling restaurants to make a lasting impression. This year, create a Valentine’s dinner at home that your significant other will brag about at work the next day. Set a perfectly romantic Valentine’s Day mood with our tips on how to decorate in a romantic theme, cook a delectable homemade meal, open a bottle of wine, and make this Valentine’s Day an occasion worth staying-in for.

Instead of battling the crowds, why not stay in and make your beau or belle a fabulous Valentine’s Day dinner? Of course, there’s less effort involved in getting dressed and going to a restaurant, but it’s not the most unique thing to do for Valentine’s Day (actually, it’s about as unique as a heart shaped box of chocolates and a dozen red roses). Shelling out a couple of hundred dollars on a fancy schmancy restaurant might get you kudos in an immediate sort of way, but believe us, the DIY version is going to make the best memories.

FIRST STEP: DECORATE.

Lighting is of the utmost importance when creating the perfect atmosphere. Too much light makes a room look stark, but not enough will have you fumbling for your silverware. Candles are the obvious choice to set your romantic scene. Votives, tea lights, taper or pillar candles – they are all perfect. Just be careful when using lots of candles that you keep them well away from your other decorations or anything else that could catch on fire. You may be tempted to put candles all over the house, but keep them to one or two rooms if possible, lest you forget where one is and forget to extinguish it!

Rose petals are the quintessential Valentine’s Day decoration. Scatter them on the dinner table, mantelpiece or pillow. If you don’t have access to fresh roses, or you don’t feel like destroying the ones you received at the office for Valentine’s Day (not a good look when the person who gave them to you is showing up for dinner the same night), you can make your own from colored paper!rose petals

Now is the time to pull out any pretty pink or red decorations that you might have in the house. Anything in the shape of a love heart is perfect for the occasion. Put heart shaped bars of soap in the bathroom, light candles and put them in pink or red votives or jars, and put a bowl of heart shaped candy on the coffee table. If you bought a Valentine’s gift for your sweetheart, wrap it in pink or red tissue paper, tie a ribbon around it and leave it at his/her place at the table.

SECOND STEP: LISTEN.

There’s a fine line between romantic and cheesy when it comes to the music selection. Ditch the “Romantic Songs for Lovers Volume 1” and go for relaxing music that you both love. Jazz, chill out, soul and lounge music are sure to set the perfect mood for your romantic dinner. Create a song list for your MP3 player and make sure you have enough music loaded to last a few hours. You don’t want to be messing around with the music in the middle of dinner.

THIRD STEP: EAT.

valentine heart candyThe secret to a flawless romantic dinner for two is preparation. You need to be together for as much time as possible, and if you’re in the kitchen while your partner is sitting in the dining room staring into the candlelight, you’ve not prepared well enough. The only time you should be away from the table is to get something out of the oven or to grab a second bottle of wine!

Think your menu through before you try to execute anything too elaborate. All of your courses need to be able to be cooked in advance, with minimum attention required until just before serving. (Read: if your significant other’s favorite meal is steak Diane flambé, you will just have to settle for their second favorite.) Pasta bakes are perfect for a delicious prepared ahead meal. Make a yummy baked lasagna or ziti and have it warming in the oven until you are ready to serve. Make a salad to go with it and simply drizzle the dressing on just before serving. If you have time the day before, why not make your own dessert too? If you made ziti, keep with your Italian theme and make a tiramisu, which only gets better sitting in the fridge for a couple of days. Or really impress your Valentine and make homemade semifreddo, which can be kept in the freezer until a little while before serving!

FOURTH STEP: ENJOY.

You’ve set a scene of love and romance; you’ve cooked a delicious meal, now it’s time to enjoy each other’s company. There’s a reason the slow food movement is gaining so much momentum. Good food, good wine and good company, deserve to be savored, not rushed.