If you’re looking for date night at home ideas, you’re in the right place! Takeout food and drinks make for a fun, delicious and unique date night. Read this guide to learn how to plan your date night at home, as well as make it happen!
Date night at home is where it’s at these days! But sometimes, there’s something really nice about letting someone cook, especially since a lot of us are cooking more than we ever have before. (I say this as a food blogger who cooks all the darn time. I’m cooking a lot more than usual, and I know you are, too.)
So today, I want to share date night at home ideas for picking up takeout from your favorite restaurant.
Due to current times, my husband and I feel really strongly about supporting our favorite local restaurants by ordering takeout, especially since we don’t feel comfortable eating inside a restaurant these days.
Before we dive into this guide, though, I really want to stress one thing: To me, a takeout date night is a nice treat for us… but it’s also an excellent way to help support a local business.
Please remember that when you pick up takeout, you still need to leave a generous tip.
Today, I will walk you through how you can set up your date, choose your restaurant du jour, make a game plan and then make it happen!
1. Discuss your date night at home ideas, and choose the time and date.
It seems silly to tell you that this is where we begin, but quite honestly, when my husband and I are planning anything, whether it’s a date night at home or a party, and it’s important to get on the same page before you begin the planning process.
There is something fun in planning a date together—it’s something that can bring y’all together in a different way than you normally are, and you can discuss all the options.
And it begins with a time and a date since you already know the location of your date. 😉
As I’ve previously said, it’s really easy to push date night aside because life is busy and your family has needs… but it’s really important to carve out this time for yourselves.
Also, if you have children, I suggest having date night once they’re in bed. Why? So you can enjoy your meal without interruptions or children requesting to eat your food because they have fancy tastebuds, too. #momproblems
What if your kids go to bed late and you go to bed early? If date night at home is important to you, you’re going to have to get creative… and I know you can! If your kids are of an age where they can sit and watch a movie, I suggest finding a good one that will keep them occupied while you and your significant other can enjoy each others’ company with minimal interruptions.
2. Choose the restaurant you want to get a takeout meal from.
You’ve got the time, date and location figured out… so your next step is figuring out what restaurant you’d like to support and pick up your meal from.
Some things we consider when we’re choosing our takeout restaurant:
- What types of food do you like?
- What restaurants nearby are your favorites?
- Do these restaurants have a takeout/pickup option? (And do you like anything that they’re offering on that menu, if it differs from their house menu?)
- How do you plan to actually get your food? These days, lots of restaurants offer curbside pickup, as well as in-restaurant pickup. Some delivery services are available for different options, too, to look into ‘em and plan accordingly.
And then once you choose a restaurant, here are a few more questions you should ask yourself before deciding what you’re ordering:
- What type of food does the restaurant offer that travels well? As a general rule, fried foods don’t travel as well as something that’s been roasted or as something that is raw. If you’re ordering steak or other meat to temperature, order a temperature down so that you can reheat it. It won’t be overcooked if you do this!
- What food will feel like a treat to you and your significant other? Since we all like different things, explore the menus of your favorite restaurants and see what calls to your tastebuds!
- Will you be purchasing drinks to pair with your meal? Some restaurants currently offer to-go liquor/cocktails, as well as bottles of wine to pair with your order. A friend from Nashville told me that some restaurants are offering a “mystery bottle” deal where a customer pays a set price ($35, $65, $100, etc.) for a bottle that a sommelier chooses to pair with their meal at whichever price point they request. This is an excellent way to support a local restaurant since alcohol has a higher markup than food, and this helps the restaurant spread the wealth and support their workers better. (More sales mean more $$$ to go around between staff.)
- Will you be purchasing dessert, too? 10/10 suggest dessert… you might as well make a night of it and treat yourselves!
3. Create your game plan for executing the pickup and set up at home.
As people who have two small kids at home, my husband and I have to create a date night game plan that involves who gets the food, as well as who gets our kids in bed.
As I said before, I suggest having date night after the kids are in bed, even if you eat later than you normally would.
This is a treat for you—please make the most of it! For me, this means having some alone time with my husband and not fending off our children, who really like fancy food and have no qualms requesting to eat directly off my plate. 😉
So for us—we have a few questions we run through and plot out before we place our order:
- Who is going to take care of the kids and what they eat? Normally, we offer them leftovers because we always have leftovers of some sort. If we don’t have leftovers, we make them something that’s really easy on us. Why? So that it’s not an extra stressor before our date night at home.
- Who will pick up the food? Normally, we both sit with the girls at dinner, but when dinnertime is over, one of us does bathtime and bedtime while the other picks up our food.
- How will you coordinate the food pickup time? Restaurants are doing their best, but the timing is tricky because a few things depend on this. It can dependent on how busy they are, as well as how long your food takes to cook.
- How do you get the food home in a timely manner? Unless you’re getting takeout sushi or another food that remains cold, you want to get it home quickly.
Another thing to consider is what else the person at the home can do to help make date night come together faster before the food arrives.
If you don’t have kids (or your kids are older and can fend for themselves while you and your spouse have your date), here are a few ideas of what the stay-at-homer can do to assist:
- Set the table and ambiance. The first night I picked up a date night meal, my husband set the table with plates, silverware, glassware (including water and wine glasses for us both), as well as an unscented candle.
- Clear out the sink. One of my friends suggested leaving dishes until the next day so you don’t fall into your usual nighttime routines after dinner is over. I love this idea! Move any dishes to the dishwasher (or handwash them) to clear way for the dishes you’ll use for your date.
- If you’re not getting drinks and dessert at the restaurant, plan out your drink menu and your dessert menu, too. This could mean mixing a fun cocktail that pairs well with your food or choosing a nice bottle of wine. Dessert could mean baking a batch of cookies (or mixing the dough and refrigerating it until it’s dessert time.)
4. Place your order and make it happen!
With your knowledge and plan in place, give the restaurant a call and place your order!
As previously mentioned, the timing of your order is dependent on a few things. This includes the busy-ness of the restaurant and kitchen at that time, as well as how long it takes to cook your food.
As a rule, we call in our order 30 minutes before we want to pick it up. This has always seemed to work for us, but I recognize that it won’t always be the case. (So if it doesn’t work, roll with it and be kind.)
One time, the kitchen lost our order, so our food wasn’t cooked when I arrived. I sat at the bar for a few minutes while they cooked it for me while there.
If you’re concerned about your food getting cold, call in your order and ask the restaurant to have it ready at a certain time. While I have not done this, I’m sure they will do their best to have the food ready for you at the designated time.
Another option is to place an order for delivery. This is wonderful if you can’t run out to the restaurant.
When picking up your food…
- Follow the restaurant‘s safety guidelines. This means reading the posted signs (or the information shared over the phone), and wearing your mask. Not only is it a way to protect yourself from potential sickness, but it’s a way to show you care about their health.
- Tip generously. I spoke with a friend who said, “In Nashville, you can’t sit at the bar. Most restaurants have a bartender who’s not allowed to have tables, but they have to make the drinks. I assume all restaurants are tip pooling, which means everyone’s tips are being split at the end of the night.” She said she a 10% tipper with to-go orders before 2020, but now, she’s a 20% tipper. “Especially if it’s a local restaurant you love and care about.”
- Transport your food safely. If I want my food to stay warm, I turn on the seat warmer and buckle the seatbelt around my takeout bag. Also, if you ordered to-go drinks, make sure they’re secured in your cupholders before leaving. Nothing is sadder than spilled drink!
5. Enjoy yourself!
The first at-home date night my husband and I had that involved takeout also included a fancy bottle of wine and half a bottle of port. We had dessert, too, and ended up talking until 2 a.m.
We normally aren’t night owls, but we had a blast spending uninterrupted time together. Quite honestly, it’s something we haven’t had much of a chance to enjoy recently, and it was a treat.
Erin’s Tips and Tricks for an Excellent Date Night at Home
- Make it an event. From the planning process to the execution of date night, there’s something fun about doing it together. It’s also lovely to give yourselves something fun (and out-of-the-ordinary) to look forward to together.
- Get dressed up. While you don’t have to be fancy or change out of your super comfy yoga pants, breaking out of your usual routine is fun. (At least, for me.) Taking the time to shower, do my hair and makeup feels special these days. And wearing a dress definitely makes date night at home feel like an event!
- Set the ambiance. This means finding some music that you love and turn it on. Turn off your notifications on your phone, and put it up. Don’t be tempted by the TV—focus on each other!
What are your thoughts on these date night at home ideas?!? Have you ever had a takeout date night before?