Ina Garten Shared Her 7 Best Tips for Romantic Date Nights at Home
Some duos just *work.* Chocolate and peanut butter. Popcorn and movies. Jeffrey and Ina Garten.
These timeless pairings seem to simply always team up well. Although we're sure Jeffrey and Ina have their "moments" just like every couple, they've been married for 52 years and their love for each other seems to grow stronger with each passing day—even spending the pandemic quarantining together. They've been baking up a storm and shaking up supersized cocktails, and seem to be the epitome of couple goals.
So with Valentine's Day right around the corner, we were inspired to dive into the archives of their best #relationshipgoals moments to see what we can all learn about how to keep things fresh and romantic—even when we're likely just staying at home.
Ina Garten's Best Tricks for a Romantic Date Night at Home
1. Think of dinners together as a treat.
Around the time of the release of her book Cooking for Jeffrey ($19.88, amazon.com) Ina told The Kitchn, "Any night at home is special," since Jeffrey used to travel for work so often. Plus, it takes more planning than calling for takeout or a reservation. "I think just making dinner takes a real effort—to shop and cook and clean up afterwards—it's a real gift to someone you care about. By definition it's date night."
2. Set the mood.
Ina prefers to save the TV or movie viewing until after dinner, according to The Kitchn, and suggests streaming a meaningful album or songs inspired by one of your favorite places you've traveled together.
If you need some swoon-worthy tune inspiration, she even pulled together a Spotify playlist with just this in mind: Ina's Favorite Love Songs.
3. Spiff up your space.
A few small touches can make a big difference to elevate a date night at home, Ina believes. Try glowing candles, fresh flowers and real table settings. "It's really worth the time to use a great linen napkin," Ina shared with The Kitchn. "You can use folded paper towels for Sunday night takeout, but when I'm actually making dinner, it's nice to honor it with a nice napkin."
4. Keep things playful.
That doesn't mean things have to feel "stiff," however. In this heartwarming Barefoot Contessa montage called "A Barefoot Love Connection," Jeffrey surprised Ina by setting up a tent in their backyard while she went into the kitchen to grab dessert for their home date night. The two giggled and hopped inside, zipping up the door as Ina said, "If the tent be rocking, don't be knocking!"
While a backyard campout in February would be pretty frigid in most parts of the country come February, perhaps you could set up a blanket and pillow fort for an indoor campsite just like one creative EatingWell editor and her plus one did last Valentine's Day.
5. No need to be too fancy with the food.
If you're stressing about perfecting that beef Wellington you've never attempted before, you might not savor the special holiday as much. So keep things simple and easy with dinners anyone can cook, or even a "snack dinner" of a charcuterie board and a chocolate fondue station for dessert.
"You really connect over a really nice, simple dinner rather than a fancy dinner that's meant to impress people," Ina said in The Kitchn interview. "The key is to make something so when you're done with dinner, you can still be present for the people who are there—that's what makes them feel special."
6. Be generous with praise.
"This is the best chicken ever," Jeffrey swoons in that Barefoot Contessa video. And later in the clip, Ina shared her sample of Thomas Keller's fried chicken, then asked, "Is it the best fried chicken you've ever had?" To which Jeffrey replied, "Next to the one you make!"
"Words of affirmation" are one of the five love languages for a reason. They mean a lot! So whether it's positive reviews about the meal, a simple "I appreciate ______ about you" or a sweet social media post in honor of your relationship, know the little gestures can make a big difference.
7. Reminisce about your favorite memories together.
Flip through old photo albums (either physical or on Facebook), and reflect on how you've grown, evolved and changed. On their 52-year anniversary, @inagarten posted this sweet walk down memory lane, with the caption, "Fifty-two years and still having so much fun! You gave me a life I could never have dreamed of."