Romantic Dinner

You’ve had the coffee date and the movie date. Now you think it’s time to invite sweetie to your place for dinner and perhaps dessert.

This may be over-prescriptive, so feel free to use and not use these ideas as you see fit.

Choose an evening when both of you are likely to be fresh. Yes, typically that’s Saturday night but there’s no law against a weekday night or even Sunday brunch.

Choose a menu that will feel romantic but not require slaving in the kitchen while HoneyBunch is there  Sample:

Prawns with cocktail sauce

Champagne/sparking wine. If you don’t have champagne glasses, dollar stores usually have them for, yes, a dollar.

A salad: My favorite is baby lettuce plus tomatoes, blue cheese, and croutons or candied pecans. Drizzle with oil and vinegar. Hint: Don’t use cherry tomatoes: squirting risk.

Dessert. Store-bought is fine as long as it presents well. Again, choose something that requires no kitchen time when GuestyPoo is there. Examples: Trader Joe’s Chocolate Ganache Torte or vanilla ice cream topped with fresh berries.

Set the table in advance. Cloth napkins and tablecloth are impressive although nice placemats and paper napkins are fine. A single rose and/or candles may be perfect or too much. Trust your gut.

An hour or more before your partner’s arrival, put the champagne in the refrigerator or, for chilling in a half hour, the freezer.

A half hour before, make the salad and cover with plastic wrap.

Put out the prawns (which of course have been refrigerated before) and cocktail sauce (store-bought is fine) on a serving plate. Place it where you’d like the stand-up first part of the conversation to take place. Typically, that’s on the kitchen counter or bar.

Adjust the lighting so it’s not too bright but not so dim that you look like you’re trying to get to dessert too quickly.

Five minutes before arrival, put on soft music. If it’s a CD, put it on replay, so you don’t have to keep alert to it ending.

When your partner rings the bell, take a deep breath. You’re prepared, so now your job is to be fully present: make frequent eye contact and listen well.. Some people when nervous run off at the mouth. Don’t.

Give Snookums a welcoming hug: not too much, not too little. Don’t rush things.

If your guest has a coat, wrap, or umbrella, ask, “May I take that?”

Give your partner the space to initiate conversation. Listen well. At the first lull, ask “Champagne?”

In another minute or two, walk TweetiePIe to the prawn plate or bring it to him/her.

Continue the conversation. Remember, you should be talking 30 to 50 percent of the time. Really listen with your ears and body language.

After 15 to 30 minutes, at a lull, ask, “Ready for salad?” If you wish, offer more champagne.