Step 1: Pamper & Preen
We might be staying in rather than going out, but I highly recommend spending a few minutes more on your grooming routine to get you in the mood. My skincare routine always starts with Drunk Elephant JuJu Bar, £24. I’ve been obsessed with it since my sister gave it to me as I love how easy it is to use. I find I’m using richer cream such as the Augustinus Bader The Cream, £135, which is so thick and nourishing. It’s a treat, and I use a pea sized amount twice a day. You have to let it soak into the skin which for me can take some time but it’s nice just to take five minutes out and relax.
Prior to lockdown, was an everyday essential, but now it’s more of a treat for occasions such as this. I’ll also run the Tom Ford Beard Comb, N/A through my beard to help me feel more pulled together. My finishing touch to my grooming routine (whether I’m going out or staying in) is a swipe of Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm, £15 - my lips always feel instantly nourished.
Step 2: Create An Ambience
Scent will create a dreamy ambience. I love anything by Jo Loves, the fragrances are so beautiful, and I feel like each one tells a story. is one of my favourites, but I’ll be spritzing the Jo Loves Green Orange & Coriander A Fragrance, £75. Just a few spritzes just before you start cooking (or put your takeaway order in) and the scent lasts for so long.
I prefer not to use scented candles on a tablescape, but I love having them nearby to set a mood. I’ve loved Boy Smells candles for years and Boy Smells Cedar Stack Scented Candle, £42 is perfect for setting the perfect mood. Light it in another room or away from your table so you can still experience the beautiful scent.
Step 3: Set The Table
When creating a romantic setting, it’s important to consider the whole space you’re in not just the table. Switch up the lighting for a softer glow, Fairholme candles are perfect for this but give yourself some light as you need to be able to see each other. Bring in some extra plants to fill the space, add a romantic playlist and you’re nearly ready.
Don’t overthink the cheesiness, a bit of cheese here and there is okay. I’m not saying fill your table with shinny plastic hearts but a nod to a bit of cheese is fine. I love the adding a heart to your menu or some red ribbon around your napkin.
Step 4: Go For Three Courses
Three courses feels decadent, doesn’t it? There’s something special about having a starter, especially right now when we can’t go to our favourite restaurants.
I might divide opinion here, but I love to start with a prawn cocktail. It’s a classic, it screams nostalgia and you can always make it fun. I love using a tall cocktail glass to hold the starter. For main, pasta is always my first choice, you can easily create a tasty dish for a vegetarian or a meat eater. And, it’s so comforting. Grab some fresh Parmesan to top your pasta and why not create your own garlic bread with some freshly baked bread, roasted garlic and butter.
For dessert, ask your partner (or, flatmates) what their favourite dessert is and try and recreate it for yourself. Find your best dessert bowls, make it fancy by melting down chocolate and draw some lines on the bowl, just like they do in a restaurant. Pair each course with a wine or no alcoholic drink or choice, head to Sommelier and all-round drink expert, Elliot Awin’s Instagram page for some inspiration, he knows his stuff! I always feel like it’s best to ask an expert.
Step 5: Cocktail O’Clock!
You’re that person who does or who doesn’t do the dishes after your dinner, that parts up to you.
Grab your cocktail kit and pretend you own the bar for the evening. Experiment and make something fun for each other. After dinner cocktails are such a treat! If you don’t fancy the hard work, there’s lots of pre-made and ready to go cocktail kits out there - I love Lockdown Liquor. Finish the evening off by popping on your favourite film and sipping your cocktails.