When was the last time you and your husband had the privilege of getting all dressed up and going somewhere special on a date? A month ago? A year ago? For my husband and I, it’s his annual Christmas banquet which is hosted in a lovely ballroom with candles and music. I just adore the few days before the occasion, picking out an outfit and choosing what my hairstyle will be. It’s reminiscent of what our dating was like when we were still teenagers, when every opportunity to see each other produced a thousand butterflies and you held your breath while you stared out the window waiting for his old beat up car to pull in the driveway. Where I wouldn’t have gone for the opportunity to ride in it with him.
But life has become rather chaotic since that time and while I still run out to greet him when he comes home in the evening it is not usually followed by our quick departure to a romantic restaurant. Life is busy. Being a mother of 5 is hectic and in this blessed season the words “date night” can seem rather archaic. I determined several years ago that we would need to get creative if there was to be any hope of a formal occasion during these years. We would need to do something else, something that at one time left me with little excitement …a home date night. And thus the rules formed in my head. This would not be a quilt spread on the floor with sandwiches from the local gas station. The words romantic and elegant would need to fit hand in hand in what I desired this priceless time to be. It would need to be simple and affordable so we could do it often. I dreamt that it might even be somewhat perfect.
It first started in our living room, where I placed a small table in the corner and dressed it up on our date nights. As our home grew in space, I moved our dating area to our small mudroom and strung icicle lights off the ceiling. When the weather became nice, we moved our romantic space outside and adorned it with candles. Who can honestly say that candles and stars do not marry perfectly together? No matter inside or out, your lighting should remain dim just like a fancy restaurant, and be mainly lit by low wattage bulbs or candles … or of course both! There is nothing that screams unromantic like bright lights during an elegant dinner so it is best to avoid those.
Since the children are home as well on these evenings, we have to keep them occupied. To ensure that these nights are also special for them, we let them have a popcorn and movie night in the family room. Something longer then usual and of course highly entertaining. This is not a good night for the short episodes of Little House on the Prairie though the show is a family favorite. We kindly remind them if they come out to us that we are on a date and that they must return to the family room. Most of the time our evenings go pretty smoothly and I love knowing that our children see how much we love to be with each other. In a world where marriage is so often disdained, I know my children’s perspective on marriage will be a positive one. Depending on the ages of your children, you may not have the opportunity to get outside alone but you could always do a late night coffee and dessert after bedtime or just keep it inside while they are young. Regardless, you can create priceless memories too.
The cost of your evening is completely up to you and can be as affordable or extravagant as you desire. My place setting looks expensive but in reality has cost me less then twenty dollars as everything was either free, from my garden or bought at the local thrift store. The gold “tablecloth” is actually two curtains layered on top of each other and pinned. The chairs I humbly picked up off the side of the road and dressed up by spray painting them and adding some old pillows for cushions. I even buy my candlesticks at the thrift store. A little creativity and a reliable thrift store can save you serious money.
I usually begin setting up our table in the afternoon so that I have plenty of time to get ready for my husband and still cook if we are not going to be getting something in. This has offered me the freedom of experimenting in the kitchen with new and exciting dishes that the children may not be thrilled about. Sometimes I stick with a theme and other times I simply search through the cookbooks I don’t use on a regular basis. I struggle with desserts so that is almost always something I buy at the store. I do not want to ruin a perfect evening with burnt brownies or a sunken cake. If all the prep work seems daunting then simple take out works just as well and will allow you to spend more time being creative and getting ready.
A home date night is truly a joy. It is not terrible as I once thought nor dull unless that is what you make it. It can be whatever your creative mind wants it to be. I am no longer envious of my friends who often go out with their husbands but am content to find myself at home looking at my husband over candlelight with Andre Rieu playing softly in the background. We are making memories and keeping the flame burning even in the busiest season of our lives. It is a joyful thing and I am loving every moment of it.
What are you waiting for friend? Perhaps that pretty dress and your grandmothers silverware need to make an appearance. Might you have the time to plan a home date night with your love this week? You certainly won’t regret it.
Until next time,