What is Valentine’s Day if not an excuse to concoct a night of romance for someone you love? Making a reservation at a trendy restaurant might be a tried and tested date idea, but as an alternative, there are merits to celebrating the special occasion at home. For some, the idea of fighting a crowd on one of the busiest restaurant nights of the year might be unappealing. Meanwhile, being time-poor might point you towards a dinner date delivery. Cupid might be working overtime on Valentine’s day—but so are you. Whatever your reason may be, it’s undeniable that the private, intimate affair of a date night at home has a unique appeal.
With the pressure of orchestrating the perfect night mounts, you may find yourself loss on where to start. Create a romantic ambience with luxurious elements that amp up the mood and personal touches that encapsulate the idiosyncratic joys of your own relationship. Next, pick a menu. Perhaps you’d like to go the extra mile with a home-cooked meal, or surprise your honey with their favourite take-out order. Tipples are a must—are you a couple who enjoys the finer things in life, or is craft beer more your speed?
To give you a boost, we speak to five creatives with different expertise—from food styling and wine pairing to floristry and interior design—to offer their best tips on planning an unforgettable at-home date night.
1 / 5
Set the table with layers and texture
For bringing flair to any table setting, Mary Soltysiak, founder of events company Estilo & Co, suggests a candle—scented, pillar, taper, votive, or tealight—as a warm centrepiece. “Repurpose stem cocktail or short glasses as votive and tea light holders, and position candles at different heights using small cake stands or your partner’s favourite books,” she says.
She also places great emphasis on textured layers for visual impact. “Consider draping table runners, sheer, lace or velvet fabrics, over the table for a dreamy ambience.” For additional interest, she suggests tying bows with elongated tails on candleholders or chairs for a touch of coquettish sophistication.
In a tight space? Soltysiak believes this heightens closeness. She advises: “Prioritise minimalism. Instead of large floral arrangements, place floral stems in bud vases of different shapes, strategically scattered across the table. Use sleek, compact dinnerware to keep the table clutter-free while maintaining elegance.”
2 / 5
Take a fresh approach to florals
Step away from the ubiquitous bouquet of red roses. Clare Lee, founder of artisanal florist Friday’s Garden, suggests choosing fresh blooms which symbolise a shared memory. She proposes a cheeky touch: “Pair it with unexpected vessels found at home, like a cereal bowl.”
Examples of blooms that instantly evoke a romantic feel? “Tulips are naturally playful and expressive. Japanese Sweet Pea is a favourite, with beguiling ruffles and a wide spectrum of colours. Anthuriums are perfect for partners who prefer architectural, sculptural silhouettes.”
With arrangements, Lee biggest tip is to play with height, keeping stems below the 30-centimetre mark for uninterrupted conversation. “Another option is to skip vessels altogether and display a foliage nest of little buds,” she offers.
3 / 5
Amp up the mood with fragrance
Beyond setting the mood, scents seep into our consciousness, serving as a poignant reminder of the tender connections forged during intimate moments such as these. Founder of Artisan of Sense, Vivian Chung, recommends taking things to the next level by complementing fragrances with decor. “Our Oud fragrance, with a warm, mysterious blend of rose and amber, pairs perfectly with darker design. The Jasmine, Lily & Neroli carries a fresh floral scent, pairing seamlessly with soft-toned decor.”
Can’t pick between the different forms of fragrance? “Candles are the essential dinner companion, and reed diffusers at the entrance create a welcoming aura. Room sprays are an efficient back-up, releasing scent the quickest. Spritz it on textiles for a prolonged olfactory experience throughout your living space,” Chung says.
4 / 5
Don't shy away from unconventional pairings
Whether you’re cooking up a feast or relishing in the convenience of take-out, Justin Wee, Chief Sommelier at La Dame de Pic, Raffles Singapore, has the right drink in mind to complement it. “A good bottle of champagne pairs perfectly with anything, even fried chicken nasi lemak,” he says, highlighting a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée.
As for alternatives, Wee suggests: “Beers sing well with anything, but La Dame de Pic’s special Hibiscus and Shiso Leaf brew is exquisite alongside Japanese cuisine.” Eating local? “The sake from Izumibashi Kimoto, Junmai Daiginjo, can be enjoyed with the likes of laksa. Fresh and delicately sweet, it goes well with spicy and rich flavours,” he elaborates. Above all, his guiding principle is simple. “Drink whatever your loved one enjoys.”
5 / 5
Go the extra mile by elevating your plate
Food stylist and home cook Sunny Han believes that the easiest way to elevate at-home meals is to pick the right menu. “Make a Steak au Poivre using a good quality, thick-cut beef tenderloin. Sear on both sides and cook to medium-rare doneness. While it’s resting, make a pan sauce or reheat a store-bought pepper steak sauce. Sauce the steak nicely. Serve with your side of choice. You don’t need any extra garnish. Sometimes, simplicity is key to elegant presentation.”
To end the night on a sweet note, she recommends going the extra mile with dessert. “Place red berries, currants or raspberries on top of a plain chocolate cake. Sprinkle icing sugar on top. For extra colours, add edible flowers. The best plain chocolate cakes that can be bought locally are from Lana Cakes or Awfully Chocolate.”