6 Ways To Spend A Night In

Want to stay in but still sweep your sweetie off his feet? Here’s how to make a date at your place (or his) more exciting than going out on the town!

By Jennifer Benjamin

hen the temperature drops, sometimes all you want to do is snuggle up at home. Thing is, if you’ve just started dating someone new, how do you invite him or her over to your place, without giving the wrong impression? It’s not like you can say, “No, really, I just want to order take-out and watch a movie.” That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place: an at-home activity that will keep you both entertained and won’t just feel like a set-up for sex. You’ll probably learn a thing or two about your date and get that much more connected while you’re enjoying your quiet night in. Here, some ideas to get you going:

Make a combo meal
If you’re inviting anyone over for a home-cooked meal, you probably already
A great at-home date doesn’t have to sound like thinly veiled seduction…
have a go-to recipe in mind—something that’s easy to cook and ready to serve as soon as you’ve finished your glass of wine. Rather than cook for your date though, make a plan to whip up a meal as a team. “Spending time together in the kitchen is a great way to engage and get to know each other in a relaxed environment,” says Jennifer Oikle, Ph.D., founder of the Coupling Connection and author of Create the Love You Deserve. “You can talk more comfortably, as well as read behaviors—say, whether your date rolls with the punches, gets bossy, and cleans up after the meal.”

Make it even more of a team effort by bringing your own family recipes to the kitchen, like your mom’s famous meatloaf and his grandmother’s cheddar cheese potatoes. Not only will it be fun to make these childhood favorites together, but you will also inevitably learn about each other’s family histories and memories while you’re at it.

Plan a laugh fest
“Watching a movie” definitely sounds like code for “Let’s get it on.” A night-on-the-sofa with a purpose, though, won’t send quite the same message. If you discussed a TV show that you both love or how hilarious old Mel Brooks films are, make an evening out of watching them. You can pop popcorn, buy Goobers, Twizzlers and other movie snack favorites, and cuddle up on the couch. “Aside from it being a fun activity, laughing together actually elicits positive feelings about the other person and increases ease and intimacy,” explains love expert Diane Kirschner, Ph.D.

Have a Wii face-off
There’s a good reason why grown men still play videogames—because they’re freakin’ fun! With all the cool graphics and updated technology, a night of gaming can be an event in and of itself, not just a downtime activity for guys living in their parent’s
Laughing together will help bring you two closer.
basement. It may sound geeky, but the Wii from Nintendo requires you to literally move, jab and swing during sports games, making it the most interactive system out there. If you don’t own the Wii, rent one from your local video store and invite your date over for a tournament. “You can see just how competitive the other person gets and how they handle a loss—with good humor or a sore attitude,” Oikle points out. “Plus, being active together gives you both an adrenalin rush that makes a night-in even more exciting.”

Wine tasting for two
Winter isn’t an ideal time to check out the local vineyards, so if you’re both grape lovers, plan a private tasting. Tell him or her to come over with a favorite bottle of red and one of white, and you’ll do the same. Put out a plate of cheese with crackers, apple slices, olives and sliced chorizo or salami to enjoy between “tastings” of each other’s preferred vinos.

Play DJ
Back in the day, you would have made each other mix tapes, putting together songs that revealed little things about you… or your romantic feelings. You can put a more updated, grown-up twist on that concept by inviting your date over to share music. “Put together a playlist of your favorite songs and ask him or her to do the same,” suggests Oikle. “Every song probably has its own back story, so set up your iPod stereo, play each other your mix of music, and talk about the memories behind them.” You can set a casual scene by tossing a blanket on the floor and having a pizza and beer picnic while you listen.

Just desserts
Even though sex may not be on the menu for this evening, that doesn’t mean you have to play things completely PG. “A night indulging in decadent desserts will feel naughty and sensual, without necessarily being an invitation to sex,” says Kirschner. So skip dinner and instead swing by a patisserie to pick up chocolate-covered strawberries, tarts, lemon squares and other assorted treats. Then, set the smorgasbord of goodies with a pot of coffee. This kind of feast calls for candlelight, and if you two wind up sharing a smooch, we’re sure it’ll be as delicious as the desserts.

Jennifer Benjamin has written for Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, Allure and The Nest.
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