I don’t know about you, but this whole staying home all the time thing is getting really old. However, it’s still pretty important to limit your time out in the world and listen to local and CDC regulations (especially with all the spikes we’ve been seeing across America). One thing that I think can be really beneficial to break-up the monotony of socially distanced living is to elevate an at-home dinner and make it feel special.
These are not necessarily things I’d incorporate into every day, adding an elevated dinner to your weekly routine can help you make some part of your week special.
For the menu for the evening, I think there are two directions you can go to for food. You can either cook or order food. If you are cooking, make sure to pick a special recipe that you either love or haven’t ever made before. However, I would advise you to not pick something too far outside your cooking ability level, because you don’t want to start the evening stressed out by the food preparation. For cooking beginners, using a cooking delivery box (like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh) can be a great way to cook a delicious recipe. The other option is to order food from a local restaurant. I love this option (especially if you are cooking most nights) because it gives you a break from cooking and support local restaurants.
Another thing you can do (this step is highly recommended) is to add a really delicious dessert. I’m not talking about eating some Oreos (no tea, no shade to Oreos), but make it feel special! Bake your favorite treat or pick up something from a local bakery (we stan supporting local businesses).
Creating a special atmosphere is something that can really set your evening apart from the ordinary. The first thing is to put on a great playlist in the background. There are several great “Dinner” playlists on Spotify depending on the mood of your evening. The next thing I’d recommend is setting the lights a little lower than usual. Use candles to create a cozy atmosphere. Even if your dinner isn’t romantic, dinner just feels nicer when you can’t see everyone’s pores.
Finally, I think the most important part of creating a good atmosphere is fully setting the table. It’s doesn’t matter if your plates are from Ikea. Eating off of real plates is necessary! Nothing disposable (we’ll allow a paper napkin if you don’t have cloth), even if you ordered food in, take it out of the containers it came it. It’ll feel better, trust me. You might even go as far as adding a tablecloth or picking up a floral centerpiece (aka grocery store flowers). Really lean into the fancy table vibes (even if it feels a little silly).
I totally think you can have a fancy dinner at home all alone and still have a wonderful evening, but if other people are going to be in attendance at your dinner party. The best thing you can do for yourself is to put away your phones! During this time of isolation, we’ve been really leaning into our phones for connection, but it’s also important to unplug and be present with who is actually in the room.
On the other hand, I think you can also host a virtual dinner party using these tips. Set-up your computer or phone across the table from you. Make sure it’s hands-free, so you can enjoy your dinner. This can be a chance to try to grasp at some normalcy while being super safe.
Happy Quarantine Summer!