Instead of making yet another booking at a restaurant for date night, why not get a little more creative and show your partner that you really value couple time together.

Here are some romantic dinner ideas for taking date night to the next level.

DIY butterfly house

Dinner in a DIY Butterfly house

This romantic dinner idea involves creating your own Butterfly House – using a tent and a box of mail order butterflies. Choose a small space – like a camping change tent so that you don’t need too many butterflies to have an impact (they are over $10 each!). Setup a small table and chairs in the tent and enjoy dinner with your partner while butterflies flutter around you. To really impress – instead of a tent, create a small frame structure from branches or bamboo and throw loads of tulle fabric (you can get it on eBay or at a fabric shop) over it to create a butterfly enclosure. You can find butterflies to order by doing a Google search for “live butterflies for release” ( or try these suppliers )

Note: Make sure you either order only butterflies that are naturally occuring where you live or that you don’t release them into the wild (yes, that probably means getting the insect spray out – not very romantic!)

gondola ride

Take a gondola ride – in Melbourne

This romantic dinner idea is sure to impress! Book Melbourne’s version of a gondola ride – along the Yarra with Venice on the Yarra. A 1 hour cruise along the Yarra in a traditional gondola with luxurious seating, pillows and canopy. You can book to have a meal onboard or have sparking wine, chocolates and red roses and then go for dinner on South Bank afterwards.

Local picnic

Enjoy a local picnic

Throw a blanket, cushions or low chairs on the ground and make a jug of cocktails or mocktails or open a bottle of your favourite beverage. Make a picnic or order-in food. Debrief about the day as you watch the sun go down.

progressive dinner

Have a progressive dinner

Add a twist to the classic date night of dinner out by booking three restaurants instead of one. Ideally, make them walking distance apart. Have drinks & entrée at the first one, main course at the second and dessert or a nightcap at the third. If you go mid-week you probably don’t even need to book.

Tip: Visit the restaurants ahead of time and check out other stores along the route. Maybe there’s a shop along the way that you can visit to buy a small gift you know your partner will love: a book, flowers, chocolates etc. You can make it look like you just happened to stumble upon the store.

Outdoor dining

Dine outdoors in a public location

Plan a formal meal, served on a portable table/chairs, in a public location – try the forecourt of a museum, galllery or monmuent or in a public garden or maybe at the end of a pier. You want somewhere public and not a usual place people would setup a dining table.

If you have kids who are old enough, enlist them to be the wait staff (you are setting a great romance example for them!). Either prepare the food yourself and pack it all into baskets or order take away from a nearby restaurant – but bring nice crockery, glasses, cultery and napkins. Pack a fold up table and chairs and a nice tablecloth and flowers (also pack a blanket if it’s likely to be cold). If your kids are old enough you could outsource all of this to them. If you have a friends who also do date nights you could swap arrangements with them – they organise the event for you and you organise it for them. If you want to outsource the whole lot, then call an event management company or list the job on airtasker.com to get it done cheaply.

Surprise your partner, telling them you are taking them to a nice restaurant, but instead they end up eating dinner in public. They may be embarrassed initially but they’ll certainly appreciate the effort and it will be a wonderful memory.

annual date

Organise an annual date

In the 1957 movie ‘An Affair to Remember’, Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr agree to reunite at the top of the Empire State Building in six months if they are still in love with each.

Create your own lovers’ meeting (without the ‘getting hit by a car’ bit from the movie) and organise to meet your partner at an iconic place each year. Maybe it’s on a bridge or on top of a building or mountain or the place you proposed or first met. Put it on the calendar and organise child care if you need it. Arrive separately and share the moment. Continue on to dinner or a movie if you want or just go home and return to normality, knowing that next year you’ll share the escape of that moment again.

armchair travel

Armchair travel date

Pick a country you’d both like to visit. Prepare (or order in) food and drinks that represents the country’s cuisine, choose a movie from or about that country and even try to dress up to suit the occasion. If there’s an activity that is associated with that country then try that too (sumo wrestling anyone?).

  • Scotland? Try Haggis and a whiskey tasting. Wear kilts (you can fashion them from plaid rugs from the op shop or just wrap plaid fabric around you and secure with a large safety pin. Complete with a white shirt & waistcoat and long socks). Watch Braveheart and try some highland dancing (search for ‘highland dancing’ on Youtube).
  • Japan? Make a bento box, try plum wine or Japanese beer. Create your own onsen (hot bath) and watch Memoirs of a Geisha.
glamping

Go glamping in your own backyard

Our next romantic dinner idea is a low cost version of glamping – setup a 5 star tent at home. If you don’t have a large enough tent then borrow one, buy a cheap one off eBay or search on Google for ‘camping equipment hire’. Setup a proper dining table, lamps, candles, rugs etc inside the tent – borrow stuff from inside your house. Serve dinner from the convenience of your own kitchen and it’s the perfect romantic non-getaway.

Wintery shore-side meal

There’s a certain romance to eating steaming hot take away together in the warmth of your car while you watch the grey waves crashing at the beach, the wind blow the last Autumn leaves across a lake or the twinkle of city lights from a high vantage point. This idea can be as simple as getting take away on the way to a suitable parking spot with beach, lake or views on a cold day/night. Up the lux level by packing soft blankets and hot chocolate in a Thermos with marshmellows on the side.

cook dinner together

Cook dinner together

Get the kids out of the house (or get them occupied) and spend time together preparing a meal to share. Plan ahead and organise the recipe and all the ingredients (you don’t want to spoil the moment by having to make an emergency dash to the supermarket to get a vital ingredient). Set the table with candles and good dinnerware. Try using the 36 questions as discussion prompters so that you don’t end up talking about the kids or work.

Need more ideas? Search our treasure trove of romantic ideas.

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