1 Keep things simple: nothing more off-putting than full on candelabras, lace table cloths, red roses and 100 Greatest Love Songs on a second date.
2 That goes for the food too – you’re aiming to impress with You not the seven courses that keep you in and out of the kitchen all night. As in life, so in food; trying way too hard is never sexy.
3 Cook something you’ve cooked before, or are confident about. Make sure you have time to do it. Think about how you’ll serve it – in bowls family style or onto the plate directly.
4 Don’t carb overload or nobody’s likely to do anything in bed other than sleep; bruchetta followed by lasagna followed by bread pudding is unlikely to work out so well.
5 Take allergies seriously, even if you suspect the person of being unnecessarily fussy. A date is never improved by a trip to the ER.
6 Don’t dump your guest with kitchen chores. Get the prep (and ideally the cooking) done in advance. Sure, cutting some bread or tossing a salad can foster a spirit of collaboration that’s a good start on a date, but that’s as far as it needs to go. Yes, Andrew. Inviting me for dinner then asking me to de-scale and fillet a whole salmon was precisely why that dinner did not get you laid.
7 Invest in some basic white china. Everything looks better on it. Get real (not plastic) cutlery too while you’re about it. Look out for interesting glasses and platters in thrift stores.
8 Candles bathe everything and everyone in a flattering light, but don’t get too Phantom of the Opera about it. A few tea-lights scattered on the table perhaps, a few pillar candles on a mantle-piece. But beware scented candles unless you want all your food to come with a side of Autumn Spice or Ocean Breeze.
9 Think about the music. Something light and jazzy is usually a good bet. Ghost Face Killah is not. I have it on good authority.
10 Prosecco always gets a date off to a good start – it’s like Champagne, but with a little less full on Scary Romance. Move onto a white or red with dinner – who knows, maybe you’ll get to finish the bubbly in bed later.