It turns out that it is possible to have a romantic, low-risk pandemic date night and still follow CDC’s guidelines. All it takes is a little planning and creativity — and I’m lucky that my wife, Ann, has strength in both those areas. Note: This post contains affiliate links. As Amazon influencers, we earn from qualifying purchases.
After preparing and eating more than 800 meals at home this year, we really wanted to go out for dinner. We’ve done takeout a few times during the pandemic and dined at a couple places with well-spaced outdoor seating during the warmer months, but have not been out since the temperatures dropped.
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The question was, how could we eat out with low-risk this winter given Ann’s serious health concerns and recommendations from the CDC? Lincoln, Nebraska, has one of our favorite Indian restaurants, The Oven. But it’s too cold to eat outside there in December and it’s a 40-minute drive from our house. Takeout just wouldn’t be warm or fresh by the time we got it home.
But Ann had an idea! Last year, we bought a Chrysler Pacifica for a bunch of reasons, and at the time we had no idea just how versatile the vehicle really is. On a drive through Wichita, Kansas, last month, we had takeout pizza in the front seats in the restaurant’s parking lot and an idea was born. We were going to have a pandemic date night in our Pacifica!
Planning for a pandemic date night
First, we had to determine if it would really work. To do this, I grabbed one of our four-foot folding tables from the garage and a footstool from our deck. Next, I dropped the middle row of seats in our minvan (gotta love the stow-n-go seating). Then, I set everything up in our driveway to give it a dry run.
The result? Perfection! Because I’m taller, we decided that it would work best for me to sit on the back seat while Ann would sit on a footstool. This way, we could both comfortably reach the table.
Bring a romantic atmosphere to a pandemic date night
Next, we hung up a string of color-changing LED lights to set the mood. Ann found these on Amazon, and they are even powered by the minivan’s USB ports.
We took some time stringing these around, so that we’d have some great mood lighting once we got to the restaurant in Lincoln. Of course we never turned them on while driving as we wanted to be safe.
Preparing for our meal in the Pacifia
Once that was done, Ann went to work making sure we had everything we needed. She packed a table cloth, placemats, cloth napkins, napkin rings, real plates and even silverware. That’s right, we weren’t going to use that plastic stuff provided by the restaurant. No. Nothing but the best for our first date night out in months!
She put everything we needed into a bin, and even included stemless wine glasses and battery-powered flameless candles. She wrapped the wine glasses in dish towels to keep them safe and to give us something handy to clean up any accidental spills. We also included a couple of empty grocery sacks for the dirty dishes after dinner.
Taking in a Nebraska sunset on our pandemic date night
While Ann packed the tableware we needed, I put together a cooler complete with plain and flavored sparkling water. We’d be in a car, after all, so no open containers of alcohol for us this night. Then, near sunset, we headed to our favorite Indian restaurant. About halfway there, we called and placed our order: chicken and shrimp vindaloo, papadum, roti, and mulligatawny soup. Yum!
The setup in our Chrysler Pacifica minivan
We pulled into the parking lot and looked for the perfect spot. It was chilly, so we didn’t want to be too far from the restaurant, but we also wanted a little privacy. We chose a spot toward the back of the parking lot. It had a great view of a line of cars waiting at the drive-thru of a nearby fast food restaurant. Suckers. We were about to enjoy fresh, hot, Indian food from the privacy of our Pacifica while they took home cold, greasy fries.
Next, we turned on the LED fairy lights, switching them to green mode to match our table decor. We got out the table and stool from the back where we’d safely packed them away for the trip to the restaurant.
After I installed the furniture, Ann went to work setting the table while I masked up and went inside to pick up our food. Just look at this beautiful table setup! So romantic. Pro tip: Even though you’re getting takeout food, please consider doing like we did and leaving a normal tip for the staff at the restaurant. In these times, more people than ever are getting takeout meaning that the incomes of restaurant staff has gone down.
And to complete the atmosphere, we even fired up the Pacifica’s stereo and played some relaxing instrumental Christmas music. The van’s surround sound system truly gave us far better music quality than we’d get at most restaraunts. We turned off the dome lights and ate by the light of the LEDs. The mood was perfect.
Time to eat on our pandemic date night
As I walked into the restaurant, our food came out of the kitchen, fresh and hot. Instead of a long drive home, I walked about 100 feet to our minivan where we quickly opened the containers and were able to dive right in. We loved that steam was still rising from our food, and everything tasted so fresh! We started with our appetizer of soup and papadum.
Next, we moved on to our main courses, chicken vindaloo for me, and shrimp vindaloo for Ann. We just love the spicy flavors of this curry dish, and we took our time eating and savoring this romantic date night experience together.
Clean up was a snap
When dinner was done, it was time to clean up. We just grabbed the plastic grocery sacks and wrapped our dishes in them. This kept the mess confined until we got back home.
Then, we packed everything back into our bin, along with the table and stool in the back of the van. Yes, we got a few interesting looks from passersby, but we just smiled and waved. We think they were jealous.
A Christmas light tour
Finally, we set off for the final part of our romantic pandemic date night: a tour of area Christmas lights. With the soft Christmas music still playing on the stereo, we drove through a few of the neighborhoods in Lincoln checking out all the beautiful light displays.
By the end of the night, we’d had a wonderful time together. We connected a little more, shared a unique experience, and had gotten out of our house for a bit. And you know what? We can’t wait to do it again.
Have you done something creative for a date during the pandemic? Let us know in the comments below.