Taking your girl out to a nice dinner can be a great date night.  But there is a way to bring some of the magic of a nice restaurant into your home on those nights you would rather not venture out.

One reason a dinner out at a nice restaurant is so appealing is that restaurants spend time cultivating atmosphere.  They use dim lighting, play some nice music, and they almost always have a candle on the table.

The best way to create some of that same wonderful atmosphere in your home is to use candles at the dinner table.  You could choose one night a week to prepare a special dinner together and then eat by candle light.  Or you can use candles a staple of the table.  My wife’s grandparents occasionally use their candles for breakfast which is not only charming but unexpected.

Choosing your candles

Height.  You can choose candles that fit in taper holders to place the light higher for more illumination.  For a more intimate lighting, place a small tealight candle in a jar.

Number.  One or two candles is all you need at a small table.  Many more and your table begins to look more like an altar and less like  somewhere for dinner.

Scent.  Dinner candles should not have a scent.  There are plenty of times to burn good smelling candles in your house, but dinner is not one of them.  Scented candles can interfere with your ability to smell your food, can confuse your senses and some scents can be flat-out repulsive when mixed with the smell of food.  Unscented candles are your best bet at the table.

Color.  I’m old-fashioned.  I like white or cream colored candles at dinner.  Other colors could add a festive touch when needed such as red candles for Christmas or orange for Thanksgiving.  But for a stay at home dinner most nights of the year, white or cream are good choices.

Type.   While it might be easiest to grab some candles at the grocery store or the nearest big box store, check the ingredients or source material before you buy.  Paraffin wax candles can  emit chemicals that can have negative effects on your health.  A better choice might be using candles made from beeswax or soy products.

Using candles at dinner is a great way to elevate dinner from a necessity to an occasion to slow down and savor the meal.  Instead of microwaving something and plopping down on the couch to eat straight from the container, you can create an atmosphere of relaxation and welcome that puts a positive bookend on your day.