10 Tips for Pulling Off a Successful First Date Dinner

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Going out for dinner on your first date can be both exciting and nerve-wracking.

Where do you go? What do you wear? What should you eat? Who’ll pay the bill?

These questions and other thoughts will no doubt be running through your head, but so long as you prepare beforehand you can make your first date memorable and fun.

To ensure your first date dinner is a success, here are 10 things to consider before you head out to the restaurant.

1. Choose a relaxing dining venue

When discussing where to dine with your date, consider a restaurant you’ll both feel relaxed in. Choose a casual venue with a bit of a buzz (wouldn’t want your first date convos to be overheard by everyone in the restaurant). You might also like to choose somewhere you can both order your own meals (sharing can be a little daunting when you don’t yet know each other’s tastes!).

Need some ideas? Check out these posts:

2. Look stylish while staying comfortable

Whether you’re meeting for the first time or not, it’s important to look stylish on a date. But only wear clothes that you can walk, eat, breathe, and talk in. Go for smart casual, which not only looks neat, but also feels comfortable.

Men, try:

  • A sport jacket or blazer
  • A collared shirt
  • A tie (optional)
  • Chinos or jeans
  • Dress shoes.

For the perfect women’s date outfit:

  • A blouse or collared shirt
  • A skirt or jeans
  • Sandals or closed shoes with short heels.

Remember, you’ve probably both put some thought into what you’re wearing, so be sure to compliment your date when you see them – a simple “you look lovely” can get you started off on the right foot.

3. Always be on time

You wouldn’t want to wait too long on your own for your date to arrive, so do them a favour and be on time. If something unexpected happens and you know you’ll be late, call or text your date and tell them (don’t leave them worrying that you’ve stood them up). On time says ‘I’m confident, considerate, and organised.’

4. Turn off your phone and keep it out of sight

You don’t want to be texting someone, checking your phone every two minutes, or have your phone ringing in the middle of your conversation, so turn it off and put it away. Give your date the courtesy of your undivided attention. This shows that the most important thing to you right now is your dining partner and your first dinner together.

5. Start a conversation and make eye contact

There’s nothing more awkward than silence at the dinner table, so gather up your courage and start talking! Ask questions and really listen to what your date is saying while making eye contact with them. This shows you’re interested in them and what they have to say.

Here are a few ways to get the conversation flowing:

  • Okay, we may be a little biased but we reckon you should to talk about food or your favourite restaurants – after all, you’re in one!
  • Talk about your hobbies, work, and family
  • Ask them about their favourite things – you might find subjects you’re both interested in
  • Ask them what’s on their bucket list

Be sure to be open-minded and hear their opinions (but it’s best to leave talk about politics, religion, and your exes to a much later date).

6. Order food that’s easy to eat

You should order food that requires you to use a spoon, fork, and knife so you won’t spill, splash, or drop it all over yourself. You may also want to order dishes that both you and your date would enjoy eating, in case one of you isn’t happy with their choice.

7. Mind your manners

If you want to make a good impression, table manners are important. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • don’t scrape cutlery
  • don’t eat with your mouth open
  • don’t lick your knife
  • don’t use toothpicks at the table
  • don’t play with your nails, hair, or face
  • put a napkin on your lap
  • use a napkin to wipe your mouth
  • be courteous to your date and the wait staff
  • men, get up from the table when your date leaves and returns.

8. Eat slowly

Eating slowly will not only prevent you from choking on your food, but also help you carry on a conversation. Consider putting your cutlery down between three mouthfuls. If the date’s going well, this will also mean you won’t rush through it. And if it’s going really well, you could also share a dessert, a symbol of (hopefully) many more sweet moments you’ll share.

9. Drink slowly and avoid getting drunk

You don’t want to be slurring your words, hiccupping while you talk, or carried home by someone you hardly know. Plus, from the other person’s point of view, having a drunk date is unattractive and unhelpful company. So if you’re going to be drinking, limit it to two drinks.

10. Offer to pay the bill

Your date will surely appreciate it if you offered to pay the entire bill, but if they want to pay for it and you’re okay with that, then let them. If you want to make a really good impression, before the evening ends you could slip off to pay the bill without your date seeing you for a stylish touch. On the other hand, these days it’s quite normal to split the bill 50/50.

Be yourself

While it’s best to stay positive and show respect and consideration for your dining partner, don’t forget to be yourself. After all, that’s who they’ll be dating if you end up sticking with them!

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Mireille Kilgour

Mireille Kilgour

Mireille Kilgour has been an entrepreneur for 35 years in the hospitality sector. French born, she has been an accomplished business owner and operator for a number of Sydney venues. Leading the industry with high profile institutions such as Lamrock Café Bondi, she has endless passion for the industry, and now has the pleasure of supporting restaurants to fill their tables with the new Good Food Gift Card program.