Kimberly Dugan knows how to set a mood. Known professionally as The Vibologist, Dugan describes herself as “your Pinterest Board’s BFF,” and she’s right. The event stylist can turn your heart’s desire into the dinner party, bridal shower, or picnic-in-the-park of your dreams. Twelve months into a global pandemic, Dugan knows special occasions look different these days. She recently launched a Date Night At Home service, where she cultivates the perfect night in for two. “Even though we’re in this pandemic, I really wanted to provide a service that helped people stay connected to each other because it’s so important,” says Dugan. “You can have this great experience at home without feeling unsafe or paranoid.”
Her date night package includes a curated tablescape with linens, dishes, glassware, flowers, candles, and connection cards for a fun question-and-answer game with your partner, and everything is delivered to your doorstep with instructions for setting the table (including a QR code for a video tutorial if you need some extra assistance). Fun themes include Bohemian Love, Dark Romance, and Three Shades of Grey, to name a few. She’s partnered with other women-owned businesses Sea Salt & Cinnamon, Hattie Bakes Indy, and Sip & Share Wines to add optional desserts and wine. Packages start at $100 per couple.
Valentine’s Week is the perfect time to get Dugan’s advice for a successful date night in. Here, she shares her top five tips for connecting with your partner in the comfort of your own home, as told to IM.
Set the date and tell your partner to mark their calendars. You don’t have to tell them any details; just let them know this night is reserved for the two of you. Knowing that something special is coming up automatically builds excitement and anticipation. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to be a special experience. Even if you have a small budget—or no budget—setting aside the time to be with your partner is a way to show them that staying connected is important to you. It makes them feel loved and desired.
Dim the lights in whatever way you can, even if it’s just throwing a scarf or towel over your lamps. Then add some music, put your phone away, and turn off the TV. Bright lights, phones, and iPads aren’t conducive to connection. Getting rid of those distractions will automatically set the mood and make it possible for you to look at each other and physically connect. Right away, you’ll start feeling a vibe.
There are lots of ways to design a tablescape for different budgets. You can buy inexpensive dishes at places like Dollar Tree. You could even use one of your curtains for a table runner. Pull out your best dishes, even if they have a little chip. Don’t worry about that. This would be a good time to use the dishes you got for your wedding, even if they’re packed away in a box. Get some fresh flowers from a grocery store, snip them and put them in a mug, and grab some candles. You have your dinner plate, salad plate, silverware, and a wine glass. That alone is like, “Awe, babe.”
This is the time to make your partner’s favorite dish. Even if you can’t cook, you could call on your mom or sister or friend—someone who’s invested in your relationship—and ask them to help. Maybe they could come early and walk you through the recipe. I love YouTube; it’s like the free Food Network. When my husband makes one of my favorite things, that’s a love language for me. Making something your partner likes shows them you’re thinking about them. Even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly, it will mean so much that you tried.
It’s really important to cultivate a connection, whether it’s already something you’re maintaining, or maybe you need to spark it back up. I like to play a game, so I include connection cards for couples with different questions. Some of the questions are serious and some are silly. You could also look at old photographs to revitalize or reinforce your connection. Whatever it is, just think about it ahead of time so you can foster a conversation. I know it can be hard for parents, especially now when everyone’s at home. But put the kids to bed early; have the dog hang out in another room. Keep all of the distractions away and focus on what connected you in the beginning of your relationship.