How to Host a Valentine's Day Dinner

Five tips for making it the most romantic meal of the year.

1. Avoid abandoning your valentine too long between courses by choosing dishes you feel confident about. Prepare as much as possible in advance and focus on enjoying dinner — not to mention the fun that'll ensue after you eat!

2. Set the scene for romance. Use your fanciest tableware, low bowls of floating candles, fresh flowers and a sumptuous tablecloth. Or, go exotic by decorating with tea lights, colorful place settings and a couple of comfortable cushions on the ground for seating.

3. Keep portions small and enjoy your meal at a leisurely pace to avoid feeling overstuffed on rich foods. (The goal here is to create a meal that excites — but doesn't overload — the senses.)

4. If you both love to cook, plan and prepare the meal together. Designate one head chef to avoid arguments about techniques or taste. If you both love to lead, then just alternate years.

5. Little touches make all the difference. Try warming plates in the oven, adding elegant garnishes or selecting just the right stemware to set the mood.

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