Miranda Babbitt
Assistant LifeStyle Editor

My love of takeout/delivery/surprise boxes of Chinese food on my dinner table really knows no bounds. I could be at rock bottom – wallowing in my own inability to drive to a restaurant for an evening of solitary sophistication and pouting at the fact that my culinary skills are at the illustrious level of fried egg sandwiches – but takeout resolves my self-pity as soon as I hear that knock on my front door. When I hear restaurant quality food knocking at my door, it’s like hearing the ice cream truck circling around my block. I leap down those stairs and whip open that door… delicately, yes, so as to not knock out my kind deliveryman.

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But alas, the notion of stuffing your mouth with fried rice is not quite as glamorous as actually attending a restaurant. Most likely because you can’t stuff your mouth to the same extent as you could on the couch, or at least with as much ferocity. When you’re seated in a booth or table, and displayed to the grand public, eating tends to slow down. Mouths tend to stay closed instead of instinctively remarking on the hilarity of Kim Kardashian’s voice (just saying).

The whole atmosphere of a restaurant changes the eating experience. You won’t eat the same way at home. Of course, you are being literally served as though you have a smidge of royalty in you, and you can leave with clean hands as the dishes are left to the dishwashers. And then you can return home with a satisfied tummy and collapse on the beloved couch.

Granted, going out is awesome. Everyone loves a good night on the town, especially with good food. But some nights, that’s just not in the equation. How do you bring the same atmosphere right into your own humble abode? Well, LifeStyle has a few ideas for you.

First up, and please take this one seriously, light some candles. I know, I know, that’s just asking for a night of cheese, right? Wrong! Candles are more than just a staple in romantic comedy date nights. They infuse the whole evening with that sense of intrigue and luxury that can generally just be reserved for the swanky tables down in the city. And scented candles are just generally a girl’s dream come true, if you have them handy. (Can’t tell you how many nights of boring studying have been saved by a single, fragrant candle. I do live in the eighteenth century, yes.)

Okay, now that we have that romantic lighting, even if the intention of the night is the furthest thing from starting a romance, let’s delve into how our dining table looks. Your table can be the cheapest thing from IKEA, but will still be transformed with a) the right tablecloth, b) the right flatware, and c) the right serving plates.

If you’re super gung-ho about trying to make this night different than the rest of them, try taking a bed sheet and draping it over the edges rather than your stained tablecloth. You won’t notice the longer edges, and it makes a very clean/potentially hilarious table setting (miniature dog and cat patterns gracing the table is a new fad in high end restaurants, I’m telling you). Also, don’t forget the existence of a washing machine if you’re concerned with soy sauce getting on the sheets you sleep in every night. After the night has come to a close, pop it in the washer and you’ll never know the difference.

Bring out the best damn plates you own. It might feel silly eating on these china plates your mum randomly gave you the last time you came back from home, but do it. Tonight’s the night. At the very least, look for your cleanest plates.

Now immediately transfer all the delicious goodies from inside the delivery cartons into serving plates and dishes. This will make it just like if you had a waiter come in, gracefully serve the food you ordered, and vanish into thin air. The magic of this night is simply endless.

Hold up, aren’t we missing something? You’re absolutely right! Music! Set the mood, whatever that may be, with the sweetest of melodies. Ever think that the music of choice at a restaurant is just too much? Sometimes the most sophisticated of joints can just mind boggle me with their music. Taylor Swift is never okay! Reserved for all-girl car rides, okay? Okay.

Once the night is nearing a close, don’t rush it! Just because you’re eating at home, doesn’t mean this experience needs to be painfully cut short. Sit in the enjoyable company of your friends and sip on your beverage while pondering who will inevitably end up doing the dishes. Actually, resist that line of thinking. Ponder who would win in the Hunger Games if you were all entered. Much less somber than contemplating who’s getting their hands dirty.

Whoever loses the Hunger Games should do the dishes. Survival of the fittest prevails in every situation. Or, if you’re really friends, then migrating over to the sink together with the tunes still going couldn’t sound that bad.

Good friends, good food, good music. No matter where you are, that sounds like a pretty pleasant night to me.