After eleven years of marriage, Jessica Alba and Cash Warren still prioritize having just-for-them date nights — even if it’s spending time together at home while their three kids are asleep. In fact, spending time at home together might be their favourite way to spend a date night. “I really like being at home,” Alba tells Refinery29. “And my kids like when we have a date night. They’re like, ‘Ew, you’re kissing!’ — they always talk about how we go on dates and smooch. On the one hand, they have their kid reaction, but on the other hand, they’re into it and they think it’s healthy."
To help other parents have equally romantic date nights, Alba has partnered with HelloFresh to create the company’s first-ever Date Night Box, featuring fresh ingredients and step-by-step instructions to create a three-course dinner for two. The meal features tomato bruschetta for an appetizer, prosciutto-wrapped chicken over truffled mushroom risotto for the main course, and Foodstirs molten chocolate mug cakes for dessert. Alba will also be highlighting her favourite family-friendly recipe in October and choosing a seasonal one for the holidays.
Here, Refinery29 talks with Alba about her at-home date night tips, why date nights are still a priority, and more.
How did you choose what to put in the Date Night Box?
There was lots of debate. HelloFresh has a crazy amount of data on what meals are people’s favourites, so we started there. Then I asked all my friends, “What do you think of this meal combination, or that meal combination?” with different appetizers, main courses, and desserts. We thought about the time it took [to prepare], what would be easiest, what would feel more elevated, and what would feel romantic. I was also taking from my own experience in what I’ve cooked for my husband during our date nights at home.
What do you like to cook for your date nights at home?
Would you rather make the meal yourself before a date night, or cook together as part of the date?
It’s nice to do it together. You can have a glass of wine, put on some jazz, and chit chat while you’re making food together. My husband is a great sous chef. I’ll follow the recipe, because he really doesn’t like to follow recipes — he likes to do it his way. I’ll be like, “Can you cut this? Can you mix that?” If I’m doing the main part of the cooking, he’ll do the cleanup, and if he’s doing the main part of the cooking, I’ll do the cleanup. And if we cook together, then we clean up together.
The meal is an important part, but what else can people do to make an at-home date feel special and not like a normal night at home?
Try to get out of your sweats. You can have an elevated outfit without it being uncomfortable. Throw on a slip or a slip dress, even if you’re barefoot. Put on your game face (whatever that is) — some people don’t like to wear any makeup at all, but if I put on even a little bit, I feel great. Part of the HelloFresh Date Night Box is that the first hundred customers will receive an Honest Beauty Tinted Lip Balm and Eye Shadow Palette. It’s easy to do a nice, soft, smokey eye — that little touch of something-something makes it feel like it’s not just another night in. I also love candles, music, dimming the lights, those little touches really help.
Is it important to make sure the kids are out of the house, too?
We’ve done it different ways. My [older] kids really like spending the night at their friends’ house, and the baby really likes going to bed at seven. It works out. If the kids have a friend over here, they will stay in their room and watch a movie together or play games, and we can have a date night. It depends on what the timing is like. But having the kids say, “I need more water! Can I have another story?” that can definitely kill the mood.
You're super busy. How do you plan date nights? Do you have a regular date schedule?
After we had Honor, we definitely scheduled date nights, which sounds like it’s not romantic. But our lives are so hectic that we said, “Every Wednesday, this is going to happen.” Now, we have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night blocked out where we don’t do any kind of work. We might go to the movies one night, we have one family dinner night where everyone helps out, and usually one of those nights is just me and Cash.
When you live together and see each other all the time, it can be hard to prioritize date nights. Why is it important to keep going on dates?
If you don’t make time to connect on that date night level, then you can find yourself just going through the motions. When you have three kids, or even if you only have one, the kids’ schedules are a priority, your work is a priority, everything seems to take precedence over the thing that should be the most important: your partnership, and the life you’re building together. I’ve found that we're much happier when we treat our relationship as a sacred thing, as something that needs to be worked on and treated well and given the kind of care that it should have.