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Poll reveals the biggest Valentine’s Day dinner mistakes

A young multiethnic couple is smiling and talking while enjoying wine and food in a restaurant.
Heading out for Valentine's Day dinner? These are the red flags to avoid. (Getty Images)

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, dinner plans are being drawn up in earnest. It doesn’t matter if you’re newly in love or been together for decades - a romantic dinner is a winner.

Despite inflation hitting our pockets hard, it seems that Britons are planning to go all out for Valentine’s Day. Research by restaurant booking platform OpenTable found that 73% of Brits are planning to spend more or the same on a meal out compared to last year.

Younger diners are more likely to head out for a restaurant meal on Valentine’s Day, with 50% of Gen Z (18 to 26-year-olds) and 54% of Millennial diners (27 to 42-year-olds) planning a romantic dinner out on the town.

This is compared to just 35% of Gen X (43 to 58-year-olds) and 24% of Boomers (59 to 77-year-olds).

It also found that the day of love isn’t just for couples, with 24% of Brits saying they would go on a solo V-day date and 26% considering dining with friends this year. The latter echoes last year’s trend, which saw 20% of Valentine’s Day diners comprising groups of three and four.

A romantic dinner for two - or more - is still a popular way to spend Valentine's Day. (Getty Images)
A romantic dinner for two - or more - is still a popular way to spend Valentine's Day. (Getty Images)

Gen Z are also the most likely to consider celebrating the occasion with their friends (28%) compared to 11% of Millennials. The younger generation is also more willing to seek out new dining experiences, with a third planning to try somewhere new.

But whether you’re sitting down with a lover or your besties, there are some dining icks that could put you off your dinner.

OpenTable revealed the top “red flags” when it comes to eating out with others:

Rudeness: Nearly half (41%) of diners said that being rude or disrespectful to waiting staff was the biggest red flag when going out to a restaurant.

Drunkenness: Getting too drunk is never a good look, with 23% citing it as a red flag. Older daters aged 65 and up were twice as likely to say getting too drunk is off-putting, compared to 15% of 18 to 24-year-olds.

Screentime: Nearly a third (29%) of respondents said others looking at their phone during dinner is a red flag, so be sure to put the screens away and give your dining companion your full attention.

If you’re one of the rising number of Brits who are choosing to dine solo on the big day, the idea of sitting down for a meal for one might sound daunting.

But don’t worry - you’ll be joining 14% of respondents who have done it before and loved the experience so much that they’re doing it again. Revealing what made them most comfortable when eating in their own company, solo diners said they liked having friendly and attentive staff (44%), as well as the option of eating at a bar or counter (32%).

A survey carried out by YouGov in 2023 found similar results, with younger respondents more likely to go out for a meal or drinks compared to older ones.

It also found a gender divide between the type of activities people prefer to do to mark the occasion. Men (28%) are more likely to go out for dinner or drinks for Valentine's Day than women (20%) - meanwhile, women prove to be true homebodies and are significantly more likely (69%) to say they would rather spend time at home than men (56%).

If you are planning to get out of the house for Valentine's Day, Robin Chiang, SVP of Growth at OpenTable, has some sage advice. “Last year, more than half of reservations were made at least five days out, so book before 9 February to secure your favourite table.”

Watch: Gourmet Inspiration for a Romantic Valentine's Day Dinner at Home

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