Hello Spring! After many dark and rainy days of winter, it seems like the weather is getting warmer, with bright sunshine days are more frequent to enjoy the outdoors. This also means it’s picnic season! Call up your friends, grab a basket, and head outdoors to soak in some sun rays while socializing for the afternoon.
Here are some helpful tips for planning that perfect picnic:
First things first, you’re going to want to pick a location. I feel truly fortunate that across the street from our home is a beautiful park overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, making it a perfect place to indulge in a picnic.
Depending on who is attending and the occasion, a picnic can occur in various places, backyard, parks, beaches, forests, or farms. My kids loved when we would eat together outdoors in the backyard! Occasionally we would have neighborhood picnics on the front lawn or while at the lake.
Once the location has been decided, you will have the appropriate essentials to make your picnic a success.
TIME OF DAY
Once you have determined the location, think about the time of day you would like to host the picnic. The usual time would be in the afternoon around lunchtime, but if you are looking for a more romantic setting, consider later in the day when you can enjoy the sunset.
Depending on the weather, you may want to pick a time of day when it is not so hot. If the weather is desirable, consider finding a shaded area so that everyone can come out of the sun if desired.
To have the perfect picnic, you will need a few essential items in addition to the food you will be sharing:
Picnic Blanket and/or Lawn Chairs
The bigger the picnic blanket, the better. You want the blanket to have enough space to lie down and sit comfortably on for other guests.
If there are a lot of you, consider bringing a few blankets and layering them on top of each other.
Underneath your blanket should be a waterproof picnic blanket so that if the grass is slightly damp, it won’t soak through. I have used those cheap plastic table coverings, which work well.
Some may find it challenging to sit on the ground, so consider bringing lawn-chairs. Lawn-chairs are more comfortable if you plan to stay for an extended period.
Although I love a cute wicker picnic basket, they tend not to be efficient in keeping food safe, so make sure to pack some ice packs or cooler bags. You don’t want the food to get warm and cause anyone to get sick!
Also, you will want to keep your drinks cool by storing them in an ice bag or cooler. No one wants to drink a warm drink on a hot summer day!
The best option is to keep all things that need to be cool in an ice-chest and use your cute wicker picnic basket for other food items such as chips, nuts, etc.
Hand Wipes and Paper Goods
It’s essential that you pack some Hand Sanitizer Wipes for your outdoor picnic – as there are bound to be sticky fingers, spilt juice, and unexpected moments!
The purpose of these is two-fold. If you’ve been outdoors exploring, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got clean hands before digging into your picnic goodies. After you’ve finished your picnic, you will want to clean your sticky fingers before handling your phone or anything else.
You may also want to include napkins or a roll of paper towels in addition to hand wipes. This may come in handy when handling food or wiping your hands. I find a roll of paper towels is a must for any outdoor outing.
I advocate for less waste, so try to make food easy to eat without the need for paper goods such as plates and cups. (But if not possible, don’t forget to include them in your essential items).
If possible, try to use reusable cups. There are many cute options of decorative reusable cups online.
Most often, when picnicking, you bring finger foods that don’t require using utensils. I like to bring along a paring knife, spoon, and a fork just in case I need to cut fruit or dish out food from a container. You might want to include “sporks,” which will work as a multi-tool for eating. Depending on what foods you plan to serve will depend on the utensils you will need to pack.
Sunscreen & Sun Hats
Sunscreen probably isn’t the first thing on your mind when packing a picnic basket – obviously, as your mind is focused on the food! However, it’s vital to make sure you’re protected from the sun if you’re going to be sitting outside for several hours.
Remember, you’re going to be outdoors for this picnic, and this is a world dominated by wildlife. It could be anything from insects to small mammals or pesky pests that can take a liking to your picnic baskets. So, be sure to bring along a combination of repellents, food guards, and decoy food sources to lure the pests away should be given some consideration.
While enjoying a picnic and the outdoors, it is always fun to bring an outdoor game to play, soccer ball or frisbee. Depending on the location, you will most likely have the space to do some outdoor activity.
If you are on a romantic picnic, you can tie in a bit of a game of hide-n-seek or other fun games to play with your partner.
Pack playing cards that are light and don’t take up space. Another fun card game to play with friends is Cards Against Humanity! In selecting a favorite board game, make sure it’s a wind-proof board game as you don’t want pieces flying all over the park! I prefer to keep board games for indoor activities, but this is another option.
Sometimes my husband and I enjoy packing a favorite book to read. After enjoying a meal together, we may lay on the blanket and read. I find this so relaxing and enjoyable.
Although this is an excellent time to enjoy nature, sometimes adding a little music can be perfect! Don’t forget your portable speakers and download a music app to your phone with your favorite songs.
Food & Drinks
Deciding on the perfect picnic food requires some planning. You’ll want to look at who is attending, what time of the day, and how long you plan to enjoy the get-together. No matter what, I suggest sticking to finger foods. You can find tons of recipes on the internet that will make a perfect dish for a picnic.
You’ll also want to pack food that is easy to transport and is unlikely to go bad after a few hours out of the fridge. It’s best to pack some cooler packs to keep your food fresh anyway, but items that don’t need refrigeration are the best.
Deli food is always a great option. I like to have various cheeses or brie to nibble on a cracker with a slice of turkey or bologna. Sometimes I include dried meats such as salami or sausage, which is excellent with cheese and crackers.
French bread, sliced deli meat, and cheese, along with olives, is a simple yet delicious bite to include in your picnic. Preparing all the food in advance will make your picnic go much more smoothly.
My favorite dip to include is hummus. It is tasty with sliced carrots, red peppers, celery, or any raw vegetables. Another favorite is homemade guacamole dip with nacho chips.
Dips are super easy to transport in their premade containers. Most supermarkets offer a wide variety of flavors of dips. If you are a junk food lover, packing a bag of chips along with sour cream dip is tasty.
Fruits are an important addition to any picnic basket. Bunches of grapes, strawberries, and apples are perfect for nibbling on and are a refreshing accompaniment to a deli cheese board.
I like to slice apples and dip them in peanut butter. Fruits are so healthy and bring sweetness to your picnic basket. Fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, or peaches tend to be messy require lots of napkins. However, having them all pre-cut makes it a whole lot easier to handle and eat.
If you plan to stay for a full day, including snacks that will satisfy everyone before or after a meal is great to include in your basket.
Salty, crunchy items to consider are pretzels, popcorn, chips, mixed nuts, and seeds. My husband enjoys nibbling on sunflower seeds while reading a book.
For your sweet tooth, sticking to fruit is the best option. Cookies, granola bars, fruit candies are good choices. Stay away from items that could melt, such as chocolate which will also make you incredibly thirsty.
When you are spending time outside, you tend to drink more fluids. Water is, of course, the best option. Make sure you’ve got plenty of water for everyone, especially if you’re planning on running around or going for long walks.
A picnic with children may require having fruit drinks or energy sports drink along in your basket. Although these drinks don’t replace water, kids do enjoy a flavored drink most often.
My husband and I typically bring along a thermos of Turkish tea, an excellent and very refreshing drink. Drinking tea is quite common in Turkey, no matter the time of day.
If you are on a romantic picnic, you may want to include a bubbly drink, such as a prosecco. Another option is to bring a specialty beer or wine cooler. Having a bottle of elegant wine while watching the sunset is a great way to add romance to your evening.
Be sure not to Drink & Drive!
When appreciating the outdoors, it is so vital that we leave it in better condition than we found it. Make sure to bring along trash bags to collect your discarded items and either take them home with you or drop them off at the receptacle.
So, here are my top tips for how to plan a perfect picnic. What is something you find essential while on a picnic?
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.