Tips & Essentials For Your Next Summer Picnic

By: Kelly Kruger & Nikki Banks

July is National Picnic Month and we’ve been having so much fun with our other summer gatherings that we almost let the month pass us by without celebrating!  But hey, no matter whether it’s July, August, or any other warm month, hosting a picnic is a great way to get your friends together to enjoy good food, good weather, and most importantly, good company!  We’ve assembled some of our favorite picnic necessities and tips below to help you get inspired and prepared for your next picnic extravaganza.  

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THE GEAR

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While picnic baskets have changed over time, we love the thought of toting all of our goods around in a classic wicker basket.  Whether you like a timeless design or something more unique, a number of styles can be found at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target, World Market, and more!  One of our favorites is the Settler Picnic Basket by Picnic at Ascot.  

Picnic at Ascot _Settler Basket(Photo Source: Picnic at Ascot)

This particular basket includes enough tableware for four people, napkins, a small cooler, a corkscrew, and plenty of room for your feast.   

If the traditional basket isn’t your style, don’t worry.  There are lots of more modern options like the Picnic at Ascot – Backpack Collection or the Picnic Time Colorado Backpack.  

Of course, if you want to save money, nearly any big bag will work to transport your lunch.  Don’t forget to bring enough plates and silverware for the entire gang.  

Pro Tip: for smaller groups, elevate your picnic by using real plates (enamel or light weight ceramic plates) instead of paper goods.  Besides looking classy, eliminating paper products helps reduce waste and protects the environment so that future generations can enjoy a great picnic.  Just remember to pack a couple of bags – one for any compostable waste and one to take your dishes home in to wash!  If you have a larger group or if you are hiking to your picnic site, using paper or plastic plates and vessels will keep your basket light and make it easier to transport.  These products can come in many fun colors and patterns, just be sure to recycle or compost them if you can!

Remember to check the forecast before your picnic and go prepared for the conditions.  For sunny weather, pack your sunscreen, a favorite sun hat, and some shades.  If the weather is prone to changing quickly where you are, bring extra layers and blankets just in case it gets chilly.

Depending on the location you choose for your al fresco dining, you might also need a blanket (or a few, depending on the size of your party) to spread out on.  Freshen up the look of your picnic by using blankets with fun colors and patterns!  Etsy has a number of great options, but we love this one from Atlantic Blankets UK that has straps, a waterproof backing, and a fun pop of color in the fringe.  You can also find great picnic blankets for any budget at your local thrift store! 

Screen Shot 2017-07-29 at 3.37.19 PM(Photo and Design Source: Etsy – Atlantic Blankets UK)

Another way to add some ambiance to your picnic is to bring a small vase to fill with freshly cut wildflowers, floral clippings from your own garden, or even an arrangement from your local floral shop.  A simple bouquet will instantly add a fun and romantic element to your picnic party.  

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Of course, you can’t skip out on the tunes for your outing.  We recommend bringing a bluetooth speaker, preferably one that is waterproof in case there are any spills.  Check out this speaker from Airecho – it’s UV powered, shockproof, splashproof, and has a built-in flashlight!

BITES & BEVERAGES

What’s a picnic without delicious food and drinks?  When preparing for your picnic, try to pack items that are easy to serve and won’t spoil quickly, such as: sandwiches, fruits and veggies, cold pasta salads, trail mixes, popcorn, pretzels, and brownies or cookies.  

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Avoid bringing dairy products (we make an exception for cheese 🙂 ), as well as anything sticky-sweet (these items can be messy and attract insects, the ultimate picnic crashers).  Be sure to pack any items that need to be chilled in a cooler in order to keep them fresh and safe to consume throughout your outing.  Finally, don’t forget to bring plenty of napkins, along with these commonly forgotten items: a bottle opener/corkscrew, a cutting board, and serving utensils (including a knife).   

We are dying to try this drool-worthy sandwich at our upcoming picnic!

Picnic-loaf(Photo and Recipe Credit: Tesco – Real Food)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 4 tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
  • 3 ½ oz. roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 2 oz. sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • Small handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 oz. Parma ham or 3 ½ oz. wafer-thin cooked ham
  • 3 ½ oz. sliced jarlsberg
  • 7 oz. brie
  • 3 ½ oz. sliced salami
  • ¼  cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 4 leaves little gem lettuce
  • 1 medium sourdough loaf or round cobb loaf

Instructions

  1. Combine the pesto and mayonnaise in a small bowl.
  2. Mix together the peppers, sundried tomatoes and basil and season well.
  3. Cut the loaf in half horizontally, then scoop most of the dough inside to make room for the filling.  Kids will love helping you with this.
  4. Spread the pesto mayonnaise inside both pieces of the loaf and layer up with the pepper/tomato mix, ham, jarlsberg, brie, salami, cucumber, and little gem leaves. Replace the top of the loaf, press together gently, wrap tightly in cling film and chill for 2-3 hours.
  5. Cut into wedges to serve

Another great dish to serve is a simple summer salad – mix up your greens and any other salad toppings (except the dressing!) ahead of time and bring along your dressing in sealed container (try packing it in a mason jar if you make it at home) to dress the salad in situ.  This will keep your salad fresh and helps prevent potential messes.    

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For beverages, you’ll want to bring plenty of water (to avoid dehydration).  We also suggest bringing juice or flavored seltzer water for refreshing, alcohol free options.

If you want to include alcohol in your picnic, bring a bottle of wine, a few brews, or try out some On The Rocks Cocktails!  These portable cocktails are available in 12 delicious flavors and three different sizes.  However, not all the flavors are available in every state, so be sure to go to their website to check on availability and see where to pick them up!

OTR(Photo Credit: On the Rocks Cocktails)

For another great non-alcoholic option that isn’t soda, consider serving fruit and tea combinations!  Thirsty for Tea provides some popular combinations (listed below) and they all sound delicious!

  1. Peaches & Blueberries (with black tea)
  2. Oranges & Mint (with oolong)
  3. Pineapple & Strawberries (with rooibos)
  4. Cucumber & Mint (with green tea)
  5. Strawberry & Basil (with green tea)
  6. Peach & Rosemary (with black tea)
  7. Mango & Ginger (with oolong)
  8. Apple & Spearmint (with green tea)
  9. Grapefruit & Strawberries (with green tea)
  10. Pitted Cherries & Lemon (with black tea)

Which one would you make?  We’ll be mixing up a batch of peach rosemary black tea for our next picnic with pals!

summertime-sun-tea2-1024x1024(Recipes and Picture Credit: Thirsty for Tea)

ACTIVITIES

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Keep everyone entertained at your picnic by bringing along a few different activities. It can be something as simple as a ball or frisbee to toss around. a deck of cards, or a board game for everyone play!  

If you and your picnicking pals are bookworms, pack something to read and soak in the sunshine while you turn page after page in picnic heaven.

 

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Whatever you choose to do during your picnic, make sure to bring your camera so you can capture all of the fun!

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What are your favorite snacks, games, and gear for a summer picnic?  Let us know in the comments below and happy picnicking!

Cover Photo Source: Pixabay

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