Whether you’re planning a family fun day or an intimate afternoon for two, picnics are a classic means to make memories in the great outdoors. And with the CDC encouraging outdoor activities over indoor dining or other social gatherings, it’s a better time than ever to plan a picnic.
That said, there’s more that goes into it than just throwing some sandwiches into a backpack. Without proper planning, a pleasant day out can quickly turn into a disaster.
We’ve already written how to pack your kit for a sporty day out. But if all you’re looking for is a day of leisure, then you’ll want to check out these tips to plan a picnic day for your family and friends.
Choosing the Right Spot
Location, location, location. Before doing anything else, you’ll want to pick out the right spot for your picnic. And there are a few factors to weigh.
One is the type of day that you have planned. If you’re bringing a whole big party with you, you’ll need to plan for plenty of space to accommodate everyone, places for the kids to run around and play, you name it. If it’s just going to be you and a special someone, a more private locale is in order.
Whatever the case, you’ll want a spot with a good mix of lush grass, idyllic views, and natural shade. Of course, if you can’t find a space with all of these, there are some workarounds.
If natural shade isn’t available, making your own with parasols or other portable coverings is always an option. And a high-quality, waterproof blanket can make almost any surface hospitable.
Probably the one caveat is ants and other pests. Nothing will ruin your day like finding your lunch swarming with interlopers, or noticing too late that a nearby tree is home to a hornet’s nest. So always make sure to survey the space before you set up!
You Can’t Plan a Picnic Without the Right Menu
From their origins as country getaways for the landed gentry to their modern use as a modest day outdoors, one thing has been a constant throughout the picnic’s history: food!
Truly, what’s a picnic without lunch? Your selections will depend of course on your group.
Who has allergies? Who’s a vegan or vegetarian? Who’s a picky eater?
Remember, you want to make sure that everyone enjoys themselves. That means making sure that everyone is accommodated.
If you’re lucky, everyone will be happy with the old stand-by choices like sandwiches, salads, and deviled eggs. But then, getting creative never hurt anyone, either.
Find out what fresh produce is in season in your area, and see what recipes you can find for low-effort snacks and easy entrees.
Hassle-Free Transport and Storage
The next most important thing after selecting your food offerings? Figuring out a way to get them there in one piece.
For some options, this will be easier than others. Simply sandwiches and salads can be kept tiddly in plain old Tupperware or the like. If you’re bringing a hot dish with you though, it can be more of a challenge.
One easy hack is rather than fussing with aluminum foil is to just keep items in their cooking containers as soon as they’re ready. Especially if it has a lid and handles, as tying a dish towel around it can make for a homey and easy to transport vessel.
Mason jars also make great vessels for a variety of picnic essentials. Salads, sides, and condiments are all perfect for being jarred up. And they can even be perfect containers for desserts like parfaits or individual beverages.
For transporting things like deviled eggs or other small finger foods, a cupcake pan makes for an easy way to pack them while ensuring that they don’t tip over.
Don’t Forget the Small Essentials
Food, and the means to transport it, are not the only concerns to manage. Plates, flatware, a good microfiber towel, and drinking vessels all need to be sorted, of course. But don’t forget the little side-pieces.
A small cutting board, for example, is one of the most utilitarian pieces that you can pack. Aside from its intended use, it makes a great all-around surface for handling your lunch. And it can also function as a multi-person serving tray or for dishing up a quick charcuterie spread.
Serving trays likewise serve similar roles, giving you plenty of places to organize your supplies and to keep utensils and such safely off the ground. And if you’re planning an especially large gathering, or just an especially large lunch, a small table may even be in order.
And speaking of surfaces, you’ll want one to actually hold your picnic on. Getting yourself a quality waterproof blanket is an absolute essential.
Lastly, you can’t forget about clean-up. Most public spaces will have handy spots to safely dispose of your trash. However, it’s never a bad idea to plan ahead by packing a few trash bags to help make sure that you leave your picnic spot as well as you found it.
All Together, These Are the Makings of a Memorable Getaway
Spending a day out doesn’t have to be a challenge. By keeping these considerations in mind, you can plan a picnic that your friends and family can all enjoy.
Of course, a picnic doesn’t have to be your only option. Even during the pandemic, there are plenty of ways that you can make merry, many of them outside. For some tips and ideas, check out these five ways to make yourself comfortable during these unprecedented times.