Don’t you just love a good picnic? They are the age-old, quintessential form of relaxation. With a little preparation and the right equipment, a picturesque, al fresco meal is totally achievable! I think the reason picnics are such a success when it comes to entertaining is because the main attraction is being outdoors and that part has already been done for you! All you have to do is pick the scenery, and provide the feast (this part is much easier than you think).
I am going to share some helpful tips for packing a picnic, as well as sample menus for a variety of picnic themes with links to some awesome recipes.
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Set the mood: Kid friendly? Casual and classic? Paris-chic? Romantic and elegant? Set the scene with fresh flowers, lounging pillows or cushions, a great playlist and appropriate place settings (in other words, if you’re going for romantic and elegant, ditch the paper plates).
Anticipate nature: Check the weather and be prepared. Insect repellent, citronella candles (here’s a cool DIY version), portable canopy, portable fan, tablecloth clips (on a windy day), sunscreen, or blankets (if it’s chilly).
Control the mess: Hand sanitizer, napkins, wipes, and a trash bag. If you are bringing non-disposable place-settings then be sure to bring a resealable plastic bag to contain the dirty dishes until you get back to your kitchen sink.
Food preservation: Whether you’re packing a traditional wicker picnic basket, a cooler, or something innovative like this backpack, it’s really less about what you’re packing into, and more about how you’re packing it. Keeping your food the right temperature is essential. For cold things: Re-freezable ice packs are a great start. You can also freeze plastic bottles of water; they keep your food cold until you are ready to eat, and become the perfect, ice-cold thirst-quencher by the end of your outing. There are even freezable totes to keep your wine or 6-pack cold! Thermoses are great for keeping things hot.
Theme-Inspired Sample Picnic Menus
I created some sample menus as a springboard to help you start planning your perfect picnic. Each of these menus have a great balance of easy, no-prep food and food you can make ahead of time. All of these recipes hold up well and won’t get soggy during transportation.
Pandora Station: Italian Cooking Music
First Course: Red and Green Grapes, Cheeses, Crostini or Crackers, Charcuterie (pack on ice, let cheese rest at room temp for 10 minutes before serving)
Main Course: Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables (pack on ice, serve cold or room temp)
Dessert: Mocha Custards in mason jars (serve cold)
The Perfect Picnic for Littles
Pandora Station: Kids Beat Radio
To Drink: Juice Boxes
First Course: Seedless watermelon wedges, cheese sticks
Main Course: PBJ Skewers, Clementines (peel ahead), chips (veggie chips are a healthy option)
Classics with a Twist Picnic
Pandora Station: Artist: Vitamin String Quartet
Flowers: Orange tipped yellow tulips
To Drink: Bottled fruit sodas or fruit infused sparkling water, such as Izze brand
First Course: Pineapple Salsa and Chips (bonus points for this salsa bowl being decorative & disposable!)
I Eat Healthy Picnic
Pandora Station: Jazz Covers Pop Radio or Indie Folk Revival Radio
To Drink: Spiced Thyme and Lime Iced Tea
Main Course: Farro Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Dessert: Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (if there are any leftover, they might be delicious for breakfast…maybe…I wouldn’t know from having actually eaten cookies for breakfast)
What are some of your best picnic tips?