While entertaining in the great outdoors requires some planning and preparation, the joys of dining al fresco are worth it. Here are some tips for planning a picnic that will delight everyone.
Perfect Picnic Foods
- The casual environment of the outdoors is a perfect setting for eating hand-held foods.
- Serve spears or strips of raw veggies with a side of hummus.
- Cut sandwiches into small diamond shapes and serve on a platter for an elegant offering.
- Grilled vegetable kebabs can be eaten right off the skewer—no plate necessary!
- A grain-based salad is a healthy choice that stands up to travel and summer heat better than a leafy green salad. To avoid soggy salads, store dressings separately.
- If offering dessert, make it the night before. Homemade cookies are always a favorite, and seasonal fruit is a refreshing choice on a hot summer day.
A hydrated guest is a happy guest. Fill a couple of large, sturdy flasks with ice water. For variety, flavor them with fresh mint or basil, slices of citrus fruits, or ripe berries.
Keep hot food hot and cold food cold during transport and at the picnic. Items should never be kept out of the cooler or off the grill for more than two hours. If the temperature is above 90°, it’s just one hour.
What to Bring to Your Picnic
- Insulated totes do a good job of keeping food at a safe temperature. Totes with built-in compartments keep fragile items and glass containers safely separated.
- Pack the right type of blanket. One with cushioning will be appreciated. Grass and food stains are likely, so look for a blanket that’s machine washable.
- Bring a small cutting board and a sturdy knife for any last-minute slicing. Pack hand-wipes and paper towels—both of which are essential for clean hands and any spills or messes.
- For safe transport, place hard-boiled eggs in a clean, empty egg carton. If possible, bring a small table to keep unsteady items, bottles, plates, and utensils off the ground.
- Invite guests to bring their own pillows, cushions, or tote bags to sit on. Portable seating lets both sun-seekers and shade-seekers rest wherever they want without constantly moving the picnic blanket to accommodate both parties.
- If the picnic spot allows, bring toys and sporting equipment for adults and kids. Last but not least, tote some garbage bags to keep the area where you enjoyed your picnic free of litter.
Choosing Your Picnic Area
Picking the right spot is key. Look for an area with plenty of shade if it’s warm out. If there’s lots of space around, even better; the kids will have room to play.
Don’t let changes in the weather deter you from having a good time. If it’s rainy the day of the picnic, set up indoors and focus on enjoying the good food and company of others.