Picnicking is an art. It’s fun, it’s summery, and to be honest, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more wholesome sunny-day activity. But preparing for and going on a picnic requires more effort than packing a few sandwiches and blanket to sit on—especially if kids are involved. Luckily, we have some tips and products to help step up your picnic game.
Comfort Is Key
Sitting on a cute blanket with your favorite people may create an ideal picture in your head. But realistically? It’s uncomfortable to sit on the hard ground, and it’s hard to multitask holding a plate and a beverage, all while trying to avoid spills (and bugs). If you’re going for an old-school picnic outing sans picnic table, consider investing in a quality picnic blanket. Our recommendation? Practico Outdoors’ extra large picnic blanket. The soft and water-resistant fabric and cushioned backing make it super comfortable and and convenient. If you don’t want to buy a blanket just for picnicking, bring a shower curtain liner to place underneath your blanket instead to keep your blanket clean and dry.
To add to your comfort, pack a few throw pillows. Not only will it make your picnic layout prettier, but it will make lounging a cozier experience. For even more back support, check out a portable floor chair or two (of course, regular lawn chairs work just fine).
Arguably the hardest part about a picnic is figuring out how to safely transport lunch from your house to the picnic location in a mess-free fashion. First things first: You need to have a stellar picnic basket. A wicker basket is cute and idyllic, but it reality, you’ll want something that is insulated and leak-free, like this collapsible picnic basket from Target.
Keeping your food cool, dry, and contained is the ultimate goal. Consider packing your cold salads, vegetables, and fruit in leak-proof mason jars. To keep things cool, try packing frozen water bottles instead of cold packs. This doubles as extra hydration on a hot summer day once the water begins to melt. Alternatively, consider purchasing mini cold packs (like these ones) to help you keep food evenly cold throughout the basket. If you need to bring condiments, buy a few tiny squeeze bottles rather than transporting in a plastic container (or bringing the whole bottle, which often takes up too much space).
A Bug- & Mess-Free Picnic
If kids are accompanying you on this outing, consider pre-making their meals rather than assembling when you get there. These dual compartment containers give you the option of packing the main dish and a side or two in one easy go. Watermelon is a picnic staple, but the sugary juice can make it a sticky nightmare. Instead of cutting in cubes, try cutting in triangles and sticking a popsicle stick inside the rind for (mostly) mess-free eating.
Instead of eating straight from the blanket (which is what we probably all did as children), bring a tray to eat from instead. Not only will it minimize the contact your food has with the ground, but it can also help you contain spills and messier foods. You can go with a standard one, like this wood one from Target, or, to keep your food really bug-free, this bamboo food tent from Bed, Bath & Beyond. If your picnic outing includes wine, consider this wine glass-holding table.
To keep bugs from hovering over your beverages, bring cupcake liners to place over the top of the can, and insert a straw to keep it in place. For kids, make sure you pack the most spill-free cup you own.
Transporting everything back to the house is nowhere near as stressful as bringing everything to the destination. However, cleaning up on-site will make unpacking at home a better experience for everyone. For this, wet wipes, paper towels, and garbage bags are your new best friends. It’s also a good idea to clean as you go, removing empty containers and dirty utensils when they’re no longer needed. But remember: As nice as it is to have an incident-free, picturesque picnic, the purpose of going on a picnic is for the memories—not the perfect execution.