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Last Updated on June 21, 2023 by Lisa Johnson
Summer is here and I can’t help dreaming about sun-drenched afternoons, lush green landscapes, and amazing feasts shared with loved ones. This guide will help you plan the best-ever picnic including delicious picnic food ideas, and a free printable checklist of picnic essentials too!
Whether you’re planning a romantic date or a family gathering, a well-prepared picnic can create lasting memories.
How to Host the Perfect Picnic
Location, location, location
Choosing the perfect location sets the tone for your picnic. Look for picturesque spots such as local parks, gardens, or a nearby beach. Seek out places with shade or bring your own portable gazebo or umbrella to keep everyone comfortable.
Amenities like restrooms, water sources, and picnic tables are also nice to have. Search national parks service for national parks in your area that have available locations that fit your needs.
When is the Best Time to Host a Picnic?
Generally speaking, late morning to early afternoon is the best time if you in a hot and/or humid location. Think about the ambiance you want to create and the type of food you’ll be serving. Would you prefer a brunch picnic, or maybe an afternoon or early evening picnic?
Just remember to have proper lighting and blankets to keep warm if you plan to stay out after sunset. If watching the sunset is the goal, make sure to arrive at least one hour before sundown for full viewing enjoyment.
Pack the Essentials
To ensure a successful picnic, it’s crucial to pack the right essentials. I have provided a checklist below that includes everything you will need: picnic blankets or chairs, plates, utensils, napkins, a cutting board, a sharp knife, and a trash bag.
You definitely want to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, and wet wipes to keep everyone safe and comfortable. Sticky hands and sunburns are never fun!
Remember: Pack it in, pack it out – that’s what the garbage bag is for!
Get our FREE Checklist!
This downloadable pdf includes our top 15 picnic essentials tips to help you plan the perfect picnic! Click the button below to download!
Create the Perfect Menu
Now comes the most exciting part: planning a delectable picnic menu. Choose recipes that are both delicious and easy to transport, or substitute your family favorites:
Sandwiches: Create an assortment of mouthwatering sandwiches using different bread types, fillings, and spreads. Classic choices like turkey and cheese croissant or an Italian sub sandwich never disappoint, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box and take along a gourmet tuna melt.
Fresh Salads: Opt for refreshing salads that hold up well outdoors. Prepare a colorful chopped kale salad with shredded curly kale, red cabbage, broccoli, red pepper, dried cherries, and pine nuts tossed with a flavorful citrus dressing.
Or try a vibrant couscous salad packed with roasted vegetables, herbs, and a tangy lemon vinaigrette. This hearty Antipasto Pasta Salad is packed with deli meats and cheeses, vegetables, and cooked pasta tossed in a light Italian vinaigrette to create a delicious light meal.
Finger Foods: Whip up hand-held, savory foods in advance that can be served cold. Everyone’s favorite puff pastry sausage rolls, fresh and delicious Vietnamese spring rolls, and charcuterie boards with meats and cheeses are always crowd-pleasers.
Fresh Fruit: Create fruit skewers with a variety of seasonal fruits. The vibrant colors and juicy flavors make them an instant hit. Serve them with a light yogurt dip or a drizzle of honey. Or create a fresh watermelon salad tossed in a light citrus vinaigrette.
Sweet Treats: Finish your meal with a selection of delightful sweets that are easy to transport like; delicious chocolate chip cookies, decadent s’mores brownies, classic mini Dutch apple pies, or tangy lemon meringue pie bites.
Remember to stay hydrated during your picnic. Fill a cooler with ice-cold water, freshly squeezed lemonade, or infused water with cucumber lemon and mint. Consider bringing a few extra beverages, like sparkling water or a nice bottle of wine, to add variety.
Games and Entertainment
Enhance the picnic experience by bringing along games and entertainment options. Frisbee, bocce ball, or a deck of cards can add an extra layer of fun to the gathering. If you’re feeling creative, organize a scavenger hunt or a themed quiz to keep everyone engaged and entertained.
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By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to host your best-ever picnic.