Now that we are done with blog housekeeping, I want to discuss one of my favorite things about summer: picnics. Sure, you can have indoor picnics in front of the fire in the winter, and crisp autumn picnics with hot chocolate can be divine but summer is true picnic season. There is something so lovely about packing up a lunch and some loved ones and heading over to the local park to just chill out. I’ve rounded up my picnic essentials for you.
First up, you need something to sit on. Granted, you could just bring an old quilt you have lying around but they make so many cute picnic-designated blankets these days. All of these options are great for picnics and plenty big enough to lounge on. I’m partial to the Vera Bradley one (#3, $35) but Target (#1, $17.99) and Bed, Bath, and Beyond (#2, $19.99) make great finds as well.
So granted, you could just throw all your picnic goodies into a re-usable shopping tote but picnic baskets are just so much more festive! I love the idea of the pre-made baskets with all the essentials included (like #1 and especially #2) but it can be so fun (and much more economical) to find a cute, empty basket (#3is from Amazon of all places, but I found mine at Target) and filling it with cute melamine plates and bowls from Target or Pier One, which usually only run about $2 each. Rather than glasses, why not pick up some cute stainless steel water bottles? There will be no spills and they are much easier to take on an impromptu walk.
So you have a blanket, you’ve decked out a picnic basket, now what are you going to eat? A few years back the New York Times did a fantastic piece on picnic foods and while my picnics tend to be a lot simpler, I love some of their ideas. You can see the full list here.
For picnic foods you want things that can be eaten easily, are best served room temperature or cold, and that can be packed up in a flash. I love fruit and cheese to start (especially red grapes and Havarti), sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls, chips, and homemade cookies for dessert. It is such a simple menu but one that is a total crowd-pleaser. I saw a genius tip in Real Simple to wrap rubber bands around each sandwich then write on the band what type of sandwich it is. No more confusing tuna salad and chicken salad, or turkey and ham. If your park allows it, a bottle of wine or pitcher of mixed drinks are fantastic. I love Rosemary Gin Fizzes for picnics. Simply boil 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar and several sprigs of rosemary until the sugar has dissolved. Discard the rosemary sprigs and combine the syrup with .25 cup lemon juice, 1 cup gin, and 1 bottle of Prosecco (if you want it to really pack a punch) or 1 liter of soda water (this is a daytime picnic after all). You didn’t hear it from me, but if the park does not officially allow alcohol just pre-mix the cocktails and put them in your water bottles. No one will catch on unless you start dancing the funky chicken at 2 in the afternoon with no music.
Speaking of music, you might consider bringing your iPod or iPhone to this little tete a tete. I’m not going to tell you what kind of music to bring because it is totally preference but make sure the lyrics are somewhat family friendly (you are going to a park after all). If you are the active type, consider bringing a frisbee or football for a fun game after you eat. Athletics not really your thing? If it is not too windy, bring a deck of cards. Gin rummy, Phase 10, or Uno are all fun games to play. You could also bring checkers or chess if you have a set.
What are your picnic essentials? Do you have a go-to spot or go-to meal you always bring? Anything I forgot on the list?