Packing the Perfect Picnic

Perfect Picnic

A picnic sounds like an easy summer-time fun affair – just put some food in a basket, find a great spot, and have fun. But packing for a perfect picnic isn’t quite that simple.

Unless you’re picnicking in your own back yard, once you arrive at your picnic place, what you have is all you’ve got. So, with a little planning, some key gadgets and a bit of advice, you can make your picnic and planning more delightful.

The Food

Choose dishes that travel well, can be made mostly in advance, are served at room temperature, and don’t involve lots of sauces or other ingredients that will make your food soggy. Serve easy-to-prepare foods that are finger-friendly, such as sandwiches, wraps, fried chicken, carrot and celery sticks. Fresh fruit is another good choice, along with a selection of cheese, crackers, and charcuterie. And don’t forget a summery drink such as strawberry infused lemonade or iced tea.

The Spot

Whether you prefer barbecuing beach-side, feasting by a lake or eating al fresco under a tree in a wide open field, locale is an important part of the picnic experience. Choose a spot where you feel most comfortable and just relax.

And remember, if you’ll be sitting on the ground, don’t forget a blanket. The right blanket can make or break a picnic’s vibe. Comfort is key, so keep in mind that you want to choose a blanket with a soft texture and an appealing design. If you think the ground might be damp, bring a blanket with a waterproof or a plastic tablecloth you can use as a drop cloth.

The Gear

The thought of a picnic conjures up visions of the classic, gingham-lined, weaved picnic basket. But there are other – sometimes more functional – options such as a picnic tote. You might be inclined to use two totes, one for cold items and the other for everything else.

Plates, napkins and cups are a must. Paper dinnerware is convenient, but reusable sets and cloth napkins in bright colors make it more cheery. If your picnic basket doesn’t already come with dinnerware and utensils, buy a set and keep your basket ready to go at all times. If wine is on your menu, be sure to pack a corkscrew and wine glasses.

Having other items on-hand includes a portable speaker, a deck of playing cards, and a Frisbee, can add to the fun.

The Advice

  • Include surprises to make the event more special. Freshly baked cupcakes from your spouse’s favorite bakery are a delightful end to a relaxing meal outdoors. Chocolate-dipped fruits are perfectly light and sweet for a warm day.
  • When setting out chilled salads or other cold foods, consider placing the serving containers in a larger pan filled with ice to keep them cold.
  • Save extra condiment packets from fast-food restaurants to bring along on your picnic – the packs are ideal for easy outdoor meals.
  • Bring along plastic bags to cart home dirty dishes and silverware, and for garbage in case there are no trash barrels at the picnic site.
  • If you’re having chips or other snacks, don’t forget to take bag clips. They serve double-duty when you clip one to the corner of your napkin to keep it from blowing away.
  • To make it easy to get at the items you need when you arrive at your picnic site, pack your basket in reverse order. Place nonperishable food on the bottom, then serving items and tableware, and finally the tablecloth on top.


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