Late last summer, I learned of a nearby botanical garden and conservatory that has gorgeous grounds for walking, plus an awesome playground and kids’ garden that was perfect for picnicking. I never actually knew that I enjoyed going out for a picnic, but after making a couple of visits to the gardens with my son, I was hooked and have been looking forward to heading back again this summer!
Although, I have to admit, the food I made was picnic perfect, I was a bit of a picnicking mess last year. On our trips, I ended up carrying several bags and a stroller all while chasing a toddler and forgetting something. So before we head out this year, I’ve taken what I learned last year and I’m getting prepared and organized so that I can easily pack up my car and have everything we need for a lovely afternoon.
- Cooler & Tote // It may sound like too much to have two bags for a quick picnic, but hear me out, I think it’s the best way to go. First off, you want to have a nice big cooler (or super cute insulated picnic basket) for all of your food. You’ll likely be either playing or just relaxing when you’re out on your picnic, so you want your food to stay safely cool and delicious until you’re ready. If you’re going on more of a grown up picnic, I love this insulated wine and cheese tote, or this all-in-one option with serveware and all.
You also want to have a separate tote bag for items like your serveware, napkins, a blanket or two and a plastic bag filled with your sunscreen, bug spray and any backup clothing you might need.
- Variety of snacks // I definitely have a few picnic favorites, but my biggest advice is to make as many items as finger food-friendly as possible. I love to make a tortilla roll-up with cream cheese spread, turkey and soppressata (or other salami), along with a kid-friendly version with turkey and American cheese, sliced into small pinwheels. I always bring a fruit salad (this one is one of my favorites) along with pita chips or cut-up veggies and hummus, and of course something sweet like Snickerdoodle cookies (which are less messy than chocolate chip cookies, but just as delicious).
- Spot to Sit // I like bringing a few different blankets with me when we go on our picnics. I start with a nice, comfortable cotton blanket to set up as our “table” and sitting space. This one is a great option because it rolls up with Velcro for easy packing and toting. I also like to bring another outdoor blanket or two that can be folded up a little bit smaller and used for a little more cushion or even rolled up to use for a pillow while laying and enjoying the sun (with your sunscreen, of course!).
- Unbreakable Serveware // Whether you’re out with kids or not, durable serveware is definitely a picnicking (or just outdoor dining, in general!) essential. A melamine set of plates in a bright pattern is always fantastic to have for picnicking. I also always like to have a set of acrylic tumblers and a set of acrylic wine glasses ready for outdoor dining. Finally, this little wood cutlery set is really cute, won’t take up much room in your bag and is biodegradable!To make things easier for the next time, after each outing, I’ll wash up my serveware to be stored in my cooler or tote, along with my blankets. I’ll also make sure to put my ice packs back in the freezer so they’re ready to go for our next trip!