10 Tips to For a Perfect Picnic and how you can make great memories with your family through a simple picnic. We have a Thursday night tradition in our house that we refer to as Family Night.
What is Family Night? Only the GREATEST night of the week!!
In all seriousness, Family Night is a night we celebrate our family through simple things. We rotate the “host” of the night weekly, giving each person a chance to pick something inexpensive or free to do as a family. The host picks out a special dessert or treat as well. We have done things like hikes, movie nights, game nights, charades, boating, swimming, etc.
One of our favorite things to do is to pack up a picnic to take along on a hike. It gives us time to get exercise as a family and to chat along the way. We also work up quite the appetite for our picnic–and eating outside is just fun (not to mention, I love that the crumbs stay outside rather than under the table!)
My sister recently asked me what I pack when I go on a picnic, since she knew it was something I do on almost a weekly basis. As we chatted, I realized more than just food goes into a successful picnic and thought I would pass along my tips I have learned to make the most out of our picnics.
Top 10 Tips for a Successful Picnic
- Location: Pick a spot that has either a covered pavilion, picnic benches, or a shady, flat spot that you can spread out a blanket (without getting wet or muddy.) You also want to consider noise. Remember it is about getting out and enjoying nature and chatting with each other–not listening to traffic! Think about if there are restrooms near by–if not, your picnic may become very uncomfortable if children are involved! Another thing I want to point out is that the beach is one of my favorite places on earth, BUT NOT for picnics–that sand!!!
- Come Prepared to Make the Most of your Location: Bring chairs or blankets to sit on. A tablecloth for a dirty picnic bench (the dollar store has great disposable ones!). Throw in hand sanitizer if there is no running water or soap available to keep germs at bay. You may even want to consider a citronella candle if mosquitoes are a problem and sunscreen for sunny days.
- Stocking your Picnic Basket (with supplies): Trash bags for clean-up, napkins, cutting board, utensils, condiments, bottle opener, corkscrew, cups, plates. These are all items to ask yourself if you have/need them for your picnic. Nothing like getting a special bottle of cane syrup soda for your kids to have nothing to open it with (not that I have EVER done that!!)
- Pack Your Basket Backwards: Place your non-perishable foods on the bottom, followed by serving ware, followed by the tablecloth. You can start by spreading out your blanket or tablecloth and easily unload everything in the order needed.
- Pack your Perishables Correctly: I like to freeze plastic water bottles and line the bottom of my cooler with them. They keep the cooler perfectly chilled and as they thaw out, provide refreshing hydration (perfect for AFTER a long hike!) Place the most perishable items right on the frozen water bottles and then place cold drinks on top of the perishable food. Another tip is to be sure your cooler is just the size you need. This cuts down on heavy lifting and a cooler that is full keeps colder longer than a half full cooler.
- Grilling: Nothing beats a picnic at a park with a charcoal grill. But there is quite a bit to remember. First of all, give yourself plenty of time to get the grill heated–it takes a LONG time and there is nothing worse then kids saying they are starving and the grill is ice cold! Bring charcoal, a lighter/match (check that they work BEFORE you leave), foil to line that dirty public grill with, tongs or skewers to turn the meat so you don’t burn yourself, and lighter fluid, if desired to speed up the charcoal lighting process.
- Keep the Bugs OUT!! Bugs are just a natural part of all picnics. But you can prevent them from becoming part of your cuisine by keeping food and drinks covered. You can use cupcake liners turned upside down with a straw through them over glasses or juice boxes with straws to keep the bugs out. Be sure to have lids/covers for all your dishes and keep them covered in between serving out food. Bring natural bug spray or citronella candles to discourage bugs from joining the party.
- Entertainment: If you are not planning a hike along with your picnic, consider bringing a frisbee, portable corn hole, or a football to toss around to burn off some energy and keep the kids entertained.
- The Food: A picnic is not a picnic without food. Keep it clean–no messy or complicated dishes. Also avoid frozen food or mayonnaise based dishes. Mason jar salads are a great way to have your food and serving dish all packed together in a perfect portion. Corn Dog or PB&J Muffins work perfectly for small hands and are less messy than sandwiches. My BLT Pasta Salad or Lemon Quinoa Salad are favorite summery dishes my family loves to pack for picnics. I love to do cheese and crackers with a variety of fresh fruit and chocolates as well. I NEVER forget a sweet treat. Dark chocolate, makings for smores, or Chocolate Peanut Butter Krispie Treats are always winners!
- Make #HappinessHappen: The bottom line to a great picnic (or a great family night) is to be happy. Laugh at the hamburger that flipped off the grill. Share a fork with your sister when the basket is one short. Reminisce about the last picnic you had. Just enjoy. YOU ultimately have the choice to enjoy the picnic and enjoy life. I pray you choose to be happy and make happy memories!
It is my sincere hope that you feel inspired to pack up a picnic and make #happinesshappen with your family!
One more tip on packing food for a picnic and spreading happiness: Check out Shari’s Berries. They have FABULOUS pre-made baskets for a perfect picnic. How awesome would it be to send a basket to a family that hasn’t made time for each other and encourage them to make #happinesshappen by having a picnic together? Or if picnics aren’t your thing, you can NEVER go wrong with Shari’s Berries AMAZING chocolate covered strawberries. I smile just thinking about them!
My Organic Favorites Basket from Shari’s Berries–YUM!