Planning the Perfect Picnic
Originally an extravagant indoor social event favoured by the aristocracy, the picnic has since developed to be a much-loved activity, perfect for sunny days spent outdoors. And according to National Picnic Week, the average person picnics at least three times a year, so we’ve gathered our top tips along with suggestions from our followers on Instagram to help you plan your next picnic adventure.
How do you plan a picnic?
1. Choose the location for your picnic set-up
2. Invite friends and family
3. Prepare the food
4. Pack your picnic basket
5. Plan extra activities to enjoy whilst you picnic
Follow our detailed guide below to help you tick off the checklist above for your next picnic:
Where is the best place to have a picnic?
One of the reasons why picnics are so wonderful is because of how versatile they are. You can have a picnic almost anywhere. The most common place to have one is at the park surrounded by beautiful nature. You can enjoy a picnic at the beach, by a river side, while on a hike, when visiting a national park or garden, or even in your own back yard. Wherever you choose to set up, the principles of a picnic are much the same. There is just a little more organisation involved should you be venturing away from home.
When is the best time to have a picnic?
Of course, the best time for a picnic is when the sun is shining. But even on a cooler day, it is still an enjoyable experience. Just remember to pack some blankets, set up on a table with shelter, and try to avoid sitting on wet grass!
Picnics are usually enjoyed from lunchtime onwards, but they can last all day should you have enough food! Picnics are perfect for lazy afternoons or day trips with family and friends where you can graze at your picnic spread in-between chatting and playing games.
What food do you pack for a picnic?
Picnic foods aren’t just delicious but fairly simple to prepare too. They are dishes you can make ahead that still taste great when you’re ready to eat. You also need them to be easy to pack into containers and cooler bags and be able to eat them with just a few (or no) utensils.
Traditionally a picnic spread includes sandwiches, or something similar, such as wraps or bagels. They are the perfect picnic pairing – easy to make ahead, suitable for all sorts of fillings, compact to pack in your bag, and, best of all, require no cutlery. What’s not to love?
Next on our picnic food must-haves is a salad. Again, these are easy to make in advance and are great for feeding a crowd. Keep it simple with a seasonal salad of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumber, or mix it up and make up a potato salad or pasta salad full of veggies and fresh herbs.
For a little extra something, pack a variety of smaller dishes as sides for guests to dip in to. Bread, crackers, cheeses, and dips are all delicious options. Here in the UK pork pies, scotch eggs, and tarts are always a firm picnic favourite. You can also chop up some cucumber, celery, or carrot to dip into houmous and have a few different fruits, such as watermelon and strawberries available too.
If, like us, you like to finish all meals with something a little sweet and indulgent, don’t forget to include a tasty dessert or two to end your picnic. If you want to make something homemade, a tray bake is a great option. Think brownies, lemon drizzle, or carrot cake. Cookies and biscuits are also easy to make, and you can eat them without a knife and fork!
What should a picnic include?
Other than food and drink, there are a few more essentials needed for a successful picnic:
A picnic blanket
Unless you’re setting up your picnic somewhere that has picnic tables, bringing a blanket to sit and spread your food out on is a must. A tablecloth will work too if you don't have a picnic blanket to hand.
A picnic basket, hamper, or cooler
If you're travelling to your picnic spot, you will need something to carry your picnic food and essentials in; a wicker picnic basket is the traditional option, and our Limited Edition Botanic Garden Hamper is a perfect choice! However, if a picnic basket isn’t your style, you can also use a cooler or insulated bag, which will help to keep your food chilled. And if you're picnicking while on a hike or bike ride, a backpack or tote bag is a good option.
Plates, glasses, and serving platters
To make your picnic feel like more of an occasion, don’t forget to pack plates and glasses for eating and drinking. Serving platters and bowls are also handy for displaying the food so everybody can help themselves. Just remember to pack your crockery carefully to avoid any breakages.
Alongside cutlery to eat with, you may also need utensils, such as a bottle opener and corkscrew. And depending on the food you choose to pack, a knife and chopping board may also come in useful for serving bread and cheese. Pastry forks and spoons are not only great for cakes and pastries but also dips, meats, and chopped fruit.
Storage containers & ice packs
Keep your food fresh and in one piece by packing them in storage containers alongside ice packs. Cooler and insulated bags are perfect choices for helping to keep things at a steady temperature, but extra ice packs are a must if your picnic includes any meats, dairy, or drinks you want to stay cool.
Your picnic location may not have a bin close by, so don’t forget to pack some rubbish bags to throw away any waste at the end of your picnic. An extra bag or two to pop your dirty crockery, cutlery, and glasses in will help to keep your picnic basket clean. It is also a good idea to pack napkins and paper towels to wipe hands, the picnic table, or spillages up throughout the day.
If your picnic is an all-day affair, why not make the most of your time outdoors and have a few games or fun activities to play in-between the picnic grazing? Pack a ball or Frisbee, so everybody at your party can join in on the fun. Or pack your favourite book if the picnic you’ve planned is more of a relaxing occasion.
So, now you know how to plan the perfect picnic, it’s time to start organising your next adventure.
If you’re looking for more ideas on eating al fresco this summer, explore here to discover the art of outdoor hosting.