The picnic is one of those social gatherings of which the origin is not exactly known. We know that our ancestors have enjoyed picnics for hundreds of years. We know that picnics in 18th-century Europe were a luxury that only the aristocratic class was privileged enough to experience. And we know that Americans have developed their own unique picnic habits, some of which are national and others of which are regional (think crab cakes in New England and barbecues in Texas and Oklahoma). Essentially, we know enough to identify a good picnic when we see one.
If you have taken it upon yourself to plan a picnic this summer, here are some tips to help ensure it goes off without a hitch:
When selecting snack and meal items for a picnic, it is important to remember that you are not serving lunch or dinner in your apartment. You will have to transport the food you intend to eat at the picnic, and storage space isn’t your only concern. Some foods simply travel better than others. Consider finger foods: pitas and other breads, cheese and crackers, chips, vegetables, hummus, nuts and dried fruits, etc. Remember to grab salt and pepper, as well as any other condiments that are commonly used with the foods you purchase or prepare. Avoid bringing anything that is very sticky, will melt in the sun, or is otherwise likely to make a mess.
No matter your beverage of choice, it is important that you bring plenty of water on any picnic you may be planning. After all, the fun of a picnic only lasts for as long as everyone stays hydrated. Consider also bringing lemonade, fruit punch, and other juices. Only bring adult beverages if the picnic is to be held in a private place where the consumption of alcohol by legal adults is permitted.
Storage and Transportation
A traditional picnic basket is always cool to bring to a picnic, and it can be quite practical. Carefully lay and stack all of your dry foods and non-perishable food items into a picnic basket if you have one. Otherwise, locate a large and durable reusable bag or two for this task. To ensure that you can enjoy refreshingly cool drinks throughout the picnic, bring a cooler and a bag of ice. For best results, pre-chill drinks in your apartment for best results). Use plastic bags to transport non-perishable goods that do not fit in your picnic basket or reusable sacks, including cutlery, napkins, and paper towels. Plastic bags will double nicely as disposable trash bags once you are at your picnic location.
If you really don’t want to have to worry about storage and transportation, you can always consider having a picnic on your apartment grounds. If there is a picnic appropriate spot, that is. Just run the idea by your property manager and be sure to clean up after yourself.
Picnics may be outdoors, but they are not supposed to be as rugged or rustic as camping meals. Search through your linens, and find a rug, blanket, or several towels that you do not mind laying out on the grass and dirt. This will help deter critters and will keep your skin from succumbing to grass itch. Sunblock and sunglasses are a must, as is some sort of rain protection if there is a change of rain. Plan to hang out at your picnic spot after the eating is done? Bring a book to read, word puzzles to complete, or music to listen to as you enjoy the lake, river, or urban park space in which you have just dined.
- Cups and Plates
- A camera, for showing friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that you know how to enjoy a summer day
- Bottle opener or corkscrew, if necessary
Now that you’ve seen this guide, you should have no problem preparing the perfect picnic for a significant other or group of friends. Just be sure to review this checklist before you set off for your destination to ensure that you haven’t forgotten anything.