If, like us, you are trying to eke out these last few weeks of summer by spending as much time as possible outdoors, here are some handy hints to help you picnic in style. Whether you are planning a big get-together, an impromptu open-air meal a deux or escaping from your desk with a lunchbox and blanket, we’ve got picnicking covered.
Admittedly, the picture below is one of the most perfect spots for a picnic, but wherever you are, you can have fun. Ensure you have sufficient space, and are close to amenities like toilets or parking if any of your party might need them.
Try not to overthink this – you don’t want to be lugging half your kitchen cabinet across the fields with you. By taking these essential items you can make sure your picnic goes smoothly, and avoid over-packing. You will need something to sit on: a tablecloth, rug, quilt or beach towel would be ideal. For those who need more comfort take some folding camping chairs. Also important is something with which to carry your picnic. A backpack is perfect if you are hiking or on bikes, but if you only have a short way to go or are in a car you can pack a proper picnic basket. A chic market basket or trusty tote will do just as well.
Other essentials are: a knife with a guard (like this one), a bottle opener (did we mention bubbly is an essential?), a grocery or garbage bag, sunscreen, cling film or containers to transport leftovers home, some gorgeous napkins, and ice-packs or a cooler for meat or food that needs to be kept chilled (use a frozen bottle of water – you can drink it later). Useful extras could include a frisbee or ball, a chopping board and reusable sandwich bags. A clever cheat is to use a cheap shower curtain under your rug in case the ground is damp.
Simplicity is your friend here. A free-for-all pick-and-mix style affair is fun and always looks bountiful, so you can throw together some basic items and still create a beautiful picnic. Grab some good cheeses, cured meats, salads, top quality bread, fruit (watermelon, strawberries or figs are winners), and a desert that won’t melt all over everything. Gooey chocolate puddings are best left at home. Keep your sandwiches from falling apart by wrapping in greaseproof paper and securing with string (like these beauties). A wooden chopping board makes the perfect serving dish to arrange your food on, and accessorised with some pretty linens you will have an Insta-ready feast! If you fancy making something more involved, this picnic loaf looks incredible.
Use Mason jars to store salads or squashable fruits – you can eat straight from the jar, saving on washing up and extra plates. Ensure that you layer the ‘wet’ ingredients at the bottom, otherwise your salad will be soggy and sad. Tupperware containers are great for transporting food and taking leftovers home if you can carry them, but if not make sure you pack heavier things at the bottom of your basket or bag to avoid them crushing the rest of your picnic. Bottles and glass jars can be wrapped in your picnic rug or napkins for protection.
Somehow picnics always seem better with some bubbly, so if you are catering for adults take along some chilled fizz. For non-drinkers, this alternative looks deliciously refreshing. Just pour some good quality lemonade into bottles and top up with some chopped strawberries, sprigs of fresh mint and slices of lemon. Make sure you have plenty of water, of course. Frozen bottles will stay lovely and cold for ages.
There you have it: the recipe for a perfect picnic. We might just keep on picnicking right through to winter – imagine a snow-dusted feast in the frosty twilight!
If you’d like some ideas on making you outdoor space more delightful, click here.