Summertime has a way of sneaking up on me. The short days and long nights of winter seem to last forever, and spring is all-too-brief! Before I know it, the trees are filled with leaves and life, and the bluebells and geraniums are in full bloom. If your summers are anything like mine, the weekends are packed with endless activities: catching up with family and friends; shuttling kids to-and-from various sports practices and games; vacations; and on and on and on! If I don’t plan things carefully, I look at my calendar, and I see September creeping up in the corner! How can that be?!
For the past few years, I’ve made it a habit to clear one day or evening per month during the summer to picnic. Picnics are the perfect release from the chaos that tends to surround the summertime moments. Picnics offer a welcome oasis amid the breakneck summer speed. And we could all use an oasis during the hot summer months, right?
With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of my tried-and-true, Get Your Family Outside and Picnic! Guide to the perfect picnic. Whether you’re heading to the beach or a shady spot in the park, this guide gives you the essentials and some plush comforts. The result? A blissful few hours of escape with friends, sunshine, and good food and drink.
Food: What to Pack
The wonderful thing about picnics is that just about everything is picnic-appropriate. As long as it can be packed in a basket or cooler, it has a place at your makeshift blanket-table. Depending on what time of day you’re picnicking, you can choose from heavy hors d'oeuvres to full-on lunch or dinner. (We also love mixing it up every once in awhile with a picnic brunch...yum!).
The Starting Lineup
Starting off with something easy and light is a great way to kick off your picnic. If you’ve got kids joining you on your picnic, fresh cut fruit is an easy choice. Picking fresh fruit up at a Farmer’s Market or picking summer-season fruit up from the produce section of your local grocer is ideal, since the options are limitless. We love packing strawberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, and no picnic is complete without a juicy red watermelon! Having lots of fruit options ensures that there is something for everyone’s tastes. I love packing the fresh fruit in their own reusable tupperware containers so the flavors don’t mix, but separating them is also nice because it gives you the option to mix them all together on your plate for an ad-hoc fruit salad.
Cheese, bread, crackers, and deli meat are all essential starters for your picnic. I’m also a big fan of olives, so I always pack some olive tapenade. If olives aren’t your thing (my husband hates them!) a nice fig spread also works.
Before your picnic, be sure to pick up a fresh baguette or boulé from the bakery. The crusty outside and fluffy inside is to die for when it is topped with quality cheese and meats. As far as cheese goes, I’m a sucker for any type of brie, especially for a picnic. Why? Because it doesn’t need a cutting board and it spreads easily over bread and crackers. Also...brie!
If you like meat, you can’t go wrong with salami and razor-thin prosciutto slices. The meat also makes this a heartier appetizer, so if you’re not doing the full-blown lunch or dinner, this is the way to go.
The Main Event
While you’re at the grocery store picking out your fruit, bread, and cheeses, swing by the deli and see if they have ready-made organic rotisserie chicken. If you’re looking to keep things tasty and simple, search no further. The chickens are flavorful and moist, and if you cut it ahead of time, they’re fuss-free at your picnic.
There are a few schools of thought around picnic salads. Lettuce, spinach, kale, and baby greens are all delightful, but it can take up a lot of room. And packing salad dressing can be a hassle. So, I usually opt for a pre-made cold noodle salad with feta, cherry tomatoes (optional), and a drizzle of olive oil. It is healthy, refreshing, easy to pack, and the noodles can be surprisingly filling. Highly recommend!
Adult Bevvys of Choice
What good is a picnic if you can’t enjoy it with a glass of wine? We’re living in the golden age of portable grown up beverages. No matter what your preference is in wines, chances are you can find affordable, quality wines in travel-ready boxes or even (gasp!) cans. This summer, I’m partial to canned rosé...it’s crisp, refreshing, and goes with just about everything.
Your favorite wine not available in the preferred mode of travel? No problem. Just bring the bottle of your fave; just don’t forget the corkscrew!
Setting the Stage
The menu is set, the food is packed, and you’re (almost) ready to go! Whether you’re at the beach or the city park, you want something to keep the sand away from your food or to keep the grass from making you itchy. Beach towels are too bulky, and getting grass or sand out of regular blankets is a nightmare!
Enter the insanely portable and space-saving Via Seven Rosebud Peshtemal. This 69" x 37.5" 100% Turkish cotton peshtemal was practically made for picnicking. The vibrant colors breathe life into your event and the highest quality Turkish cotton is a welcome retreat from the hot sand and itchy grass. Big enough to fit friends and servingware, the Rosebud is a must-have.
This season, we’re also in love with the Wakan Beach Roundie. The large 59” diameter gives you plenty of room to spread out, and the sea blue color with white fringes practically screams “Summer!” The round shape is a fun take on the ever-versatile Turkish towel.
Serve it Up!
Let’s eat! We love picnics as much as the next person, but they can be wasteful if you’re not careful. Paper plates and plastic utensils are convenient in the moment, but they leave a lot of trash when it is all said and done. And I don’t care how expensive the paper plates are...I still know I’m eating on a paper plate. Compostable plates and utensils are good alternatives, but...
I love surprising my picnic guests with real dinnerware whenever I picnic. Eating at the beach or at the park just seems more fun when you’re eating off real plates with real silverware! I can’t explain it. I love the Via Seven Gourmet Serving Tray. It is the perfect serving tray to hold drinks and napkins, and the Swirl Enamel Serving Plate is ideal for your small bites. The whimsical designs of this plate are playful and the enamel is strong and sturdy, and up for the challenge keeping drinks from spilling due to uneven sand or park lawn.
No matter what you eat or how you decide to picnic, make the most of the summer months while they’re here! The perfect complement to a picnic is sharing it with friends and family. So while you’re in the car between sports practices or in rush hour traffic, start dreaming up your ideal picnic and make it happen! Because after all, summertime is a wonderful opportunity to let your soul breathe!