10 Tips for the Perfect Picnic
10 PRACTICAL TIPS FOR PERFECT PICNICS
1. Go enamel.
Enamel plates are light, easy to pack and carry, and practical—you can load them up with baked beans and salad, let it sit for 20 minutes, and they won’t sog out and collapse. And they look and feel cooler than plastic.
2. Bring something to do.
Even scintillating conversation can lag after a while. Plan for boredom by bringing activities: board games, sand castle construction gear, books, and coloring books, adult or otherwise. These are easy to pack in and out, and easy to make an afternoon of delicious food even tastier.
3. Take food you can pick up easily.
Stuff with built-in handles, like chicken drumsticks, fruit on skewers, and corn on cobs, is all inherently picnic friendly. As much as you can minimize forks, spoons, and knives, you want to.
4. Have a bug plan.
Flying critters and creepy crawlies will assail even the most urban picnic. Plan for this. Have a strategy. That could mean packing and/or serving food and drink in containers with lids (Mason jars, for instance), packing mesh covers, and toting plastic wrap.
5. Don’t skimp on salads.
We all like something seared and crispy off the grill, but the spirit of most picnics is sylvan, meaning that salads are always appropriate. Make and pack as many as you think you’ll eat: fruit, greens, grains, cheeses, and nuts. They’re fresh, colorful, light, and versatile. Bring dressings in jars
6. Travel light.
Sure, folding tables and camp chairs and hassocks and tents and dishes look cool in the movies, but those were scenes of millionaires or Roman generals, with an army of servants to carry and set up. Keep your picnic swag as concisely edited as possible.
7. Shell out for a good cooler.
A Styro cooler might be a good option when you’re in college, but come on: Nobody wants to tote a fragile, unwieldy container of plastic foam filled with ice and beverage bottles onto a beach. Pay a little extra for a great cooler—you’ll use it year after year. In other words, it’s an investment that delivers dividends.
8. Pack more wet naps and garbage bags than you think you’ll need.
They’re effortless to haul home, and when you need them…you need them.
9. Bring blanket weights and other wind deterrents.
Few things are as annoying as setting up the perfect al fresco spread, only to find the weather conspiring to scatter stuff. Have weights and tethers in mind: nearby rocks you can weight blankets with, stakes, simple napkin holders. Mother Nature can be cruel.
10. Don’t even think of packing anything messy.
You’re in the woods. Or on a picnic table in a city park. Even if you can run to a public restroom to wash your 8-year-old’s face of BBQ sauce or cake frosting, you’re not going to want to have to play scub-down. Think of un-messy picnic foods: sandwiches, frittatas, oven-fried chicken.