Tips & tricks for your next al fresco adventure
Are there two words that go together better than “summer” and “picnic”?
We didn’t think so. Read on for a list of great ideas to help you create a safe, fun—and delicious—family-friendly experience you’ll remember long after the summer’s over.
Whether you plan an outdoor potluck dinner with friends, a large family reunion, or a romantic wine-and-cheese date with a special someone, picnics are a great way to enjoy the sunshine, warm temperatures, and beautiful surroundings of our parks and beaches.
The Basics, please
Start with a large, cozy blanket—bonus if it has a waterproof lining on one side, or weighted corners to keep the wind from getting under it. Beyond that, think creatively when it comes to picnic comfort; for example, bring waterproof cushions from home to sit on, grab a couple of camping chairs or lightweight folding deck chairs, and pack smaller blankets to use as wraps if the temperature drops or for extra guests.
To transport all of your goodies, you can use a traditional picnic basket for nostalgia, or you can sub in or add a cooler backpack, a light tote with a carrying handle, or one of the latest picnic backbacks that includes everything you’ll need: dishes, glasses, cutlery, cloth napkins, etc.—even salt and pepper shakers!
When it comes to menu planning, think easy, tasty and “non-sticky”—nothing ruins a picnic faster than a complicated menu, or sticky-sweet hands and faces that can attract insects. Prep as much as you can the night before and use our handy checklist to ensure you don’t forget important items like recycling bags, bug spray and comfy seating.
Let The Feast Begin
Traditional favourites are popular for a reason! Think chips, cheese and crackers, or cut veggies and dip (be sure to keep the dip cool!) If you feel like getting fancy, prepare antipasto bites the night before by loading olives, salami, prosciutto, grape tomatoes and cheese cubes onto mini wooden skewers. Another easy idea that kids love: spread cream cheese on a soft tortilla, layer flat slices of ham, salami or cheese, roll up and slice into mini “pinwheel” bites.
Make picnic prep simpler by assembling a main dish in advance that can easily be divided. Picnic pies are a British tradition that involve mixing meat with veggies and eggs, baking in a loaf pan lined with pastry crust, then cooling completely until served in slices to hungry picnickers. A freshly baked baguette transforms into a hearty picnic submarine sandwich: simply offer a charcuterie board with meat, cheese and veggies and have picnic guests customize their slices with interesting condiments, like garlic scapes, olives and pickles.
Working up a sweat kicking the soccer ball around? Reach for sparkling water, lemonade or iced tea in plastic mason jars! Just add ice and sliced fruit for an extra summery taste. If you have a large plastic bottle or dispenser with a spout, set out punch with plastic cups and have picnickers help themselves.
For the grownups: canned wine, beer and or/coolers. Don’t forget the insulated wine tote, corkscrew if needed, a wine topper, and insulated can cozies.
Think beyond the fruit tray (which will likely attract pesky pests… ants, anyone?) Instead, mini mason jars can hold pre-assembled individual s’mores “sundaes”: layer pound cake with mini marshmallows, chocolate syrup and graham crackers. Keeping with the s’mores theme, why not add chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs to the traditional Rice Krispies squares recipe? More traditional favourites like cookies, brownies, banana bread, or mini muffins are sure to hit the spot.
Get Your Game On
Bring a ball! In between courses, try one of these easy-to-set-up activities (and burn off some of those sweet treats!)
• FLY A KITE
• BOARD GAME
• CREATE YOUR OWN RELAY RACE OR SCAVENGER HUNT
• TRIVIA – TRADITIONAL OR USING YOUR CELLPHONE