Top tips to host a perfect picnic with your friends!
If you’re hosting a simple picnic, just make a quick list of the menu, guests, ingredients and gear, and go. If you’re putting on something more elaborate, take your time planning out each of these. Then make a to-do hit list for the week before, the day before and the day off. If big events make you feel frazzled, make it a potluck picnic, including outsourcing things like cutlery and plates, or whatever you don’t have in your stash of equipment and supplies.
For bigger picnics, be sure to make a reservation if needed for the venue and have a rainy day alternate location lined up. For any picnic, consider things like bugs (do you need bug spray or a wasp catcher?), keeping food cool, wind (do you need clip-on weights to keep the tablecloth from blowing off?), transporting the food and equipment to and from, seating and clean-up/trash.
What you don’t want is to arrive with all the great goodies minus the blanket or corkscrew. Consult this picnic essentials list (below) and scan our tips on planning a simple picnic and easy recipes, to make sure you’ve got it all in the basket.
Le Menu: perfect picnic pairings
For your menu, weigh the location with the time of day, guests and theme, then put together a list of dishes to match. But, as SAVEUR counsels, always keep it simple. You’ll want a protein, starch and vegetable or fruit, plus dessert and beverages. Consider the format, too. Fun and modern, not to mention healthy, are salads in portable jars and colourful skewers or kebabs. Proven crowd-pleasers are cold chicken, whether BBQ’d or deep-fried, watermelon, wrap pinwheels, all-in-one salad dishes, and for dessert, chocolate-chip cookies and brownies.
Keep bugs at bay
Wasps may be the great enemy of the summer, but there are steps you can take to reduce the chance of bugs ruining your picnic. Many home stores sell mason jars with lids/straws now – these are ideal for kids drinks (as they’re usually drinking something quite sweet that attracts bugs) it means bugs can’t get in, and as another plus point, there’s probably less chance of spillage. If at all possible, it’s better to avoid bringing anything sweet and sticky.
|If you make your picnic spontaneous, it’s more of an adventure. It also keeps the focus on the folks, versus the food, which is good, plus adds zero stress and planning time. In 15 minutes, you should be able to gather together the food and drinks, basket (cooler or bag), blanket/tablecloth, plus recyclable plates, cups and (if needed) silverware. (Pro tip: Have an insulated picnic to-go bag at the ready. Put it in a convenient location so you can just grab it if you decide it’s picnic time.)
Keep the menu simple to the max; e.g., sandwiches, last night’s leftovers, take-out pizza or BBQ wings, or just a bunch of healthy snacks from the fridge and cupboard. Get everyone who’s going to help put it all together. Then, pick a nice spot—your patio, a clearing in the woods, a riverside picnic table—add a Frisbee and head out!
Is there anything better than enjoying a feast in the great outdoors? We’ve pulled together our best ever picnic food for everyone to enjoy, from ...