Picnics are one of our favorite inexpensive experiences. We love getting to be outside while eating great food and enjoying the scenery. Unlike a normal meal, with a picnic you have to be much more organized. You can’t just simply go back in the house and grab a fork, knife, or whatever else you may have forgotten. There are so many different options with picnics as well. You could have a very fancy, instagrammable picnic or pack a picnic in a backpack and head out to your favorite hiking trail. Whatever you choose to do, our “FREE PRINTABLE Picnic Checklist” will make planning and prepping your next picnic adventure so much easier. You can find it in the link below!
Food transportation is the most important part on any picnic. What is a picnic without food? You may be asking “What is the best way to transport my food?”. Well, that depends on your situation. It could be a charming picnic basket, a backpack, or a cooler, just to name a few options. Do you want a fancy “Instagram” picnic? Try a charming wicker picnic basket. Do you have a lot of perishable items? Perhaps you need to take a cooler instead. Are you hiking and want to eat on top of a mountain with gorgeous views? We suggest to pack your picnic in a backpack. Are you planning on driving up to the park and eating at a picnic table? Then you just may need some totes or shopping bags to carry all your necessities. Here are our recommended BEST picnic essentials. And remember, perishable items should be kept cold and if you’re planning on eating soup or having hot beverages, be sure to use a thermos to keep everything warm.
The picnic blanket is the second most important part of a picnic. It’s beneficial to have some sort of barrier between you and the ground. It can keep you from getting wet or dirty and it will help keep bugs from getting to your food. Again, there are so many options. You can use things that won’t break the bank or you can invest in something that you’ll use for years. The cheaper options (because you probably already have these in your house) include towels, blankets, tablecloths, bedsheets, or even a tarp. We prefer using a waterproof lined blanket/mat because it will keep you from getting wet but it won’t stick to you like a plastic tablecloth or tarp. These mats vary in price and can be a bit more expensive, but they’re worth it in our opinion. We always leave it in our car just in case we need it. If we’re going for a more instagrammable picnic, we’ll lay cute blankets on top of our waterproof mat to make it look better and then the blankets are protected from getting dirty. Here are our recommended BEST picnic blankets and mats.
When it comes to the menu of the picnic, you can make it as simple or as elaborate as you would like. It can be as easy as peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (pro: no silverware) to a wonderful entrée that has sides and a dessert. A favorite for us is a charcuterie board, which is really just a fancy name for a meat & cheese platter. We like it because A.) It tastes amazing, B.) You don’t need any silverware other than a couple of knives. C.) It’s very pretty. You can check out how to make a charcuterie board if you’re interested in making a charcuterie board for your next picnic. Another option that we enjoy is to order take-out from our favorite restaurant and plate it at picnic. Whatever you decide, be sure to bring whatever specific sauces, condiments, and seasonings that you might need.
For drinks, we would recommend bringing lots of water. You can always bring wine, beer, or sparkling drinks as well. Just don’t forget to bring the appropriate gadget for whatever you choose (i.e. corkscrew, bottle opener, etc.)
The term dinnerware in this instance includes plates, glassware, and cutlery. Choosing dinnerware depends on the vibe that you are going for. For a more casual picnic we suggest bringing disposable dinnerware, or you can elevate it and bring your best China, glasses, and silverware. It’s easy to forget napkins or paper towels, so don’t make the same mistake we did. ;)
Utensils are not necessary for a picnic. You can do sandwiches (i.e. peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, etc.). We love having finger foods that don’t need utensils such as grapes, strawberries, deli meat, cheese, chips, etc., but remember to bring eating utensils & serving utensils if your menu needs it.
Other Kitchen Essentials
A cutting board is a great option to bring on a picnic. You can cut fresh bread or you can use it to display food. I would also recommend bringing kitchen towels. Kitchen towels are a multi use item when it comes to picnics. They’re a wonderful padding for wrapping your plates and glassware in during transit. They also function as a rag if you spill anything. And we like to use them to cover food or drinks if the bees or flies become a nuisance.
We like to bring baby wipes on picnics because they are great for cleaning your hands without having water and soap nearby. Also, bringing zip lock bags to put your dirty cutlery in when you are finished helps to keep your picnic basket clean. Trash bags or plastic bags to throw your trash in after your picnic are also a must. We want to leave nature even better than we found it! Leave no trace.
It’s great when you have a nice atmosphere for a picnic, but atmosphere can be a relative thing depending on what you're trying to achieve. Is your picnic more of a family gathering where you need space to play games like frisbee and corn hole? Or is it more of a romantic setting? Once you figure out the goal of your atmosphere, it will help in planning everything else. Pro TIP: to make it romantic we would suggest battery-operated candles and/or lights, a Bluetooth speaker, and fresh flowers.
Other Misc Essentials
Other essentials will depend on the time of day and/or year that you’ll be having your picnic, but here are a few things that we always take with us. Sunscreen: if the sun will be out, you don’t want to get a sunburn during your picnic. That can turn a nice afternoon into a miserable evening real fast! Bug Spray: I (Nat) always get eaten up, so I HAVE to bring bug spray with me! Otherwise, I can’t really enjoy the picnic. First-Aid: We’ve never actually needed one, but you’d rather be safe than sorry. Flashlight: If you are planning on having a sunset picnic, that usually means that you’re going to be packing up in the dark or very low light, so be sure to pack a flashlight. It will make your life so much easier!
We hope our recommendations help you with your next picnic adventure and make it a little less stressful. Make sure to DOWNLOAD your FREE Printable Picnic Checklist below! It really makes a difference in helping to not forget anything! Remember to tag us in your EPIC picnic photos on Instagram @AdventuresofMattandNat!! We can’t wait to see what you come up with!