Life’s no picnic, but planning a picnic just may be the stress relieving spark your family is searching for this summer. Whether your outing is for two or twenty, executing the perfect summer picnic takes effort and planning. To make things simple, we’ve narrowed this guide down to the 3 P’s of Picnicking: the place, the plan and the preparation. As long as you keep these 3 P’s in mind, you and the family are sure to have the time of your lives on a wonderful picnic adventure!
Whether it’s a backyard, a farmhouse or a beautiful public park, any place can be transformed into the perfect spot for a family picnic. However, when choosing between a couple different options, there are a few important factors to consider:
Weather – First, the place should suit all attendees as well as the time of the year. Typically, summer is the best time to plan a picnic. If it’s going to be hot out, think about choosing a location with lots of sunshine and trees for shade. Don’t forget the suntan lotion!
Activities – While picking a park with lots of flowers and beautiful scenery may sound good to you, remember you won’t be the only one attending the picnic. If you have kids and athletes in your family, you may want to think about picking a park with tennis, basketball or other sport courts. However, a good old fashioned wiffle ball and plastic bat on an open field is often enough to assuage the appetite of a competitive sports fanatic.
Amenities – Picnic foods come in all shapes and sizes. While some of us prefer easy meals like sandwiches and fruit, sometimes dad just wants to grill up some hot dogs and burgers. When that’s the case, you better make sure the location you chose has onsite cooking provisions. If not, you’ll have to bring your own portable grill or barbeque at home.
Distance – Be sure to choose a place that is relatively close to everyone that plans on coming. Time spent on the road is time wasted and there’s nothing kids hate more than long car rides.
As a wise man once said, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. That means that if you’re bent on throwing a successful picnic shindig, you better be sure to chalk out a detailed plan ahead of time. The plan would start by including the date and day, all the items you want to bring along and finally the activities you feel like hosting at the picnic.
Try to pick a day that is convenient, yet unimportant because you want to be sure people are available. A lazy summer day or weekend often presents the perfect opportunity. The items, on the other hand, should include but are not limited to:
- Blanket or table
- Clean-up materials
- Eating utensils (if necessary)
- Bug spray and sunscreen
- Activity or sports equipment
After you’ve packed the essentials, remember to consider the people that will be attending your picnic. Plan to bring additional items that may be needed for children and elders if you feel you should. Music fanatics, don’t forget to bring a stereoyou’re your favorite tunes! (One good idea is to make a perpetual list, meaning you list everything you pack for your first picnic, then after you come home you can add things you wished you had brought. Then the next time you are planning a picnic, you do not have to go through the entire process over again.)
The activities for the picnic need to be planned out. Now, this can be something as simple as a football for the kids or something as inclusive as a board game that everyone can play. Whatever that activity may be, make sure you have an idea and some equipment in mind BEFORE you head to the park. Trust us, you’ll wish you brought something for the kids to play with when you’re just trying to catch up with that friend you never get to see anymore and little Timmy won’t leave you alone.
Finally, we reach arguably everyone’s favorite section: the food! When it comes to the preparation of your picnic food, attention to detail is important. There’s nothing worse than planning an activity, then realizing your one sandwich short of a picnic (and don’t worry, that wasn’t a shot at your intelligence).
Let’s face it, we’ve all got our preferences. There’s dozens, hundreds, possibly even thousands of different options from which to choose when deciding the courses for your picnic adventure. We won’t even begin to say that we know what the best food for your picnic will be. What we will do is provide you with some basic and creative ideas to get the ball rolling.
Here’s a list of some of our favorite picnic foods:
- Potato Salad – would a picnic really be a picnic without one? If you’re looking to transform this picnic favorite into something a little leaner, try using a low fat mayo or substituting some fat free sour cream for part of the oil ingredient.
- Watermelon – not only does it taste delicious, but it’s good for you too. Not to mention it’s a great form of refreshment for kids that have been running around in the sun for a few hours.
- Pinwheel Sandwiches – Picnics call for something unique and a clever twist to your basic sandwich provides a perfect way to surprise your guests. (Also available at your local market. Don’t worry, we won’t tell).
- Grilled Goodies – A hot entrée such as burgers or hot dogs can add a whole new dimension to your basic picnic. If you’re worried about health, try turkey burgers and chicken breasts instead.
- Lemonade – While not technically a food, we figured our list would be incomplete without it. It’s like summer in a glass and when made correctly, can be the hit of any summer picnic.
In our mind, picnic food should be all about ease. Let’s be honest, picnics aren’t really about the food, if anything it’s an afterthought. Just be sure to choose an option that won’t cause you too much stress so you can enjoy your relaxing day outside.
Well there you have it folks, a simple guide to the perfect summer picnic. Time to get started! Remember to keep the three P’s in mind and good luck on your exciting picnic adventure.