“Picnic,” as defined by dictionary.com is, an excursion or outing in which the participants carry food with them and share a meal in the open air.
But also remember the informal definition, “an enjoyable experience or time, easy task!”
This Fourth of July holiday, keep the process of toting that outdoor meal enjoyable and easy – make sure your picnic is a “picnic!”
If you google, “Picnic Essentials,” the first pass offers items to purchase for an Instagram-worthy picnic. Vogue, Lauren Conrad, and La Crema all weigh in with products and, I have to admit, the bamboo wine table for the sand is actually super-cute! There is an endless parade of “must-have” picnic gadgets and linens of red, white, and blue. Pinterest is practically exploding with festive inspiration!
The patriotic product possibilities and recipes are endless! For easy outdoor fun this summer you are going to want to narrow down your options. But how?
My advice here is simple. For every decision you make while preparing for your Fourth of July Picnic, you will ultimately be better organized if you remember these three things from the definition of the word, “picnic”:
1. Carry food
2. Share a meal
3. Open air
As you set about shopping and preparing for your picnic this holiday weekend, keep reminding yourself – your delicious fare is to be carried, shared, and eaten outside – with ease.
1. CARRYING THE FOOD – Most importantly, you will need something to carry the food. How far will you be carrying it? You have my permission to dispense with the traditional wicker basket in favor of a cooler on wheels, or a wagon and backpacks, especially if you will be toting heavier drinks, bags of ice, lawn chairs, and blankets. Use Instagram-worthy “picnic essentials” to tote smaller fare. As you decide on your menu keep thinking, “How are we going to carry it?”
How you carry your food also involves whether dishes need to be kept at a certain temperature to be eaten safely. Select a sweet, savory, crunchy, variety of foods, but simplify by choosing less delicate options. It is much easier to pack and carry picnic food if you aren’t fretting about it getting crushed or cooling off too fast. (Frozen water bottles keep food cold, but condensate as then melt, so be sure to wrap them! Prevent 7 Food Picnic Safety Mistakes)
On the back end, remember you may also be carrying leftovers back out. Anticipate the end of the night. What will you wish you had to help protect the insides of your bags for sloppy leftovers? A few garbage bags? Will you be packing up in the dark? Yes, you can use the flashlight on your phone, but it might also be better to keep that safely in your pocket and have a sturdy flashlight on hand as you wrap things up.
SHARING A MEAL – A picnic is about eating and drinking together, so whatever food and drink you are toting, keep in mind that it should be in shareable form. As you consider what to serve, anticipate how it will come OUT of the containers for more than one person! Make sure you pack enough serving spoons, forks, tongs, cups, etc. because you won’t be able to reach in a drawer or cabinet and grab them!
If possible, pack the food in the order it will be eaten, so you don’t have to take everything out at once. Keep the lighter pre-meal snacks on top and sturdy, simple desserts on the bottom. Think about where you will “stage” the food. Will picnic goers be filling their own plates? Do you have options for those with food allergies?
Also consider how much mess and sticky can you tolerate. For example, if you are doing watermelon, you may be better off cutting it up ahead of time and packing it into a container to avoid dealing with all the drippy rinds. However, this could lead to having to deal with drippy containers, so consider placing the cut watermelon container inside an extra plastic bag to catch spillage. Perhaps you will decide to forgo watermelon altogether and share grapes instead!
ENJOY THE OPEN AIR – Consider food that is comfortable to eat outside. From your lap! Skip the recipes that call for raspberries, spaghetti-type cold pastas, and runny sauces – stick with sturdier options.
What impact will the weather have on what you are carrying and sharing? Have a plan for keeping food cool and dry. Grab enough blankets to sit on and consider waterproof options. (Perhaps lay blankets on top of a tarp?)
Don’t forget the bugs! Because you will be carrying and sharing food outside, the bugs will be along for the ride. Have lids or wrap to cover food to keep those curious flies and bees away.
Also important about eating in the open air is COMFORT! Pack hats and umbrellas to keep off the sun while you eat and extra sweatshirts, blankets in case the evening air gets chilly. Pack mosquito repellent, moist towels for clean-ups, and even a small “first aid” kit.
I hope organizing your picnic is a real “walk in the park!” Please share your own tried and true “pic-a-nic” tips and recipes in the comments! Yogi Bear and Boo Boo will appreciate it 🙂