June 18 is International Picnic Day! The origin of this official date is yet to be confirmed, but many speculate it started after the French Revolution and gained popularity during the Victorian era. It was a time to enjoy the warm weather and get away from the formalities of everyday life. A respite, if you will. People gathered in parks, laid out their blankets and baskets filled with cold cuts, pies, and fresh fruit, and relished the time spent together.
You can celebrate the joyful spirit of a sunny-day picnic any summer’s day. Here are five planning tips to help you put together the perfect picnic gathering.
You can host a picnic get together almost anywhere. A local park with shade trees makes for an ideal picnic spot, but you could also throw a blanket down in your backyard or stretch a tablecloth over a park table. If you live next to a beach, pack some umbrellas and fold up chairs, but keep in mind the possibility of sand in your food. You could also set up a rented tent in an outdoor area to provide shade, and shelter if the summer skies turn to rain.
Make it a potluck or pack simple-to-put-together fresh foods: a loaf of bread, condiments, cold cuts, fresh fruit, salads (potato, macaroni, cobb, etc.), hard boiled eggs. If you want to get fancy, but not too complicated, consider a roasted chicken that’s been cut into slices so that guests can either eat as is or create a sandwich from. Drinks can be simple too; a container of lemonade is refreshing on a summer’s day, and water (even sparkling) is always a viable option. If alcohol is your cup of tea, bring a chilled rose or your favorite beer. If you would like some recipe ideas for simple, portable menu items, check out Martha Stewart’s advice.
Write a packing list and check it twice! You don’t want to get to the park only to find that you have forgotten the paper towels and bread knives. A few essentials you can add to the list: food and beverages, cold packs or ice for chilling, salt and pepper, condiments, tableware, cleanup items, bug spray/citronella candles, sunblock, and of course the blanket/tablecloth. For a detailed picnic packing list, visit Real Simple’s Picnic Packing Checklist.
What would a picnic be without fun outdoor activities? These can include physical activities like a frisbee toss, volleyball, croquet, relay races, bean bag toss, and badminton. If you want to keep the games more relaxed, but still entertaining, pack a board game, cards, or check out this list of picnic games for adults.
With these five tips you will be on your way to creating a summer get together that celebrates sunny skies, outdoor fun, friendship, and the joy of a picnic in the park (or wherever it happens to be!). Have fun!