Any Minnesotan knows that the winters are long and summers are short, so enjoying the nice weather while it’s here is imperative. Summer months are filled with a lot of activities – from camps, trips to the beach and parks, sports and so much more. If your days are anything like mine, the constant go-go-go means less meals around the table and more meals on-the-go, often from a drive-thru. Why not bring that “around the table” feel to the outdoors with a picnic? Planning a summer picnic can be easy if you follow a few easy steps!
Places to Picnic
The beauty of a picnic is that you can have one pretty much anywhere! Here are a few places of inspiration to enjoy a picnic with your favorite people:
- Your yard. Make any meal special for your kids or significant other by enjoying each others company on a blanket vs. sitting at the dining or patio table.
- Your favorite park. Let your kids run around the playground before enjoying lunch or dinner together. Check out TCMC’s Twin Cities Park Finder for inspiration on great parks in the metro area.
- The beach. I think the beach is the perfect spot for a date night picnic! Just remember the bug spray.
- Your living room floor. If the weather’s too hot, too chilly or too rainy, make your kids’ day by laying a blanket on your living room floor and enjoying a picnic together.
- The ball field. Have kids in soccer or baseball? Why not set up lunch or dinner on a blanket instead of heading to a restaurant? A great way to save some money!
What to Bring
What you bring will really depend upon the time of day you’re eating and who you’re eating with. But here’s some essentials that are great for every picnic:
- A large blanket, preferably one that’s easily washable. Target, Amazon and Walmart have some very cute, affordable picnic blankets that easily fold up when you’re finished and can be thrown in the wash.
- Picnic basket, bag and/or cooler. You’re going to need to something to transport your food and supplies so it’s ideal to look for a large basket (if you’re going for aesthetic), an oversized bag or an easy-to-carry cooler.
- Serving utensils. There’s nothing worse than getting to a picnic and realizing you don’t have the proper silverware, plates or cups. I’d recommend grabbing a plastic or melamine option that can easily be wiped clean and later thrown in the dishwasher. Otherwise a disposable option is always great too.
- Bug spray and/or sunscreen. Depending on when you’re planning your picnic, don’t forget your bug spray and sunscreen!
- Wet wipes. No mom likes having sticky hands and not having access to water. Wet wipes are a must for any picnic outing.
When I think of what to eat at picnics, my mind goes right to finger foods. But you can really bring whatever sounds good to you.
- Charcuterie items. I love the idea of a charcuterie date night (or girls night) picnic. Head to your local deli and stock up on sliced meats and cheeses, olives, veggies and crackers. Don’t forget to grab some dips and dessert! I would also recommend a bottle of your favorite wine.
- Create a theme. Mix it up and choose a theme for your dining experience. Maybe your family really loves Italian food, so make it Italian themed. Breakfast for lunch or dinner? Why not! Is green your kids’ favorite color? Try feasting on all things green (what a great way to get them to eat veggies, right?!).
- Go traditional. If you’re in a pinch, traditional foods are always a good idea too. For me, traditional picnic foods include sandwiches, chips or crackers, fruits and veggies. Ideally, I try to plan items that won’t require silverware and can easily be repacked if it’s not finished (any mom with young kids knows what I’m talking about).
Games & Activities
While food and good conversation are the real stars of a picnic there’s always room for added fun. If you have restless kids like mine, having some type of game or activity for them to enjoy will likely make the picnic experience last longer. Here’s some fun ideas that you can try for your next picnic:
- Scavenger hunt. Write out some things for your kids to go and find while you’re all out enjoying your picnic. If you’re at the beach, have them find seashells, a boat, kids playing in the sand, a lifeguard tower, etc. If you’re at the park, have them search for items like flowers, sand, a playground, pinecones, stop sign, etc.
- Card games. Whether you’re playing with your child(ren), or a date night, a card game is a great way to extend your picnic. Pack a deck of cards, bring UNO, or my favorite Skip-Bo, and enjoy a little friendly competition.
- Bubbles or sidewalk chalk. These items are always a hit for my 4-year-old no matter where we are. Use the chalk to play a game of hopscotch, or draw pretty pictures and words of encouragement that neighbors can enjoy.
- Paints and a canvas. Grab some small canvases from the dollar store, some paints and paint brushes and go to town! I think this would be such a fun idea to do with girlfriends or as a date night, but would be great for kids too.
Keep in mind, whatever you do for your picnic, it’s special because of the people you’re with and the time you’re spending together. It’s a great way to step away from the day-to-day activities that keep summer so busy and allow you to reconnect as a couple or family outside of the same four walls.