The weather is finally starting to warm and give hints of summer (although the snow on the rooftops this morning in my neighborhood wouldn’t make you think that) and it’s time to start thinking picnics!
There are so many options for picnics…
* Dining on your own patio/deck/backyard
* Daytime lunch picnics at the park
* Evening concerts in the park
* Lazy afternoons at the beach or the lake
In my younger days living in Chicago I loved the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park. My friends and I would pack up bottles of wine, fruit, and sandwiches with our blankets and bug spray and enjoy awesome concerts under the stars. Girls’ Night Out at Ravinia have been replaced by family friendly movies and concerts in our local park but the enjoyment of being outside has not changed.
The only thing that brings down the otherwise festive atmosphere is the hectic hour before we leave gathering all the necessary gear and food while corralling children into the car or wagons.
If you like to picnic and plan to do so this summer, take time this month to prepare for all those festivals and outings (like Independence Day Fireworks) coming soon.
Next, gather all that you need to have a great picnic. Here are my suggestions for staples:
- Blanket(s). Some places my have picnic tables but even so, a blanket can come in handy when it gets a bit chilly. My favorite blankets are washable and thick (to keep out the moisture from damp grass).
- Plastic Sheet or Tarp. If you live in an area known for lots of summer rain (not you, Coloradoans!) you’ll probably want something to go under your blankets.
- Citronella Candle. Bugs can ruin an outing quickly. Keep them at bay. This adorable candle-in-can from Crate & Barrel is a great way to go. They are inexpensive enough you can buy a few and keep them on hand. Don’t forget the matches!
- Bug Spray. An extra layer of protection.
- Sun Screen.
- Umbrella. You may just need to make a mad dash to the car in the rain. Make it a little less crazy with an umbrella.
- Trash Bags. All those food wrappers need to go somewhere! Instead of making 10 trips to the trash can, fill your bag and then dump it all at once.
- Sweater or Sweatshirt. Even in summer, it can get quite cool once the sun goes down. If you came in shorts and a tank top you might need a little something to help you make it through to the end of the show.
- Collapsible Chairs. Some type of camping chair works great. I’ve found the older I get, the less I like sitting on hard ground for several hours.
- Flashlight. If you do evening picnics (like for concerts) this can help as you pick up all your gear at the end of the night and make your way back to the car.
- Cork Screw. If you are a wine drinker, this essential will be sorely missed.
- Paper/Plastic Goods. Be extra prepared by having the napkins, forks, knifes, spoons, and plates already packed in your bag. Don’t forget a few cups or glasses for wine or other drinks.
- Sharp Knife. The plastic knives will work fine for eating but you may want to share your apple or cut open a package of treats. Don’t bring your $200 Wusthof knife. Grab an inexpensive one at the store just for keeping in your picnic kit. Bonus points if you put it in a little plastic box to keep little hands from getting cut while reaching into your tote.
- Wet Wipes. Baby wipes are great for this. Kids tend to find the messiest item in any picnic area (and adults could probably use a wipe too.)
- Hand Sanitizer. Your kid just gave a big hug to the Border Collie the next picnic blanket over and they are about to eat their sandwich…
- Ziploc Bags. I always find empty bags to come in handy. They are great for holding left over food and the miscellaneous “treasures” that kids seem to acquire.
- Something Fun. A frisbee, deck of cards or other small item can help pass the time as you wait during intermissions.
- Kids Essentials. If you have kids, especially babies or toddlers, you’ll probably need a few spare diapers and a change of pants & underpants. You probably don’t need a complete diaper bag but the essentials are good for your picnic bag.
Having your gear bag packed, all you’ll need to get ready for a picnic is the food and the friends and family.
And remember… when you get home you need to restock the bag with anything you used up.