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What to Bring To a Picnic: The Ultimate Guide To Creating an Unforgettable Picnic Experience

February 12, 2022 7 min read

what to bring to picnic 4 women enjoying cupcakes at a picnic

What to bring to a Picnic A Beginners Guide To Packing For An Outdoor Picnic Away from Home

The big secret to having a fun-filled picnic, whether large or intimate, lies in the preparation, which can be exciting in itself. Knowing who will be at the picnic, the location, and what type of weather to expect on the day will serve you well as your packing guide.  

An outdoor picnic away from home with friends, family, and loved ones can be made more enjoyable and memorable through your attention to detail. 


This is where you can shine by packing all the right goodies for the day.

Good company measures the success of any picnic. 


However, a light and adequate meal complemented with snack items, cold beverages, interactive fun, and lastly, but most importantly, the venue or picnic setting all work together to make a picnic one to remember.


The idea of organizing the perfect picnic can be tough to navigate for first-time picnic organizers or rough and tumble types who are set in their ways and not familiar with the beauty of a well-organized picnic.


To remedy any possible anxiety from flaring up, we've put together a guide that will help you to pack for an outdoor picnic away from the comfort and convenience of your home.

Let's get started.

Where are you holding your picnic and who will be there?

When deciding on a picnic away from home, the initial planning usually revolves around the venue and who you want to invite to the picnic. Everything else depends on these two crucial factors. Let's see how they influence your planning from now on.

what to bring to a picnic: The Picnic venue.

Picnics can be held just about anywhere, from a public city park to a beach setting, or perhaps a lakeside or on a hiking trail with scenic views along a flowing river. 


The list is endless, but the venue must be practical in the sense that it must create part of the ambiance you want to create. 


You may want a laid-back romantic setting as the stage for a big announcement or proposal.


In this case, large open grass areas or an endless white beach might still be appropriate but not essential. Rolling lawns and wide endless beaches are more suited to a picnic for larger groups.


Once you've decided on where to have your picnic and you're not planning a romantic picnic for two, the venue of your choice should have enough open space for a few different casual games like throwing a frisbee or kicking a soccer ball around.


Besides this, other information about the venue like toilet facilities, outdoor tables, and the venue's closing time, if any, will help select the best possible venue.

People enjoying a picnic

Who to invite to your picnic?

Will it be a family get-together with extended family, a combination of different families with young children, or a group of close friends or, just you?


The people you invite to the picnic will determine to a large degree what you'll have to pack for the day. 


Like choosing a venue, deciding on a picnic guest list has many variables to set the tone for food, drinks, and casual entertainment.


A group of friends usually consist of a few close couples, and food and drink preferences might have to be delegated to individual couples. 


Each couple will be responsible for specific items, bringing the picnic together.


Alternatively, each couple will cater for themselves but ultimately share what they've brought along.



A close family picnic is the easiest to arrange. 


It's just mom, dad, and the children out to enjoy the day in a different setting. 


But whoever you choose to have a picnic with, you'll have to consider food and drinks among the many picnic essentials to remember for a fun-filled day.

Picnic essential not to leave home without.

So, you've decided on a venue and who will make up your picnic party. The next step is to create a checklist.


I know, it's only a picnic, but it's away from all your home creature comforts, and you don't want to complicate your time out because you forgot the corkscrew or serving spoons. 


A basic checklist helps to cover most eventualities away from home. 


Here is a list of essential items; however, some may not be needed on the day but remain necessary to have on hand.

  • A picnic blanket. Lying on a picnic blanket and gazing up at the sky is synonymous with picnics. Picnic blankets also serve as the setting for your food, drinks, and board games if you're so inclined. If you're using a throw or large blanket, it's a good idea to have a tarp or some type of waterproofing to set down on damp grass or sand first before you spread your picnic blanket over it.
  • A picnic basket, cooler box, and carry bag. For all your food, drinks, cutlery, and fun items.
  • Ice packs in your cooler box.  
  • A first-aid kit. You may not use it, but it is always a good idea to have one with you.
  • Trash bags. For all your trash. Leave your picnic spot clean for others to enjoy. 
  • Picnic chairs. Although not essential for everyone, older folks and those with medical conditions may prefer a camping chair. If you're taking camping chairs, a portable table may complete the setting. 
  • Napkins. Wet wipes come in handy, especially if you're having a finger lunch.
  • A few dishtowels. You can use them to buffer items packed in your picnic basket, and later you can use them to cover the food to keep bugs at bay.
  • Toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Be prepared at all times. It will help you avoid embarrassing situations and ensure your hygiene simultaneously.
  • Plastic food containers. For leftover food but not essential if you've packed your food in containers to start with.
  • Sunscreen and hats. Protects your skin and eyes when you're out in the sun for long periods.
  • A flashlight. You might need it if the fun goes beyond sunset.

The above list gives you an idea of what you'll generally need for a picnic, but the list can be modified to include activities around your picnic. 


A family or group of friends may decide to go kayaking for the day and include a picnic lunch in the afternoon as part of the day's itinerary. 


In this case, you'll still need the essential checklist but will have to include water safety items as well. 

Picnic essentials

Picnic food and drink ideas.

Picnic food is mostly ready-to-serve food items prepared beforehand or purchased from your local deli.


But you may want to light a small camp-style fire to roast marshmallows on as a final treat rounded off with stories or just good conversation. A few good food ideas that are easy to prepare are:

  • Homemade mini pies, cold meat sandwiches, sausage rolls, and chicken drumsticks
  • Wraps assembled at your picnic from an assortment of meats, condiments like pickled gherkins and fresh lettuce, freshly sliced cheese (don't forget a cheese knife and cutting board), and your favorite bottled sauces.
  • Finger foods like salt tarts or make a batch of crusty pies with a filling of salami, spinach, basil, pesto, and mozzarella. Bacon-wrapped chicken strips with a sweet and sour dip or conventions pork and chicken nuggets with a few different dip options are always a winner.
  • A glazed rack of ribs cut up into individual pieces with an assortment of cheeses and a loaf of fresh bread or buns from the bakery makes for a filling addition to the spread. 
  • Pasta salad, potato salads, and carrot salad can be made the night before and chilled in the fridge. Wrap the sealed container in glad wrap and pop them in your cooler box to keep them chilled. 
  • Chilled treats for dessert can either be made at home or purchased from your local bakery. Traybakes and loaf cakes are ideal, as are cupcakes and other sweet delights. 

Using the proper containers to store and transport your food is essential. Glass Pyrex bowls with plastic lids are ideal for most food items that need to be kept chilled. 


Although it's more weight to carry, glass tends to keep food chilled longer than plastic containers. 

Picnic drinks for those summer days.

Staying hydrated while out in the sun should be the theme for every summer picnic.


Besides taking enough bottled water along, you can select an array of fruit and carbonated cool drinks already in small capped bottles to spare the spills if children are part of your picnic. 


Here are a few other ideas:

  • Flavored iced teas.
  • Sundowner drinks like G&Ts or a spritzer.
  • A bottle or two of bubbly or a classic wine.
  • Some might prefer their favorite brew (beer)
  • A summer punch made from your desired mix.

The perfect blanket for the perfect blanket

Rounding off the perfect picnic.

Picnics are about coming together and enjoying the company of friends, family, and loved ones over good food and sweet treats topped with good conversation and an activity or two for added fun. 


This is the recipe for a memorable picnic, but the beauty of it all is the freedom you have to spice up this social outing.


How you prepare for a picnic will become evident on the day. 


The more organized you are, the more you will relax and enjoy the day. 


Let your hair down, enjoy the sun, and smile at how easy it is to bring people together under the banner of a simple picnic. 


The atmosphere you helped create is the cherry on the cake.  

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