Memorial Day is a benchmark; winter is gone, spring has passed, and summer is on its way. You may be getting your beach-body toned, bringing out the patio furniture, or just getting the lawnmower working again. If there is one thing you are going to work on, it should be your picnic skills. Picnics are a great way to bring loved ones together without the hassle of hosting an obnoxious party. If you think a towel in the sand and a cheeseboard is going to suffice, you are sorely mistaken. Step up your game and picnic like a pro.
Where You Picnic Matters
The great part about picnics is you can set up shop just about anywhere. With that in mind, you need to think outside of the box. If your friends are meeting up with you to sit on a blanket outside, you might as well be somewhere cool! National and state parks, statues, monuments, somewhere along the water, perhaps near a cliff edge if no young children attend. Imagine having a picnic at the Hoover Dam or just outside the gates of Mount Rushmore? Depending on the vibrations you seek, the location will set the standard for your picnic. You have to decide if meeting at a square space in the middle of the city, a cut-in on the waterfront, or out in the middle of nowhere is appropriate for your picnic.
Less is More
It can be easy to let your picnic go off the rails, especially if you love planning events and bringing people together. Think of your picnic as if you are grilling out remote; you don’t want to get anything you don’t need. Avoid preparing meals that are messy and require utensils; try to keep the food items to finger food that most of your guests will enjoy. Don’t be afraid to tell your guests they have to bring their own chairs or beverages; they can’t expect you to do everything. It is okay to delegate tasks, such as getting a table, games, and other picnic necessities, to other people. When everyone has some skin in the game, it brings the group of people closer together.
Tips, Tricks, and Schemes
Picnics have been around for what seems like forever, so naturally, people have come up with ways to make it easier. For example, if there was some unforeseen rain and the grass is wet, throw a shower curtain underneath your towel or blanket as an insulator. No one likes when a bee flies into their drink; use a cupcake liner over the mouth of the can to protect from pests. Fun fact, you can even find plastic lids that attach to the top of the can and cover the mouthpiece when you’re not sipping! Additionally, defeat your functional fixedness; use the six-pack as your silverware caddy. An egg carton can be used to transport hors d’oeuvres from your house to the picnic. Furthermore, instead of having two people carry a heavy cooler full of ice and drinks, freeze your water bottles, so they melt throughout the day, giving you cold water and freeing up two sets of hands.
The ‘Red Flower’
Everyone loves a fire, especially if you plan on picnicking into the night. You can cook over it, gather around it, and bugs don’t like the smoke! Do your homework and make sure where your picnicking allows visitors to have open fires or grills. If you intend to haul in firewood, make sure you’re obeying all local and state laws to prevent the spread of invasive species. Also, possibly more important, make sure your picnic spot is close to where you’re parking. You might have to make two trips, and walking a few miles one way just to load it can quickly ruin your experience.
If it Can’t Burn, Don’t Bring it
Remember, all your trash has to get packed out. So, the best way to circumnavigate hauling out your trash is to burn it! You will want to bring a roll of trash bags to throw all your trash in if you are in an area where you cannot have a fire. Also, bring the least amount of trash with you. If food items are in a plastic or cardboard box, find a different way to mass-store and transport your food to lighten your trash load. Instead of an aesthetic basket, use a backpack. It might not look as pretty on Instagram, but remember, no one cares, and it’s about making your life easier.
Picnics Are Like Parties; They’re More Fun with a Theme!
Now that you know how to picnic like a pro, it’s time to get good at the non-required picnic skills. When you have a theme, it gives your guests something to expect and boosts morale. You can have a Greek toga theme, like Animal House. Or you could have a 60s or 70s themed party; it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be super crazy; just pick a theme that you know people will support and get behind; nothing is worse than a theme that no one wants to sport.
Get Weird With it
Afternoon picnics are convenient; everyone can sleep in, come and go as they please, and it’s an acceptable time of day to drink alcohol. But if you can get your friends to get their butts out of bed in the morning, a breakfast or brunch picnic is an excellent way to start your day outside with a communal cup of coffee. If you aren’t a morning person, try a late-evening picnic and watch the sunset. You are definitely going to want to dress in layers, pants, long sleeves, a hoodie, and insect repellant. If you plan on hanging around after the sun sets, you might want to consider bringing wood for a fire to keep the energy level high.