Everything You Need to Plan the Perfect Picnic

Everyone loves a good picnic (and if they don’t, they should). Picnics are the perfect combination of delicious food, wonderful friends and the great outdoors. Whether you’re feeling casual or formal, have a reason to celebrate or no reason at all, these portable outdoor parties are always the perfect occasion to relax and enjoy beautiful weather.

While hot dogs on the front lawn make for a fantastic picnic, these tips will help you plan one that’s a little less downhome and a little more Downton Abbey. These are the things you’ll need for a fancy and fun picnic:

Beautiful Location
The location of your picnic sets the tone for your event, so go scouting for a gorgeous local spot. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, take a roadtrip to another beautiful locale. These are the things you should look for:

  • An open area with relatively flat ground. Eating on a hill is never easy.
  • Trees. They’re beautiful to look at and will provide shade if the day gets too warm.
  • Interesting scenery. Lakes, gardens, etc.
  • Nice bathroom facilities. It’s hard to maintain the classiness of the day if there are no bathrooms available.

Picnics require lots of preparation. In addition to the containers and coolers you need to transport the food and keep it at an appropriate temperature, you should also have these items:

  • Basket. The most essential item of a picnic. While any old container will do, a large classic picnic basket will add a lot to the event.
  • Blanket. Gingham is encouraged. If you don’t want to ruin your favorite blanket, bring along a plastic tablecloth to place underneath it.
  • Table service. While you can go the plastic route, bringing real plates, glasses, silverware and serving dishes really ups the elegance factor. Wrap them in your blanket for safe transportation.
  • Extra tools. Don’t forget to bring knives, a cutting board, and a corkscrew.
  • Clean-up supplies. Paper towels, moist towelettes and trash bags will come in handy.
  • Music player. You can go old-school with a stereo or bring speakers for your iPhone. Either way, you’ll appreciate having music at your picnic.

Delicious Food
This is the fun part of the planning. You’ll want foods that pack easily, travel well, can be prepared in advance, are served at room temperature and are easy to eat. If you’re a culinary genius, you can get creative and prepare everything yourself. But if your cooking skills are lacking, you can always pick up something from your favorite restaurant instead. Here are some ideas for your menu:

  • Cheese board. Cheese boards are the perfect combination of simplicity and elegance. Assemble an assortment of artisanal cheese, bread, cured meats and fruit.
  • Salad. Salads are always a lovely addition to a meal. Instead of bringing a lettuce-based salad, consider making one with sturdy vegetables or quinoa as the base. If you need to include a dressing, pack it separately and put it on when you arrive.
  • Sandwiches. Choose a baguette or another hearty bread for your sandwiches. Substitute highly perishable condiments like mayonnaise for pesto. Be sure to have a vegetarian option as well.
  • Small desserts. Macarons, petits fours and mini cupcakes and tarts are delectable and portable.
  • Lemonade and/or wine. What’s a picnic without lemonade? Consider making yours gourmet by infusing it with lavender or hibiscus. A nice rosé wine is also perfect for an afternoon spent in the sunshine.