10 Tips for a Successful Family Picnic
July 17th, 2013 posted by Rebecca Brea
The summer picnic is a time honored way of bringing family and friends together with delicious food and the great outdoors. Whether it’s a romantic picnic for two or a rollicking family reunion, following a few simple guidelines can make this summer classic safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone:
1. Check out your destination: Know where you’re going, and if you need a park permit to enter the grounds. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines for grilling and cooking at your destination.
2. The comforts of home, outdoors: Want to curl up with a good book or take a nap after a meal al fresco? Be sure to pack picnic blankets (and plastic sheeting to place under the blanket if the ground is damp), an umbrella, folding chairs, cushions or pillows. String up a hammock between two trees if you have one. Also, throw in a couple of rolls of toilet paper – sometimes public bathrooms in parks and picnic areas can be lacking in this amenity!
3. Prepare for nature and emergencies: Take along plenty of sunscreen and insect repellant, and remember that younger children have greater needs in the summer sun. Citronella candles can help keep the insects at bay. Along with the bandages and antibiotic ointment in the first aid kit, remember to include antibacterial gel and wipes, allergy medications and antihistamines, and an EPI pen if someone in your party has a prescription for it.
4. Stay hydrated: Nothing puts a damper on the party like a bunch of thirsty people and not enough drinks to go around. Count up your picnickers and make sure to pack enough beverages, especially water: determine how much water you’ll need and then increase your supply by freezing extra water bottles to double as ice packs in the picnic cooler.
5. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold: Be sure to stow your cooler in the shade whenever possible, and don’t leave food out of the cooler or off the grill for more than two hours. Perishables such as hamburger patties, hot dogs, cold cuts and chicken should be packed in an insulated cooler with plenty of ice (or frozen water bottles or gel packs). Cooked perishables like fried chicken, potato and pasta salads must be kept cold too.
6. Don’t forget the condiments: If you are packing already opened condiments straight from your refrigerator, remember that they also must stay cold; pack bottles of ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, salad dressings and other sauces in zipper seal bags so they don’t accidentally open and squirt all over everything!
7. Serving and eating your picnic feast: Make sure there are enough utensils to go around – potato salad is usually not considered a finger food! Pack tablecloths, plastic forks, knives and spoons; paper plates and plastic cups; several serving spoons for different dishes and salads; knives for cutting meats; bottle opener/corkscrew; napkins and rolls of paper towels.
8. Pack easy-serve desserts: Brownies, cookies, mini-pastries, bars and cupcakes are easier to serve than whole cakes or pies that have to be cut, plated and (usually) eaten with utensils. Check out these Top 10 Summer Picnic Desserts for inspiration.
9. Everybody plays: Whip up everyone’s appetite with a variety of outdoor games! Along with the traditional frisbee toss, think about badminton, croquet, volleyball, football or softball. If the kids (and adults) want to change into their bathing suits and board shorts, water guns, spray bottles, or a water balloon toss can be a fun way to cool off before and after the picnic feast.
10. Clean up time: Bring trash bags to clean up and sort out recyclables at the end of the day, and pack a box of zipper seal gallon bags to store leftovers.