The Portable Vacation: How to Plan the Perfect Picnic 

Don’t you just love a good picnic? They are the age-old, quintessential form of relaxation.

With a little preparation and the right equipment, a picturesque, al fresco meal is totally achievable!

I am going to share some helpful tips for packing a picnic, as well as sample menus for a variety of picnic themes with links to some awesome recipes.

If you live in the Tampa Bay area, Kate Spade (located in International Plaza), is hosting an exciting shopping event (*UPDATE* Event has ended) on May 26th from 5-8 p.m. to include a drawing for a Kate Spade picnic blanket and tumbler. This thing is seriously darling.

Kate Spade

It has a water-resistant nylon underside, wipeable surface, and neatly stows away in the matching drawstring bag. At $45, you might just want to buy one for yourself now.

I think the reason picnics are such a success when it comes to entertaining is because the main attraction is being outdoors and that part has already been done for you! All you have to do is pick the scenery, and provide the feast (this part is much easier than you think).

First, a few tips on the whole endeavor:

Set the mood: Kid friendly? Casual and classic? Paris-chic? Romantic and elegant? Set the scene with fresh flowers, lounging pillows or cushions, a great playlist and appropriate place settings (in other words, if you’re going for romantic and elegant, ditch the paper plates).

Anticipate nature: Check the weather and be prepared. Insect repellent, citronella candles (here’s a cool DIY version), portable canopy, portable fantablecloth clips (on a windy day), sunscreen, or blankets (if it’s chilly).

Control the mess: Hand sanitizer, napkins, wipes, and a trash bag. If you are bringing non-disposable place-settings then be sure to bring a resealable plastic bag to contain the dirty dishes until you get back to your kitchen sink.

Food preservation: Whether you’re packing a traditional wicker picnic basket, a cooler, or something innovative like this backpack, it’s really less about what you’re packing into, and more about how you’re packing it. Keeping your food the right temperature is essential. For cold things: Re-freezable ice packs are a great start. You can also freeze plastic bottles of water; they keep your food cold until you are ready to eat, and become the perfect, ice-cold thirst-quencher by the end of your outing. There are even freezable totes to keep your wine or 6-pack cold! Thermoses are great for keeping things hot.

I created some sample menus as a springboard to help you start planning your perfect picnic. Each of these menus have a great balance of easy, no-prep food and food you can make ahead of time. All of these recipes hold up well and won’t get soggy during transportation.

Italian Summer Picnic

Italian Summer Picnic

Pandora Station: Italian Cooking Music

Setting the Table: Red Gingham tablecloth and napkins, White Plates, Unbreakable Stemless Wineglasses, Silverware (or the disposable version),

Flowers: Sunflowers

To drink: Sangria (make your own or buy my favorite)

First Course: Red and Green Grapes, Cheeses, Crostini or Crackers, Charcuterie (pack on ice, let cheese rest at room temp for 10 minutes before serving)

image

Main Course: Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables (pack on ice, serve cold or room temp)

Roasted Vegetable Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta

Dessert: Mocha Custards in mason jars (serve cold)

Mocha Custard


The Perfect Picnic for Littles

Pandora Station: Kids Beat Radio

Setting the Table: Colorful Reusable Tableware, Compact Picnic Blanket Tote,

Flowers: Daisies

To Drink: Juice Boxes

First Course: Seedless watermelon wedges, cheese sticks

Main Course: PBJ Skewers, Clementines (peel ahead), chips (veggie chips are a healthy option)

Dessert: Mini S’more Pies or M&M Cookies (these are ridiculously good, not just for kids)


Classics with a Twist Picnic

Pandora Station: Artist: Vitamin String Quartet

Setting the Table: Round Boho Beach Towel, Blue Chevron Bamboo Forks, Brown Paper Trays,

Flowers: Orange tipped yellow tulips

To Drink: Bottled fruit sodas or fruit infused sparkling water, such as Izze brand

First Course: Pineapple Salsa and Chips (bonus points for this salsa bowl being decorative & disposable!)

Main Course: Hot Ham and Cheese Rolls (assemble ahead, bake at the last minute, cover tightly with foil), Mason Jar Taco Salads

Dessert: Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut-Butter Cookies or Spiced Up Brownies


I Eat Healthy Picnic

Pandora Station: Jazz Covers Pop Radio or Indie Folk Revival Radio

Setting the Table: Grass is Greener Blanket, Compostable Palm Leaf Dinner Plates

Flowers: Hydrangeas

To Drink: Spiced Thyme and Lime Iced Tea

First Course: Shrimp Cocktail (here are 3 sauce options), Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs

Main Course: Farro Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Dessert: Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (if there are any leftover, they might be delicious for breakfast…maybe…I wouldn’t know from having actually eaten cookies for breakfast)


 

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5 comments

  1. awhiskandtwowands says:

    So many delicious recipes, thank you for including one of mine! Can’t wait to try some out now that the weather is nice enough!

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