It’s time to stock up the cooler, spread out the blanket and bask in the sunshine…because tomorrow is International Picnic Day! And with the official start of summer occurring on June 21, a whole season of picnicking is about to begin. So here are our top ten picnic tips to get you perfectly prepared:
1. Keep it simple. Stick to a menu of summertime favorites that you can serve all at the same time. Guests can leisurely help themselves while you kick back and relax.
2. Make things interesting. Even classics like fried chicken, watermelon and potato salad can be updated with a new recipe. Or visit your local deli or gourmet market for a picnic made by pros.
3. Cool it. Freeze bottles of water or juice to use as ice packs until they’re ready to drink. Ice the cooler several hours beforehand to keep it colder longer, but be sure to keep some ice separate to put in drinks.
4. Pack wisely. Use lidded plastic containers to keep things fresh and prevent spills. Pack dressings separately to avoid soggy salads. For condiments, many brands now offer convenient “picnic packs.” But you still can’t beat individual fast food packets, so save your extras!
5. Keep it light. Once you consolidate your supplies, make sure they’re simple to carry and not too heavy. Some picnic spots are quite a hike.
6. Set the table or blanket. Bring extra plates or platters for serving, large spoons for salads, at least one sharp knife, and an opener for wine or bottles. To keep things organized, put food and drinks in separate coolers.
7. Be prepared. Sunscreen, bug spray, a waterproof picnic blanket, umbrellas and a first aid kit should protect you from most of the elements.
8. Avoid these. Foods that don’t transport well (ice cream, puddings, frosted cakes) should stay off the menu. And keep in mind that sweet and sticky tends to attract wasps and bees.
9. Clean up. You can never have enough hand wipes—especially if you opt for barbeque. And be sure to bring extra bags for leftover food and trash.
10. Stay flexible. Even the best laid plans—and picnics—are weather dependent, but no one ever said you can’t picnic indoors. If the skies turn stormy, move the meal inside, lay the blanket on the floor and stay in the summertime spirit!