Things You May Need On A Picnic

Written by: Kaushik Jethva

Last Updated: January 23, 2024

image of man packing picnic basket at car trunk
image of man packing picnic basket at car trunk

Picnics are a delightful way to bring people together outdoors, offering a blissful escape from daily life and a chance to relish nature and good food. The key to a memorable picnic, however, lies in thoughtful preparation. Proper planning not only enhances comfort and convenience but also prevents those moments of realization that something crucial was left behind.

This guide is designed to be your essential companion in picnic preparation. We’ll navigate through a comprehensive checklist of things you may need on a picnic, covering everything from necessities to additional thoughtful touches, ensuring your next outdoor dining experience is perfect. Pack your basket and let’s embark on this journey to perfect your picnic essentials!

1 Choosing the Right Location

Factors to Consider

When it comes to picnicking, location is key. The right spot can elevate your picnic from a simple meal to an unforgettable experience. Consider these factors when choosing your location:

  • Scenery: The backdrop of your picnic contributes significantly to the atmosphere. Are you in the mood for a beach view, a serene park, a hilltop overlooking the city, or a quiet spot by a river? Choose a scene that fits the vibe you’re going for.
  • Accessibility: How easy is it to get to your chosen location? Consider the distance, the mode of transport, and the effort required to reach there. A remote spot might offer stunning views but think about the feasibility, especially if you’re carrying a lot of items.
  • Facilities: Check if the location has essential facilities like public restrooms, trash disposal areas, picnic tables, or sheltered spots in case of unexpected weather. These amenities can greatly impact the comfort and convenience of your picnic.

Suggestions for Finding Ideal Picnic Spots

idyllic picnic spot with wooden bench and table with nice view on alpine pastures and hill top in the swiss alps
Idyllic picnic spot with wooden bench and table with nice view on alpine pastures and hill top in the Swiss Alps

Finding the perfect picnic spot can be an adventure in itself. Here are some suggestions to help you discover great locations:

  • Online Research: Websites and social media platforms are treasure troves of information. Look for recommendations on local travel blogs, community forums, or social media groups.
  • Parks and Recreation Departments: Your local parks and recreation department can provide information about public parks and picnic areas, including those with special amenities.
  • Word of Mouth: Sometimes, the best spots are known through local knowledge. Ask friends and family for their favourite picnic locations.

Your choice of location directly influences the kind of picnic essentials you’ll need. For instance, a beach picnic might require items like a sunshade or a sand-proof blanket, while a woodland retreat might call for bug-repellent and sturdy containers to keep wildlife away from your food. As we delve into the list of picnic essentials in the next section, keep your chosen location in mind, as it will shape your picnic preparation needs.

2 The Picnic Basket: Packing the Basics

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Wicker baskets with tasty food and drink for romantic picnic in park

Types of Picnic Baskets and Bags

The quintessential element of any picnic is the basket or bag that carries all your goodies. Choosing the right one is not just a matter of style, but also functionality. Here are some options:

  • Traditional Wicker Baskets: These classic baskets are not only picturesque but also sturdy. They often come with a flat base, which is great for keeping dishes level.
  • Insulated Picnic Bags: If you’re planning to carry perishable food or want to keep drinks cold, an insulated bag is a must-have. These bags are lightweight and easy to carry.
  • Backpack-Style Picnic Bags: For those who prefer a hands-free option, especially if your location is a bit of a hike, a backpack-style bag is ideal.
  • Collapsible Baskets and Coolers: These are perfect for saving space and are suitable for larger groups where more storage is needed.

Essential Items for Every Picnic Basket

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Summertime picnic on the grass with basket, salad, fruit and accessories

Regardless of your choice of basket or bag, certain essentials should always be packed:

  • Food Containers: Opt for airtight containers to keep food fresh and prevent leaks. Consider the nature of your food items when selecting containers – sandwiches might need different containers compared to fruits or salads.
  • Utensils and Napkins: Pack enough cutlery for everyone – forks, spoons, and knives, depending on your menu. Don’t forget to serve utensils! Cloth napkins can be a more sustainable and elegant alternative to paper ones.
  • Drinks and Coolers: Hydration is key. Bring along water, juices, or other beverages. If your picnic bag isn’t insulated, consider bringing a separate cooler to keep drinks chilled. Don’t forget the bottle opener if you’re bringing wine or bottles!

Ensuring Convenience and Comfort

While the focus is often on the food and drinks, the comfort of your picnic is equally important. In the next section, we will explore additional items that are crucial for a comfortable and hassle-free picnic experience, such as seating arrangements and weather-related gear.

3 Picnic Food: Ideas and Tips

Easy-to-Pack Food Suggestions

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Picnic set with fruit, cheese, honey, strawberries, grapes, baguette, wine, wicker basket for picnic on plaid over green grass

The highlight of any picnic is undoubtedly the food. When packing for a picnic, it’s important to choose items that are not only delicious but also convenient to transport and eat. Here are some suggestions:

  • Sandwiches and Wraps: These are classic picnic foods for a reason. They’re easy to make, customizable, and can be eaten without utensils.
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Bite-sized fruits like grapes, berries, or apple slices are great. Vegetable sticks with hummus or a yoghurt dip can be refreshing.
  • Salads: Pasta salad, potato salad, or a green salad (dress it just before eating to avoid sogginess) are great options.
  • Snacks: Think cheese and crackers, nuts, chips, or popcorn.
  • Desserts: Portable treats like cookies, brownies, or fruit tarts are delightful ends to your meal.

Keeping Food Fresh and Safe

Food safety is paramount, especially when dining outdoors:

  • Temperature Control: Use ice packs in coolers for perishable items. Keep the cooler in the shade and open it only when necessary.
  • Separate Foods: Use different containers for different types of food to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Pack Smartly: Place heavier items at the bottom and delicate items like salads or desserts on top.

Special Dietary Considerations

In today’s diverse culinary landscape, accommodating various dietary preferences and restrictions is important:

  • Vegetarian and Vegan Options: Include plant-based items like vegetable skewers, vegan sandwiches, or salads.
  • Allergies and Intolerances: If you’re picnicking with a group, inquire about any food allergies and prepare accordingly.
  • Kid-Friendly Foods: If children are part of your picnic, pack foods that are appealing and easy for them to handle.

4 Comfort and Convenience Items

Choosing the Right Picnic Blanket

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Picnic basket with fruit and bakery on red cloth in garden.

A good picnic blanket is the foundation of your picnic setup. When selecting a blanket, consider the following:

  • Material: Look for a blanket that’s soft yet durable. Water-resistant materials are great for damp ground.
  • Size: Ensure it’s big enough to comfortably fit your group and all your food.
  • Portability: A blanket that folds up easily and has a handle or strap for carrying is ideal.

Portable Seating Options

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Folding table for picnic

While a blanket is essential, having additional seating can enhance comfort, especially for longer picnics:

  • Foldable Chairs: These provide back support and are great for those who find sitting on the ground uncomfortable.
  • Inflatable Seating: Lightweight and compact when deflated, these can offer a fun and comfy seating alternative.
  • Picnic Benches: If your location has picnic benches, consider bringing cushions or bench covers for added comfort.

Sun Protection: Hats, Sunscreen, Umbrellas

Protecting yourself from the sun is crucial, especially on bright, sunny days:

  • Hats: Wide-brimmed hats offer excellent sun protection for your face and neck.
  • Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to all exposed skin, and reapply every two hours.
  • Umbrellas or Sunshades: Portable umbrellas or pop-up sunshades can provide a much-needed break from direct sunlight.

Additional Comfort Items

While the above items cover the basics, there are a few other things that can add to your picnic’s comfort:

  • Bug Repellent: Depending on your location, bug repellent can be a lifesaver.
  • Hand Sanitizer and Wipes: For cleaning hands before eating, especially if there’s no access to water.
  • Trash Bags: Always pack a couple of trash bags for easy clean up. Leaving no trace ensures that the picnic spot remains beautiful for others too.

5 Entertainment and Activities

Games and Sports Equipment for Outdoor Fun

cropped view of woman holding dices and man with explanation cards by monopoly game at table
Cropped view of woman holding dices and man with explanation cards by monopoly game at table

A picnic is more than just a meal; it’s an opportunity to relax and have fun. Packing some games and sports equipment can turn a simple outing into an adventure:

  • Frisbees or Flying Discs: Easy to pack and fun for all ages.
  • Ball Games: A football, soccer ball, or volleyball can provide hours of entertainment.
  • Portable Board Games and Cards: Ideal for more relaxed entertainment.

Music and Reading Materials

a large portable bluetooth speaker placed at a garden
A large portable blue-tooth speaker placed at a garden

For a more laid-back picnic experience, consider the following:

  • Portable Speakers: A little background music can enhance the atmosphere. Choose a playlist that suits the mood of your gathering.
  • Books and Magazines: For those who prefer a quiet retreat, bring along some reading material.

Exploring Nature: Binoculars, Guide Books

If your picnic spot is in a scenic natural area, these items can add an educational and exploratory element to your day:

  • Binoculars: Great for bird watching or simply admiring the landscape.
  • Nature Guide Books: Identify flora, fauna, or stars if you’re picnicking in the evening.
  • Camera: Capture the beauty of nature and the joy of your picnic.

Making the Most of Your Picnic

Picnics provide a versatile setting for both relaxation and activities. Whether you prefer a game of catch, a peaceful reading session, or exploring your natural surroundings, there’s something for everyone. The key is to balance the activities with the relaxing aspect of picnicking. Remember, the goal is to enjoy the outdoors and the company of those you’re with.

Safety and Cleanliness

First-Aid Essentials for Picnics

It’s always better to be prepared for minor accidents or discomforts. Here are some first-aid essentials for your picnic:

  • Basic First-Aid Kit: Include band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and some basic medication for headaches or allergies.
  • Insect Bite Relief: Creams or sprays for insect bites can be a lifesaver, especially in wooded areas.
  • Sunburn Relief: Aloe vera gel or a similar soothing agent is good to have on hand for accidental sunburns.

Importance of Cleaning Up: Trash Bags, Recycling

Leaving your picnic spot as clean as, or cleaner than, you found it is crucial:

  • Trash Bags: Always bring more than you think you’ll need. Separate your waste if possible and dispose of it properly.
  • Recycling: If your picnic generates recyclable waste like bottles or cans, consider bringing a separate bag to keep them in.
  • Leave No Trace: Check the area thoroughly before leaving to ensure you haven’t left anything behind.

Dealing with Insects and Wildlife

Nature is full of surprises, and not all of them are pleasant. Here’s how to deal with insects and wildlife:

  • Insect Repellent: Use insect repellent to keep bugs at bay. Natural options like citronella candles can also be effective.
  • Secure Food: Keep food in airtight containers to avoid attracting wildlife.
  • Awareness and Respect: Be aware of your surroundings and respect wildlife. Keep a safe distance from animals and don’t feed them.

6 Advanced Picnic Gear for the Enthusiast

For those who take their picnicking seriously or simply love to have the latest and greatest gear, here are some advanced options to elevate your picnic experience:

High-Tech Picnic Gadgets

Embrace technology to enhance your outdoor dining:

  • Portable Solar Chargers: Keep your devices charged while enjoying the outdoors.
  • Bluetooth Speakers: For high-quality music without the need for wires.
  • Electronic Bug Repellent Devices: A high-tech solution to keep pests at bay.

Gourmet Picnic Equipment

bbq grilling on the shore of a picturesque lake
BBQ grilling on the shore of a picturesque lake

For the foodies who want a gourmet experience in the great outdoors:

  • Portable BBQs or Smokers: For those who enjoy grilling, compact and portable BBQs can add a culinary twist to your picnic.
  • Gourmet Food Kits: Pre-packaged gourmet kits for cheese, charcuterie, or wine tasting can add a luxurious touch.
  • High-Quality Utensils and Cookware: Bring along your best cutlery, glassware, and even a portable picnic table for a refined dining experience.

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Picnic Products

Picnic responsibly with these eco-friendly options:

  • Biodegradable Plates and Utensils: Reduce waste with compostable dining ware.
  • Reusable Food Wraps and Containers: Swap out single-use plastics for sustainable alternatives.
  • Solar-Powered Lights: Perfect for evening picnics, these provide ambient lighting and are energy efficient.

7 Wrapping Up

In this guide, we’ve explored a comprehensive range of items and considerations to help you prepare for the perfect picnic. From choosing the right location and packing the ideal picnic basket with a variety of foods and drinks, to ensuring comfort with the appropriate blankets and seating, and protecting yourself from the sun. We’ve also delved into the fun side of picnicking with entertainment and activity suggestions, addressed safety and cleanliness to ensure a responsible and enjoyable experience, and for the enthusiasts, we’ve introduced advanced picnic gear to elevate your experience.

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About This Article

Kaushik Jethva
Written by: Kaushik Jethva author

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Updated: January 23, 2024
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