Picnics are as much a part of summer as water balloons and sun hats. Setting up at a picnic table or on a blanket is a whimsical and fun way to take your midday meal outside and enjoy the warm weather. However, it’s easy to forget something important like the condiments if you’re rushed or busy when packing your basket. Fortunately, there’s a quick and simple solution to this everyday problem. Using a picnic checklist helps ensure you never miss a beat.
Before you plan your picnic, scout the areas you like to make sure there is an adequate, reasonably private space where you can set up. Picnicking is not a spontaneous event. It would be best if you planned things out well so you don’t end up uncomfortable or missing any items you might need. Another important consideration is the weather. No one wants to go to all the trouble of planning a lovely picnic just to get rained out. In summer, accidentally choosing a day with a high-heat warning for your picnic is also a risk, or toward the end of summer, you might even encounter a cooler day where packing hot soup in a thermos is a smart option. Always remember to check out your proposed location and the weather before you head out.
What Is a Picnic Checklist?
A picnic checklist is designed to help you have a perfect picnic. This simple tool will allow you to shop and pack easily, so you don’t miss anything important when you go on your next picnic. All you need to do is take the list, pick out the items you want, and check them off as you shop and pack. It’s a simple, organized way to ensure all your picnics are a success.
The Ultimate Picnic Checklist
The Ultimate Picnic Checklist will help you get through your next planned picnic. Start by putting your picnic blanket in a basket, and then add the things on the list below as you check them off. Soon you’ll be sharing a meal in the sun, or the shade of a tree if you prefer, and spending time outside with the people you love.
A picnic is nothing without food. You could almost forget everything else, though your hands would be messy. Instead of music, games, and other typical events features, at a picnic, the company and sharing a meal is the whole point. Make sure your picnic has these food items so you can relax together.
- Bring sandwiches or bread and sandwich toppings. This simple handheld food is the simplest way to have a picnic. It’s up to you whether you want to pre-make every item for your basket or feed people by allowing them to make their own creations.
- The condiments are always an excellent addition. Having some mustard or other favorite sandwich spreads is always a bonus. However, you may want to skip the mayo since it has eggs in it and tends to go off faster than other foods. If necessary, you can solve this with ice packs, but they will add weight and get moisture on everything.
- Side dishes such as chips, potato salad, cole slaw, or other traditional summer favorites help round out a meal.
- Don’t forget to pack dessert. Keep this simple with some cookies, or other low-mess, easy-to-package options.
Pro Tip: Adjust the menu to suit your company’s vegan, dairy, gluten-free, or cultural favorites.
If you’re going outdoors for your meal, it is essential to stay hydrated. Bringing drinks is vital though the type depends mainly on the company.
- Always pack water. No matter what you’re doing or who you’re picnicking with, you need to bring water.
- Sodas or beer in cans is an easy picnic-basket-friendly addition.
- Juice boxes or pouches also work well as a kid-friendly drink option.
- Some people prefer to bring a bottle of wine to a picnic.
- A thermos of coffee can make a tasty end-of-meal option to go with dessert.
- Ice is a smart thing to pack if you are carrying an insulated picnic container.
Pro Tip: Skip the milk and only bring powdered creamer if you pack coffee. Milk can easily spoil in the sun.
Although you can eat without using dishes, you will probably enjoy it more if you pack a few essentials. A traditional picnic has real dishes from home, but you can substitute disposables if you prefer.
- Full-size lunch plates
- Smaller dessert plates
- Glasses for drinking
- A thermos for coffee
- Reusable plastic containers with lids for packing uneaten food with you when you’re done
Pro Tip: Get a basket wide and deep enough to set the plates on their side at one end so you can pack ice or frozen cooler packs at the bottom of your basket.
You won’t need a ton of utensils for a picnic. However, it’s a good idea to ensure you have what you need, and utensils take up very little space.
- Butter knives for spreading
- Forks as needed for side dishes and dessert forks for desserts
- Serving spoons
- A win cork or beer bottle opener as needed
Pro Tip: Leave out anything you don’t absolutely need. A picnic basket can get heavy quickly.
Never leave a mess in place of your picnic when you go. You can get things tidy in no time by bringing a couple of simple cleanup items. Don’t forget about human clean up too. You’ll want to be able to wipe your face and hands when you finish.
- Napkins are great, especially the reusable cloth napkins that go in a traditional picnic basket.
- Wet wipes or some variation to help clean your fingers and face after a meal
- A trash bag for any messes
Pro Tip: Always leave things nicer than you found them. Take your trash, tidy up, and pick up a few extra pieces of debris to leave the area beautiful.
Now that you have the food, dishes, drinks, and everything else that belongs in your basket, here are a few more essential or thoughtful items to bring with you.
- Bring an actual picnic basket to put things inside. Alternatively, you can use a small cooler with a handle.
- The picnic blanket is traditional for sitting on the ground. Choose a blanket much more extensive than you think you need so people and food can spread out comfortably.
- A small first aid kit should go everywhere you go.
- Sunscreen is vital when you are outdoors. No one wants to go home from a lovely picnic and discover they are sunburnt and miserable.
- Bug spray can help you have a pest-free picnic or at least keep the summer mosquitoes away.
Pro Tips: Choose a sturdy, broad handle basket so you can carry it comfortably. Use an ice chest with two side handles if you want to picnic with a group. Additionally, before you ever set up a picnic, make sure you scout the area carefully. You don’t want to park on top of an ant hill or below an occupied spiderweb.
Having a perfect day in the park or on the beach often includes packing a picnic basket. This precursor to to-go food is a homemade, delicious tradition that many people worldwide have practiced for centuries. A picnic basket is like a lunchbox for two or more. Whether it’s just you and your sweetheart having an intimate sit-down together or you plan to take the whole family out for a nice day, a picnic lunch shows you care and want to spend time together. Skip the indoor screen time, ditch dinner and a movie, and head outside for a classic, informal sit down and chat or joke in the sun instead.