A summer picnic is a great way to spend the day. It can be effortless entertaining on the day of the picnic if you prepare well. How to host the perfect summer picnic!
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How to host the perfect summer picnic
Whether it’s a romantic picnic for two, or the whole extended family gathering up for a fun day, a picnic is a classic fun summer activity!
Don’t forget end of summer block parties, concerts in the park with the kids, summer blockbuster movies at the beach (watching jaws while sitting in or near the water – yikes!), or just a relaxing day with friends at your local park.
In Southern California, where I live, the Hollywood bowl is a great place to take a picnic! And, don’t forget about your simple backyard and how lovely that is!
This is what summer’s all about.
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First, start with a tablecloth or large blanket. I like a neutral color for the cloth, like white, so the food and plates stand out. You can get some really cool waterproof blankets on Amazon. If you’re going to a larger family gathering, you may want to bring a few smaller blankets to spread around, maybe one for under a tree and a couple out in the sun.
Consider bringing some camping chairs. They even sell chairs with umbrellas attached.
If you can manage it, try to bring real plates rather than paper plates. Pretty ones with lots of color. Real plates will make it easy to hold the plate in your lap and not have it fall apart. Mismatched plates will make for a colorful happy display. Melamine plates will work well, as will Corelle plates, as both are difficult to break, and lightweight. Serving bowls and plates don’t have to match. And make sure to have spoons or tongs in each dish to make it possible to serve them. Bring a bunch of umbrella tent covers to cover the food so bugs don’t get in.
Reusable glass or sturdy plastic tumblers will make for a great day as well.
And don’t forget the napkins. Colorful cloth napkins will not only be pretty at your picnic, but will not contribute to trash pile-up. Remember, napkin colors don’t have to match.
Wrap silverware in individual settings, wrapping the napkin around the silverware, and tie shut with a simple string or ribbon so they’re easy to grab.
Go beyond little bottles of water or cans of soda (who needs all that extra sugar anyway?), and serve lemonade out of big pitchers.
Basil Lime Sparkling Green Tea
Lemon Cherrytini from Who Needs a Cape?
Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade from Homemade Hooplah
Sparkling Berry Lemonade from Hot Eats and Cool Reads
I love the pre-made cold salad for picnics, parties, events of all kinds. Most salads can be portioned out into individual servings in mason jars so they are easy to eat and easy to pass around. Also, this makes them easy to grab and go if you have a big family gathering. All of these salads can be made in advance, so no work on the day of the festivities!
Main Dish Salads & Sandwiches
These salads can all be made into great sandwiches. You can take the salad part separately to the picnic and assemble your sandwich there, or you can pre-make the whole sh-bang and wrap them to-go style. Of course, a sandwich is great on traditional bread, but if you’re looking to cut carbs, try flat breads, tortillas, or naan. Some sandwiches can be really tasty in lettuce leaves instead of breads, but pick these wisely; I don’t recommend anything too messy inside a lettuce leaf.
Asian Shrimp and Black Rice Salad from Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch
Poppyseed Chicken Salad from Hot Eats and Cool Reads
Avocado Pesto Chicken Salad from Savory Experiments
Avocado Egg Salad from Lovefoodies
Deluxe Egg Salad from Num’s the Word
Corn and Cucumber Picnic Salad from Lovefoodies
Make Ahead Layered Salad for a Crowd from The Kitchen is my Playground
Feta Olive Salad from Who Needs a Cape?
Cranberry Pecan Broccoli Salad
Greek Salad from Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch
Creamy Coleslaw from Num’s the Word
Tomato Basil and Feta Salad from A Dish of Daily Life
Roasted Potato and Herb Salad from Culinary Ginger
Cauliflower Mock Potato Salad from The Kitchen is my Playground
Potato Salad for a Crowd from Lovefoodies
Loaded Southwestern BBQ Pasta Salad
Pasta Party Salad from Lovefoodies
Bow Tie Pasta Salad from Bowl Me Over
Pesto Orzo Salad from The Big Man’s World
Artichoke Avocado Pasta Salad from Bowl Me Over
Summer Berry Fruit Salad from Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch
Deviled eggs are the perfect little finger food. Just be sure to keep them chilled. Classic Southern Deviled Eggs from The Kitchen is my Playground
Sushi is great at a picnic! Just remember to keep it well chilled. It’s nice because it’s really easy to pick up with your fingers and nibble on a piece, no plates necessary. Pick some up at your favorite sushi joint, or make your own. Spicy Tuna Rolls
For Dessert, serve cookies and Bars (like brownies), things that are easy to pick up with your fingers. So you can eat them on the go. Cut cakes into smaller pieces for easy pick up and eating.
These Fruit & Nut Wheels are a great light sweet treat.
After all that tasty food, you’ll want to get up and move around, so don’t forget the fun games! Frisbee is a classic. Play games with lawn dice (Yatzee or Farkle score sheets can be printed from the internet). Many parks will have baseball diamonds or basketball courts for use, be sure to bring a ball and bat. Volleyball can be set up at many beaches or parks. Yard badminton. Bocce ball. Horseshoes.
What are your tips and tricks for a great picnic? When was the last time you took the time to enjoy a meal outside like this?
Julie is Hostess At Heart
This is a great roundup that makes my next picnic so easy!
I love all of these wonderful ideas for the perfect picnic and all the food? YUM!! I love a great picnic, the perfect way to unplug and relax! Or meet someone special!! in my case anyway!! Thank you for including my salads in this yummy roundup!!
I love all of your ideas as well as all of the tasty food! It makes me want to head out on a picnic soon!
Lisa Bryan | Downshiftology
Love how you’ve compiled all this food and fun activities – it’ll make my next picnic super easy!
Oh this is great roundup and tips. We just planned doing family picnic next weekend. I’m saving this for sure. Thanks!
Oh we have beach picnics almost every month here and I’m loving all the suggestions you have. Saving this for future reference – Thanks for sharing.
This post is really making me want to go on a picnic! I used to love going to Hollywood Bowl when I lived in Southern California. It’s a great place for a picnic for sure!
I haven’t done a picnic in so long. Your photos are gorgeous. I really need to get on that.
What a well organized picnic, you though of everything. San Pellegrino water? Love it, I would bring it everywhere.
Ashlyn@ Belle of the Kitchen
So many great ideas! I love the idea of having sushi at a picnic! You wouldn’t always think of it for that, but it’s so easy to eat and perfect for that setting!
Jennifer A Stewart
Picnics are the bomb. I won’t be doing any in Phoenix until at least November because of the heat. And you can’t go wrong with a game of Bocce!
What a fantastic post, i need to plan a picnic ASAP.