Packing & planning a picnic has never been easier

Picnics are a fun way to enjoy time with your family or friends outside! If you're wanting to go on one, planning ahead will help your event go off without a hitch. Choose a location and then decide what kind of food you want. Pack everything you need in a basket and cooler, and you're ready to head off on your adventure.

Things You Should Know

  • Plan to bring your picnic to a beautiful location, such as by a river, under a tree, or at your favorite park.
  • Invite all your friends and loved ones, or schedule a romantic picnic for you and your significant other.
  • Pack a blanket, picnic basket, and food that won’t perish if it’s left unrefrigerated for a while, like cheese, crackers, and fruit. Don’t forget to throw in your favorite beverages, too!
Method 1
Method 1 of 3:

Planning

  1. The location is important, and it will help determine some of the other details you choose so pick it first! You could go to the park, the beach, the mountains, or even just your backyard. Some museums have lawns for picnicking, or you could head to any area with natural attractions, such as lakes or rivers.[1]
    • When choosing a place, do a little research. If you need a picnic table, make sure the area has some. You may want to check for things like bathrooms and running water, too.
  2. You could have a brunch picnic in the park and take breakfast foods or a lunch picnic with a friend from work. Alternatively, opt for a dinner picnic and consider bringing foods to grill.[2]
    • It's important to decide what time of day you want to have your picnic, as that will affect the food you choose.
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  3. Often, a picnic is about more than just the food. See what activities the area offers, so you know what you need to bring. For instance, if the park doesn't have much of a playground, bring some fun sporting equipment with you, such as Frisbees or a soccer ball.[3]
    • You could also bring along a board game that's fun to play outside, such as Twister.
    • If you're at a nature reserve, consider going on a hike to a picnic spot!
  4. Maybe you want to plan a picnic just for your family or maybe you want to throw a big picnic/party for your friends' birthday. Take some time to consider who you want to invite, then make a list of the people you'd like to come.
    • Remember, if you invite a lot of people, you'll need to plan on bringing food for that many people, unless you do a potluck. With a potluck, you'd provide a main dish and have everyone else bring sides.
    • Also think about the venue. Make sure it has enough tables for your group if you'll have a lot of people. You may need to reserve the space for a large group.
    • You could also plan a picnic date for your significant other! Picnic dates are a great opportunity to have a nice meal together, enjoy a nice conversation, and relax.
  5. You'll need food, utensils, plates, a cooler, activities, and bags for cleanup. You'll also likely want a tablecloth or blanket to spread out wherever you go.[4]
    • Making a checklist helps you keep track of what you need to bring so you don't forget anything!
    • If you're going on a picnic date, you could ask your significant other to pick up a few of the items and bring them along.
  6. for a bit of fun. If you're inviting friends on a picnic, consider sending out paper invitations inviting them to your party! Ask for your friends' addresses, and then write out invitations with the date, time, and details of the event. You could also make them on a computer to print out. Either way, it's a fun and festive way to get the event started.
    • If that's not your thing, you can always invite them in person or over social media for an easy fix.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 3:

Choosing Food

  1. It's hard to keep a cooler or picnic basket perfectly stable. Everything is going to get a bit jumbled so skip things that require perfect presentation, such as deviled eggs or even birthday cake. Instead, try more humble foods like boiled eggs, potato salad, cheese and bread, or carrot sticks.[5]
  2. Don't pick foods that require a knife and fork to eat. Choose foods you can eat with your fingers or just a single utensil. Too much fussiness makes for a messy picnic.[6]
    • For instance, try sandwiches, cottage cheese, or egg salad.
    • Fruits like strawberries, bananas, oranges, or apples are also great options!
    • You could also try things like fried chicken, cookies, pinwheel sandwiches, pigs in a blanket, or burritos.
  3. The foods should still be simple to eat, but that shouldn't stop you from catering to more adult taste buds. Plenty of foods can be easily carried and eaten by hand that are more sophisticated.[7]
    • For instance, try bruschetta and toasted bread, goat cheese and crackers, or a salmon and cream cheese frittata.
    • You could also bring a variety of cheeses or dips, along with crackers and chips.
    • If you want to bring salads and veggie-centric dishes, opt for hearty vegetables instead of leaf lettuce. That way, you can dress it at home and not worry about it wilting.
  4. Add bottles of water for a simple fix, or you can make iced tea and pack it in reusable bottles. Alternatively, add juice boxes, sodas, or flavored sparkling water for a bit of pizazz.[8]
    • If you're planning a picnic for adults, you could bring beer or wine, but make sure it's allowed in the area you're going. Some water attractions don't allow glass bottles, for instance, while some parks ban alcohol altogether.
  5. You don't want to waste a whole jar of mayonnaise and mustard, but you'll likely need to toss anything you don't eat the end of the picnic. Instead, opt for small jars so you'll just have what you need.[9]
    • You can also pack a small amount of a condiment in a food jar you've washed out, such as a pickle relish jar. That way, you don't have to go out of your way to buy special mini jars.
    • Another option is to save condiment packets from fast-food places and bring those along.[10]
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Method 3
Method 3 of 3:

Packing

  1. Whenever you're outside, you're going to run into bugs. Plus, you don't want your food spilling out in the cooler. Pack your food in tightly sealed reusable containers to keep the bugs out and the food in![11]
  2. If you want simplicity, go for disposable options that you can throw away when you're done. For a more environmentally friendly option, opt for nonbreakable but reusable plates and bowls, such as kids' plastic plates.[12]
    • Remember, you'll need to cart all those reusable plates back out with you!
    • Don't forget napkins or paper towels, too.
    • Add in a trash bag or a few grocery bags to cart home dirty items and gather trash.
    • You may also want to bring hand wipes or hand sanitizer to clean everyone's hands before eating!
  3. Put nonperishable food on the bottom and any plates and flatware on top of that. Place the tablecloth or blanket at the very top so you can pull it out first to put on the ground or picnic table.[13]
    • Lay any fragile items on top so they don't break![14]
    • You can also use a plastic bin or a cardboard box to carry items.
  4. If you're bringing food that could spoil before you're ready to eat, such as lunchmeat, boiled eggs, or fried chicken, make sure to pack it in ice to keep it chilled. That way, your food is less likely to go bad before you can eat it.[15]
    • Aim to fill 25% of the cooler with ice.[16]
    • For a large crowd, try keeping drinks in a separate container. That way, people won't be letting hot air into the cooler where the food is.
  5. If you're just going 10 minutes away, you can skip this step. However, if you're traveling an hour or more, try keeping your meat frozen until you put it in the cooler. That way, it will stay at a safer temperature for longer.[17]
    • Be sure to wrap any raw meat up in a package by itself before putting it in the cooler. That way, you're less likely to contaminate other foods.
  6. If it's going to be chilly, pack extra jackets, scarves, and blankets just in case. If it's going to be hot, don't forget hats and bug spray. In either situation, always carry a bottle of sunscreen.
    • You could also bring a large umbrella to protect you from the rain or sun!
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Community Q&A

  • Question
    What are the considerations for planning a picnic?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Outside of the food, cleaning up and sticky fingers! Definitely bring paper towels or wet wipes.
  • Question
    What kind of food should I take?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Anything you want! Most people bring sandwiches. But some other options are fried chicken, corn, pasta salad, and potato salad. You could even bring hotdogs to cook if your location has a grill.
  • Question
    What is the best time to go on a picnic?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    If you mean during the year, probably spring or summer when the weather is nice and warm. If you mean the time of day, that's completely up to you, but the weather does tend to get hotter towards the later afternoon (1-2 PM), so a late morning/early afternoon picnic might be better.
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Warnings

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Things You'll Need

  • Invitations, optional
  • Picnic basket
  • Ice chest
  • Ice
  • Food
  • Eating utensils and plates
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • Picnic blanket(s)
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Food covers


About This Article

John Keegan
Co-authored by:
Dating Coach
This article was co-authored by John Keegan. John Keegan is a Dating Coach and motivational speaker based in New York City. With over 10 years of professional experience, he runs The Awakened Lifestyle, where he uses his expertise in dating, attraction, and social dynamics to help people find love. He teaches and holds dating workshops internationally, from Los Angeles to London and from Rio de Janeiro to Prague. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Humans of New York, and Men's Health. This article has been viewed 318,465 times.
27 votes - 81%
Co-authors: 48
Updated: June 17, 2023
Views: 318,465
Categories: Food and Entertaining
Article SummaryX

To plan a picnic, make sure you have all the essentials, including plates, utensils, napkins, trash bags, and a cooler or basket. You should also bring a blanket to sit on or a tablecloth for a picnic table. When you're choosing foods to bring, stick with foods that are easy to eat, like sandwiches, fruit, and finger foods. If you want to have a fancier picnic, try bruschetta and toasted bread, goat cheese and crackers, or salmon and cream cheese frittata. To learn how to properly pack a picnic basket and cooler, scroll down!

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