There’s always something special about a picnic—food just seems to taste better outdoors while we soak up that fresh, clean air and relax on a blanket. Think it takes a lot of work to throw a picnic together? We’ve got 5 great picnic-planning tips that will help make your picnic a stress-free, fun-filled afternoon.

Picnic foods should be easy but that doesn’t mean they should be boring. Ditch the sandwich bread and go for baked pretzel buns or wraps instead.

Consider the location of the festivities when packing up supplies. Do you have to walk far from the car? Several trips of lugging coolers are no fun, so remember the adage ‘less is more’ and pack lightly.

Speaking of coolers, use yours wisely to keep foods cold and safe. Make sure not to leave food out too long or you’ll be paying for it later.

Pack like a pro! You’ll want to make a checklist of things you’ll need to take with you—there’s nothing worse than forgetting something, whether it’s the kids’ favorite juice or a can of bug spray.

Don’t forget to bring along outdoor games to burn off some of those calories. Organize a volleyball game or plan a scavenger hunt. This is the time to have fun, enjoy nature and spend time together with family or friends.

5 picnic-planning tips

1. make food fun

Picnic foods should be easy but don’t have to boring. Try deli meats on a baked pretzel bun instead of ordinary sandwich bread.

Keep the kids happy with peanut butter & jelly puffs. Wrap in foil to keep warm or serve them cold—they’re just as good!

Plan a menu that comes up with just a few items and do them up well, or have an outdoor potluck where everyone has a free-for-all with an enormous spread.

2. lighten the load

Consider the location of your picnic. One thing people tend to forget is that you actually have to carry everything with you when going on a picnic. Exactly how many trips to you want to make back to the car?

It might not be classy, but sturdy paper plates and plastic utensils are easy on the back. No one says they have to be plain—splurge and choose a colorful design or bring lightweight flatware for a less casual look.

Be creative and make our DIY denim sandwich wrap napkins. Cut up old jeans, wrap a sandwich in waxed paper then wrap it again with denim. Tie with raffia or twine to put the ‘extraordinary’ into ordinary picnic fare.

3. keep your cool

Your cooler is probably your most important piece of picnic gear, especially in summer. Make sure you wash it thoroughly before using. Give it a couple of days to air out before packing—with the lid off, of course.

Have plenty of ice or re-useable ice packs on hand to keep cold food items cool and safe to eat. Wrap hot food in foil and newspaper to keep warm and pack separately.

Don’t leave food out of a cooler for more than an hour, especially if it’s really warm outside. You want the day to be a success, not a disaster.

4. pack like a pro

You’ll want to make a checklist of what you intend to bring. That includes not only menu items and utensils, but also essentials such as suntan lotion, bug spray, hand wipes and bandages.

Expecting any older folks? Providing a lawn chair or two is much easier than helping them up from a blanket on the ground.

Make the most of your packing space by packing smart with easy to handle foods. Skip sweet, sticky goodies and you’ll have a better chance of keeping the ants and bees away. As much as we love our chocolate, it needs to stay home to avoid a mess. Don’t worry! It’ll still be there when you get back!

5. don’t forget the fun

What’s a picnic without a little outdoor fun? Put away the cell phones and think of games you enjoyed when you were young. We’re big fans of scavenger hunts—they’re as much fun to plan as they are to participate in!

Need some help? Check out our 5 ideas for planning a scavenger hunt.

The great thing about picnics is that each one is different. Feel free to have different combinations of food, locations and activities. After all, picnics aren’t just about the food—they’re about having fun with family and friends while enjoying the great outdoors.

Cheryl Says

Picnics are a casual, social event. So relax and have fun!