Planning a picnic is just like planning any other small dinner party with the added complexity of making it portable. By planning ahead and using a few time-tested tips you can plan a picnic that’s sure to be a hit with your guests and raise the bar for outdoor adventures!

Location, Location, Location

Picking the perfect location is the first step to planning your picnic. The great news is that you can have a fantastic picnic just about anywhere—the beach, parks, even your own backyard! When choosing a location be sure to factor in how you’ll get there (biking, hiking, driving) and any amenities you might need like restrooms.

Choosing a Time

You can have a fantastic picnic at any time of day—from an early morning breakfast with pastries and fruit salad to an evening cookout with hot dogs on a portable grill! Consider your venue and weather when choosing a time to maximize comfort for your meal.


Where will you and your guests sit? If sitting on the ground, anything from a tablecloth to old quilt will help keep food off the grass. If the ground may be damp a waterproof surface is preferred—these washable, laminated tablecloths work great for this! If you have guests who might not be able to sit on the ground due to age or disability, folding lawn chairs are an excellent portable option. At the beach, woven mats are handy for keeping sand to a minimum.

Carrying Your Picnic

While a basket is a classic way of getting your food to the picnic, it’s definitely not your only option. I received an all in one picnic basket kit as a gift long ago and I love it for ease of use—it has included dishes and flatware but depending on the picnic location it can be burdensome to carry. Bookbags are easy to use for carrying food to more remote locations where biking or hiking is involved. A beach bag or even a milk crate can be used as well!

The Menu

Anything goes when planning your picnic meal with a few exceptions. Depending on how long you are storing your food some foods may not be safe to pack for extended periods. Mayonnaise based foods or dressings as well as uncooked meats or dairy products will need to be kept in a cooler at the proper temperatures to avoid illness.

I like to pack selections of cheese and cured meats for the grownups and sandwiches and kid-friendly finger foods for the kids when we plan family picnics. Think foods that can be easily eaten in your lap so nothing too messy (pass on the spaghetti and meatballs!) or difficult to manage. Fresh fruits and premade salads are other easy to make and eat meal additions. Bottled or canned drinks (or juice boxes for the kids) are great options to avoid needing to carry along cups for your picnic as well.

The Final Touches

Don’t forget the little things to make your picnic a success: insect repellant, napkins, utensils, and hand sanitizer are all must-haves for most picnics. Don’t forget to pack trash bags if your picnic site doesn’t have an area to dispose of your litter on site.

Planning a picnic is a wonderful way to make any meal special and enjoy this beautiful time of year. Do you have any handy picnic tips to ? Leave them in the comments!