How to have the perfect picnic
Picnics are made of sunshine, good food and cricket (or swimming or soccer or just fun in a park!). The key to a memorable and happy one is preparation. So, if it's a lovely day out and you want to get out there to soak up some vitamin D, here are our tips on creating picnic perfection. Have fun and don't forget the dog.
When choosing a picnic spot, consider these questions:
- Is there a toilet nearby? If you plan on being there for hours, a public toilet will come in handy. (BYO toilet paper!)
- Will you be able to park and carry your things easily? Or is there a drop-off spot where you can unload before parking the car?
- Are there trees, shade or covered picnic tables? Will you need umbrellas?
- What activities can you do once you arrive: is there a beach, a pool for swimming, a park for playing sport, a playground?
- Are there picnic tables there or will you need to take chairs?
- Is there a kiosk nearby to buy coffee or ice creams?
- Are dogs allowed and do they need to be leashed?
Once you decide on the picnic spot, you can think about the menu:
- Is there a barbecue for public use or do you need to bring your own?
- Will you be cooking lunch or packing cold meats and salads?
- If you're taking sausages, save time by having them snipped at the butchers or do it ahead of time at home.
- Is the food easy to eat with just hands? Sandwiches are a good option, as that means you don't have to pack cutlery.
- If you are taking a dessert, keep in mind the size of the Esky. A sponge cake or cupcakes and a fruit salad are better than creamy sweet things.
- Take plenty of water with you. If you're taking alcohol, drink responsibly and designate a driver.
- Stock up on snacks: there's nothing worse than hungry kids and no food! Take lots of snacks to fill empty tummies. Load up on apples, crackers and nuts for between-meal munchies.
You've decided on the food, so here's a checklist of other stuff to bring:
- Chillybin or cooler with ice packs
- sharp knife
- serving spoons
- bottle opener/can opener
- cutting board
- cutlery – knives, forks, spoons
- cooking oil spray for barbecuing
- paper towels for clean up
- garbage bags
- picnic rug/blanket, preferably waterproof or bring a tarp
- insect repellent
- plenty of water
- hats for everyone
- an extra layer of clothing if it gets cool
- chairs to sit on
Here are some picnic activity ideas:
Now that you've packed the necessities, you'll need to think about activities. What will you do to keep the kids busy and occupied?
- Ball sports – big green spaces are the perfect spot for a family game of soccer, T-ball, cricket or touch rugby. Take the opportunity to teach your kids the rules of the game and sportsmanship.
- A pack of cards – play gin rummy or poker.
- Books to read for both kids and adults. After a run around, the whole family can relax with reading under the shade.
- Bocce ball or ring toss are two classic games that any age can enjoy.
- Kites, frisbees and bubbles!
- is there a place to swim? Pack swimmers, towels, goggles, flotation devices, sand toys, etc...
Some picnic ground rules:
- Once you arrive and before the kids run off to explore, set some ground rules: Explain to them where they can and can't go. Set boundaries and ensure they know them.
- Don't play loud music that disturbs other picnic goers.
- Don't let your kids bring any electronic devices; it's time to enjoy the outdoors without iPods, iPads or Nintendo.
- Clean up after yourself. Toss all garbage in the bins or put them in the plastic bags you brought especially for trash.
- Keep food covered and throw out any scraps immediately – ants will invade!
- Make an escape plan: If it pours with rain, you'll need to get out quickly. Try to keep things relatively neat and tidy so you can pack up quickly. Designate jobs to everyone so you can rush to the car if needed.
This article was written by Jillian Lewis for Kidspot, New Zealand's best family travel resource.