A Guide to Going on the Perfect Picnic

A good picnic is all about the planning. There are a lot of things to think about, so use this handy checklist to make sure your next outing is fantastic, not disastrous.

Location

The perfect picnic requires the perfect location. Whether it’s the green space in your apartment complex, one of the many wooded Metro parks, a day at the lake, or somewhere novel like a BYOF (bring your own food) brewery, scope out your location ahead of time and make note of where the best benches are, location of bathrooms, how far you’ll want to walk, how crowded it is, etc.

Timing

If you’re aiming for an outdoors “special moment” kind of picnic, run by your chosen location at different times of day. Make note of where the sunny and shaded areas are and how hot it feels. You won’t want to be sweating if you plan on Instagramming or Facebooking your day out.

Seating

How you will actually eat the picnic is very important. Balancing plates on your lap and setting wine glasses down in the grass can ruin the ambiance and make your picnic more of a circus act. Are you a checkered blanket on the ground kind of picnicker? Do you want a real picnic table? These are all things-planned to consideration before heading to your pre-planned spot.

Plates/Silverware/Napkins

Think not only of how you will eat the meal, but also with what utensils. Disposable plates make for easy cleanup afterwards but taking lightweight camping plates or another reusable option from home is more environmentally friendly. Napkins and wet-towelettes are a necessity if there’s no running water nearby for handwashing.

Food

There is no more important aspect of a picnic than the food! Make your menu to fit your location and desires. If you don’t want to carry plates and silverware, take sandwiches and bags of chips that don’t require anything but your hands to eat. Temperature is also an important factor. Do you need to keep your foods cool or hot all the way to your location? Don’t bring ice cream sandwiches as the last part of your meal when you’re picnicking in direct sunlight on a 90-degree day. You get the idea.

Drinks

Never forget the drinks! Some picnic areas may have rules about the type of containers you bring (glass is never a good idea!) or bringing alcohol. Make sure you know the rules and respect them. Carry a few extra drinks and a large bottle of water. A long walk or being in the sun can make you much thirstier than you anticipate, and nothing ruins a picnic faster than dehydration.

Sun/Bug Protection

Unless you are picnicking indoors (which is an awesome way to picnic), you’ll need to keep Mother Nature in mind. Even in the shade, your skin is being exposed to harmful UV rays, so sunscreen is a must. Don’t just put it on before you leave the house; bring the bottle with you. Bug spray or protective clothing is important for wooded areas to keep off critters like mosquitos, ticks, or ants.

Cleanup

Sadly, all picnics must come to an end eventually. Think about the best way to get everything home. Are there trash cans or recycling bins nearby? Reusable grocery bags are great for carrying dirty dishes or rubbish. Never, ever leave your garbage behind. Littering ruins that picnic area for the next person. Remember the picnic golden rule: take only pictures, leave only footprints.

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