How to Have a Perfect Picnic Outing with the Family
A family picnic is always a great idea, but it sometimes breaks down in the process. We’ve all been there: despite our determination to have a wonderful day, so many things can go wrong. The weather doesn’t cooperate, picnic food gets stale or soggy before the first bite, the kids get cranky and the parents, even crankier.
All you need is a little planning and you can have a perfect picnic outing! Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Location, location, location – Pick your picnic spot carefully. Deciding to head out to the beach on a hot summer weekend will mean traffic jams, crowds of people and – worst of all! – sandy sandwiches. Save the beach for swimming and sunning, and choose a less intense location for a picnic. What about a local park with plenty of shade? Or even a roadside rest area that offers picnic tables, restrooms and other amenities?
Plan for comfort — Bring along plenty of gear. This is supposed to be relaxing, after all, so bring blankets for spreading out, a few folding chairs for older folks, and an umbrella or two in case shade is scarce. No matter how wonderful the food, you’ll be miserable if you don’t have a comfortable spot to sit while eating or dozing post-picnic. (And don’t forget plenty of sunscreen and bug spray!)
Be food-wise – Don’t be tempted to plan a menu of mayo-laden sandwiches and other items that may wilt in the sun or become unsafe to consume in high temps. Picnic fare should be easy, simple, remain edible no matter what the conditions. If you have to keep foods cold, they need to be at least 40 degrees, which is tough when you’re using a cooler at the sunny shoreline. Take only the amount of food you think will be eaten, and be sure whatever needs to be cold is cold when you put it in your cooler, no matter how many cold packs.
It’s all in the packing! – Your cooler should be packed very snugly, and use ice or ice packs (better yet, frozen bottles of ice water!). And keep your drinks in a separate cooler, since kids and adults are more likely to open and close a drink cooler more often. Another tip: store your coolers in the car with you, so they can enjoy the car’s AC on the way to your picnic spot, too!
Fun and games – Picnics are about great food, but also about good times. Bring along a ball and bat, badminton set, Frisbees and other games for everyone of all ages to enjoy. Even a few water-filled balloons for a game of toss would be a terrific way to work off that picnic meal. (NOTE — If pets are along for the ride, be sure to include them in the fun (but also provide plenty of water and treats for Fido!).
With a little advance planning, you can have a family picnic that will be not only a wonderful time, but a cherished memory. Be safe, have fun – and enjoy!