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What to Bring to a Picnic


Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock + Provided

With the right weather and the picnic essentials packed, a picnic in the park can be a fantastic experience with friends or family. It also makes a lovely date or proposal idea!

Whether you are planning a formal gathering or are just taking the kids with some peanut butter sandwiches, there are many perks to eating al fresco.

Perks of the Elegant Picnic: Get Fancy with Your Friends

With an outdoor picnic, you don’t have to assign a party host. 

Everyone can bring a few items each, and nobody is responsible for cleaning their home before and after.

Plus, with each person only being responsible for a small portion of the meal, you can spend a little more and get the good stuff to share.

Easier cleanup means that you can go all out with the dishes you bring and use the prettiest serving supplies you have—just because your party is outdoors does not mean you have to use paper plates and disposable utensils.

Go ahead and bring your matching serving sets and wine glasses with stems. Just be mindful of where you set things down so you don’t spill!

Perks of the Casual Picnic: Grab a Basket and Go!

Kids love helping out and doing what the adults do, especially in the kitchen.

Let the little ones get involved and help you cut sandwiches into fun shapes with a cookie cutter or portion out grapes into servings for each person.

They’ll be so proud of their meal once you arrive at the park and get everything set up!

For a casual picnic, you definitely want to opt for an easy supply checklist with just the necessities.

If you don’t want to clean much when you get home, paper plates and disposable plastic baggies will be your friend.

However, if you want a more eco-friendly outing, you can still try to minimize the number of containers you use and get each person in your family their own bento lunchbox.

You can still have fewer items to wash when you’re done and keep the earth clean too!

Picnic Food Essentials for Your Fancy Friends

Ready to get started with your elegant picnic shopping list? There are several things that are absolutely picnic essentials.

When planning food for a picnic, think about what will travel well. You won’t have a way to heat things back up during your meal, so cold items that you can keep chill with some ice packs are probably your best bet.

Casual Picnic Food Essentials for the Fam Bam

Family-friendly finger food—say that five times fast!

These recipes are kid-approved and flavorful enough for parents to enjoy too.

The Best Picnic Blanket is An Absolute Must-Have

If you’re going to be eating, you want something nice between you and the ground.

These picnic blankets and towels are great for either fine dining or family fun. 

Sand Cloud Jubilee with Zip Pocket

This Turkish cotton towel is nice and big while being super easy to clean. Plus, grass and sand shake right off so you can use it on any surface.

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The House of Noa Everly Portable Mat

This mat is made from vegan leather that cleans oh-so-easily. Just wipe it off and keep eating!

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Mark and Graham Waterproof Picnic Blanket

This cute gingham blanket has the option to be monogrammed for a little extra charm. You’ll love how easy it is to roll it back up in the leather handle.

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Baskets and Foodware: Pick a Set Fit for Royalty

If you don’t already have storage and serveware for your food, add one of these five basket sets to your picnic essentials checklist. 

West Elm Party Pack Picnic Basket

  • $99
  • Serves 4
  • Includes plates, wine glasses, a corkscrew, and utensils

Picnic Time Corsica Insulated Wine Basket with Wine and Cheese Accessories

  • $82.95
  • Holds 2 bottles of wine
  • Includes cutting board, cheese knife, and corkscrew

Williams Sonoma Wicker Picnic Basket

  • $449.95
  • Serves 4
  • Includes wine and cheese accessories, cooler, insulated flask, mugs, hand blown wine glasses, porcelain plates, silverware, and a fleece blanket

Picnic Time Verona Insulated Wine Basket

  • $99.95
  • Serves 2
  • Includes wine glasses, cotton napkins, wine bottle stopper, corkscrew, cutting board, and cheese knife

Pottery Barn Winslow Woven Willow Picnic Basket

  • $329
  • Serves 4
  • Includes ceramic plates, wine glasses, utensils, cotton napkins, coffee cups, cooler, insulated wine pouch, cutting board, salt and pepper shakers, cheese knife, corkscrew, flask, and a fleece blanket

Coolers and Ice Packs: Ice, Ice, Baby

You can always use a traditional hard cooler full of ice to keep your food and drinks fresh, but this combo of soft coolers with a reusable ice pack makes your picnic even easier.

Don’t worry about finding a place to dump the ice when you’re done, and save yourself some space in your bag for an extra bottle of chilled white wine.

3 Soft Coolers

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3 Ice Packs

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Picnic Essentials You Don’t Want to Forget

Lastly, don’t forget some other picnic essentials that are often overlooked.

No matter how fancy your feast is, you’ll need something to keep the bugs at bay. Grab some bug spray or a citronella candle so you don’t have to worry about ants carrying your food away.

Prioritize the drinks! Once you’re out there with your picnic, you can’t just go back to the fridge to get more wine or sodas when you run out. Plan ahead for how many people you’ll have and how long you’ll want to be sipping.

Music is key. As long as it won’t be disturbing other visitors at the park, turn up the tunes. Grab a portable speaker—and make sure it’s charged up. This will set the ambiance you desire.

Have a great time, and don’t forget to tag City Lifestyle in any pictures you post on social media!