A Guide to an Outdoor Picnic
As the days lengthen and dinner hour blends with golden hour, there’s hardly a better place to dine than under the summer sky. With these warmer, longer days comes a sense of wild abandon and a willingness to say yes to go where the wind blows.
Whether it takes you to an open field, a table at a park, or your very own backyard, here’s a simple three-step guide for enjoying an outdoor picnic. Read on for a few tips on what to prep, pack, and play!
Step One: Prep
The key to preparing a practical picnic spread is curating a menu that travels easily, is fuss-free to assemble on-site, and simple to enjoy. The fewer utensils required, the better! It’s also important to note if the foods you choose are able to handle a little time under the sun. We’ve pulled together a few recipes ideal for bringing in your basket next time you take it outside.
Pesto Caprese Sandwiches with Balsamic Glaze
From Picnic on the Ranch—Ranch to Table with Elizabeth Poett
homemade pesto, fresh mozzarella, and thinly sliced tomatoes layered between toasted ciabatta rolls
Watermelon Blackberry Skewer Bites
From Perfect Picnic Quiche—Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines
watermelon, fresh mint, cheese, and blackberries lined up on a skewer, topped with a glaze and sea salt
From Shrimp Boil—Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines
thinly sliced potatoes fried in oil with garlic and sprinkled with salt and pepper
Sweet Kale Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
From A Simple Roast Chicken—Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines
kale tossed with dried cranberries, carrots and sunflower seeds, drizzled with a homemade poppyseed dressing
From Blueberry Bars—Zoë Bakes with Zoë François
blueberry filling on a shortbread cookie crust with a lattice top
From Monte Cristo Sandwiches—Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines
steeped Earl Grey tea sweetened with strawberries, sugar, and fresh lemon juice
Step Two: Pack
Now that you’ve got the goods, it’s time to pack them! First up is choosing a versatile basket, cooler, or tote you can take on-the-go. Next, start collecting any storage containers, linens, and tableware you’d like to bring along. While some days call for paper plates, others might be well suited for bringing indoor pieces out just because. Pulling best-kept ceramics off the shelves and gathering linens from the cupboards helps make any al fresco fare feel that much more special.
As a general rule of thumb, try packing heavier items—like serving boards and large ice packs—toward the bottom of your tote and more delicate pieces near the top. If you’re worried about precious cargo getting damaged en route, try layering linens between breakables to provide some extra cushion.
Storage Containers: When it comes to packing food, condensing is key. For example, if you plan on bringing a big batch of salad or pre-cut fruit to share, try separating individual portions into Weck sealable storage jars to avoid lugging around a heavy container plus extra bowls to serve. Opting for other multifunctional pieces—like a utensil caddy and bread bag—also helps carry and serve in style, while saving a little extra space along the way.
Linens: Long live linens! They set the scene in any setting and can act as beautiful backdrops for mealtime memories. Our Terracotta Gingham Tablecloth features a traditional pattern that feels just right for a picnic, and its warm hues play well with the yellow plaid in our Daybreak Plaid Napkins. But any cloth napkins you love will do. The best part? Our tablecloths and napkins are machine washable, so no worries if they pick up a little dirt along the way.
Dinnerware: There’s an art to choosing the right plates for a picnic. It’s important to consider if they’ll pack simply, clean easily, and stay intact from point A to point B. We love that these Sandia Adobe Dinner Plates are lightweight, break-resistant, and dishwasher safe. Inspired by hand-thrown pottery, these melamine dishes stack up slim while also bringing natural form to the table (or blanket).
Drinkware: A good carafe is essential to keeping you hydrated while enjoying a meal in the elements, just ensure it’s leakproof for the sake of packing. Our Woven Lidded Carafe features a stainless steel clamp lined with a silicone stopper seal, so it functions as a spill-free vessel for ice-cold water, sun-soaked tea, or even a favorite salad dressing. Add in a few glass tumblers for a full set of drinkware to keep you quenched under the sun.
Serveware: Last but not least, serveware. A charcuterie board is welcome on any picnic spread, and no recipe is required. Simply fill a serving board, like this marble one, with a few favorite meats, cheeses, nuts, and fruit for a savory snack everyone can graze. And because every good board warrants great serving tools to match, these vintage-inspired cheese knives are just the thing.
Step Three: Play
What’s a picnic without a little play? Bringing along a deck of cards or a few board games makes for a great reason to stay outdoors that much longer. Break out a game, set the mood with a summertime playlistOpens in new tab, and linger while the light lasts.
Is there an interesting book you’ve been reading lately?
What is something you’re learning right now?
Who is someone you admire and why?
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be?
What’s a dream you have, big or small, for the next year?
Here’s a peak at more new kitchen + dining arrivals to bring along on your next outing. Now go soak up the sun!