A few minutes of preparation will help everyone enjoy the picnic. Here's a pre-picnic checklist:
- A blanket. If it's rained recently, you might also want to bring a tarpaulin to put under the blanket.
- A picnic basket or sturdy tote.
- An ice chest. This one's optional, but it becomes mandatory if you're bringing something that should stay cold, such as champagne, ice cream, gelato or deviled eggs.
- Forks, knives and spoons.
- Serving utensils. There's no need to be too formal, but make sure people don't have to use their fingers to help themselves to the salad.
- A serrated knife and cutting board. You'll almost always discover you need to cut or spread some sort of food. A sharp serrated knife will handle bread, cheese, fruit and veggies.
- Plates and cups. Some people like paper, some like plastic, some like reusable goods. Lightweight melamine dishes offer a good combination of portability, sturdiness and reusability. Whatever you use, if it's disposable, make sure you've cleaned it up thoroughly, and if it's reusable, have a way to contain the mess while you get the dishes home.
- A dish towel.
- Reusable plastic containers for food. Not only can you seal these to keep out bugs, but they're far more portable than plates covered in plastic wrap.
Some other supplies you may want to have handy:
- Hand sanitizer. Sure, a little dirt is good for you, but any time you're sharing food, sanitizer is a good plan.
- Sunscreen. You can get a sunburn in the amount of time it takes to eat lunch [source: eMedicineHealth].
- A sun umbrella or a large-brimmed hat.
- Water. The park might have a water fountain, but then again, it might not. Fill a couple of reusable bottles before you leave, just in case.
- Insect repellent. Bring some natural, nontoxic insect repellent for guests -- finger food and pesticides don't mix. For a large or lengthy gathering, you might consider bringing a few citronella candles (available at most home and garden stores).
- One or two small plastic bags.
- A trash bag.
Don't forget to wash fruits and vegetables before you leave the house - it'll be easier at the kitchen sink than at a water fountain.
Up next: How to have a romantic picnic à deux. Read on.