To plan a romantic picnic, keep a few principles in mind:
- It's still a picnic, not a formal meal. Not everything will go as you plan, and that's fine -- couples wind up telling stories about the times plans change unexpectedly. If you drive for two hours and a thunderstorm starts just as you reach the national park, don't pout or turn around. Have a picnic in the car.
- Surprise can be charming. Pack candles, or a vase and flowers, to adorn your picnic table (or blanket). Learn your sweetie's favorite dessert and smuggle it into the picnic basket.
- Humor is important. Silly touches -- like formal china for peanut butter sandwiches -- help new couples discover their ability to laugh together. (If you go this route, do be sure you have a secure way to pack the china.)
- Food is one of the most sensual pleasures people can share. Try something you've never cooked before. Or, if she's always wanted to try a certain restaurant, order food from its catering department.
A big part of romance is location. Choose an unusual spot -- something that can become your special place as a couple. Does your city have a botanical garden? Any nearby beaches or national parks? Do any downtown buildings have rooftop gardens? Think about your personality as a couple. Do you prefer being somewhere secluded, or do you enjoy being surrounded by people?
Some outdoor music series, such as the Santa Fe Opera or Chicago's Ravinia Festival, permit picnics or tailgate parties. Outdoor theater and movies can also make for wonderful picnicking. Pack a gourmet spread (see the next page to learn how) and treat your love to an evening of art under the stars.
Speaking of stars, a nighttime picnic is a memorable way to show your love. Even better? A picnic that actually lets you wish on a star. Check StarDate.com to find the dates and best viewing locations for upcoming meteor showers.
Some touches, like serenades, are classics. Bring a guitar or other musical instrument. If you have a song as a couple, surprise your love by learning it. Or, for the grand gesture, hire a musician to serenade you. Local wedding planners will have lists of appropriate solo performers.
What does the adventurous foodie pack for a picnic? Read on for ways to make the picnic a memorable culinary experience.