How to Have a Picnic

Picnic Games

For many picnickers, the food is just the prelude to the real re­creation: outdoor games. Your group may not need much more than a ball to toss back and forth, or you may want to organize a full game.

  • Badminton or volleyball. Some parks have nets. You can also find an inexpensive portable net, appropriate for both sports, at a sporting goods store.
  • Baseball, softball or kickball. Many city parks have diamonds for public use. Even if your park doesn't, you can designate bases with rocks or other landmarks. Baseball, softball and kickball all follow more or less the same rules, but kickball requires the least skill and equipment, and it avoids the safety hazard of the bat.
  • Croquet. This depends on the ready availability of a croquet set and a lawn on which you can set up wickets without disturbing anyone else, so it's better suited to picnics in the backyard than at the park. But it has a great advantage: almost everyone can play, regardless of strength or size. A game of croquet is an easy way for kids and adults to play together.
  • Tag. It's a schoolyard classic for a reason: It requires no equipment, it lets everyone run around and it has endless variations -- TV tag, freeze tag and so on.
  • Cricket. It baffles Americans, but it's wildly popular elsewhere.
  • Football. It baffles Europeans, but it's wildly popular in the United States. On a picnic, where the ground may be rocky, keep things safe -- play touch football rather than the rougher tackle variety.
  • Soccer (or, outside of the United States, football). It's widely considered the most popular sport in the world [source: Ozanian]. On a picnic, it gets points for flexibility of team size and involvement of all players.
  • Catch games, like Frisbee or Hacky Sack. No one really wins or loses these games, so they're great for uncompetitive groups.

Whatever sport you choose, take appropriate precautions. Wear supportive shoes (no playing football in flip-flops). Remember that it's possible to sweat off sunscreen -- don't forget to reapply periodically. Drink plenty of water, and take breaks to cool off.

How can you make sure your picnic is not just fun, but also environmentally friendly? Take a look at the next page for some green tips.