Do you ever wonder what to bring on a picnic? We’ve got you covered. From carrying your picnic supplies to keeping the sun off of your food, here are all the picnic essentials you’ll ever need.
Picnic Accessories For Carrying Your Stuff
At this point, you probably don’t have an idea about what to bring on a picnic, right? However, be prepared, since you’ll end up with more than you may think. Here’s what you need for hauling and organizing your picnic supplies.
There’s something about a picnic basket that pulls everything together.
A classic wicker basket will add old-time charm to your gathering. Get one that’s bigger than you think you need.
You can get a double-handled basket to carry food from the car to the site if you’re expecting less than ten people. Picnics for large groups need chest-type baskets with a handle on each end. For instance, if you won’t have someone to help carry it, then you should get one with a handle on one end and wheels on the other.
Do you plan to have games, blankets, and other supplies too? That’s a lot of stuff to carry. Therefore, you may want to get a picnic basket set.
Have one basket for food. Blankets and games go in another. And you want one for utensils, plates, and napkins.
Those baskets serve double duty. They’ll keep everything organized and out of the way after you get the picnic set up. You don’t want your spot to be a mess.
Some foods, like salads and cold cuts, need to be kept cold. And what about drinks? Cold foods need to be kept cold on the way to your spot and during your picnic.
A cooler will work, but how sweet would an insulated picnic basket be? They work just like coolers, but they retain that nostalgic charm of wicker baskets.
Check and see if any stores near you sell dry ice. It’ll be by the regular ice. It lasts much longer and keeps food colder. Plus, it just evaporates instead of melting. There’s no water to drain after the picnic.
Picnic backpacks are great for carrying food, drinks, and accessories for up to a four-person picnic.
The good thing about backpacks is that they’re hands-free, while the bad thing is the size. You can only fit so much in a backpack. But are perfectly sized for a romantic picnic for two at the beach or in the woods.
A backpack may be better than a basket for you if you have to hike to your spot. Just keep in mind that you’ll only be able to bring the basics. A little food, a couple of bottles of wine, and a blanket are pretty much all you’ll be able to carry.
Coolers have a couple of advantages over insulated picnic baskets.
They hold ice and keep stuff colder for more extended periods. That’s a useful feature for day-long picnics.
They don’t leak either. Get a plastic double-walled cooler if you decide you need one. Coolers are heavy to carry, some have wheels on one end, and they’re easy to pull to your spot.
You may have seen some coolers advertised as picnic coolers and wondered what makes them so unique as picnic accessories. They’re just regular coolers that have features that make them useful for picnics. Some have carrying straps, and others have individual compartments for canned drinks. Just keep your needs in mind while looking for a picnic cooler.
Wine is a big part of many picnics, and you’ll want to carry yours in style.
Wine totes come in a variety of styles, but you really need one that fits your picnic theme.
You can keep it simple and get a wine bag. Bags are just tall and narrow sacks with long looped handles. You can find them in the wine section of your local grocery or liquor store.
Insulated wine totes are great for carrying and storing wine that is meant to be served cold.
Even a small event may require quite a bit of picnic supplies. It could take several people to help carry it all. This is especially true if your spot is a reasonable distance away from your parking area.
A good picnic wagon can be an excellent investment.
Wagons can be as simple as an old Radio Flyer wagon. They’re charming and functional, and the kids will love to play with them after they help unload it.
Bigger wagons are better for hauling a lot of picnic accessories. One of the critical considerations is cargo capacity, and obviously, you want a cart big enough to haul everything in one trip.
Check out the wheels too. You don’t want your wagon that’s loaded with picnic items getting stuck. Get a wagon with really wide tires if you like having picnics on the beach. You can get away with thinner wheels if you normally picnic at parks.
You need something to spread on the ground, even if you have a table and chairs. People like to lie back at a picnic.
Mats can be big blankets for everyone or smaller individual towels.
Many of us have fond memories of lolling back with our friends and family on the ground after a nice picnic. What a great way to enjoy the outdoors!
A good picnic blanket is lightly padded, waterproof, and big enough for your whole group. Larger events, like church picnics, should have many of these big spreads available for the guests.
The padding in a picnic blanket is purely for comfort. Sure, the ground in most spots isn’t very hard, but there are always rocks and sticks lying around.
But why should it be waterproof? A regular cotton or polyester outdoor blanket acts as a wick. It sucks moisture off the ground, and no one wants to sit or lay on a wet blanket. A waterproof blanket protects everyone from this.
You should get the biggest blanket you can carry in your basket. The more room you have on your mat, the more comfortable everyone will be.
Hint: You can use your big blanket to wrap some of your more fragile picnic items.
Most people don’t think of beach towels as picnic essentials. But they could be.
Instead of a big and bulky picnic blanket, you could bring several beach towels. They’re not waterproof, so they’re only for dry days.
The good thing about beach towels is that everyone can have their own. This is great when everyone wants to keep moving around. It’s also easier to pack up when everybody can grab their own towel and put it away.
Picnic Tables, Chairs And Tableware
Picnic tables aren’t essential. You could just lay your spread of food out on a blanket. But tables are more comfortable for some. They also help to keep everything organized.
A regular outdoor table will do just fine for backyard barbeques and picnics. Wooden tables are famous for their natural beauty and durability. Plastic tables have been popular for a long time because of their low cost and portability.
So what if you want to bring your picnic table with you for picnics on the go? One table can take up the entire bed of a pickup truck. You don’t want to disassemble a big table for transporting to your spot, do you?
Folding picnic tables are still pretty big. But they fold up so you can stack your other picnic accessories and supplies around them. There’s really no other way to go if you want to bring a table with you.
Do some careful measuring before you buy a folding table. Keep in mind that the table is going to take up less than half of the space you actually need in your truck or SUV. You’ll need a bigger space for baskets and other picnic supplies.
Another good thing about folding picnic tables is how easy they are to store. Even if you use them for backyard events, they’ll stow neatly away in your garage or shed. Keeping them out of the weather like this helps them last for years.
You can get plastic and wooden folding tables at most department stores and online shops. Wood is stronger, but plastic is lighter and easier to carry.
Look, kids like to spend time together at picnics, so why not have a kid-sized table just for them?
A kid’s picnic table is smaller than a regular one, that’s obvious! But you can have some fun customizing it for them. For example, you can paint it bright colors or stencil in fun shapes.
You can even build your own kid’s picnic table. There are several great plans available for free online.
We mostly think of picnic tables as long and relatively narrow. That’s good for when you have several people coming. But round tables are the perfect shape and size for smaller, more intimate gatherings of four or less.
Have you ever seen a picnic table with an umbrella? They’re fantastic for patios and decks. The umbrella can protect you and your guests from the sun. Or why not have a picnic in the rain?
Check out this video if you want to make your own picnic table.
Go with a gingham pattern for that old-time feel. Or you can use a real linen tablecloth if you’re going for a more elegant flair. A tablecloth can define the tone of your picnic, so you should choose a style that fits your decor.
Maybe you just want something to keep your table clean, and that is fine. Then you’ll need a plastic tablecloth. They’re cheap and straightforward, and you can throw them away after your picnic.
Alternatively, get a big roll of plastic that’s as wide as your table. Pull off a length that matches your table’s width and cut it. How’s that for a quick and easy tablecloth?
Cheeseboards aren’t just for cheese. You are probably going to have foods that need to be cut or sliced. Cheese and fruit are prime examples.
Plastic ones are cheap and easy to clean. You can get a few of these for different kinds of foods.
Wooden cheeseboards look fantastic, and that’s their main advantage. They can lend a traditional feel to your table.
Get a big board, and in that way, it can double as a serving tray. You can cut your cheese and leave it right on the board for people to take. This simplicity can save you a lot of time.
If you have picnic tables, you have to have some chairs. Make sure that the sitting height of the chairs you choose matches the height of your tables. Many people make this mistake. Don’t be one of them.
Many picnic tables have built-in pews. That’s a great classic design, but it has some drawbacks. First of all, it’s bulky. Tables with integrated seating are as wide as they are tall, and it’s hard to store them. However, they’re beautiful if they are to be a permanent part of your backyard furnishings.
If you want portability or good storage possibilities, you should have some folding outdoor chairs. About one chair for every foot of table space is enough. If that seems to be cramped, you need to consider that there is going to be someone on each side of the table. That gives each guest two feet of space on the table.
There are several different styles of chairs available. The best one for you depends on where you’ll have your picnics.
Those ubiquitous folding metal chairs are perfect for indoor picnics, birthday parties, and church meals. But they can present problems when used outdoors. Their narrow legs with no feet may sink into soft ground or beach sand. Unless you’re having a picnic on concrete or asphalt, you’ll want something with some kind of feet or wide legs.
If you’re backpacking to your spot, you’ll probably go with a picnic backpack. You could get a couple of folding camping chairs and hook them to your packs with carabiners. This way, you can take your picnic anywhere that way.
You may think of umbrellas as things that protect you from rain. But they can block the sun too. In this case, they’re technically called parasols. Either way, umbrellas are there to protect you.
They come in all sizes and colors.
Look, even if you don’t mind the sunshine on your shoulders, consider a picnic umbrella to keep the heat off of your cold foods. Notice that direct sunlight can cause meats and mayo-based salads to spoil rapidly.
Of course, a single umbrella is OK for a smaller picnic. Larger gatherings can benefit from strategically placed umbrellas. Have a few where the kids play and a few where the adults will relax.
Of course, umbrellas are great for shade from the sun and cover for unexpected rain. But how many umbrellas would you need for an event with about 20 or 50 people in attendance?
Sure, this is where picnic tents come in handy. Small ones are just big enough to cover a single picnic table. Many people use them to cover food tables and coolers.
If you’re planning a big picnic, like for a church or wedding, you may want to look into a larger one. These are basically outdoor dining halls. Some of them even have roll-up sides with windows. You can fit about 10 traditional picnic tables with attached pews in one of these big ones.
Tents allow you to scale up to any event. A small backyard picnic may feature a single tent to cover a table, while picnics for large groups may have several tents. One could be for dining, and another could be for people to change into swimming gear privately. There may be a kids’ game tent. The possibilities really are endless.
You can’t have a picnic without food.
Food can be as simple as a couple of chicken buckets and slaw or as complex as a wine and cheese spread.
Don’t leave drinks off of your list of picnic essentials. Include plenty of water if your picnic is out in the heat, and there’ll be alcohol available. You don’t want anyone to dehydrate.
Games are fun for kids and adults alike. Playing together is a great way to build and strengthen bonds. That’s an essential part of any picnic.
Plan some fun and easy games. The good times will make your picnic an event that people will talk about all year long.
That said, you need to check our game selections for kids and toddlers, available below.
It’s a recurring question. What to bring to a picnic. The answer depends on what you want your picnic to be. Refer to this list when you have to gather picnic items for your next event.