How to Pack the Perfect Picnic

picnic in style

Packing the perfect picnic is easy. I mean let’s be honest, a blanket, frisbee and cold-ish beer is really all you need to have a good time on a warm sunny day in the park. But in case you haven’t noticed, the Pretty Together idea of perfection compared to most normal humans is a little different. Did you see our fancy dinner on the beach? We packed china and a food processor for our Va-Ca-Tion. Seriously, it’s a real problem, just ask my therapist. 

That being said, let’s get back to our version of the “perfect” picnic, which is in fact totally easy to pull off, since we’ve already thought of everything for you.

We started with the basic necessities:

Picnic Blanket

Food

Booze

Things to Eat With

Things to Drink With

 Then we added a few luxuries:

 Table in a Bag

Portable Speaker

A Few Pillows (for old people backs)

Liz’s Super Weird, but Genius Neck Fans

Now, I know what you are thinking. Who the hell is going to lug all this sh*t to and from the park? And, that is a valid question. But would you believe Liz and I made it to our destination in one trip by each carrying a backpack, shoulder bag and table-in-a-bag. Seriously, there are so many good products out there that make this easy, so don’t let that stop you from being stylish and practical at the same time.

Pro Tip 1: Invest in lightweight bag and backpack-style coolers. 

Liz, my little shopping fairy, found some great FUNdamental bags and backpacks from Igloo. They are super lightweight, keep things cool, and are easy to pack and carry. Plus we now get the added bonus of twinning when we picnic together. Yes, we are dorks, deal with it.

But what about all the pretty picnic baskets out there? Yes, we love them. Yes, they are chic. No, they aren’t practical. They are awkward to carry, some are downright heavy and they are pretty limited space wise. Believe me, if Manet’s picnic goers had backpack coolers instead of baskets, the ladies might not have gotten so overheated that they had to remove their clothes;) Ahhhh, I crack myself up. Seriously, such a dork.

 Pro Tip 2: Invest in reusable melamine dishware and acrylic drinkware.

Melamine dinnerware and acrylic drinkware are having a moment. Not only are they perfect for a picnic because they are light and unbreakable, they are also reusable and don’t contribute to the trash heap. 

Just about every retailer from highend to bargain bin now sells attractive plasticware. I know that I am a big proponent of real dishes and glasses, even outside, but with all the great options out there, I am starting to change my tune.  

We found these super fun striped lunch plates and colorful appetizer plates at Target. And let’s be honest, these Opalhouse designed by Jungalow plastic goblets are fabulous and may become a part of my regular rotation inside as well. 

aPro Tip 3: Pack foods and drinks that are both tasty and safe when left in warm temperatures.

When deciding what types of food to bring, it’s important to choose items that don’t spoil quickly. Picnics that end with food poisoning are not fun. Have you ever tried to find a bathroom in an emergency situation in the middle of a park? Not cool.

You also want to bring items that taste good when they are lukewarm. We went veggie heavy for this picnic and opted for items that can be enjoyed without the aid of a knife to cut anything. 

Here is our list:

Panzanella with Burrata

Asparagus and Leek Salad with Pancetta

Cauliflower with Red Chili and Lime

Zucchini Carpaccio

Orange-marinated Manchego

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Bourbon Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Pimm’s Cup

Pro Tip 4: Carry and serve items in lidded containers that are lightweight and easy to pack.

There are a million different options for packing up your food. For picnics, lightweight and smaller packaging is key. We used these cute enamel bowls and fun bento boxes. If you are unfamiliar with a bento box, it is pretty ingenious. It’s essentially a stackable Chinese lunch box that contains different compartments for individual dishes.  You’ll be amazed how much one bento box can hold.

Pro Tip 5: Avoid individually bottled or canned drinks and opt for one large container you can pour into cups.

Bottles and cans take up alot of space in a cooler. We generally opt for 1 adult “punch” like this amazingly refreshing Pimm’s Cup instead of a variety of beers and sodas. Half gallon “water” bottles are perfect for transporting water or really anything you like. We love these in particular because they have a built-in handle, which makes them easy to pour, a screw on lid that keeps the bugs out when not in use, and a mouth that is wide enough to accommodate fruit. 

Pro Tip 6: Prepare for the sun and flying insects

 A lot of times, we focus so much on the food and drink, we forget we are going to be outside in the elements. Always pack sunscreen and bug repellent. I am practically an albino and mosquitos love me, so I tend to opt for the pale human trifecta: big floppy hat, 45+ sunscreen and DEET spray.

Pro Tip 7: Be Bougie

The older I get, the more comfortable I like to be. I’m not 18. Even though it sounds ok in theory, an old blanket and a warm six pack doesn’t cut it for me anymore. So let’s get into the essential “non essentials” that will make your picnic experience that much better.

The table-in-a-bag is one of the best things we’ve ever purchased. Not only does it give you a flat surface to set your plate or drink, but it also just makes sitting on the ground and eating that much easier. Added bonus: it’s super cute right!?!  Just bring along a couple of pillows and you will be lounging in style in no time.

Music makes everything better. I’m dating myself, but in my day we still lugged around ghetto blasters and a bag of mix tapes  – 3 miles up a hill both ways in the snow, of course. Now there are all these sleek portable speakers that connect to your phone via bluetooth. Liz likes the Roam speaker from Sonos. It’s light, easy to pack, sounds great and most importantly, it comes in Pretty Together’s poppy red.  So ya, it’s pretty dope.

Finally, I love being outside, but hate being hot. This little fan doohickey  is probably one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. Oh, and it looks just as stupid when you are wearing it. But you know what, I DON’T CARE. This bizarre little contraption has saved me several times when we’ve set up outside parties for clients, so style be damned, I’ll wear this neck thing like the proud dork I am. 

So there you have it, everything you could possibly need for the perfect picnic. Again, this is our version. You do you. But seriously, consider that damn neck/fan thing. It is AMAZING.

XO-

Jen

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