Planning an amazing picnic in the park takes smarts and patience. Without planning, several things can go wrong that make the occasion one to forget. Though picnics are an easy-going recreational activity, they can be complex to prepare. There are numerous things to remember and lookout for like attendees, dietary requirements, entertainment, safety and cost. But, if you are wondering where to start, we’ve got the essential checklist you’ll need to organise a great day out.
Who’s up for a picnic?
Your attendees come first before anything else. Without them, your picnic in the park becomes pointless in the park. Ensuring that all requirements are met for all of your attendees is the first step to a successful picnic.
Number of attendees
The number of people who will be at the picnic determines a number of things. For instance, a family picnic in the park will require more of everything than a couples’ picnic. Knowing how many people you’ll be providing food, drink and service for will help you to shop smartly.
Attendee special provisions
Ask your attendees whether they will require any special provisions. This can mean anything from addressing disabilities to making dietary adjustments to your original picnic ideas. The comfort of the attendees is paramount, so take every precaution to ensure their satisfaction.
Picnics can be held anywhere. But, ideally, the location is part of the centrepiece of the event. Because of this, a picnic in the park is the most popular form of picnicking as it elevates the experience.
Space can be linked to the number of attendees but not all the time. Most picnics take place on grassy knolls in expansive parks. Others take place in smaller environments such as back gardens. Your ideal picnic location will be large enough to accommodate all attendees, as well as you picnic set and any further important equipment.
If kids are along, consider a clearing without hazards that could cause injury during play. This becomes more paramount the more confined the picnic space is. Preferably, you’ll be able to supervise attendees whilst lounging.
It’s easy to find out whether the locations you’re considering have amenities by browsing online or calling in. Many of the UK’s best parks and public gardens provide toilets, shops, entertainment and help desks. Clever picnic planning will include these necessary amenities in location picking.
A bonus for the lazier picnics is a picturesque backdrop. Nobody wants to end up at a picnic overlooking a concrete carpark. The image of trees, tranquillity and neighbouring families picnicking is always comforting. A picnic in the park- no matter the park – is a great way to relax, have fun and take in nature.
Here are some picturesque sites to host your picnic in the park:
- Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, Richmond-upon-Thames
- Roundhay Park, Leeds
- Avon Valley Country Park, Bristol
- Jesmond Dene Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
- Devil’s Dyke, East Sussex
- Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Aberfoyle
Time of the Day
While it’s not common to have a picnic in the park during nightfall, the time you host it can reap big rewards. Perhaps you want to have an afternoon picnic in the height of the summer sun for some decent weather. Or maybe you’d prefer a dusk picnic underneath a rouge sky as the bugs begin to disappear for the day. Picking a perfect time of the day for your picnic in the park effects many aspects of preparation and should be chosen accordingly.
Besides the actual food, this is probably the most crucial part of picnicking. Without the full set of equipment, your picnic could quickly become sabotaged. Nowadays, you can buy an entire picnic set that provides all the necessary components for a picnic. These basic components are built for portability, so they are lightweight, compact and easily storable. Still, there are few more pieces that go beyond the basics capable of taking your picnic up a level.
Here’s a checklist of the equipment every picnic needs:
- Picnic Basket or rucksack
- Picnic cool box
- Entertainment (covered below)
- Picnic BBQs
- Picnic Stoves
- Wine Totes
- Safety supplies (covered below)
- Cheese boards and cheese knives
- Pop-up shade tents
- Condiments such as salt and pepper
- Food covers
- Wet wipes and dustbin bags
If you’re worrying about what food to make for a picnic in the park, don’t – anything goes. There was a time that some foods were avoided, like those that melt, but technology accounts for this now.
What you don’t want is food that is brittle and complicated to prepare. The food will be amongst your picnic set during the drive and walk up. Pack them in a separate container within your cool box where they are not at risk of being squashed or shook apart.
If you’re planning on doing some cooking or barbecuing during your picnic in the park, then keep it simple. Otherwise, go for lighter eats and finger snacks. It’s best to prepare foods beforehand. For the warmer food, there are electric cool boxes that insulate the warmth. Package the warm foods together. The less cold air there is within the container, the warmer they will stay.
The best way is to play it safe here. You don’t have to overthink the drinks because you’re not expected to know the exact tastes of all picnickers. Whether it’s a romantic picnic, a family get-together with kids or a more raucous teen picnic, pick drinks to suit.
Water is your first port of call. Then soft drinks like fruit juices and fizzy drinks are a safe choice. Bear in mind that there may be people who would prefer a hot drink. This isn’t practical but many public parks have nearby cafes for such an event. And, finally, take some alcoholic drinks for the picnickers who are of age.
Take a look at our rundown of some easy to prepare foods:
- Salad – potato and pasta salads
- Baked foods – pies,
- Cut vegetables
- Dips (hummus, salsa, tzatziki)
- Potato chips
- Soft drinks -Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, etc
- Hot drinks – tea, coffee, hot chocolate, etc
- Beer (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
- Wine (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
- Pies & tarts
- Ice cream
- Sliced watermelon
After chowing down, you’ll need some form of added entertainment. Perhaps you have a book or you’d like to have some family chat, but it seems a shame to waste the location. Fortunately, many of the UK’s parks have activities, sights and sounds to pass hours by. Alternatively, you could bring your own entertainment along amongst your picnic set.
Whether it’s a physical game like frisbee or bowls, or a less taxing pursuit like card and board games, there are plenty of games suitable for picnic outings. Parks have a lot of space to provide. As long as you’re not encroaching on the personal space of others, sports and team games are fun. Have a blast but be aware of your neighbour always.
Take measures to ensure that everybody who attends is safe throughout the picnic. First, bring along a first aid kit. With children, there’s always the likelihood of injury during play. This doesn’t exclude adults from experiencing mishaps too. A first aid kit stocked with plasters, bandages and antiseptic remedies is essential.