What to bring on a picnic is fairly straightforward. However, it is easy to forget some picnic essentials. Having to go back home or to the nearest store to grab a forgotten picnic item can be a chore. In view of this, we’ve compiled a list to save you precious time, and to help keep you on track this picnic season. This picnic checklist has a rundown of what to bring on a picnic, as well as tips for a fun-filled fall, spring, or summer picnic date.
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Fun fact: National Picnic Day is celebrated annually on April 23rd.
What to Bring on a Picnic: Setup
Bring a Picnic Basket
It’s not officially a picnic until you have a picnic basket. Or is it? A picnic basket will make it easier to pack and transport food, drinks, cutlery, silverware, etc that you need for your picnic. The following are our top picnic basket recommendations.
Bring a Picnic Blanket
If you plan to set up your picnic on the grass, ground, or floor (if indoors), then packing a picnic blanket is a great choice. You can sit on the blanket and/or lay your picnic treats on it. The following are our best picnic blankets recommendations. We have also included options for a large picnic or small group.
Wine Table or Picnic Table
A little table for your picnic will provide a sturdy surface to set up your food and drinks. The following are our top picnic and wine table recommendations.
Pillows and Cushions
Pillows are a good idea for picnic seating. Options for pillow use include placing them around a picnic table, or on their own on a picnic blanket. The following are our top picnic cushion, pillow (and pillow covers) recommendations.
If you plan to use picnic tables, a tablecloth can be a nice touch to your overall picnic aesthetic. The following are our top picnic tablecloth recommendations.
Decor is not necessary for a good picnic; however, it can be a great opportunity to add an extra dash of spice to the experience. Your decor can be as simple as a bunch of flowers, or it can be more elaborate. Either way, the following are our top recommendations.
What to Bring on a Picnic: Food Essentials
Bring Picnic Cups, Cutlery, Plates, Serving Spoons
Imagine arriving at your picnic location and realizing you forgot to pack plates? Gasp! Thankfully, most picnic baskets come prepackaged with said essentials. However, in the event that yours did not or you will not use a picnic basket altogether, the following are our top recommendations:
Tip: Melamine plates are a great option. They are sturdy and some even look like Fine China. They can be a better way than glass plates to create a luxe picnic experience.
You can opt for disposable paper napkins, paper towels, or cloth napkins. Note that some picnic baskets typically have cloth napkins included. The following are our top napkin recommendations.
Bring Picnic Food Containers
Food containers such as bento boxes are a great addition to your packing list for your main dish or side dishes. The following are our top food container recommendations.
Bring Picnic Food Covers
Keep your food safe from bugs and insects while outdoors with food covers. The following are our top recommendations.
You may find that you will need condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise, etc. Given that these are often forgotten, remember to pack them first. The following are our top condiments and condiment containers recommendations.
A cutting board will come in handy if you plan to slice fruit or other picnic food. The following are our top recommendations.
If you plan to nibble on cheese, fresh fruit, nuts, etc. then setting them up on a charcuterie board is a great option. The following are our top recommendations.
Refreezable Ice Packs for Food
Icepacks will ensure that your food that is served cold or chilled, stays cool. The following are our top recommendations.
Bring Picnic Food and Snacks
Finally, we saved the best for last(in this food section that is). Food and snacks are by far the most important things at a picnic. Note that there is no set rule for picnic food items. Anything from gourmet meals to lite bites and everything in between will do.
Some of the best picnic foods to add to your picnic menu include the following: fresh fruit, finger foods, pasta salads, fruit salad, egg salad, simple snacks, puff pastry, simple sandwiches, creamy potato salad, chicken salad sandwich, side dishes such as cut veggies, fresh veggies, feta cheese, etc. These are all pretty easy picnic food ideas to consider. Feel free to add your own great picnic food ideas and perfect picnic recipes.
Additionally, you can purchase snacks from your grocery store like chocolate chip cookies (we have a slight bias for these) or you can choose to bake desserts (or purchase them). You have free reign to determine what you want to eat at your picnic.
Tip: Some of the best picnic food ideas are pretty simple.
What to Bring on a Picnic: Drinks Essentials
Keep your picnic drinks chilled in a cooler. The following are our top cooler recommendations.
We recommend pre-filling your water bottles prior to arrival at the picnic site. The following are our top water bottle recommendations.
Bring a Picnic Bottle Opener /Wine Opener/ Cork Screw
What good is a picnic drink if you can’t open it, right? If you plan to pack a bottle of wine, a wine opener is essential. Pack a bottle opener too if you plan to have soda or beer bottles. The following are our top recommendations.
Bring Picnic Wine Bottle Stoppers
Maintain the integrity of your picnic wine with a wine bottle stopper. The following are our top recommendations.
Picnics are typically associated with wine drinking, but who’s to say you can’t color outside the lines? If you plan to create picnic cocktails, the following are a few cocktail essentials that we recommend.
Straws are also often forgotten. The following are our top sustainable recommendations.
Bring Picnic Refreezable Ice Packs for Drinks
Cool drinks and warmer weather go hand in hand. Icepacks will ensure that your drinks stay chilled. The following are our top recommendations.
Water is always a good choice of drink for a picnic. Additional options include lemonade, soda, juice, and alcoholic drinks. Note that some picnic locations may have some restrictions such as no glass bottles allowed etc. The following are our top non-alcoholic beverage recommendations.
What to Bring on a Picnic: Safety Essentials
If you are planning to have your picnic at an outdoor picnic site, the bugs are planning to meet you there too. *chuckles* Eating al fresco (in the open air) may leave you subject to unwelcome creepy crawlies. This is especially so in warmer weather. Be prepared to keep bugs at bay with bug spray. The following are our top recommendations.
Ending your perfect picnic date with a serious case of sunburn is not how you want to go down in the picnic hall of shame. Even if you plan to set up your picnic in a shaded area, ensure you are using sunscreen. The following are our top recommendations.
First Aid kit
A first aid kit is particularly important if you will be picnicking outdoors. Stay prepared with the following top recommendations.
For outdoor picnics on a sunny day, protect your eyes from harmful sun rays. The following are our top recommendations.
A good sun hat will protect you from harsh elements, especially if it will be a particularly hot day. The following are our top recommendations.
Hand Wipes/ Sanitizer
There may not always be a source of running water in close proximity to your picnic area. The best way to keep your hands clean is with hand wipes. The following are our top recommendations.
What to Bring on a Picnic: Activities Essentials
Perhaps to set the tone for your picnic date, perhaps to serve as background noise. Whatever your specific need for music during your picnic is, you can’t go wrong with a Bluetooth speaker. The following are our top Bluetooth speaker recommendations.
Bring Picnic Games
You may plan to play games such as board games during your picnic. The following are our top recommendations.
What to Bring on a Picnic : Miscellaneous Essential Picnic Items
You will need trash bags to clean up after your picnic. If you would rather not use plastic bags, the following are some good options that are sustainable alternatives.
Unfortunately, the weather can be unpredictable. Hence why you need to be prepared for it. Protect yourself from blazing heat or unexpected rain by carrying an umbrella. The following are our top recommendations.
Phone and Power Bank
Keep at least one phone with you, fully charged for the duration of your picnic. In the event that you need assistance, your phone will come in handy. The following are our top recommendations for power banks.
Your phone camera should suffice; however, in the event that you prefer more professional photos, pack your camera. The following are our top camera recommendations.
Pack a selfie stick for your (you guessed it) selfies, and tripod if you plan to take portrait photos. The following are our top recommendations.
Final Thoughts About What to Bring on a Picnic
To conclude, it may seem like all the essential items are a long laundry list of things to bring on a picnic. Nonetheless, not each and every item will be relevant to your own specific picnic needs. It is our hope that this guide will be an easy way for you to specifically identify what to bring on a picnic.
The best part about picnics is all the great options for quality time and great company with a perfect picnic companion. There has never been a better time than this picnic season to plan a memorable picnic. Get your great picnic recipe ideas, use this picnic list to pack your picnic essentials, and have a picnic that is the greatest of all time!
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Also, check out our guide to the Best Dallas Picnic Spots here.
Lastly, check out our What to Wear to a Picnic Guide.