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HOW TO HOST THE PERFECT PICNIC

by jenellewitty@gmail.com
How to host the perfect picnic

When it comes to hosting a picnic, there are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years. What to pack and how to prep for the perfect picnic!

the perfect picnic table and spread
tips on how to host the perfect picnic
the perfect picnic table Stanley Rodgers

HOW TO HOST THE PERFECT PICNIC

I’ve been to, suggested, and insisted upon a heck of a lot of picnics. It’s my favourite way to eat, I love sitting in a nice park under the trees. So in today’s post, I want to share my top tips on the gear you need and how to prep for the perfect picnic. Also, don’t miss my 40% off code below to shop from Stanley Rogers who makes these picnic tables, serving boards, and cheese knives.

SO WHY HOST A PICNIC? 

As I said above, I love picnics. For many reasons! It’s relaxed, casual, and fun, you can sit around so everyone gets the chance to chat with everyone, something I don’t like about sitting down at a long table for a meal. I always end up leaving a long table group meal feeling like I’ve barely seen anyone down one end of the table. With a picnic you can spread out or sit tight together, facing one another, you can slip off your shoes and relax. Hopefully, it’s nice and quiet at the park too so you can hear everyone.

Another thing I get sick of if we go out with friends for dinner is not being able to hear so well due to the noisy busy restaurant. Mario in particular has difficulty focusing when there is a lot of background noise, so I often realise after we leave a group dinner that he barely heard what was going on. I feel so sorry for him! With a picnic, the biggest issues I have encountered are generally run-ins with bugs, sunburn, or hungry birds! haha, this happened at this picnic too. Most of those things you can deal with, and the birds you can hope get bored and go away. 

I also happen to love picnic food! Of course, picnic food can mean a heck of a lot of things. So, I am definitely generalising. But I’ll get into some food tips below. 

The perfect picnic table to invest in
Adjustable serving table to use at your picnic
friends enjoying a picnic

1. PICK A DATE AND TIME

I am adding this, simply because it took my friends and I about six weeks to finally find a time to catch up again this time! Sometimes we are pretty good and can make something happen right away but conflicts in schedules do make things difficult. My key tips? Pick a date a couple of weekends ahead, set a time or give a couple of option windows and just invite friends to join you. It’s meant to be casual of course, so if they can all come, wonderful. If not? Well, you can usually get pretty close.

Then you can ask who wants to bring what if they are open to bringing food as well. Or you can be the host with the most and cater everything yourself. 

The best foods to have at a picnic

2. PLAN THE FOOD FIRST

Make sure you have enough time before your picnic to head to your local farmer’s market or grocery store to pick up all the food you will need. And don’t leave it to right before. I have made this mistake! Why? I’ll get to that in the next tip.

3. PRE-PREP YOUR FOOD

It is so important to pre-wash the fruits and vegetables or pre-cook any food that you plan to eat cold later. Give yourself time to wash, cut up, and prep food to put into containers to take to the park. For example, this time we brought vegetables, fruit and things like cold meats, dips, and cheeses. Beforehand, it is easiest to store these in containers to eliminate any store packaging and save time setting up. Having packaging hanging around while you try to find a bin is always annoying when you just want to have a good time at the picnic with your friends! Plus if you have all the vegetables pre-cut in one container and the fruit in another, it makes it quick and easy to lay it all out on your board when you arrive. 

Also, pro-tip, if you prep with enough time to clean your kitchen before you leave, you aren’t coming home hours later to a forgotten mess. I hate that.

4. WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO PACK

  • A picnic blanket or two (I don’t love the look of ours all that much so I have to invest in a pretty one someday). Personally, I’ve found the lined picnic blankets which don’t absorb moisture on the bottom are really handy. You never know how damp the grass will be so it’s better to be safe. We keep one in the car so we are ready to picnic anytime! Occasionally, I also bring a nice cotton rug to put over the top, but that is more due to my liking the way it looks and feels more cosy. Cottage core vibes I guess.
  • A carry case. Now, I am not saying a wicker basket specifically, though they are super cute. Baskets are great and I love taking mine along. However, one of the most practical carry cases we have found is a thermal-lined zip-up bag with long handles. In it, we can store food, ice packs and not worry about food getting too warm. Our friends have a small esky, which if you aren’t from Australia is another insulated hard plastic container which you either fill with ice or ice packs. As long as you have something reliable to transport food in, and ice packs to keep it cool, it’ll work. 
  • Containers for food storage, which I’ve covered above. Also worth packing? A spare rubbish bag to put any napkins or rubbish that comes up. Don’t leave that in the park!!!
  • Cold water in reusable bottles & cups. Disposable plastic bottles are a no-no so make sure you have a reusable filled water bottle to take with you and cups if you need them. As for cups, of course, it will depend on your drink of choice, your preference but I prefer taking real glassware to a picnic. Though, I’ve also run into broken glasses too so make sure to wrap them in tea towels/store them wisely in transport. You may have a picnic set with reusable plastic cups too, they are handy.
  • Plates, cutlery, and napkins are vital too. We keep accidentally smashing our plates at home so I didn’t have enough to bring with me that day, so I bought some eco-friendly bio ones that degrade. I find if I have a set of cutlery and plates or bowls ready to go in our picnic kit it makes it easy to get out the door quickly. (Something I have to get back on top of!)
Stanley Rodgers picnic table
  • Serving trays or boards. Now here is the real reason I wanted to share my picnic hosting tips. I am so in love with the picnic table I’ve recently gotten from Stanley Rogers. This serving platter table is a real game-changer. It holds one bottle of wine or champagne or in our case, gin and six glasses safely off the ground. The legs fold away securely to store or transport. Everyone wanted one after our picnic so I am happy to share that Stanley Rogers gave me a 40% discount code to share with you too. Use the code JENELLE40 for 40% off full-price items on their website here. The tables also come in smaller sizes, plus they have a range of cheese boards and serving platters too. I also had the Multi height serving board which allows you to adjust the board position at four different serving heights, depending on what you need. This would be super useful at home on a table too. We had so much food between us that this came in handy! By the way, the code is valid until the end of April so get on it!
Adjustable serving table to use at your picnic
Stanley Rodgers cheese knives with wooden handle
  • While I am at it, I also had some new cheese knives to try out from Stanley Rogers too. Which is so welcome because our old ones were given to us and I also hated those. Haha, I’m really hard to buy gifts for. Anyway, these are all perfect, the high-quality stainless steel blades are just right. The acacia wood handle feels comfortable while adding a natural feel to your cheese platter.
  • Sunscreen, mosquito repellent and a hat. Trust me, if you don’t have them and you need them, you will be sad!
Stanley Rodgers cheese knives with wooden handle

OPTIONAL THINGS TO BRING

  • Props for decoration. I know a lot of people love to get into Instagram pics during a picnic, so for some aesthetic touches, flowers are a cute option. I’m usually carrying a lot of things already so wouldn’t tend to worry about extra decorations or pretty props but that’s just me. While you are at it if you plan to take photos, make sure someone is willing not to be in them (this time it was Mario!) or bring a tripod for your camera or phone. Alternatively, be prepared to ask a passer-by to help you out. Just show them first the setup you are aiming for so they aren’t stuck shooting too many for you or taking some crazy angle. 
  • Throw cushions. I don’t tend to bother because it’s more stuff to carry, but if you feel the need, a throw cushion to lay your head down on or lean against can be cute and welcome.
  • Takeaway coffee cups if there is a coffee shop nearby and everyone ends up feeling the need for an afternoon cup! I’m all for the reusable ones, so pack them just in case. 
  • A game. We have our Finska set in the car as well as a whole Monopoly board, just in case! I’m not kidding. Since we are both fans of card, board, or outdoor games to play with groups of friends we make sure to have them on hand. We tend to pack a card game too, depending on how long we plan to be out. If it’s the kind of lunch picnic that winds up being an all afternoon thing, those games are so fun. 
How to host the perfect picnic
tips on how to host the perfect picnic
Setting up for a picnic
tips on how to host the perfect picnic

WHAT WE ATE & OUR GLASSWARE

We had a simple fruit, vegetable, cold meats, dips, and crackers board which I was excited to make to test out the new picnic table. Don’t underestimate plenty of fresh vegetables for a little crunch! My friends Adelle, Angelo and Emily brought chicken balls, salads, and dips. Needless to say, we had a lot of food! Then we finished off with some macarons, which I slaved away for hours making the day before. Just kidding! I bought them from our local super market. Nobody has time to make those! hehe

The glasses I brought here are Gin Gimlet glasses from Luigi Bormoli. They are huge, aren’t they? Of course, we weren’t filling them up with gin, I’ll just say that right now. Last year I decided to finally buy new glass wear (our old sets were housewarming gifts and I didn’t like them. Still, we used them for six years, so they had a good run. Now I’ve stored them in case I need extras).

Luigi Bormoli are one of the most renowned glassware manufacturers in the world, offering the mark of Italian quality. The stems of the glasses are strengthened with a patented anti-abrasion treatment that reinforces the glass surface of the stems with titanium, offering permanent protection against abrasion and diminishing substantially the fragility of the stem during daily usage. They can be put in the dishwasher (though we tend to wash most of our dishes by hand) and have a 25-year no-break guarantee. The technology is so clever! I love these. Another bonus? I’ve noticed due to the fact that the brand release so many beautiful collections, often they go on sale. I bought all of my home glassware on sale, managing to collect sets from various department stores. It’s worth keeping an eye out. Thank me later!

the perfect picnic table Stanley Rodgers

DO YOU WANT A SNEAK PEEK INSIDE MY KITCHEN?

Now that I’ve shared my favourite picnic tips, I am wondering if you like this sort of lifestyle content? Please let me know below in the comments. I have scheduled to share my tips for hosting a dinner party, my favourite cookbooks, how we set up our home coffee station, and so on. I’ll roll those posts out among the fashion and beauty posts in the coming months.

Would you be interested in a video on my YouTube channel sharing my favourite kitchen items? I’ve been watching a few of those and it can be so interesting what people use! Or maybe I just want an excuse to talk about the Vitamix I bought recently! I am obsessed with that thing. After years of wanting one, let me tell you, it was worth saving up for!

Where do you like to picnic? Got a favourite spot or dish you like to take? What type of picnic rug do you have? Let me know, I am curious. Oh and, has anyone else had run-ins with birds? I swear they are cute but super annoying!!

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Photographed by Jenelle Witty and Mario Recchia.
Created as a collaboration with Stanley Rogers. As always, all styling and opinions my own.

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