Picnics at the beach, in the country or even in a city park can be amazing—a time to connect with friends, your partner, or the person you’re hoping might become your partner. With a bit of planning, and these nine items, you can prepare a perfect picnic basket.
- Water. This one’s so obvious that it’s easy to forget. Bring at least one bottle for each person who will be picnicking.
- First course: fruit. Grapes are nice, cherries, too, for a picnic. Watermelon is good for a family picnic—where you you’ll be lugging in the food in Igloos. But for a quiet picnic for two or four, best to have fruit that is ready to eat.
- Wine and wine glasses. Yes, bring the real glasses! It makes a huge difference in enjoying the wine. You can wrap them in cloth napkins (#4 on the list). A bottle of white and one of red will make sure you cover your bases (and really enjoy the picnic). Be sure to bring a corkscrew.
- Cloth napkins. If you have a red and white-checkered blanket, perfect! But if not, don’t worry. You can pick up cloth napkins at a discount store like Target. These are a really nice touch, adding a bit of old-time charm to your outing.
- Cheese and crackers. Here’s where you could get a bit fancy, if you’d like. Bring a charger plate (that is, a big round plate with raised edges so things don’t fall out), a few types of cheeses, crackers and sourdough bread. Slice up the bread ahead of time because, as “rustic” as it is to rip apart a loaf of bread, nobody really wants to eat it after your hands have been all over it. The cheese spreader should be from home—not plastic. It’s one of the three essential tools in your picnic basket: corkscrew, cheese spreader and a Swiss Army knife.
- The main course. My highest recommendation: good old-fashioned sandwiches, already made, at least one without meat. Sandwiches don’t have to be fancy to be hearty. It’s a picnic, for heaven’s sake, not a cooking show.
- Breath freshener. I’m not talking about a bottle of Scope here. Maybe a natural breath freshener, like parsley or apples.
- Dessert. Portion-sized and straight from the bakery are good rules of thumb. If you can bake, though, go for brownies.
- A book of poems, quotations or things that make people laugh. Once you’re done eating, but still sipping on wine, you don’t want your guests to start scrolling down social media feeds on their phones. A picnic is a perfect place to read together or to one another. Yes, it’s a bit corny but it’s a lost art worth reviving.
As far as the basket goes, you don’t need a formal picnic basket. A backpack will do! The thought that goes into the contents is more important than the container. Likewise, the best part of any picnic isn’t the food or wine; it’s always the company.
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