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How to Plan the Perfect Picnic

What better way to relax outdoors than with a picnic? Enjoying some homemade food and cold lemonade or a glass of wine, taking in the fresh air, and soaking up the sun at a local park… It’s the kind of activity that’s good for your mind, body, and spirit. Plus, it’s ideal for all kinds of occasions, from a family get-together to a romantic date.

Of course, eating outdoors comes with some minor inconveniences. No one likes bug bites or coming home with a sunburn. Luckily, all you need to stay safe and have fun is a good plan! That’s why we’re here to help you plan the sweetest picnic for friends, family, or special someone. From what to eat to cute picnic ideas and everything in between, here’s your guide to planning the perfect picnic.

How to Plan the Perfect Picnic

Picnic Food

The most important part of a picnic is the food, of course! But some dishes are better than others when it comes to picnic food.

Ultimately you can serve whatever you want at your picnic, but cold finger foods and salads are easiest since you’re transporting the food from home to be eaten elsewhere. Something that’s best served hot probably isn’t a great idea! Save the chilis and stews for your next winter dinner party.

For main courses and sides, the following work well:

  • Sandwiches
  • Wraps
  • Pasta salad
  • Potato salad
  • Corn salad
  • Fruit salad
  • Veggie or fruit skewers
  • Deviled eggs
  • Hummus & veggie platter
  • Chips with dip – salsa, guacamole, hummus, sour cream dips, etc.

Don’t forget dessert! Sweet treats are just as important as the rest of the picnic food. Some great ideas include:

  • Fruit
  • Brownies
  • Cookies
  • Sweet breads (e.g., banana bread)
  • Candy – gummies and fruit candies will resist melting better than chocolate

Finally, serve up some refreshing drinks! If kids will be in attendance, think something sweet and bright like lemonades, juices, or aguas frescas. For adults, you may want to enjoy beer or wine. A bottle of red wine is great for a romantic picnic date and pairs well with meats and cheeses… just make sure to bring a bottle opener or buy a bottle with a twist-off top!

It’s not a bad idea to also bring along water so everyone stays hydrated.

Picnic Location

The great thing about a picnic is that you really just need a grassy spot – even if it’s your own backyard! But if possible, we recommend going somewhere scenic. Find a local park with some shady spots. Even better if there’s a garden, walking path, lake, or pond nearby. You’ll make the most of your picnic if you can enjoy some scenery along with your yummy picnic food!

Just remember to consider the following things:

  • Don’t venture too far from home. You’ll be transporting food, and you don’t want it to spoil or spill on the way. While it’s a great idea to use a cooler or insulated bags regardless, the closer you are to home, the easier it is to make sure your food gets to its destination safely and securely.
  • Where will you park? Is there a convenient parking lot? You don’t want to have to lug your cooler or picnic basket too far between the car and your picnic spot!
  • Are there any rules to know? For example, are there certain areas where food is prohibited? Is there somewhere to dispose of trash? And if you’re bringing pets, are they restricted from certain areas, or required to be on a leash? Know before you go!

Cute Picnic Ideas

All you really need for a picnic is a nice spot and some great food, but it doesn’t hurt to have a fun theme! Whether you’re planning a romantic date or celebrating something special, like a birthday or graduation, adding a theme can give you inspiration for what kinds of food and drink to serve and can help you coordinate your supplies, like napkins and seating.

Here are a few cute picnic ideas to take your outdoor feast up a notch:

  • Breakfast picnic: Who doesn’t love breakfast? A breakfast picnic is one of the cutest picnic ideas. Not only do you have endless options for delicious picnic food, but it also allows you to meet a little earlier than your average picnic, before the hottest part of the day.
  • Luau picnic: Let’s get tropical! A luau picnic theme lends itself to fun outdoor decorations, from paper umbrellas in drinks to napkins wrapped with leis. Use lots of floral decor and serve tropical food and drink – think pineapples, mangos, and coconut, barbecued meats, and drinks you’d want to sip on the beach. For dessert, set out some tropical candies for guests to nibble on at their leisure.
  • Oktoberfest picnic: This is a super cute picnic idea for adults, since Oktoberfest is all about beer. Of course, kids can attend too, as long as you serve kid-friendly drinks! As for the food, there are lots of traditional German dishes that are perfect for picnics – sausage and potato salad, anyone? Don’t forget to bring along some beer steins to serve drinks in. In Germany, Oktoberfest occurs in September, so this is a great late summer or fall picnic theme.
  • Camp-out picnic: Camping is all about eating outside, so this is a super easy and fun picnic idea. Serve easy foods that remind you of summer camping trips in the mountains or by the lake, like grilled meats and of course lots and lots of s’mores! Lean into the camping theme with your seating and decor – sit on flannel blankets, tell “campfire” stories, and maybe even set up a tent for shade.
  • Night picnic: A night picnic can be a truly magical variation on the classic picnic. It’s especially great for romantic date nights. Just make sure your location allows nighttime visits – many parks close at sundown. But you can always use a backyard! The most important thing for a night picnic is lighting. Pack along some portable lighting such as lanterns or string lights.

Picnic Tips: Be Prepared!

Don’t forget about safety, and always picnic responsibly. Remember to pack:

  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Blankets, towels, or something to sit on
  • Shade if necessary, such as a beach umbrella
  • Plates and bowls – compostable paper is a great choice
  • Environmentally friendly disposable silverware
  • Environmentally friendly cups
  • Napkins
  • Trashbags – always dispose of your trash and recycling properly!

Have a Sweet Time

A picnic is one of the best ways to spend time with loved ones. You get to enjoy the outdoors and feast on delicious food and drink while creating lasting memories. To make your event even sweeter, bring along some candy cups from Candy Club. They’re portable, shareable, and come in all kinds of varieties, so you’re sure to find some treats that fit your picnic theme. Check out our selection today!