Is there anything that screams ‘summertime’ more boldly than a picnic in the park with family and friends? A picnic blanket under foot, mini Colin the Caterpillars piled high and a bottle of wine enjoyed alfresco (responsibly of course). It is one of those glorious activities that leaves you feeling pleasingly happy and sleepy all at once.
Picnics are a favourite with authors, too, with people attributing the ‘invention’ of the picnic to Wordsworth and Jane Austen's Emma reaching the height of its tension during a picnic on Box Hill. With its roots in such great literature, no wonder we feel there is something so romantic about a picnic.
What should I buy for an outdoor picnic?
There are a few items that even the most basic of picnics will require. At the very minimum you’ll need something to carry your items in (a picnic basket is the most stylish option, but perhaps not the most practical). You will need a cutlery set, as although your regular one will do, it’s worth noting that it’ll be heavier to carry than some reusable bamboo cutlery or melamine picnic cutlery. You’ll need tumblers to drink from, a blanket, some napkins and dinner plates. Then all that’s left is the food!
No matter how carefully you choose your day, the British summertime is far too unreliable not to have a contingency plan in place. In case of wind, rain, clouds or, dare we say, too much sunshine, a cabana or beach tent will stand you in good stead. Business & Pleasure have some cheerful options for both.
Lay down the groundwork
Besides the food, a picnic blanket is the MVP of a picnic. Choose something in a playful check for a spin on traditional plaid. Bonus points for blankets with carry handles or straps to help keep them compact and manoeuvrable.
A comfortable seat
Those who don't have too far to walk, or have the manpower to carry them, should look at investing in a stylish, comfortable chair. These Anthropologie picks are adorned with a bohemian pattern reminiscent of the Bloomsbury group's work.
At a picnic, it's the little details that go a long way to making it a special event. The napkin that comes at just the right time, the shelter that offers shade. When it comes to drinks, glass straws are a lovely touch, especially when paired with spoons in matching colours. These ones might be for ice cream, but they'd work just as well in a cocktail.
Pretty plates and platters
Whether your food is homemade or shop bought, getting everything out of its tupperware or plastic makes a big difference to the overall feel of the picnic. A pasta salad in plastic box says ‘office lunch’, but one in a pretty bowl is much more glamorous.
Why sacrifice style for practicality? There are plenty of acrylic glasses available now that are just as chic as the champagne flutes you might have at a dinner party.
Light it up
A portable light is a necessity for picnics that stretch into dusk.
Raise it up
Getting your food up and off the ground is a must if you're going to be eating in wooded or grassy areas. A smart wooden table will also offer added stability for drinks and glasses.
If you'd rather just have it all done for you, there are plenty of charming options available. Picnic sets tend to have tumblers, plates, cutlery and napkins inside, so you can simply grab and go.
How do you make a picnic more comfortable?
Over the past few years, the picnic has become serious business. Gone are the days of bobbled, itchy blankets and plastic cups. A new dawn of terrifically chic cutlery, napkins and hampers has arrived and we are very much on board with it.
There are a few items you can buy to make your picnic much more comfortable. If you’re embarking on a country picnic and planning to plonk yourself down in the middle of a field, you might want to bring along some collapsible or folding outdoor chairs. These will provide a place to lounge and offer respite from the floor when you need to stretch your legs. More urban or public picnic spots, such as viewpoints, will likely have picnic tables or benches for you to make use of.
There are also a range of smaller picnic accessories that can improve your excursion at very low cost. There are cooler bags to keep your drinks and food chilled, waterproof picnic blankets to ensure dew or moisture doesn’t seep through and cotton napkins that are infinitely better for the environment than paper ones.
If you’re going all out and bringing a picnic table along with you, consider dressing it with all the accoutrements you would your dining table. Gingham tablecloths, wine glasses and bottle holders will all contribute to not only the perfect table, but the perfect picnic too.
In homage to this summer activity, we have rounded up the loveliest picnicware going, to make a picnic feel like eating in an outdoor dining room. Now all you need to do is browse through our collection of the best picnic recipes and away you go.