You’ve heard it before—
”Life is no picnic.”
We get it. Bah humbug. There is so much in life to get you down. But maybe, just maybe, life is sometimes a picnic . . . like when you are actually on a picnic. Then it is pleasant, carefree, and a whole lot of fun. It can even be a tad romantic.
Summer is the best time for a relaxed outdoor meal, so we’ve come up with a date that will get you lounging in the grass, gazing at the clouds, and holding hands in the summer breeze. We’ve broken down where and when to go, as well as what to bring and what delicious food prepare. There’s no time to waste—summer will be over before you know it. So grab your blanket and you basket and get picnicking.
Where to Go
The word “picnic” is theorized to come from the French phrase “pique une niche” or “pick a place.” Even three hundred years ago, when the phrase first began to be used, a picnic was about getting away from the distractions and responsibilities of the world.
So start thinking: where can you go to get away? It may not be as far as you think. Perhaps there is a lake or creek nearby you can drive to and relax on the banks. Or maybe there’s a public forest or open space with a ready-made picnic table. If you aren’t familiar enough with the area, try searching “picnic area” in your maps app. You never know what might pop up!
If you aren’t having any luck, don’t overthink it. If you are confined to a big city, go to your local park and find a secluded tree to sit under. Heck, set up a picnic in your backyard if you have to. Pick a place where you can feel like you are getting away, even in the midst of the chaos.
When to Go
The time of year and time of day you decide to go on your picnic largely depends on where you live. I many places, the heat of midsummer makes it too hot to picnic any time other than morning or evening. (In that case, don’t forget the bug spray!) Early and late summer can have lower temperatures and provide you with more freedom to choose when you want to picnic.
What to Bring
Here’s where things start to get overwhelming. A big complicated meal requires a lot of complicated tools. So? Keep it simple. If this whole picnic thing intimidates you as it is, start small. Choose a meal that you can eat with your hands and that you can prepare in advance, plus bring drinks from cans or bottles. Then just bring the essentials: a blanket, something to carry the food in (like a backpack or a cooler), and some napkins (you are eating with your hands, after all).
If you feel comfortable going all out with your meal, you’ll need some better supplies. That’s where a picnic basket can really come in handy. Nowadays they make all sorts and they all have their own distinct advantages. We’ve listed our recommendations below. The first is a classic basket that will make your picnic charming and Instagram-worthy. The second, on the other hand, is very practical. (Whoever decided a picnic basket should actually be a picnic backpack is an absolute genius.) Last is a basket that comes with its own table that stakes into the ground so you don’t have to worry about your glasses tipping over. Another stroke of genius.
Scroll to the bottom of the page for our printable date night kit, including a checklist of everything you might need to bring.
What to Eat
Now we’ve come to the real question: what to eat? The real answer is: whatever you want. While a picnic may bring to mind certain foods, you can choose anything you would like to bring and it can be as simple or as complicated as you choose.
For example, if you want to keep it as easy as humanly possible, just order take out. Eating a pizza with a couple cans of soda under a big tree in the park still counts as a picnic. Store-made salads, sushi, seven-layer dip? All of those count too.
However, if you want to go the distance even just a little bit, a prepared meal can feel a bit more romantic and special. Items you can eat with your hands still come in handy here (pun!), just with a little more preparation. Fruit, nuts, cheeses, crackers, veggies and dip—all are the epitome of picnic food. So are sandwiches and salads. Easy.
What about to drink? Bring a bottle of something sparkling or mix up a mocktail to drink out of that stemware in your basket. A bottle of wine wouldn’t go amiss either, just be sure to check your local laws wherever you are picnicking to see if you need a liquor permit.
If you want more exact ideas and recipes, check out our recommendations for cookbooks below. Not only is every page of each of these books a pleasure to look at, they also give practical tips on how to craft the perfect outdoor shared meal. My particular favorite is A Year of Picnics by Ashley English, which gives ideas for picnics all year round, as well as for activities to do while you are there.
What to Do
Lastly, if you are hesitant about picnicking because it sounds, well, boring, we invite you to update your mindset. There’s something healthy and freeing about having nothing to do, as well as about enjoying being outside in the presence of that awesome human being you’ve chosen to call yours. Plus, it’s about time you both put down those cellphones for a while.
That said, we’ve crafted some fun activities and conversation topics to keep energy flowing. They are available below in our printable download, along with a checklist of what to bring and an invite to give your date something to look forward to.
Summer Picnic Date
Time: 1+ hours | Cost: $$ | Location: Outdoors | Level: Easy
There is something extra romantic about sprawling on a blanket with your date on a summer picnic. The sun flickers through the leaves of the trees. The sound of nature fills your ears, replacing the usual car horns, hustle and bustle. The light breeze cools you off while you chat, snack, and just enjoy each other’s company. While it isn’t always easy to find such a peaceful place to get away from it all, there is always some oasis to be found, no matter where you live. We’ve made a list of everything you might need to make this summer picnic one for the scrapbook.
Printable Picnic Checklist
Printable Innocent Diversions
A Blanket or Table Cloth (see above for suggestions)
Snacks and Beverages (see above for suggestions)
A Picnic Basket, Bag, or Cooler (see above for suggestions)
Tools and Utensils (see above for suggestions)
Bug Spray, Sunglasses, and Sunscreen
Download the free printables below--including the invite, checklist, and activities--and print. Cut out the pieces (we recommend using a portable paper cutter). Otherwise, you can download them to your phone or tablet (screenshot the invite and text). Then, gather your materials.
Deliver the invite to your date. You could leave it out on the counter one morning, send it via snail mail, pin it to your fridge, or come up with something else creative. If you go the digital route—text it.
When the day arrives, prepare anything that needs to be prepared in advance. Remember things tend to be easier to prepare in your kitchen.
Double-check your check-list and use the restroom one more time before you head out the door to scope out the perfect picnic spot.
Take a few minutes to set the scene. Lay down the blanket, set up the basket, pour the drinks. Make a deal with your date to only use your phone for emergencies (and maybe a photo or two!). No texting, no games, no social media, no distractions.
Sit back and relax as you eat, drink, and enjoy the moment. Take a deep breath to appreciate being outside, away from your house, your job, your responsibilities, your technology, whatever it is that stresses you out.
Whenever you feel like it, try out one of our “innocent diversions.“ It may be an activity, a magic trick, or a conversation topic.
Take your time, enjoy the moment, and have fun. When you get home, share a photo of your picnic with us on your favorite social site!
How was your summer picnic? Show us on Instagram @makeadateofit #makeadateofit
This Post was Last Updated 08/06/2019