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If you typically celebrate Mom with a brunch but want to change things up this year, consider a low-key—but still festive—Mother's Day picnic. "Picnics are a great way to bring everyone together and have full autonomy over the setup of the space," says Brenna Gilbert, CEO and founder of Feste, an event designing company. "My favorite way to do a picnic is simply pulling your car right onto a field, opening up the trunk and creating an entire party from there—no chairs or tables needed. With great conversation and elements that enhance the natural environment, it becomes like chic tailgating."
Of course, you can create a picnic with a table and chairs, blankets on the ground—or, really, any type of set-up that suits you. The flexibility of a picnic is one of the things that makes it so great, says Rebecca Gardner of Houses and Parties. This type of outdoor gathering is also a lovely way "to celebrate spring and your mother," she adds. Read on to learn how to plan and execute the perfect outdoor picnic for the woman of the hour.
Choose a spot
The perfect spot can be anywhere from your own backyard to a grassy courtyard in one of your city's public spaces. As long as you can access the spot, says Gilbert, you can turn it into a prime picnic space. "An open area with easy access to roads and parking that still feels secluded and private works best," she says. "Explore parks or fields near you that you may have overlooked in the past. This time of year, where I live, I love to find somewhere the trees are in bloom or discover a few wildflower fields." Wherever you end up, make sure you clean up after yourself—no littering!—and leave the space as pristine as you found it (just like Mom taught you).
Plan the menu
The casual atmosphere of a picnic lends itself to easily prepped cold foods and individually packaged items, but the celebratory feel of Mother's Day means you can choose elevated versions of your favorites. "Prepared foods that you can eat with your hands or without a lot of utensils are key," says Gilbert. "Think easy, luxe sandwiches, like a lobster roll or chicken salad." She also suggests pairing elegant ingredients with everyday essentials, "like caviar on ruffles or Champagne and fried chicken." Gardner recommends a simple menu of items that are easy to transport, like "pretty little sandwiches with bags of truffled potato chips," and a bottle of Champagne to complement your salty treats.
Add a few elegant details
Your al fresco party should be stress-free, so you don't worry about transporting much gear. "A picnic is meant to be a lunch, outside, on the grass," says Gardner. "Forgo the table and its fussy cloth—just throw down a stylish quilt." (Be sure to pack tarps or plastic sheets to put under the picnic blanket, says Gilbert, so any damp spots on the grass don't seep through.) Then, set the mood with chic details. "Start with a classic picnic basket and stuff it with fun touches, like vintage serving trays and funky cocktail napkins. And to really set the mood? I bring colored tea lights or tapers. Tuck them into a few easy hurricanes or lanterns for double duty bug maintenance and ambience." By focusing your energy on the presentation, you can make the day even more special. "Get there early and set everything up; hide the bags from the deli and put everything on little wooden plates," says Gardner. "Greet your mother with a nosegay of spring blooms and turn up that radio. The gift is in the effort."
Invite the whole family
Unlike the reservations-only brunch you had to secure in February last year, picnic spaces offer plenty of room for everyone. Identify your space with a giant collection of biodegradable balloons tied to your trunk. "The color makes a big, cheerful impact," says Gilbert. "Simply bring enough blankets and rations for everyone to gather and celebrate Mom in a memorable way. I'm of the BYOB(lanket) camp—the more the merrier!"