Picnic Ideas That Don’t Feel Stale After a Year of Nothing but Picnics

·4 min read

You can’t deny it: 2020 was the year of the picnic. Many of us—even Michelin-star restaurant-goers—found ourselves pondering picnic ideas for the first time ever. With many of our favorite haunts closed, we had no choice but to take to outdoor spaces with a blanket and cold cuts in tow. All of this raises the question: Are there any fresh picnic ideas left for the summer of 2021? And this one: Have we eclipsed the classic red-and-white-checked throw with a spread of premade sandwiches, store-bought hummus, and bags of chips? You bet.

Instagram and TikTok have served us the new blueprint for picnic ideas on a platter (or in a picnic basket). Click #picnics and you’ll spot kaleidoscopic charcuterie boards, wicker baskets overflowing with freshly cut florals, and dreamy cottagecore aesthetics. If you can’t achieve any of this without assistance, rest assured there are many ways to reach picnic nirvana. Below, luxury picnic planners (yes, really!) share their best summer ideas.

Keep it clean.

First things first: Plan to leave the picnic area how you found it—or even cleaner!—by prepping ahead. According to Sophie Richardson, the founder of picnic delivery company Pique, this is the number one rule of picnics. “Most importantly, avoid unnecessary packaging,” says Richardson. “And take your rubbish home if you can't fit it in a bin.” You heard her.

Opt for simple dishes.

Picnics are at the whim of the elements—occasional raindrops or blazing sunshine—so it pays to opt for low-maintenance dishes. During the summer, Richardson recommends food that can handle the heat. “Nothing that's going to melt or sweat too much,” she says. “I would suggest a mixture of easy finger food that doesn't require cutlery, a few dishes to plate up, and then a few dips with chips and crudités. Then something sweet, like double chocolate brownies and strawberries.”

A charcuterie board is the preferred picnic food for Picnic 'n Chill cofounders Coco Chan and Jocelyn Chin, as it’s easy to share and serves as a striking centerpiece. So what’s on their ideal board? “An aesthetically pleasing charcuterie board might feature rose petal salami, prosciutto, jams, cheese, honey, crackers, and more,” says Chin, whose video about luxury picnic planning went viral last year.

Be a sun spotter.

So you’ve secured the perfect spot for your picnic. Perhaps you’re on the crest of the hill overlooking the city. Or you’re on the banks of the river in a prime-time people-watching spot. Maybe you’ve done the impossible and found an ethereal spot among the lavender fields in the South of France. Excellent. But don’t forget about the sun.

“To ensure you are not baking,” says Chin, “look at the sun and see where it will move after an hour or two. Keep in mind how long you will be at the picnic spot and choose the best location with a mix of shade and sunshine.”

Pay attention to decor.

For Chan, picnics are an aesthetic affair. She says delicious food and good company make a picnic great, but aesthetics make it “perfect.”

She suggests getting a little experimental with decor. “We would include handmade floral or curtain arches, custom-made picnic tables, beautiful glassware, gold cutlery, floral centerpieces, and aesthetic decorations,” says Chan. She recommends exploring different color themes and combinations to suit your style, environment, season, and food.

Prepare for rain or shine.

Picnic 'n Chill picnics are year-round affairs: “We offer portable heaters for the colder days and also a sun umbrella for shade on the warmer days,” says Chin. The rest of us aren’t expected to be this prepared.

If you have a hunch that the weather will turn, be prepared. Bring a large bag and toss in a blanket (in addition to the picnic blanket you’ll be sitting on) and a few spare sweaters. Your guests will be grateful if they get chilly or forgot another layer.

Pack pillows!

Chin’s go-to seating is an ultra-supple memory-foam mat. If you don’t have one of these lying around, you can easily achieve this level of comfort. Got some room in your Mary Poppins–esque bag of tricks? Add a few cushions or throw pillows.

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Originally Appeared on Glamour