June 17, 2024

Summer may be the favorite season for picnicking but it certainly isn’t the only time a picnic can be enjoyed. Spring picnics are also fun for those anxious to get out-of-doors. Who would want to miss the autumn campfire or a winter feast complete with hot chocolate outside after sledding or skating?

Planning a Picnic

Planning and hosting a picnic can be an unusual way to spend a birthday or celebrate with friends and family. What do you need to host a really great picnic? No matter the weather or the food choices, the most important part of making your picnic a success is a thorough plan. Your plan should include choosing a date and time, including a alternate plan for foul weather. You should decide on picnic foods, have a method for protecting the food and keeping it hot or cold as needed, non-food supplies, location, seating, and extra activities.

Picnic Foods

The choice of what food to serve is of course dependent on the season and the reason of your picnic. A spring picnic may feature fruits and fresh salads and such items as deviled eggs and sandwiches. Try to be creative and serve treats like chocolate-dipped strawberries, cheese and crackers, slices of pineapple, or Rice Crispy treats. Think light and fresh.

A summer picnic fare might be hamburgers, chips, potato salad, fried chicken, cake, and lemonade. Think filling warm foods and cooling drinks. Remember that the foods you choose must be easy to transport and serve. You save work if you serve foods that can be eaten with minimal dishes and clean up.

An autumn picnic can call for something to cook over a campfire. Don’t think hot dogs are the only option though. Corn on the cob, donuts, or apples roasted on sticks, marshmallows and s’mores are popular choices. Hot cider is warming and fun.

Winter picnic choices should be warm foods like hot chocolate or soups in thermoses. Sausages or chicken in buttered bread, chocolate chip cookies, or hot fruit cobbler are good choices.

Cooking Outdoors

If adults are willing to help with cooking over a grill or campfire you have more options for picnic food and less for location, since you will want to serve hot foods near the fire. A hiking style picnic’s food needs to be precooked and possibly individual servings of foods so that the food can be carried. Keeping it cold then is the only problem. Each person can carry foods in backpacks with small lunchbox ice packs.

Serving Food Outdoors

Carry something to sit on. A picnic table is nice but nicer if you provide a tablecloth. A plastic party cloth or even an old bed sheet will work. If there is no table, be certain to carry a blanket for sitting on and lawn chairs for seating guests.

For windy days try tablecloth catches, duck tape or weights like rocks to hold the cloth in place. A cooler is best for keeping beverages cold and fresh. Thermoses can keep things hot or cold.

A roll of paper towels comes in handy and won’t blow off the table. Provide plastic utensils, cups, paper plates or bottled or canned drinks.

Decorate your picnic table, if possible, with some item that is seasonal – for example a pumpkin in the fall or a branch of colorful leaves. Decorating adds a special note to any picnic and brightens the meal.

Be sure to pick up the picnic area after you are finished. This is one of the host’s most important jobs.

Protecting Food Outdoors

Be sure to have someway of protecting the foods from flies and from heat spoilage. Plastic containers with lids can be used to serve from. Cover dishes with plastic wrap or foil.

Keep foods tightly sealed and up out of melted ice in the ice chest or cooler. Keep things clean, covered and out of the sun. Remember that many foods like eggs or meats, and condiments like mayonnaise, can spoil easily and cause people to get food poisoning. Keep these refrigerated.

Never leave foods out where birds, bears, raccoons or other animals will be attracted to it and refrain from feeding picnic foods to wild animals. This is unhealthy for them and dangerous for people.

Plan your picnic to fit the season. Use creative food choices and be certain to plan well in advance to provide everything your guests will need. Serve the food with care and protect food while out-of-doors. Your picnic will be a success if it is well-planned and hosted with style.

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