I’ve chatted about my love for picnics before, but, with picnicking being one of the main things to do here in Sydney lockdown on the weekend, I thought I’d broach the topic again. And, also, I could chat about picnics for days. If you asked me to choose between an expensive boozy brunch and a relaxed, BYO al fresco dining setup, I’d always go with the latter.
So, what that in mind, I thought I’d share some picnic tips I’ve learnt over the years in the hope that you might benefit from them, too. And, sure, some of them may be obvious, but, hey, there’s a chance someone else might not know. So, that’s why I’m sharing.
Make It All BYO Food and Drink
Your picnic-mates want to help so let them. Plus, it’s an opportunity for show off their cooking flair and make a dish. For others, it might be a chance for them to buy and share their favourite dip, cheese or type of crackers. I know, I love introducing people to the tasty combo that is chilli cheese with garlic crackers.
Be Smart With the Food You Bring
Be strategic with what you bring, really thinking about the fact that it needs to easily be transported and might be sitting in the sun for some time before you consume. Avoid salads, ice cream and anything too sweet that will only just attract bugs to you.
Share What Everyone’s Bringing
If you haven’t already started a group chat for your picnic, start one so everyone can coordinate. My friends and I always share what we’re bringing in the chat, writing something like “olives, yummy bread and a knife” or, most often in my case, “chilli cheese, garlic crackers and two cutting boards”.
Don’t Forget Cutting Boards, Knives and Cups
Once you’ve made the mistake of forgetting a cutting board, knife or cups, you’ll never do it again. It’s best to have several cutting or cheese boards if you have a big group (as of writing this, we’re currently limited to five max in Sydney). Once I get to the picnic, I’ll start unpacking things and spread the food out on the boards. It’s a fact that crackers from a cheese board taste so much better than directly from the packet. Also, on the knife front, I’d go real knife over a plastic one. I always find that a plastic knife never quite cuts anything properly.
Okay, this one’s a biggie: before you head off, remember to slather yourself in sunscreen and bring it with you, too, so you can continually reapply throughout your picnic session.
Pack a Blanket
A nice, big blanket can really add to the aesthetic of a picnic. I have a blue, pink and white Mexican throw I like to bring for my friends to all sit down. When we had a bigger group (pre-lockdown, of course), we’d sit across two or three blankets set up next to each other.
Have Some Activities as Backup
I’ve had picnics both with and without activities, and they’ve been great in both cases. The activities, by the way, were bocce ball and astrology cards. It’s nice to have activities just in case so I’d definitely recommend bringing them regardless of whether you think they’ll be used or not.
This one’s not totally necessary, but thought I’d mention it. In fact, I usually don’t have music in the background of my picnics, but I have attended some that do and it adds to the atmosphere. If you do want tunes, remember to charge your wireless speaker beforehand – it’s so easy to forget and only realise once you’re about to head out the door.
Have a Wet Weather Contingency Plan
Having a wet weather contingency plan isn’t really possible in Sydney right now, given we can’t go to each other’s houses instead, but it’s a good idea to watch the weather in the lead up to your picnic and ask guests to be open to reshuffling the time in the day if there’s a chance it might rain at the time the picnic was planned for.
Pick the Right Spot
And finally, on the day of the picnic, be sure to pick the right spot. Check for the best view, that the area is grassy and doesn’t have too much dirt, and that you’re not near too many other people. Also, if you can find a spot that’s half in the shade, half out, that’s your best bet as some people love the sun and others can’t be under it for too long.