The soft sun rays playing hide and seek with the little ripples on a lake. Warm breeze gently caressing the willow branches. Stylish folding chair couldn’t be more comfortable. The rustic basket was such a perfect find. Plated blanket for a hubby to stretch on. A bottle of your favorite red carefully wrapped to preserve its chilly flavors. Kids happily laughing in a distance, as the are chasing some cute little critters through the grass… what could be more relaxing then a family picnic? If this is your vision of the perfect family picnic, then leave kids at your sister’s noisy community pool and take non-talkative grandpa with you instead. Not up for a trade? Then cross the word “relaxing out of your expectation list, use a few smart tips to plan ahead and enjoy a really memorable and fun family afternoon.
Smart Tip #1
Grab a kid wagon. If you have an easy to fold soft one from Costco – you are a winner, if not – grab any of them. Why?! So that you don’t have to drag all your provisions on your own shoulders, of course! No, I am not as worried for the way TO the picnic, though it is nice to keep some weight off your shoulders! I am thinking of the way back, when the young picnic goers are tired and you have to carry both the provisions… and the young picnic goers. Skip the stroller, the wagon will do just perfectly.
Smart Tip #2
Skip the rustic basket. And the non-disposable utensils. Yep, it is pretty! Take a few pretty pictures with it on the porch and then leave it at home until your kids are old enough TO CARRY IT. Yep, until then, stick to comfy totes or backpacks – things that wouldn’t leave your shoulders sour, arms aching, memories stained by pain when you end up carrying both the food left overs, the utensils, and the young picnic goers who didn’t fit into the wagon.
Smart Tip #3
Do get a comfy blanket. Grass tickles, itches, yuckles, and overflows with not-so-cute little critters. I adore, swear by, wouldn’t be caught dead without the blanket that my friend got for me at Bed Bath and Beyond a couple of years ago: it has a plain, sturdy, dark and not so easy to get dirty or stained fabric on one side, soft plaits on the other. The best? It folds like a zipped up tote and has a shoulder strap. Weather it is a beach, a hike or a picnic – we always load it up with some necessities like a tote, magically unfold it into a comfy floor blanket at the spot, and as easily get it back onto a shoulder as a tote later. Highly recommend.
Smart Tip #4
Pick your location wisely. Not too far, unless you are ready to dedicated the entire way to your special spot listening to the never ending “Are we there yet? chant (been there done that!) and the entire way back to all its other variations. Not too close – having a picnic on a parking lot is no fun either. I do like a spot to be at least a tiny bit pretty – otherwise, we could just stay home and avoid dragging all the stuff with us. Tiny bit pretty, close enough to the car AND a bathroom, far from the bees – that’s my mantra.
Smart Tip #5
Foodwise: think snacks. Dry snacks are great – pretzels, crackers, veggies. We love getting those easy to carry little packets of humus or guacamole (again, thanks to Costco), but if they are not in stock – I just put a little dip in a tightly closed plastic container. Fancy aur devours – stay home. Simple peanut butter sandwiches, turkey on a roll, baguette that can be torn into pieces. Anything that can turn soggy – stays home. So does anything that has to be a certain temperature – warm or cold. We skip ice cream (unless there is an ice cream truck nearby) – it gets too messy and never right. Cheese often goes wet. Lax – gets too smelly. Cheese sticks and salami usually do just fine.
Popcorn could work!
Cut fruits in little containers with toothpicks or disposable forks – work well for us. Unusual to the most people, we usually start off with the fruits (most perishable), then get into the heavy artillery of sandwiches and crunchy yummies. If you think about it, it is both more logical and much healthier!
Smart Tip #6
Have a pack of baby wipes! AND some paper towels!! You’ll always find some use for both. Always.
Smart Tip #7
Water. Water. Some more water. All the running, all the crunchy foods, all the things kids just love to do – gets everybody thirsty. Juice boxes have so much sugar, that then just get everyone even more thirsty, so if you think you have enough, pack another bottle just in case. In the worst case scenario, you’ll end up washing something that the kids definitely will manage dropping into the ground.
Now you see how handy that wagon is afterall?
Smart Tip #8
Pack a few extra plastic bags – ziplock bags work well for some special little treasures your little ones surely will want to take home; regular bags are convenient for trash. They neither take much space, nor weigh anything, and, just like baby wipes, always come handy.
Smart Tip #9
Pack a few games or activities. Kids always find what to do “in the wild, but you may not be so “wild about letting them pursue it. A book, a notepad for tracing bark, doing nature hunts, or playing cards, or portable scrabble, or an insect catcher, or a kite…
Smart Tip #10
Sunscreen, insect repellent and a little first aid kit. Nothing fancy, but a tube of neosporin, a few bandaids, or a little portable first aid spray could make a big difference.
Smart Tip #11
RELAX!! It may go exactly as planned… or more probably – it wouldn’t. Whichever way it goes – the lower your expectations are, the more open minded and relaxed you are going to be about it… the more special it will turn out to be for everyone in your family.
Have any other special tips of your own? Please share them below!