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What To Bring On A Picnic

What To Bring On A Picnic: everything to pack, including lots of ideas for picnic food, activities and decor for the perfect picnic.
What to bring on a picnic

Picnics are such a fun activity, but it can be hard to know what to bring on a picnic, or where to start when you’re planning a picnic.  We’ve broken down exactly what you’ll need to think about to create the perfect picnic.

Picnics are such a great way to entertain and get together with friends.  So often we worry that our homes aren’t big enough, not decorated how we want them to be, or we’re overwhelmed with getting our space tidy enough for company.  Picnics are the perfect solution to all these problems and if you have any of these worries, picnics are the best way to entertain in good weather.  Rain and picnics don’t go together, so the first picnic essential is  a sunny day.  Be sure to check the weather forecast when your planning any outdoor picnics.

Picnic Infographic Free Printable

Picnics are such a favourite of ours.  We put together this beautiful picnic infographic.  Use as art in your home, or as a handy picnic checklist.  Grab it as a free printable.  It’s in our Free Resource Library.  To access it subscribe below for instant access.


picnic info graphic

Where To Picnic

The most popular setting for a picnic location is a favourite local park.  A picnic spot near water is always a good choice too.  Many parks have picnic tables which can be a nice option.  Some parks even have bbq’s that you can use for picnicking.  If there’s no picnic table don’t worry, a picnic blanket on the ground is a great choice too for enjoying the great outdoors.

how to host a picnicIn some areas, if you have a big group of people for a large picnic, you may need to book a space in advance, but for small groups that’s usually not necessary.  You might also want to consider that in most public parks you can’t drink alcohol.  This can make your own backyard a great location too.  If you have a backyard patio and table it makes things really easy to set up a beautiful backyard picnic.

picnic ideas

Start With A Blanket

Even if you’re lucky enough to be somewhere with a picnic table, a blanket for the seats and a table cloth for the table are always a good idea.  You might also consider clips to hold the tablecloth in place, especially if it’s a little windy.

If you’re picnicking on the ground you might want a special picnic blanket that’s waterproof on the back.  Whatever blanket you use you might want to add a table cloth layered over top, or even some cushions to make things more comfortable and add to the decor.  Faux fur rugs work great too.

what to pack for a picnic

We’ve also used an old pallet as a makeshift picnic table a few times.  These are often easy to find near the garbage pile for retail stores.

how to plan a picnic

what to bring on a picnic

Decor Ideas

The beauty of nature is the best decor of all, but it can be fun to add a few more pieces to really make the occasion feel extra special and festive.  Think of adding some bunting to a tree overhead, or some balloons for a birthday.  Another fun touch is always a vase of flowers.  If you’re picnicking on the ground sometimes a wood crate that you can use to carry supplies can be used as a little table in the middle of your picnic blanket and be the perfect spot for flowers and drinks so they don’t get knocked over.  These special touches are perfect for making your picnic feel like a special occasion.

ideas for a picnic

What To Pack Your Picnic In


One of the first rules of picnicking is to keep cold foods cold.  We don’t want anyone getting sick from spoiled food.  So if you’re going to be in a hot car before hand, or not eating right away be sure to pack the food so it can stay cold with ice packs or in a cooler or cooler bag.  Especially for picnic favourites like chicken salad, egg salad, or potato salad made with mayonnaise you will want to be especially careful to keep these perishable foods nice and cold.  A cute bucket filled with ice is perfect for keeping drinks cold and looking cute.  Likewise if you’re serving something hot -like a cup of tea or coffee which is always so welcome at the lake after a dip in cool water, pack it in a thermos to stay hot.

how to keep your drinks cold on a picnic

Picnic Basket

Vintage wicker baskets are a favourite of mine.  They look so great, and can often be found really inexpensively at thrift or antique stores.  They add a really authentic feel to any picnic.  They’re not always the most practical though.  Perfect if you are driving to a location and don’t have to carry things very far.

what to bring on a picnic

Wood Crates

I also mentioned above that wooden crates can make great carry alls for picnics and can then be used as a little table as well.

how to pack a picnic

picnic food ideas


If you do have to carry items any distance to your picnic site you might consider a knapsack, or picnic knapsack for it’s ease.  As well, if you’re carrying things you might consider choosing a light and leak-proof container for your food containers and foregoing things like extra decorations, and cushions that would be too much to carry.  Tote bags are good options too.

Of course no matter what you pack your picnic in, you’ll want to put heavier items on the bottom, like drinks, and containers, and more delicate things on top so they don’t get squished or crumble, like breads or desserts.  Also, make sure liquids are well sealed.

Other Extras

You might also like to consider bringing some bug spray and sunblock, sun hats, and sunglasses.  Another fun addition might be some outdoor games and sports equipment such as croquet, or bocce ball, or a soccer ball. Board games, or a pack of cards can be fun to bring along too.  You might like to fly a kite, or swim if there’s water nearby.  Most picnics are improved with some music in the background so you might want to bring a portable bluetooth speaker.  And don’t forget a great book or magazine to enjoy for a lazy afternoon.  You might also want to pack a small first aid kit, just in case you need it.

What To Bring On A Picnic To Eat

When you’re choosing your picnic menu, you’ll want to consider items that travel well, and can be served at room temperature or cold.  The classic picnic foods listed below all fit that criteria.

If you love you to cook, you can make all your picnic foods ahead of time and pack them up.  Another option is always to make some items, and pick up some items already make, like sweets from the bakery, or salads from the deli section of your grocery store.  Take out is always another great option.  And if you’re choosing hot foods, or things that are a little harder to transport, then picking them up from a restaurant might be a great option.


Simple sandwiches are the most traditional picnic fare.  They’re delicious and so portable.  They simply travel so well that they’re ideal for picnicking.  Any kind of sandwich is a great choice for a picnic, so choose your favourite and bring it along, or bring the fixings for a sandwich and let everyone serve themselves at the picnic.

picnic food ideas

Charcuterie and Cheese Board

Charcuterie and cheese boards are also really great for picnicking.  Bring a few different cured meats and at least two or three cheese choices.  Add in crackers, baguette, and then some extras like veggies and dip, or fruit.  You might also like some pate, or some nuts and nice jams or chutneys.  The sky is the limit here.  Charcuterie and cheese boards have become some popular lately that it’s easy to find great additions at the grocery store.  Remember to pack a cutting board and sharp knife for this option as well.

what to eat at a picnic

picnic charcuterie

Fried Chicken

This is a picnic classic.  Pick it up at the your favourite take out place the night before and serve it cold with salads for a really delicious and easy picnic option.  Another great option is a rotisserie chicken, you can pick it up at the grocery store and serve it hot or cold.

how to pack food for a picnic


Always popular at a picnic as great mix with any of the options listed above.  You might consider potato salad, bean salad, pasta salad, green salad, or a fruit salad.  The more the merrier.  Just remember that these will need to be kept cold in a cooler.

what to eat on a picnic

Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

If you have access to a bbq or have a portable bbq these are always a crowd pleaser.  Kids and adults alike love them.  Remember to bring great buns and all your favourite condiments.

what to bring on a picnic

picnic food ideas

Fresh Fruit

Since picnics usually take place in the summer when fruit is in season and fresh and sweet, any fruit can be a great addition to a picnic.  A bag of summer cherries, a fresh juicy peach, or a slice of watermelon are just a few great options.

what fruit to bring on a picnic

what to bring on a picnic


One thing to consider when planning a dessert for a picnic is what will travel well.  Any kind of cookie or brownie is usually a great choice for a picnic.

how to pack a picnic

We love these easy one bowl brownies -see the recipe here.

brownies for a picnic

These chocolate chip cookies are also a favourite and the perfect sweet treats for a picnic -see our recipe here.

cookies for a picnic

Anything that you can bring in a mason jar makes them perfect for a picnic and easy to travel with.  You might like our cupcakes in a jar -recipe here.

how to pack cupcakes for a picnic

We also have a great recipe for Black Forest cake in a jar here, just remember to keep it in a cooler.

picnic dessert ideas


Soft drinks and juices are a great choice.  Bringing individual bottles and cans make them easy to serve.  Always make sure to have some water bottles available too.  If you’re picnicking somewhere where you’re allowed alcohol then a bottle of wine is a great option.  Or you might enjoy bottles of beer or coolers.  And don’t forget to pack a bottle opener.

what to bring on a picnic

Serving Ware

A picnic can be elevated by using real china plates, cutlery, glasses and cloth napkins.  There’s something about using real dishes in the outdoors that feels extra fancy and special and you’re sure to get bonus points from your friends for bringing them.  Just pack them carefully and remember to think about how you’ll bring them home dirty and include a plastic bag to tuck them into.

how to throw a picnic party

To makes things easier and less breakable though, consider using plastic.  They make such beautiful plastic dishes, plastic utensils, and glasses now.

There’s also always the option of paper plates and disposable.  There are more and more environmentally friendly options now too in disposable dishes so look out for biodegradable options.

I also like using take out containers sometimes, things like paper boxes, or a Chinese takeaway box can be really fun.

what to bring on a picnic

Whatever dishes you choose to use remember that this is a chance to add lots of style and flair to your next picnic.  Choose a colour scheme and mood for your picnic and choose things that coordinate for a really pulled together look.

how to host a picnic

It’s sometimes fun to make individual picnic boxes for everyone, kind of like their own little packed lunch.  You can use small cardboard gable boxes for this or individual paper shopping bags, or small picnic baskets from the thrift store would be a great reusable option too.

what to bring on a picnic

Each person will need a plate, cutlery, and napkins, and cup if you’re not using canned or bottled picnic drinks.  You might also like to add some salt and pepper, or any condiments that go with your menu.

Don’t Forget To Bring Some Clean Up Items

Don’t forget some hand sanitizer, and wet wipes or baby wipes for cleanup.  A roll of paper towels is sometimes helpful too.  You might also need some plastic wrap or ziplock bags for leftover food. You might also need some bags for garbage and recycling, so be sure to pack some plastic bags or trash bags for cleanup.  Leave nothing behind.

Don’t Over Think It

Don’t over think what bring on a picnic.  A picnic can be as simple as some takeout on a blanket at your favourite outdoor spot.  It’s fun to bring all the extras and make it really beautiful, but don’t let it stress you out.  Being with people you enjoy, eating yummy food outside in nature is all you really need on your picnic essentials list.

More Picnic Inspiration

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