Many people have taken to eating their meals outside when the weather permits, perhaps on a deck or porch, or even in a driveway. Dining al fresco helps you strike up conversations with new acquaintances and keep in touch with neighbors as they pass by. Whether dining alone or with others, having a picnic-style meal gets you out of the house to enjoy the summer scene.
Picnicking in “perfect comfort” takes a little planning, especially if you’re entertaining even just a few friends. Think about ways to perfect your picnic with the following considerations in mind.
“There are few things so pleasant as a picnic eaten in perfect comfort.”
– W. Somerset Maugham
Depending on your location, you may be able to picnic with a small group. Establish a BYOC (bring your own chair) policy upfront, and have people keep some distance between themselves rather than trying to sit together at a picnic table. Ideally, having each couple or family group bring their own small table to use while eating would work well. If you’re considering a picnic in a park or campground, be sure to call ahead to see if you need a reservation.
Keep it cool
Warm weather does not pair well with some foods, especially dishes with dressings like mayonnaise that can spoil in the heat. Always use coolers and ice to keep cold foods cold. When grilling, cook meat and fish all the way through and serve it hot. Fruits and vegetables, chips and salsa, pasta salads with oil and vinegar dressings, and sweet treats like brownies or bars are generally safe picnic fare. Try to keep food in a shady spot and never in the sun.
Stay safe in the sun
If you’re going to be outside for any length of time, be sure to cover up and use sunscreen to avoid getting burned.
Picnic umbrellas and canopies can keep you safe from the sun, but if it’s impossible to keep your distance using an overhead cover, opt for a wide-brimmed hat instead.
Avert ants, counter critters
Nothing puts a damper on picnic fun like insects and other pests. Certainly you expect to attract a few bugs – after all, you are outside – but you needn’t invite them to the party. Cover food to keep flies, ants and other insects at bay. Open soda cans are an invitation for bees and wasps, so always pour drinks into cups rather than drinking out of bottles or cans when you’re enjoying an outdoor meal.
Play it safe
Get your picnic game on with low-touch and no-touch games that everyone can enjoy. Trivia contests can be tailored for all ages, and charades are even more silly when played outside. Set up a croquet course or have a hula hoop contest for more active fun. A science scavenger hunt for different types of plants, birds or bugs nearby is a good way to keep grandkids occupied too.
If you’re picnicking in a park or formal picnic area, have plenty of hand sanitizer at the ready. Check ahead to see if restrooms will be open, and if so, how often they are being cleaned. Avoid touching door handles, pump handles and the like with bare hands. Wash well with soap and water if using public facilities.
Getting outside for a picnic can make any day a little brighter. And with the right plan and menu, you’re almost guaranteed to “picnic in perfect comfort!”