Hooray! June 18th is International Picnic Day… And you’d be mad to miss out! What could be better than eating outside on a huge blanket? Nothing, that’s what!
Here, then, is my guide to the perfect picnic. I’d love to see your pictures — tag ’em on Instagram with #internationalpicnicday!
When it comes to planning a picnic, my advice is to keep it simple. When you try to orchestrate some mammoth shindig, you are inevitably more stressed out, and less inclined to kick your shoes off and quaff champagne from the bottle!
So, make it easy on yourself and don’t go insane with planning. As tempted as you may be to bust out the calligraphy pens and wax seals, it’s not a wedding… It’s just lunch in a park.
Give your friends a bit of advance notice, and make it low pressure. Tell them to bring something easy and delicious, and that’s all there is to it.
(If you’d prefer to keep it small and low-key, you can have a picnic on a park bench with your BFF. Wear killer shoes, pop a bottle of bubbly, and enjoy yourselves!)
Food is a pretty major part of the picnicking experience. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want anything to get soggy, nor should it be something which needs to be served cold. A few hours laid out on a blanket will transform even the most artfully-arranged sandwich into a wilted mess. The best thing to do is make things as you go. At the supermarket, fill a few paper boxes with various salads and cold cuts. Then grab a fresh loaf of bread, a knife, and some condiments so people can DIY their own sandwiches.
Be sure to pack some chocolates, too, and bring along a couple of bottles of lemonade. If you want to get fancy, Martha has oodles of ideas. (Of course she does!)
In the name of practicality, you should always be sure to bring napkins, tea towels (you will need them for all kinds of eventualities), salt and pepper, cutlery and serving utensils. It’s also fabulous to bring an extra sheet that can be used to designate the table/food display area in the middle of your main blanket. (It will inevitably get food and spills on it, and it’s easier to throw a sheet in the wash than your picnic rug.)
You will need a picnic basket, of course, and why not get something that makes you smile? This watermelon picnic basket makes me grin and it’s a meagre $38.99. This turquoise wicker basket is $16 and cute as all get out. Alternatively, you could pack up a suitcase!
The same thing goes for a good picnic blanket. When I was a kid, we had a tartan wool blanket that we’d use for picnics, and it did the job perfectly. But of course, once you start browsing Etsy, you realise how cool the options are. I’m in love with this waterproof teal chevron job…
Second to food (and, I suppose, guests), it’s vital that you bring a camera… Or three. Yes, yes, your iPhone will do the trick, but why not bring along something fun to play with? It’s no secret that I am an unabashed fan of the Instax camera, but I also love Dianas, Holgas, old Polaroids, and new Polaroids!
A picnic isn’t a success because of the food: the food is really just an excuse to meet up. What makes a picnic fantastic is the atmosphere you create. The location, the guests, the music and the general conviviality of the event are what really counts.
Tarot cards are always a hit — I love The Wild Unknown deck — as are normal playing cards. (Why not buy some retro nude cards to spice things up?) If you want to really score some points, bring a croquet set!
Be sure to bring some bug spray, since there’s nothing worse than a honking great bug bite on your leg, and you could throw a couple of citronella candles in your basket too. (These will be so fabulous, flickering once the sun goes down.)
The real question, of course, is what to wear? You can never go wrong with candy-coloured pastels and shocking pink sunglasses…
In my opinion, one of the very best things to wear to a picnic is an a-line skirt: it will fan out around you gracefully when you sit down, and you will be able to kneel and lean and lie down once you’re full of lemonade with no fear of flashing your knickers. (Unless flashing your knickers is your modus operandi, in which case, by all means, wear a very short dress!) My pick is a strawberry pink chiffon pleated skirt, which will go with practically anything, but complements white brilliantly. (Very tennis chic.)
Flat shoes are an excellent choice: they’ll enable you to run around, climb trees, and schlep picnic baskets across neverending lawns. You must admit that stiletto heels sinking into the grass and mud is not the most chic experience. From black and white Oxfords to polka-dot Keds, the options are endless.
Be sure to add a hat to your ensemble: they are an essential, especially if you’re sitting outside all day. Sunstroke never adds to the atmosphere, darling! American Apparel does the best hats — surprising but true — in both solid colours and multi-coloured stripes. Swoon!
If you want some additional inspiration, this is one of my favourite pieces of writing about picnics. Here’s to a perfect picnic season…
Grass stains and big grins,
Title photo from Love Simone. The other babe is from Vogue Italia.