3 July 2007, 19:49
“Apparently a recent survey was done where they found that a decline in people’s social values was strongly linked to a decline in the number of picnics they went on! More picnics = a friendlier, more co-operative world!”
While correlation is not the same as causation, receiving the above comment from Annaloren excited me so much that I thought I should write about how to have a great picnic!
Realistically, a picnic can be held anywhere — in a park, up a tree, beside a swimming pool, on a bed or on the floor of the living room — so don’t feel like just because it’s winter (for some of us), you are doomed to be excluded from all the picnic fun! Certainly, there is a great joy to be had from sitting in the sun, birds tweeting in the fresh air, but it is not absolutely necessary. Some of the best picnics happen on a bed, with a good spread of food, a cute person beside you & the rain pelting down outside.
There are, however, some essential elements. These are as follows.
Humans tend to be the best sort of guest, though if you’re having a particularly trying week, you might prefer to picnic with pets, stuffed animals or a handsome-looking gherkin. Picnics are best if they’re sort of impromptu, so don’t agonise over a “guest list” or anything of the sort. It is best to hold a picnic the day you think of it. Send out a text message to the chosen few, & don’t give too much detail. “Picnic, my place, 3pm, byo treats!”
Food & drink
Without food or drink, your “picnic” will really just be you sitting cross-legged on a rug, twiddling your thumbs; not as thrilling as it sounds. If you have mad kitchen prowess, feel free to wow your friends (pets/stuffed animals/gherkins) with a gorgeous batch of cupcakes, fudge brownies, profiteroles, or a tower of trifle the size of your torso. If not, or you just don’t have the inclination, go & buy something. It’s up to you what you purchase — some picnics you might want to aim for a sugar coma, while others will be more sedate. Some excellent picnic foods include sandwiches with the crusts cut off; corn chips & salsa; salami, cheese & bread; turkish delight & little ice-creams (which of course you should keep in a cooler/chilly bin/eskie).
Depending on your guests & your disposition, you may want to supply alcohol. I would personally be inclined to take a flask of Parfait d’Amour, but that’s just me. Some people will just be happy with beer or wine. A big bottle of Coke or lemonade will usually please everyone (except, uh, diabetics). Remember the cups!
Something to sit on
What you use for this purpose will probably be different depending on the circumstances. Spreading your duvet out on the living room floor is probably acceptable, but taking it to a park may not be. Use your discretion & brain power! I own a tartan rug with a waterproof bottom which folds up & has a handle for easy carrying, which is fantastic! Some people would encourage the use of little folding chairs but I think they’re a bit naff, I’d prefer all my friends squished up cosy on a blanket! (I like this rug very very much.)
Other things you may wish to have at your picnic include an MP3 player with portable speakers, a kite, Twister, candles (citronella if you’re outside) or flowers as decoration, plates & bowls & implements, trashy magazines, a Polaroid (or digital or video) camera, musical instruments, something for boys to kick (by which I mean a ball or hackysack, not a puppy), a portable grill, bubbles (as in soap liquid & a wand, but I guess champagne would be equally welcome), a book of poetry to read aloud, & something warm for when the sun goes down (hats, scarves etc., & if you can take extra then do, because it means your guests will stay longer).
You will, of course, need to devise a picnic outfit. For girls, a long skirt or dress is the ultimate thing. Boys should go for shorts, long socks & Oxford shoes. I had a quick look around & found:
Tea Rose Voile Picnic Shift, super cute.
Ants picnic gingham bag, totally perfect for throwing around & accidentally grass-staining.
‘Soccer moms are hot’ skirt, which I actually totally love even though it is really not my style at all.
Teeth slip dress, yayyy! Bare those gnashers!
Salmon dots reconstructed slip dress, perfect perfect perfect.
Smoky purple vintage slip dress, $18 & size XL!
Trees slip, the ideal thing for lounging beneath the branches.
Everyone should wear HATS, HATS, HATS!
Felt cloche hat, absolutely beautiful.
Polka-dot rockabilly veil hat, I LOVE this so much.
Operetta alice band, totally gorgeous.
Crown cocktail hat... “They say that the European royalty are becoming far less formal these days. That may be true, but just how does one co-ordinate a crown with daywear? Here’s a smart solution! All the royal glamour without those worrisome diamonds and emeralds.”
Fascinator miniature top hat, in a lovely fresh green.
If anyone brings a child, make it wear this! Awww!
Really, you have it made if you’re spending your time with people you like while stuffing your face! Just be sure to remember your sunscreen, & take your rubbish with you!
Extra For Experts:
Erm, picnic skirt anyone?!
Give your guests a cute doggybag of leftovers to take home!
BBC picnic food ideas! (Those Poms know how to do a good picnic.)
Planning a romantic picnic for two, from picnicfun.com.
How to host a picnic, from The Observer. (More Poms!)