Pack Your Bags

One of the most challenging parts of planning a picnic is figuring out what to pack and how to pack it. These tips will help you organize your picnic and enjoy yourself in the process.

  1. Containers
    Choose a transportation vessel (or combination thereof) to suit your picnic needs, such as a:
    • Traditional wicker basket
    • Large canvass bag with a stable bottom
    • Cooler with handles - large enough to securely pack all chilled items and ice
    • Small backpack

    There are even products available now that combine the features of a picnic basket, cooler, backpack, and rolling suitcase all in one. Some even come with plastic cutlery, wine glasses, a cutting board and cheese knife, etc.

  2. Mise-en-place
    The following items are good to have on hand for casual outdoor dining. You may not need everything on this list, but it can be used as a guideline for packing the perfect picnic:

    • Utensils, forks, knives, spoons, plates
        If you use items from home, make sure you don’t throw them away!

    • Non-perishable foods
        Dried fruit, peanut butter, crackers, nuts, etc.

    • Beverages
        Bottled water, wine, iced tea, lemonade, juices, etc.

    • A corkscrew and can opener, or a multipurpose Swiss Army knife

    • Salt and pepper
        Small shakers or disposable packets

    • Small packets of condiments
        Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, etc.

    • Napkins and Paper Towels
        Old washcloths and tea towels work wonderfully and can do double-duty for clean up

    • Matches or a lighter and possibly a candle
        Use caution and make sure candles for picnics are enclosed so they can't blow over and start a fire, and never use in a high fire danger area.

    • A large trash bag for cleaning up

    • A blanket or sheet for sitting on the ground
        Quilts make a nice ground cover because they are thick and slightly padded.

    • A tablecloth, if you decide to sit at a table instead

    • A small plastic bag containing sunscreen, lip balm, insect repellent, band-aids, and wet naps/baby wipes

    • If you bring your dog along, don't forget their bowl, water and food

  3. Entertainment
    Depending on the amount of room in your container or how much extra stuff you feel like lugging around, you might want to bring along some items to help pass the time. For example:
    • Disposable, single-use camera
    • Battery-operated boom-box
    • Inflatable beach ball
    • Frisbee
    • Book or magazine
    • Travel chess or checkers set
    • Deck of cards, crossword puzzle book, etc.
    • Bubble mix


Published: August 2004