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June 26, 2019

Essentials for a perfect picnic

Celebrate National Picnic Month

It’s summer, it’s hot and it’s Picnic Month... What’s not to celebrate? Many of you were waiting to enjoy the joys of warm weather: biking, hiking, reading under a tree, sun bathing, beaching and picnicking… of course! July is officially picnic month and its perfect time to catch up with friends and family relatives while enjoying good food outdoors. While most picnics are during the day they can also be at night, why not go for both.

Place

First thing you have to do is pick a spot. Think about the people that will join you, are they a bunch of kids, teenagers, middle age, seniors? It pays to find a really good place to stage the picnic and give you the perfect scenario for entertainment as well, it can be:

  • A public park with plenty of shady trees or shelters
  • A local beach or waterfront place
  • Scenic byways with picnic tables
  • A park with a basketball court or baseball diamond for a fun pick-up game
  • A park with public grills to BBQ

Foot

Planning out the menu is very important, and it’s easier to figure out the choices once you know the picnic spot and the people joining you, so it appeals to everyone’s taste. Always ask if anyone is allergic to any food and plan with that in mind. After you design the menu and quantities of food needed, ask your guests to pick from a list. This way you make sure that no one brings 2 of the same. You can go fancy and gourmet or simple and savory, it depends of the taste buds of your friends and family but for either menus, there are some basic meal prep tips to have in mind:

  • Keep cold foods, cold and hot foods, hot. The best choice is to stick with things that can take the heat. Consider nonperishable alternatives.
  • A cooler is a must, but if you bring perishable foods, 2 coolers should be the law: one for ice and beverages and the other for refrigerated foods to prevent cross contamination, open the last as infrequently as possible to keep food fresh.
  • Family style sharing is easier than preparing individual servings — and cuts back on the number of storage containers needed.
  • Don’t forget, knives for bread or spreaders, plates, napkins, wet towels, cutting board or any other important utensil that you might need, specially if you are grilling.
  • Never hurts to pack a little extra food in case more people are able to attend at the last minute.
  • A few good examples of picnic food will be whole fruits, cheeses, crackers, sandwiches, vegetables and any finger snack, look online for inspiration.

Entertainment

A picnic is supposed to be fun, come up with activities to get everyone excited! Ask the attendees for ideas, this is as important as the food. Here are some other ideas that can help you decide:

  • Cards and board games
  • Kites
  • Hula-hoops
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Frisbee, flag football, volleyball, croquet, badminton
  • Hot potato or duck, duck, goose for the younger gathering
  • Lawn game sets are often super affordable
  • Bikes

Unforgetable essentials

Water – Bring as much as possible, is the most important survival need, and a rule of thumb is to drink 2 liters of water a day or more. If you are eco-friendly choose gallons and ice to cool them and everybody can bring their refillable water bottles. If it’s more convenient for everyone, then go for the mini disposable bottles.

Blanket – A waterproof blanket would be a good choice. The grass or sand might be wet, be sure for it to be as big as possible, some say a 9 feet x 9 feet is the perfect size, because it leaves enough room to stretch out.

First Aid Kit – Be it a hike or local park picnic a first aid kit is ALWAYS ESSENTIAL. It can keep an eventful day fun, instead of an uncomfortable one. You should include the basics like: bandages, alcohol swabs, aspirin, hydrocortisone cream and anti-itch cream like Cortizone•10 that helps relieve itch fast.

Sunscreen – Although the sun exposure provides us with Vitamin D, the UV rays can damage your skin and one of the ways to prevent skin cancer is to apply sunscreen frequently. The American Cancer Society suggests you choose a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection. Sunscreens with this label protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Make sure your sunscreen has a sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher. Higher SPF numbers do mean more protection, but the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. You can also wear hats, sunglasses and long sleeves as extra protection.

Bug sprayRepellents with DEET, lemon eucalyptus oil and Picaridin generally last longer than other sprays, and work best when applied after sunscreen. The CDC doesn’t recommend using insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old or applying it to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin.

Trash bags – You know better, you don’t have to be a scout to follow the rule of leaving your picnic site “cleaner than you found it.” They can also double as rain ponchos in case of unexpected summer storms, or if sliced open, can lay under your blanket to keep wet grass from seeping through.

Ready, Set... Picnic!

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