When the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and your stomach is rumbling, there’s no better way to take advantage of the day than going on a picnic!
Whether you’re planning a romantic date for two or gathering friends and family for some easy outdoor hangs, we’ve compiled these quick tips, cozy suggestions, and crowd-pleasing picnic recipes to help you make the most out of your afternoons spent al fresco. Beyond the ol’ blanket, basket, and sandwich combo, these thoughtful touches and treats go a long way towards making sure everyone enjoys the day with good eats and great company.
Read on to learn how to create the perfect picnic date!
Picnic Tip #1: Pack Smart
Okay, so you’ve brought out your wicker basket (a classic choice). Or maybe it’s just a tote bag and you don’t have a special picnic-themed receptacle like some (we’re not judging). In any case, what goes in your bag matters far more than what’s on the outside, so it’s important to plan ahead and pack well.
Once you’ve scoped out a prime picnic area, be sure to check the forecast and temperature so you know what kind of layers to bring. If it’s overcast, pack some extra cozy throws, quilts, or blankets (more on that later) so guests can keep comfortable and stay warm while outdoors. Depending on how many people show up, you might want to bring some extra layers just in case anyone wants to sprawl out in a different area for sun or shade. Bring cushions, some lightweight enamel plates (or disposable if that’s easier), and a few shower caps to cover up food bowls — this keeps your snacks safe from any insect interference. It’s also a good idea to bring bug spray, sunscreen, allergy and pain relief medication, so you can rest easy knowing you’re prepared for anything.
If you plan on making a day of it, be sure to bring some entertainment with you. This could be anything from a book, some cards, board games, a frisbee, bocci ball...you get the idea! Oh, and keep a camera close by — you’re going to want to snap some pics after you’ve finished setting up the perfect picnic!
Picnic Tip #2: All About That Base
A crucial consideration in your picnic pursuits is what you plan on using for your base layer. While a traditional picnic blanket might seem like the go-to move, cotton quilts are actually a far better choice in terms of their comfort and versatility. These natural fiber layers provide extra cushioning and protection against all terrains, and though they have a lightweight cotton fill, they don’t need to be weighed down if the wind does pick up. What’s more, they’re incredibly easy to care for: just pop them in the wash and they’re good to go — no need to worry about dry cleaning!
Before we’re done singing the praises of the ultra-functional cotton quilt, let’s discuss the fashion factor. While laying down a classic gingham print — like our Wellington Cotton Quilt Set in Navy (a new colour!) — for your picnic spread will never get old, you can always personalize your picnic by choosing any colour or pattern for a quilt that speaks to you. Check out our extensive selection of cotton quilts to infuse your setup with your own signature style.
Picnic Tip #3: Bring Some Cushies for your Tushies
So you’ve picked out a beautiful base, now what? Well, to maximize your comfort (which we’re all about at QE home), you’re going to want to throw down some cozy, easy-to-carry cushions so your company can sit comfortably or rest their head if they so desire.
Beyond adding playful pops of pattern and colour to your picnic, bringing cushions to the party shows your guests you went the extra mile to create the perfect day. They also help mitigate uneven surfaces and any pesky pebbles. From lightweight rounded cushions to supportive square euros, the options are pretty much endless (althoughkeep in mind that our cushion inserts are sold separately).
Picnic Tip #4: Throw Down Some Blankets & Throws
Depending on the weather, you may want to add some extra blankets, throws, or another quilt to your setup for more coziness (especially if you plan on staying a while). You’ll impress your guests by keeping their satisfaction in mind, and you can coordinate these layers to go with whatever colour palette suits your taste.
Pro tip: store an extra layer in the car so you always have warmth and comfort when you need it!
Picnic Tip #5: Get Going with Good Eats
Now It’s time to talk about the real star of the show: the food! Summertime meals are a great opportunity to snack on fresh fare and share with those you love, so we’ve listed a couple staff-favourite picks that are sure to be a hit! Beyond packing some serious flavour, these snacks won’t melt or spoil easily in the heat — a key thing to consider when serving food al fresco:
Shai’s Black Bean Salad
Makes 6-8 servings
- 2 cans of Black Beans, drained
- 2-3 Red Tomatoes, chopped
- 1 Avocado, diced
- 1 can of Corn, or 1 cup of thawed Corn
- 2 Orange/Red Bell Peppers, chopped1 Red Onion, chopped
- ½ cup of Cilantro (coriander), chopped
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional (if you like a little heat!): 1 medium Jalapeno, finely diced
- ½ teaspoon Lime Juice
- ½ cup Virgin Olive Oil
- ¼ cup White Vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Chili Powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- Prepare the vegetables, beans, and cilantro, and place them in a large bowl
- Mix the dressing ingredients together and pour into the salad, chill before serving
- If you desire, garnish the salad with crumbled feta and/or lime wedges
The Great Canadian Bacon Cookie by Rylee
Makes approx. 24 cookies
- ¾ cup Margarine or Butter
- ¼ cup Rendered Bacon Grease
- 1 cup White Sugar
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Maple (or Vanilla) Extract
- 2 Large Eggs
- 3 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 cup cooked Bacon, chopped finely and cooled
- 1 cup Pecans or Walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup Skor Bits
- Preheat oven to 375° F
- In a bowl, cream together the white and brown sugar, rendered bacon grease, and margarine/butter
- Add in the eggs and maple extract and beat until smooth
- Slowly add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into the bowl and mix until incorporated
- Fold in the cooked bacon, nuts, and Skor bits until everything is evenly distributed
- Onto an ungreased baking sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonful 2 inches apart
- Bake for 7-8 minutes and NO LONGER! They should come out of the oven slightly golden around the edges. Trust us: the secret is to slightly underbake the cookies for maximum chew!
When it comes to beverages (and you can’t forget those) preparing and storing them in a chilled thermos can help your drinks stay extra cool, and therefore extra refreshing! If you’re thinking of bringing canned drinks, you may want to have a designated cooler bag for them so your guests have easy access and your food bag stays closed.
No matter what you choose to sip on, be sure to bring some water so you can stay hydrated in these warm summer months. And remember: if any spills happen, there’s no need to worry! Your picnic setup doesn’t just look great — it also cleans up great.
Picnic Tip #6: Take Pictures & Take it Easy
Our final picnic tip? Take pictures! Now that you’ve set up a beautiful picnic and prepared some delicious food, it’s time to document the date and inspire others to have their own picnics (because they’ll definitely be jealous). You’ve taken the time to put together a sensational summer spread, so make these memories last by snapping a few fun shots.
If you do decide to share any pictures on social media, be sure to tag us at @QEHome, or use the hashtag #MyQEStyle! We’d love to see how you styled your date, how the recipes turned out, and what personal touches you put into your picnic.
Pic-nic Hooray! Here’s hoping these tips helped you plan and pack for the perfect picnic date. For more cozy ideas, book a consultation with one of our experts: they’ll be more than happy to provide styling tips that’ll help elevate all your summer hangouts (whether they happen inside or outside). If the suggestions we made didn’t suit your taste, check out the rest of our website for more outdoor comfort inspo!