Thursday, August 20, 2009

Packing a charming picnic!

Angie requested a post on how to pack a charming picnic! I love picnics ~ there are so many charming things you can do for picnics and they are one of the ultimate simple pleasures!

To me, a picnic evokes a slower pace. A focusing on the things that are important - special memories with those you love! It is an opportunity to make a meal something extra special!

Eating outside is something special in itself - but taking the extra initiative and effort to pack a beautiful meal outside is just a pleasure to the senses! I am one of those people who thinks that food tastes better outside and the beauty of the surroundings just enhances that.

It does take more time to pack a charming picnic - it will require a bit of extra transporting of items to use and it will require sliding the dishes into a plastic bag until you get home where they will need washed instead of thrown away. Obviously, going to all this trouble and effort is not for everyone - but I would not have it any other way.

I try not to use plastic or paper items when packing a picnic if at all possible! Here are some ideas for packing a charming picnic:

~ Bring a table cloth for your table or a quilt for the ground. This could be a sheet (from the thrift store or your own linen closet!), a large piece of fabric, a duvet cover with no filling, a quilt, an actual table cloth, bed skirt or a layered combination of any of the above.

~ Pack something pretty for your table. There are tons of things that would make a cute and simple vase and just grab some flowers, greens or berries from your yard - whatever is available.

~ Wrap sandwiches in waxed paper tied with twine rather than using plastic bags. Or, make a batch of sandwiches and put in a roasting pan.

~ Rather than just sticking a bag of chips on the table - why not put them in a pan with a lid? Or a basket with a napkin lining. You could take the chips in a bag in your car and simply pour them into your serving item when you arrive for easy transport.

~ I love packing chicken salad in a jar, fruit in a jar, dessert in jars, etc... Jars will serve you well in many capacities for picnics.

~ Collect a set of picnic dishes. There are lots of cute melamine options these days - I have collected a set of blue enamel ware dishes and they still sell these in the camping section of Wal-Mart.

~ Use real silverware and cloth napkins. This doesn't mean it has to be fancy or expensive! I use mismatched silverware from the thrift store bin and inexpensive bandannas for the napkins.

My favorite picnic containers are anything enamelware and canning jars of all sorts. These lend themselves to a multitude of uses and are certainly full of charm! Watch thrift stores or even regular retail stores for a picnic basket you like and that would be useful to you in transporting things to your picnic. I found mine in the Restoration Hardware catalog years ago and I would not buy it because it was expensive. In the next catalog, it was half off and I ordered it immediately - I have loved the red tin box that has served us so well!

Here are some past posts on picnics that will show you other ideas of themes, things you can make and charming touches:

* Mother's Day Picnic
* Memorial Day
* Avonlea Picnic
* Old Fashioned Picnic one and two
* Donut Picnic
* Post Wedding Picnic
* Solo Breakfast Picnic
* Autumn Picnic

What are your favorite ideas for adding some charm to a picnic?


Anonymous said...

I love, love, love reading about your picnics! You absolutely have a talent for adding such special touches. Thanks for inspiring me today...

Wendi said...

I agree that a charming picnic is worth the effort! I always use a red and white table cloth and canning jars. It reminds me of something my Granny would have used and just makes me feel happy. You have some wonderful ideas... thanks for sharing!

Chrissy said...

I too am a picnic lover! When we lived in Savannah and Dave worked downtown, It was a weekly event. I'd pack something lovely and kidnap him from work. It gave us a chance for a mini-date and only cost us our time. Thanks for the inspiration,'re always full of good ideas.

angie said...

Thank you, Monica, for fulfilling my request. Your picnics are a treat for all of the senses!
I loved your practical suggestions for making a picnic go from chore to charming. As I looked at pictures of your previous picnics, I noticed that all them had a different "feel", created by the type of table covering, place settings, serving dishes, and centerpiece.
We have been eating dinner on our deck many evenings. But, a citronella candle is at the center of the table. I am going to find something more charming for our table today!

Mom said...

You are the queen of charming picnics! I enjoyed seeing the links to past picnics -- especially the very special Mother's Day picnic you planned for me as a surprise! I am proud of you and love you very much -- Mom

Unknown said...

Thank you for all the ideas! Putting effort into making things look beautiful really does make the food taste better!

I love to drink iced tea out of jelly jars, it just makes me feel so quaint and old fashioned.

I have a picnic blanket that I made by piecing a simple quilt top and backing it with a rectangular vinyl tablecloth that I got on sale from Kmart. It is nice
because you don't have to worry about your cloth getting stained and wet, you can just wipe the vinyl clean when you get home.

And I totally agree about using cloth napkins and real silverware...that really takes a picnic from ordinary to charming like nothing else can!

Ruth said...

Everything looks beautiful and inviting. I love it. I will definitely be doing this with my family once this oppressive heat wave passes.

Thanks for all the great ideas.

Ginger said...

Lovely! I look forward to checking out your older picnic posts this weekend. Gotta go

carriecaribou said...

I love your ideas! I'm so glad you did a post about this! I'm always impressed with your picnic pictures. I have found that I usually think it's too much work to do a picnic, but then I'm always glad when we do.

Anonymous said...

Your site inspired me. My hubby has been in poor spirits due to bad health and unemployment for over a year. I packed a picnic lunch... table cloth, pates,...ect. Told him to get ready i was taking him somewhere. He was so surprised. When we got ready to eat he said the blessing and asked God to bless our time together and to bless our marriage,it was so sweet. While we were there Canadian geese came flying in by the dozens and landed on the lake.
It was sooo windy and we laughed because everything wanted to fly away!
It was a simple God blessed day. Thanks for inspiring me. I told hubby this was the first of many picnics together. His spirits were lifted.

Unknown said...

This is SO NEAT, Monica! Thanks for sharing all your ideas with us!!!

You are my hero! ;-P

*carrie* said...

Hmmm. Maybe we could do a picnic next month? =) Love you!

TopazTook said...

I can't remember whose blog I read it on, but it was a great idea that I used for our picnic this summer: putting various picnic fixings in one of those divided relish tray containers. Makes it a lot of fun for kids (and only one serving dish for me to wash).

Unknown said...

Did the chore charts!! :) Posted a bit about them on my blog if you have time! :)

Christi said...

Monica, I love these ideas & I'm on a mission to do more ouside dining this Fall. Thanks for sharing!

Farrah said...

This is a neat post! Loved it!

Foley Family said...

I just read this picnic post today, but we had our first "pretty picnic" this past weekend. When I was packing up for the picnic I thought about some of your past posts about picnics. I don't know why we have never done picnics in the past, but it was so nice! We will definately be doing more picnics in the future.