Picnic basket

As a kid, we didn’t do a lot of traveling or vacationing but there were a few things you could always count on in summer.  One was going to Mackinaw City and the other was going on picnics.  My mom had a fabulous picnic set up; the basket was always stocked up and the cooler ready to go!

There are several steps to making a well-stocked picnic basket or bag.   I don’t know if you’ve looked, but I drool over the $300 picnic baskets every summer.   Since I don’t have an extra $300 that I want to throw at one right now (think how many books I could buy!), I decided to make my own.

1.  The Basket (or Bag).

The first think you need is a good basket or bag.  I was stoked to find a basic basket at Target last summer for $20.  If, like me, you have your heart set on a picnic basket, you could check out the end of season clearance (which is going on now ;D), yard sales, thrift shops or just ask your mother-in-law to keep an eye out for one for you.

You could also use a roomy backpack — one which has lots of pockets would work best.   If you have small kids, this might be easiest to handle since you could wear it and still chase after the little ones.

2.  The Table

Depending on where you like to picnic, you will need either a blanket for the ground or a tablecloth for a table.  If you are handy, you could even make one that is a blanket on one side and table cloth on the other.   The tablecloth side would have the added bonus of keeping you dry if the ground is wet.

3.  The Dishes

Depending on your level of environmental friendliness, you could either get a cheap set of reusable plastic plates, cups, bowls and thrifted/old flatware OR you could stock it with plenty of paper & plastic.  My picnic basket has reusable stuff that I need to wash in it, but I also keep disposable stuff in my van at all times for travel.

4.  Comfort is Key.

There are some items to consider bringing to make your picnic a little more comfortable — bug repellent, sunblock/sunscreen and a bottle opener are the most obvious ones.

5.  The Essentials.

In addition, there are a few things that I would consider essentials.  And I always forget them.  Every. Single. Time.  What are they?

Ziploc bags for dirty utensils & dishes

Store bags for garbage

and wet wipes.

Well, I don’t forget to bring wet wipes because I have small kids — I always have those.  They are just usually out in the car instead of where we are eating when I need them.  Urgently.

6.  Extras.

And finally, there are some extras.  I call them extras because I want them but don’t have them yet.  Things like tablecloth weights, food tents (those little screens that keep bugs off of food), a small propane grill, and a set of portable BBQ tools.   And a way to keep stuff from blowing off the table when (not if, when) the wind blows and my daughters forget to keep heavy stuff on top of the lighter stuff.

What about you?   Do you have any favorite picnic gear that I’ve missed?

Jen S.

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