We live in a region that has no shortage of fantastic locations for picnics, from Tanglewood to The Mount (aka, Edith Wharton’s gorgeous mansion) and hiking trails at the Pittsfield State Forest, Mount Greylock, and Monument Mountain. So we’ve become pretty knowledgeable about which elements you need to create the perfect picnic experience. For this post, we’re going to focus on the items you need for memorable al fresco dining; if you’re also looking for some picnic or cookout recipe inspiration, stay tuned for Friday’s post.
Here’s our must list for what to pack on a picnic:
- A small indoor/outdoor area rug. Why a rug instead of a blanket? For starters, indoor/outdoor rugs are treated for stain resistance, so any spills can be rinsed right off with a hose. Even better, indoor/outdoor rugs are thicker than blankets, so they provide extra protection from lumps, bumps, and rocks—a big relief when your tush is in contact with the ground for a 2-hour concert. Indoor/outdoor rugs are also easy to roll up and carry under your arm or on top of a basket or cooler, and they’re affordable and versatile for many spaces, from the porch to laundry room and the bathroom, to boot.
- Floor pillows or throw pillows. We’re partial to Annie’s new WOUFs, which not only come in three sizes to fit all kinds of bodies, but also make a pretty great little “table” to keep your food off the ground and away from crawling insects. But if you plan to recline completely—say, during a fireworks display—you can’t beat resting your noggin on a cushy indoor/outdoor pillow.
- Linen or cotton napkins. Forget about the paper napkins; you’ll spend more time chasing them anytime a mild breeze blows than enjoying your picnic. Instead opt for durable, washable, eco-friendly linen or cotton. They look fab, too, and are the ideal “play” item—you can mix and match them with other parts of your picnic kit, or go a little crazy with color or pattern.
- A cozy throw. Temperatures can drop quite a bit during a nighttime concert or show, so don’t forget to pack at least one cotton or fleece throw for tossing over your shoulders or tucking around your legs.
- A sturdy, widemouthed tote bag. We prefer indoor/outdoor fabrics, like the one you see here, which are rough-and-tumble and can hold tons of stuff, from ice-packed wine and soda to utensils and plates, or essentials like insect repellent, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and a toasty blanket. Use the tote to stash your cell phone, jacket, car keys and other items during the picnic.
- A roomy picnic basket or cooler. We love an old-school, dual-lidded basket that allows you to open one side at a time—which also makes it easy to remove individual items without having to unpack the whole basket. But an insulated cooler also does the trick, and if it’s got wheels, it’s even easier to take with you.
Like what you see? Featured in the photo, from left to right: