A picnic in the park can be simply or fancy. But, either way, it's always good to be reminded of ways to make your event safe, healthy and fun.
If you are thinking of heading out to the park for a picnic this holiday weekend, there are a number of things you can do to make the best of your day. From food and games to recycling and taking care of the family pet, here are a few tips you might want to consider for your event.
This year, I’m smoking a brisket for my holiday party. The smoking process takes all day but the result is incredible. And, once I’m done preparing the brisket, I can simply serve it a room temperature in the park. That way, I’m not lugging a grill and charcoal to the park. Try making as many dishes in advance as possible so you are basically just setting things out once you’re in the park. It’ll make it easier for you to enjoy the picnic, too.
I have a butane cooktop burner that’s perfect for just heating up something in a pot. With my smoked brisket, I simply use the cooktop to heat the barbeque sauce. These cooktops are very portable, relatively inexpensive and come with their own carrying case.
Slice It Up
Be sure to have a sharp knife and a cutting board with you. And, if you are planning on grilling and have raw food, bring along separate knives and boards.
Practice Good Food Safety
A really simple rule to follow when you are taking foods outside is to avoid brining foods that spoil easily. Mayonnaise and other egg products can be problematic if they are out in the heat for a long time. If you do bring these items, keep them cool or, as suggested by Tina Edwards, one of our viewers, set the bowls on refreezable ice packs.
To keep you tablecloth from flapping in the breeze, pick up tablecloth weights from your local crafts or fabric store. I actually made some simply by putting a rock inside of a piece of fabric and attaching it to a curtain hook that had a clip on the end of it.
Get Some Wheels
I’m a big fan of the iced chests with wheels. You can load those up with as much food as will fit and you can just pull it along behind you rather than trying to carry it. You can also stack a few other items on top if it as well.
Rather than a high table and chairs, I really like using low tables and simply sitting on the ground. There are a number of different styles that you can get that roll up into a bag, don’t take up much storage space, and are very portable.
Have A Seat
Sadly, as we are all getting a bit older, sitting on the ground isn’t as comfortable as we might remember. Much like the portable tables, there are many companies that make collapsible chairs that also fit in their own bags and can be stored away very easily.
Keep It Dry
I still use a quilt that I made when I was in a crafts class in high school. But, I don’t like putting it directly on the ground if it’s damp after a morning rain or if sprinkles are in the forecast. So, I use a plastic drop cloth that I picked up from the home center store. They come in varying sized rolls and can be quickly placed on the ground and then covered by your favorite blanked or quilt. You can use the same drop cloth plastic to cover your food table if a momentary shower tries to dampen your picnic.
First Aid Kit
Bring along a first aid kit just to be prepared.
Disposable Latex Gloves
If you are planning on doing some grilling in the park and you’ll be handling raw food, bring along disposable gloves because it’s not as easy to sanitize your hands as easily when you don’t have your sink nearby.
Bring games for the adults and kids to keep everyone busy. I have a bean bag toss game, a bocce ball set and a ring toss game. Even something as simple as a flying disk will add some fun to the day.
Mark Your Spot
I always bring along small traffic cones that I purchased at the home center store to mark a play area. It helps define the area you are using so that other folks give you a bit of room.
Take Care Of The Family Pet
Don’t forget to plan ahead for your pets, too. If they are joining you, bring along water, snacks and play toys as well.
Recycle As Much As You Can
We all want to be conscious of the environment, so do as much as you can with recyclables. I use green plates that can be washed a number of times and then can be sent in for recycling. Also, rather than using moist towelettes, bring soapy washcloths inside of sealable bags or containers. Not only can they be reused, but you also avoid using all the chemicals in those towelettes.
Thanks, to facebook friends Lian Theis, Tina Edwards, Ida Waterous, Paula Cree and Patty Strahan for their suggestions and ideas, many of which are included above. If you have any questions or comments, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on facebook.