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Plan a Picnic Like a Pro: Expert Tips, Tricks, & Advice

picnic basket and assorted foods on picnic blanket

Grab your wicker basket, gingham blanket, and favorite foods—it’s picnicking season! A cherished, warm-weather activity, a picnic is something everyone should check off their summer bucket list. After all, everything tastes better outside, right? Check out our advice, picnic tips, and picnic food ideas to ensure your next al fresco feast goes off without a hitch.

What is a Picnic?

A picnic is an outing where people pack snacks or a meal and eat them outside in the fresh, open air. A fun and carefree experience, picnics usually happen at a picnic table or on a picnic blanket in a scenic area, such as a park or on the shores of a beach or lake.  

A picnic is an excellent summer activity for the whole family. Discover more occasions to add to your summer family bucket list.

What to Bring to a Picnic

ultimate picnic checklist

Wondering what to bring to a picnic and pack in your picnic basket? Look no further. With our ultimate picnic items list, you won’t miss a thing:


  • Pre-sliced fruits & veggies
  • Crackers
  • Cheese
  • Charcuterie
  • Sandwiches
  • Salad
  • Chips
  • Individual desserts
  • Condiments
  • Spices
  • Drinks


  • Picnic basket, backpack, or tote
  • Cooler
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Cups
  • Utensils
  • Ice packs
  • Cloth napkins
  • Corkscrew or bottle opener


  • Blanket
  • Pillows
  • Chairs
  • Umbrella


  • Trash bags
  • Wet wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Extra containers


  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Games or cards

10 Brilliant Picnic Tips 

We’ve gathered some genius picnic tips to make yours an unforgettable and effortless endeavor:

1. Use water bottles as ice packs. 

Frozen water bottles can double as ice packs. Plus, once they melt, you’ll have a refreshing beverage to sip on.

2. Freeze sandwiches. 

Assemble your sammies the night before and freeze them. By the time you get to your destination, they’ll be defrosted and ready to enjoy.

3. Go small with condiments. 

Skip the full-size condiments to save space. Bring to-go packets or portion out dips and spreads into smaller containers.

4. Coat sliced fresh fruit with a little lemon juice.

If you’re packing fresh fruit, cut it up in advance. Then, place the slices in a container and coat them with lemon juice to prevent browning.

5. Lay down a shower curtain liner. 

Don’t let damp grass put a damper on the fun. Put a plastic shower curtain liner underneath your picnic blanket so it stays dry.

Want more fun event hacks? Check out 14 tailgating hacks that score.

6. Sprinkle talcum powder.

Talcum powder deters ants. Sprinkle a border around your blanket to stop them from crashing your party.

7. Use cupcake liners as lids. 

Keep drinks leaf- and bug-free with a cupcake liner. Place one upside down over your cup or can and pierce a straw through the bottom.

8. Put your phone in a cup. 

No speaker? No problem! Pop your phone into an empty glass to amplify the volume of your summer playlist.

9. Repurpose a shower cap as an ice bucket. 

Flip a shower cap upside down and add some ice to make a mini cooler. Throw your drinks and refrigerated items on top for a long-lasting chill.

10. Make a muffin tin your serving platter.

Stick snacks and finger foods in a muffin tin. This makes for no-spill serving and easy access.

How to Pack a Picnic Basket

how to pack your picnic basket infographic

You shouldn’t just throw all your picnic foods and supplies in your picnic basket. You’ll need to be strategic when packing your picnic basket so cold things stay cold, hot things stay hot, supplies are easily accessible, and nothing breaks. Start from the bottom and work your way up in this order:

  1. Heavy things, like soda cans and water bottles, should go at the bottom.
  2. Layer your ice and ice packs.
  3. Add your stackable containers with cold food.
  4. Put your sturdy supplies, like napkins and utensils, in.
  5. Next, include your glassware wrapped in cloth napkins.
  6. Top it off with soft, light, room-temperature items.

Picnic Food Ideas

Great picnic food makes for a great meal in the great outdoors. Here are quick, delicious, and portable picnic food ideas to please every palate:

Picnic Appetizers

Get your fête started with these apps:

Picnic Mains

These picnic mains will be the star of the show:

Picnic Side Dishes

Trimmings that will complement your main:

Picnic Desserts

No picnic is complete without one of these sweet treats:

family having picnic outside

More Picnic Ideas & Prep Tips

With our picnic hacks, picnic items list, and picnic food ideas, your next outdoor excursion is sure to be a success! However, it’s important to be prepared so the harsh summer sun doesn’t ruin your get-together. Check out these sunscreen tips to learn how to block the blaze and get the 411 on SPFs and UV protection.