Saturday 19 July 2014

Planning the perfect picnic

I love picnics. The great outdoors. A selection of nibbles and sandwiches to feast on. No rushing, just the chance to enjoy some nice food, outside with your special people.

This month is officially National Picnic Month - hurray! - and whilst last weekend was spent mostly working, I did manage to take a short break at lunchtime to go out with my two boys, one tall and one small, to visit our local park for a picnic. I was determined to enjoy some sun and the park close to us is the perfect spot for a picnic, with lots of different open areas, lakes and trees to provide shade.

When packing all the things we would need to take, I realised that picnics aren't as easy or care-free as they first seem to be - at least not with a toddler in tow! So, I thought I'd put together my check-list for perfect picnics. Trust me, with these bits and pieces with you, you're sure to have a great time:

Blanket - you need to take a nice big blanket with you, in case the grass is damp or just to have something soft to sit / lay down on. On this occasion, we took our Heat Holders Snuggle Ups Luxury Fleece Blanket. It's 1.4 tog so it will be great to use in the winter when all I want to do is snuggle up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate but we took it along with us as it's nice and big and super, super soft.

Cool box / hamper - if you need to keep things chilled, perhaps if you are going further afield for your picnic, then a cool box is the best way to pack up all your food and drinks so that stay cool. We have one that's just the right size for the three of us plus we have a backpack picnic hamper which contains four sets of plates, cups and cutlery - it's brilliant for days out and all the food stores neatly in the back. 

Food - well, it wouldn't be much of a picnic without it, would it?! Sandwiches are a must so fillings such as cheese, ham or tuna suit most tastes and you'll need lots of snacks to nibble on while you enjoy your outdoor dining. 

For little ones, mini sausages, sausage rolls, mini cheeses, carrot sticks, grapes and other finger foods are a simple idea and easy to prepare and for big ones, I personally love all the deli items from M&S. Last weekend we treated ourselves to some olives, homous and pitta, chicken skewers and sushi for a bit of a pick and mix style picnic feast.

Drink - another obvious one I know! I like to pack plenty of water if we are going to spend some time out in the sun (dare I say it!) and squash is a great way to add some flavour. My new favourite flavour is Ribena's new Orange and Mandarin squash. It's no-added sugar with just 0.7g per 100ml, which is a huge plus point for me and if Ethan wants a sip I don't need to worry, plus it has added vitamins A and C for extra goodness. I like water but sometimes I want something with taste and this is really refreshing and tastes like summer. I've even made ice lollies with it (look out for tomorrow's post...)

Of course, if you're making it a long lunch or can enjoy a cheeky tipple, then I can't argue a nice glass of vino, Pimms or a G&T would also go down very well indeed too.

Plates, cups and napkins - whether you choose paper for ease or plastic to be less wasteful, these are picnic must-haves.

Plastic bag - simple but essential, have one of these to hand and you can pop all your rubbish in it to throw away or take back home with you, without worrying about crumbs or smell leftovers.

Hand sanitiser and wet wipes - to be on the safe side, I always take hand sanitiser out with us as after all, if you're eating with your hands and have been out and about, you may not have had the chance to wash first and you don't want to pick up any nasties. And when can any mum do without wet wipes?! Sticky fingers, be gone!

Entertainment - make sure you take a few things to keep your toddler happy, such as their favourite book, a ball and any other toys they can play with and if you can get a couple of moments to yourself, a couple of magazines, your Kindle or iPod are great to pack to help you relax and make the most of the picnic.

Back up - you can never be sure what the British weather has in store so it's best to be prepared on your picnic. You'll need suncream for you and your mini me, even if it doesn't look that sunny, as you will still be exposed and need to look after yourselves so you don't burn. 

Being as hyper-organised as I am, I also like to be prepared in case it's colder than I thought it would be or if the weather takes a turn for the worst. I always have an umbrella in the car and for our picnic, I took along my new Heat Holder thermal socks - a pair for Ste and a pair for me. Now you may laugh seeing as we are currently in the midst of a heatwave, but with the chance of rain and the sudden onset of cloud, I think it can't hurt to have all bases covered. I like to make the most of summer and plan on having picnics into September at least, so I may just need these 2.3 tog rating socks by then! If not, they will be brilliant for walks in the park when it does get colder, as they're a great partner for wellies, and for keeping my toes toasty warm in winter, as they hold more air close to the skin to keep you warmer for longer. They're really soft and sure to be a staple when the temperature drops.

Do you love picnics as much as me? What are your picnic must-pack essentials?

* Note: I'm a picnic fan and Heat Holders got in touch to offer me their thermal socks (RRP £6 for ladies socks) and luxury fleece blanket (RRP £24.99) to make sure we could enjoy the great outdoors whatever the weather. The nice people at Ribena also sent me a 850ml bottle of their Orange and Mandarin flavour (RRP £2.89) to try out so we decided to take this along with us, but as always, my opinions are my own. You can count on that!


  1. We definitely need to invest in a hamper or cool box. Everything squashed into a plastic bag under the pram isn't cutting the mustard!!!

    1. Ha, no that's not the best! Our backpack cooler/hamper is great as it's easy to carry and has everything we need.

  2. The Ribena sounds yummy, will definitely be getting some of that! I love picnics, little sausages are the favourite in our house! x

    1. I really like the flavour - it's a bit more special than just normal orange squash. Cocktail sausages are a great mini treat!

  3. A nice list for perfect picnics! I didn't use to arrange picnics while I was still in Finland - don't know why, the weather in summer would have been perfect for it - but here in England it's like one of the must do's as many times as possible in summer! Hahhah I will use your list as a checkup list with my next picnic, I always seem to forget something! :D xx


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