It’s summertime here in the states, and for me, that means picnics. Nothing is more romantic! I’m not talking about church suppers or family reunions, although those can brings lots of love and happiness into our lives. I’m talking instead about the romantic picnic for two, the sort of picnic where lovers stroll hand in hand to a quiet, secluded spot away from the rest of the world. The joy of picnicking — and the romance — comes, I think, from the idea of an idyllic retreat, a “time-out” from the usual routines of our day.
Of course, not all picnics are created equal. If you’re going to have a picnic, make it a REAL picnic. It’s more than throwing sandwiches into a brown paper bag, grabbing a can of soda, and hiking out into the woods. That sort of impromptu picnic can be great fun, but once in a while, take time to plan ahead and make your picnic into a truly memorable event.
To help you do exactly that, here are a few tips on packing the perfect picnic:
Tip #1: Location, Location, Location
Choose a romantic spot where you and your sweetheart can forget the rest of the world for a little while. A grassy spot in the park, a blanket on a rooftop, or a picnic table beneath a shady tree…all can be perfect places for your picnic. If you’re going to a public place, be sure you know in advance of any rules or restrictions. Check the site out ahead of time. And be sensible. If you’ll be walking a good distance to reach your picnic area, pack light! You don’t want to be worn out before the picnic begins. Choose paper plates, paper cups, and plastic utensils. If you’re planning a picnic close to your kitchen — under that gorgeous tree in the backyard, for instance — you can go all out with the fine china and silverware.
Tipe #2: A Well-Stocked Picnic Basket
Personally, I think a picnic basket is an essential item on any lover’s “must-have” list. Invest in a sturdy basket with handles, and keep a checklist of what you need for that perfect picnic. Nothing ruins the experience quite so much as having a yummy dessert then discovering that you’ve forgotten the spoons, or pulling a bottle of wine from the basket only to realize you neglected to bring a corkscrew. Be sure your basket is stocked with drinking water (freeze ahead of time), outdoor dinnerware, utensils, cups or glasses, napkins, corkscrews or bottle openers, tablecloth or blanket, sunscreen, bug spray (or citronella candles — don’t forget matches or a lighter), a decorative centerpiece, and a big trashbag for clean-up.
Tip #3: Add Food
The traditional food for a picnic is crusty French bread, a variety of cheeses, delicious fruits, and a bottle of wine. Simple. Romantic. Of course, you might choose to add other items to the menu, as well. A lot will depend on when and where you’re serving the food. Crackers, fresh veggies and dips, jams, jellies, and pastries can all be delightful treats for a picnic. Oh, don’t forget the butter for that bread! Check out your grocer’s shelves for packaged foods that travel well, and keep your picnic basket stocked with “goodies” from fast-food restaurants, such as little packages of honey, or salad dressings.
Tip #4: Use Common Sense
Ideas for picnic menus abound, but don’t get carried away, especially not on a hot summer’s day. Choose foods that can be enjoyed cold — such as chilled soups — and keep them on ice until serving time. Don’t prepare foods that spoil quickly. Picnic foods should be thrown away if they’ve set out longer than an hour. Learn and follow “picnic safety” rules for food handling.
Tip #5: Create a Romantic Mood
How many times have you heard the old adage that it’s the little things that count? There are lots of little things you can do that will make your picnic a special event. They require a little imagination and a bit of planning, but the end result will be beautiful memories you and your partner will cherish. Begin by choosing a theme. Maybe your concept is “A Parisian Picnic” or “A Day in the Country”. You might choose an Italian theme, or in autumn, maybe an “Octoberfest” idea. Look for ways to bring your ideas to life through the tablecloth or blanket you use, the foods and drinks you plan, the decor your create. Send a card ahead of time to invite your special someone to join you, and plan for those “little touches” that add thoughts of love and romance. Bring candles or hang paper lanterns from the trees. Create a playlist of romantic music, or if you’re musically-inclined, bring along your guitar to serenade your sweetheart.
Tip #6: Enjoy!
Things don’t always work out at picnics, no matter how carefully we plan. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes the bugs bite. Sometimes somebody else finds that secluded spot and then where will you go? If it rains, spread your picnic blanket out on your living room floor and have fun. If the bugs bite, pack up, run to the car, and have a good laugh. If you lose “your spot” on the riverbank, stroll into the woods. You might find an even better spot for love.
Having fun is what picnics are all about. Don’t get so caught up in planning a “perfect” picnic that you can’t relax and enjoy yourself. Dress casual and be comfortable.
Here are a few links for picnic ideas and menus: