picnic essentials

by | May 19, 2024 | planning tips

Are you wondering what you need for a picnic? Our comprehensive picnic checklist is here to guide you! Whether you’re a pro picnicker or a first-timer, we have all the picnic necessities for an enjoyable time outdoors.

Essential picnic checklist

Guess what? We, the professional picnic makers, have a golden rule for your  A+ outdoor experience – the ‘Rule of Five‘! It’s our secret sauce:

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1. Basics

2. Food and beverage essentials

  • Picnic-friendly food.
  • Drinks.
  • Ice packs.
  • Cutting board and knife.
  • Corkscrew and bottle opener.
  • Condiments.
  • Salt and pepper.

3. Personal care and safety

4. Clean-up supplies

  • Plates, cups, and utensils.
  • Wet wipes or hand sanitizer.
  • Napkins or paper towels.
  • Plastic or ziplock bags.
  • Trash bags.

5. Entertainment:

Dress weather-appropriate! Sun protection with hats and sunglasses for warm days, and layers for cooler weather. Check the forecast, and tailor your attire for comfort and full enjoyment!

Detailed picnic essentials breakdown

Get the lowdown on each item from our picnic checklist – a detailed guide to ensure nothing’s overlooked for your perfect outdoor escapade.

french picnic

Picnic basic necessities

A good picnic blanket is not just for sitting; it sets the scene for your picnic. Choose a large, comfortable blanket with a waterproof backing for damp grass.

  • Picnic blanket: A waterproof backing is essential for damp grass. Choose a large, comfortable blanket for lounging.
  • Picnic basket/backpack: Insulated options keep food at the right temperature. Picnic backpacks allow hands-free carrying.
  • Cooking gear: Portable grills for barbecues, essential charcoal, and a picnic stove for hot meals.
  • Furniture: Comfortable folding chairs and pillows, a sturdy picnic table, an outdoor beverage wine table, and a hammock for relaxation.

Keeping your food and drinks chilled is crucial, especially on hot days. Insulated containers and ice packs can maintain the right temperature for hours.

  • Containers: Insulated options like baskets, totes, backpacks, or bags keep food fresh. Coolers for larger gatherings.
  • Cooling elements: Ice or reusable ice packs to maintain temperature, especially for perishable items.

best picnic food ideas

Food and drinks

1. Finger foods

These are perfect for a picnic as they’re easy to eat and don’t require utensils. Picnic finger foods are convenient, less messy, and offer a variety of flavors and textures to enjoy.

  • Veggies: Easy-to-eat options like celery sticks, carrots, olives, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers are not only healthy but also refreshing.
  • Pre-cut fruits: Favorites like strawberries, apples, peaches, and pears offer a sweet and juicy treat. They are pre-cut for convenience and less mess.
  • Antipasto: A selection of salami, pastrami, chorizo, skewers, wraps, rolls, and bruschetta provide a variety of flavors and textures.
  • Mini delights: Mini-sandwiches, mini-burgers, and mini-pizza are perfect for easy handling and diverse tastes.

2. Cheese, nuts, and jams

A well-thought-out combination of cheese, nuts, and jams can offer a satisfying balance of savory and sweet.

  • Cheese: Opt for firmer cheese like cheddar or gouda, which are less messy and easier to handle.
  • Snacks: Crackers and chips for crunch, nuts for protein, and dried fruits like dates, figs, and apricots for a sweet note.
  • Sweet touch: Honey complements cheese and fruit, while fresh fruits like grapes, pears, and apples add natural sweetness. Jams offer a variety of flavors.

delicious bbq picnic food

3. Main dish ideas

Hearty main dishes are essential for a fulfilling picnic. They should be easy to serve and ideally enjoyable at any temperature.

  • Salads: Choices like chicken, green, and potato salads are refreshing and filling.
  • Warm dishes: Hearty options like lasagna, quiche, burgers, lobster rolls, pizza, risotto, and pasta serve all preferences.

4. Dips and sauces, bread

Various dips and sauces can spice up your picnic, offering guests options to customize their food. Bread is the backbone for many picnic spreads, perfect for sandwiches or dipping.

5. Desserts

No picnic is complete without a sweet ending. Picnic desserts are the grand finale of your outdoor feast.

  • Sweet Treats: For a delightful end to the meal, indulge in chocolate, cheesecake, brownies, and cookies.
  • Spreads: Sweet spreads like jam, marmalade, Nutella, and peanut butter are great for adding flavor to bread or crackers.

6. Picnic drinks

Proper hydration and a selection of beverages cater to all ages and preferences at your picnic.

  • Beverages: Stay hydrated with water, lemonade, and natural fresh juice. Tea and coffee are available for those who prefer warm drinks.
  • Alcohol: A selection of wine, champagne, cocktails, beer, and cider adds a celebratory touch.

Find 10+1 best picnic drinks on the planet.

best picnic drinks

Kitchen items

The right kitchen tools and utensils are key for a hassle-free picnic. Ensure you have all the necessary items to serve and enjoy your meal.

  • Utensils: Enough plates, cups/mugs/glasses, forks, knives, and spoons for everyone.
  • Tools: Salt and pepper shakers for seasoning, a sharp knife for food prep, a corkscrew/bottle opener for beverages, a thermos for keeping drinks hot or cold, food containers for storage, a cutting board for meal prep, a bottle stopper to preserve drinks, napkins, and a tablecloth for a clean and pleasant dining surface.

Safety and hygiene

Always be prepared for minor accidents and maintain hygiene during your picnic. A small first aid kit and hygiene products can address most needs. Sunscreen, hats, and repellents are must-haves.

  • Safety: A mini-first aid kit for emergencies and a lantern for when the evening sets in.
  • Hygiene: For clean-up, use trash and recycling bags, zip-lock bags for dirty dishes, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and wet wipes for easy cleaning.
  • Sun protection: To guard against sunburn, use high-SPF sunscreen, UV-protected sunglasses, sun hats, and lip balm.
  • Bug protection: Bug spray and insect repellent are essentials, especially in wooded areas. Essential oils can offer a natural alternative.

team picnic games


Keeping guests entertained is essential to a memorable picnic. Games, music, and books can cater to different interests and age groups.

  • Games: Card games for fun interactions, frisbee, badminton, kite, and ball for outdoor activities.
  • Leisure: Bring books for a quiet read, music (Bluetooth speaker, headphones) for ambiance, and a ukulele for live music.

Find the best picnic games for everyone.

Additional items

These extra items can enhance the comfort and aesthetics of your picnic, making it a well-rounded and enjoyable experience for everyone.

  • Luxury additions: a portable coffee/tea maker for fresh brews, a vacuum flask for keeping liquids at the desired temperature, a cheese board for a sophisticated touch, and a wine tote for convenient bottle transport.
  • Practical Items: Durable melamine dinner plates, a cheese & charcuterie toolset for easy serving, insulated wine tumblers to keep drinks at the right temperature, cloth napkins for an eco-friendly option, reusable storage bags like stasher for eco-conscious packing, bee’s wrap for covering leftovers, a picnic wagon for easy transport, a soft cooler bag for additional cooling needs, ice sheets for flat cooling, and a picnic backpack kit for all-in-one convenience.
  • Decorative elements: Paper parasols and placemats for aesthetic appeal.
  • Interactive fun: Conversation cards and games for engaging entertainment.
  • Mood setters: Flameless candles for evening ambiance.
  • Sport or activity equipment: Bring along frisbees, balls, etc., for active fun.

With this expanded and comprehensive picnic essentials list, your next picnic will surely be an occasion to remember. Enjoy the great outdoors with great food, wonderful company, and all the essentials for a perfect picnic.


How can I keep hot foods warm during transport to a picnic site?

Use insulated thermal bags or containers to keep hot foods warm. Preheat them with hot water before adding your food. Wrapping food in aluminum foil and thick towels can also effectively retain heat.

Are there any pet-friendly tips for including dogs in picnics?

Yes! Bring a water bowl, dog-friendly snacks, and a leash or stake to secure them. Ensure the picnic area is pet-friendly and clean up after your pet.

What are some light and easy-to-carry entertainment options for a picnic?

Consider portable games like cards, travel board games, or a compact frisbee. A small Bluetooth speaker is sufficient for music. Bring a book or e-reader for a quiet activity.

What’s the best way to transport a picnic without a car?

Consider a backpack-style picnic basket or a rolling cooler for picnics without a car. Additionally, collapsible wagons are great for carrying heavier items and can be taken on public transport or walked to the site.

How can I deal with unexpected bad weather during a picnic?

Always check the weather forecast beforehand. Bring a waterproof tarp and an umbrella for sudden rain. If the weather turns bad, have a backup plan, like a nearby shelter or a quick way to pack up and leave.

Olga and Vlad Picnic Makers

Vlad and Olga

Hello, beautiful souls! 🌸 We’re Vlad and Olga, the storytellers behind each journey. Join us on this adventure as we share tales of joy, celebration, and a life well-lived. Thanks for being part of our magical story! 🌟

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