Having a picnic is never as easy as it sounds. In the beginning, you think you can just throw some food in a bag, roll up a blanket, and drive over to the closest park. But then you realize you forgot napkins, or the flies start swarming, or you immediately sweat when you can’t find shade. In reality, throwing a summer picnic is way more fun when you prepare. That’s what this picnic guide is here for.

The best part about a picnic is that everything can be determined by what you want and what you have. Depending on where you live, you can play around with where you go, the types of picnic-friendly food you bring, what activities you can do, and who you want to invite. And, while the possibilities certainly are endless, that may also feel overwhelming. Therefore, here's the ultimate summer picnic guide with some basic ideas of how you can get started planning your next big summer event.


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Equipment can vary depending on the kind of picnic you are planning and where you decide to do it. Below is a list of some of the most basic things that sometimes seem to be forgotten and are also used most often when planning an activity like this.

- A blanket or fold up chairs

- A picnic basket, tote bag, and/or cooler

- Trash bags

- Plates

- Plastic serving utensils and cutlery

- Napkins

- Cups

- Bottle opener

- Salt and pepper

- Sharp knives 

Food to make

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In terms of recipes and best foods to bring on a picnic, you truly can’t go wrong. Our biggest tip is bringing things easily transportable, not too messy, and easily eaten with your hands. The food you bring is completely up to you. Ask yourself: Do I want to use ingredients from home? Do I want to make this a party? Do I just want to eat my favorite foods outside? If you want minimal to no cooking or prep, check out our guide to having a picnic with only products from Trader Joe’s. We recommend some of these common picnic recipes:

For snacking

- Homemade trail mixes

- Fruit

- Cheese

- Crackers

- Vegetables

- Hummus

- Baguette

For meals

- Potato salad

- Macaroni salad

- Turkey and cheese roll ups

- Quiche

- Chicken salad

- Cucumber sandwiches

- Deli sandwiches


- Brownies

- Cake

- Cookies

- Pie


- Wine

- Water

- Soda

- Sangria

- Lemonade

- Juices 


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As we said before, you can pick whatever activity you and your friends or family members enjoy. Additionally, you may have certain choices in some locations that you don’t have in others such as hiking or swimming. Additional, easy activities to do include:

- Throwing a ball or frisbee

- Painting candles or wine glasses

- Reading a book

- Playing a card game or board game

- Taking photos

- Taking a walk

- Watching a sunset 


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You can truly make any place a perfect picnic spot, even your living room. However, if you are having trouble thinking of the perfect place to bring your friends, family, or significant other, below are some common locations people often picnic at

- The beach

- A waterfront

- In your backyard

- In your living room

- At a park

- On a hike