With the end of spring semester’s classes comes warmer weather, more time with friends, and regular barbecues and parties. Nobody can really afford the time and effort to throw a huge dinner party, but who needs to when you can hang out outside? Picnics don’t have to be limited to little kids and their parents, but can be made into outdoor parties by swapping juice for sangria and pb + j for wraps and salads. All you really need is a big blanket and however many pals are in town for the weekend, but these tips will amp up your picnic game when necessary.

1. Drinks


Photo by Phoebe Meldick

Ok, so technically you can’t drink outside, and I’m not condoning or recommending, say, sneaking any of these light and summery drinks into a water bottle if you plan your picnic in a park. But all picnics need drinks, and they can be as good with or without alcohol, so make sure you have a pitcher on hand.

2. Portable and Clean Mains


Photo by Charlotte Cohen

Nobody wants to bring something grossly messy or liquidy to a picnic, as it only leaves everyone more vulnerable to the forces of nature. Imagine pieces of your salad flying away or your soup tipping over, not even mentioning the actual effort it takes to bring plates to a picnic, and how wasteful paper plates and plastic forks are. Stick to basics like sandwiches and flatbreads that won’t mess with the environment of wherever you decide to eat, and won’t be a bear to carry.

3. Sides


Photo by Rose Gerber

A picnic is basically a dinner party outside, which means you can’t neglect sides. Similarly to mains though, it’s easier to stick to things that require little clean up action, but still have a summer vibe. For a traditional summer snack try these healthy sweet potato fries, or these no-clean up stuffed bell peppers that can easily be finger food. Feeling like an easy salad? Try this black bean and mango salad in some tupperware or mason jars.

4. A Fun Summer Dessert


Photo by Emily Gordon

No party is complete without dessert, and if anyone else thinks of typical summer camp desserts when they think of summer sweets, they’re sure to love these chocolate chip caramel peanut butter bars. Not feeling like something heavy? Try a fruit salad made of some of these summer fruits sure to keep you cool.

5. Fun Group Games


Photo courtesy of pressherald.com

You’re outside for a reason! Switch it up from the regular Heads Up game to something active (but nauseating post-eating) by investing in a set for ladder golf, Kan Jam, or even a light up soccer ball for when it starts to get darker outside.