Picnics: Providing Powerful Family Connection Opportunities
Schedules for most families are increasingly hectic and losing important connections to people you love is the unfortunate price paid. There is a way to reconnect to children, spouses, friends and other loved ones that will create lasting memories for all involved. Packing up delicious foods and serving them in the great outdoors is a time-honored tradition for many families. Picnics are easy to plan, low cost and can be combined with a variety of other activities to make it an extra special day. Bringing your family closer is a matter of getting out and spending quality time together.
There is something about fulfilling the basic nutritional needs of the body after a long day that brings everyone to the table in full conversation mode. Yes, even the rarely spotted teenager is known to venture out of their room and partake in the family meal. Dinnertime is the most common portion of the day where everyone has shared time away from work, school and other activities. Families have been bonding over shared meals since the times of cavemen.
Merely suggesting a family outing may, or may not get a warm reception. Add a picnic into the mix and suddenly everyone is excited. Why is that? You are combining two primal needs in one grand day. First, the need for human interaction is great and it cannot be any better than socializing with people you already know. It is comfortable. The second reason is based on the knowledge there will be food! The mouth begins to water with thoughts of chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs sizzling on the grill. It would take superhuman strength to resist the temptation.
Combining Picnics with Favorite Activities
The family picnic, as a stand-alone activity, can be memorable, but is made even more so by combining the day with a favorite activity enjoyed by all. Make this the year that you get your family together to DO something. Bonding comes through shared activities and adventures. Technology has made it easy for families to disconnect. It may have seemed rough for parents of a generation back to chase kids away from the television filled with Saturday morning cartoons, but now there are video games, texting and all sorts of social media platforms to compete against.
A sandwich, chips and soda on a park bench are not going to keep the interest of the modern family for long. There are free or inexpensive activities you can plan around the natural environment of where you reside. Beach locations are the perfect venue to take the family for scuba diving lessons, swimming, surfing, beachcombing or building a huge sand castle. The mountains are perfect for nature walks and hikes. A few other activity suggestions are:
• Bike riding
• Horseback riding
• Roller skating
• Kite building and flying
• Water balloon wars
Getting out in the fresh air to move about will do great things for the health of everyone. Picnics will take on the whole new meaning of spending quality time learning new activities.
Making the Mini Family Reunion
There is no reason that the planning stages of a family picnic cannot include members that are outside of the home circle. Take the time to invite as many family and friends to your picnic as possible. It may require a little extra figuring on who brings what, but ultimately you may end up with a mini family reunion. Invite those that are far away and make it a camp-out night to save on hotel bills, or if you are low on space. Have as many people as possible bring small tents. This saves having to purchase any.
Kids of all ages will love the activity and you can spend time reconnecting with loved ones that you have not seen in months or years. If you are worried about the expense of feeding a large amount of people, have everyone bring already prepared items for a potluck picnic, or simply bring some of the raw meats needed for grilling. It will help minimize the costs and everyone will feel as if they contributed.
When Daylight Fades
Family fun should never end simply because the sun went down. There are a lot of ways to keep the activities flowing outdoors after the sun sinks low in the sky. Stoke up the coals in the grill and toast a few marshmallows. Everyone love s’mores! It is the perfect dessert for an evening picnic. Save clear plastic containers with lids. Poke a few holes in the top and have younger children catch and release lightning bugs. It will entertain them for hours! Colored glow sticks are also fascinating for the younger children after dark. Choose a brand that is safe and made with non-toxic materials.
Do you know anyone that plays a guitar? Light some citronella candles for light and enjoy singing songs that everyone knows. Gather everyone around when it gets dark and share spooky stories. This is a great time to let creativity run wild. Let the younger ones in the group take the lead so that the stories will not be TOO spooky.
Preparation Creates the Perfect Picnic Adventure
Getting everyone to agree to a picnic adventure is only the beginning. Proper preparation will save time, money and make the day one that is unforgettable. There are a few specifics you need to keep in mind to make sure that the day goes off without a hitch.
Location – Finding the perfect location will depend on how many are planning to attend, proper seating, tables for food preparation, grills and bathroom facilities. If you are planning on using park pavilions it may require reservations. Call the local parks and recreation department and check on the specifics. Smaller groups can usually be accommodated easier.
Food – Do as much food preparation as possible that morning, or even the night before. Being able to already have containers filled with sliced, tomatoes and onions will save a lot of time at the picnic. Purchase meats ahead of time when they are sale. Prepare the meat for the grill before heading out to the picnic location. Each minute you save on food prep is one devoted to connecting with family and friends.
Comfort – Having a fun day of picnics and activities require wearing clothing that is appropriate for the adventure. Sturdy hiking boots are great for nature walks and hikes. Extra towels are a good idea if you will be around water. Bring folding chairs if you are unsure the seating at the location is enough for everyone.
It may be time to start planning a picnic adventure if you cannot remember the last time you and your family spent the day outdoors. Reconnecting with nature, enjoying good food and bonding with friends and family are what the family picnic is all about. Start making your plans today!
Memorial Day is observed every year on the last Monday of May and is a holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Memorial day was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the war.
By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service and the day typically marks the start of the summer vacation season.
Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American Flag on each grave in national cemeteries.
Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in many areas of the country. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles.
People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with relatives and others. There often is a religious service and a picnic-like “dinner on the ground,” the traditional term for a potluck meal in which people used to spread the dishes out on sheets or tablecloths on the grass. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea.
The Windsor Picnic Basket is one of our most popular picnic baskets and you get FREE SHIPPING! With it’s classic English flair, host of amenities and durable construction the Windsor Picnic Basket is an exceptional value that will provide you with a lifetime of picnicking adventures. The stately English Picnic Basket design is emphasized right down to the outside straps and buckles giving it the appearance of a classic English suitcase.
Beyond the exquisite basket itself, the Windsor includes everything a well-stocked picnic basket needs for the ultimate picnic for four. Just spread the soft fleece blanket on the ground or set your picnic basket up on your favorite picnic table. With the Windsor Picnic Basket you’ll have everything you need for elegant outdoor dining. Perhaps you’ll start your picnic by opening a bottle of chilled wine from the insulated corduroy wine duffel or perhaps you’ll pour your favorite drink from the stainless steel vacuum flask. The elegant appearance of the place settings will hint at the delicious meal to come.
The numerous amenities of the Windsor make this picnic basket set a luxurious centerpiece for your picnic celebrations. Whether it’s a young couple just starting out their marriage together, a couple celebrating their silver anniversary or a “thank you” to a special client the Windsor Picnic Basket for Four is a gift that will be treasured for a lifetime.
The Windsor Picnic Basket Amenities Include:
4 Porcelain Plates, 9″
4 Stainless Steel Mugs
4 Cotton Napkins, 14″ x 14″
4 Acrylic Wine Glasses, 8 oz
4 Sets of Stainless Steel Utensils
2 Plastic Food Containers
1 Insulated Corduroy Food Carrier
1 Insulated Corduroy Wine Duffel
1 Fleece Blanket
1 Set Salt & Pepper Shakers (stainless Steel)
1 Ornate Bottle Stopper
1 Hardwood Cutting Board, 6″ x 6″
1 Cheese Knife (stainless steel)
1 Waiter Style Corkscrew (stainless steel)
1 Stainless Steel Vacuum Flask 32 oz
Weight: 22 lbs
Width: 14 1/2″
Height: 10 1/2″
What’s in Your Picnic Basket?
When we think about those special times in our lives it always seems that food plays a special part in our lives. From Thanksgiving at Grandmas to Holiday meals with Mom, remembering those days gone by somehow will turn toward fabulous foods and family gatherings and picnics. Picnic dishes and meals were often cherished family recipes handed down from Grandmother to Mother, Grandfather to Father.
Prior to this uber connect technology world we currently live in, picnics were times when families would gather and enjoy their favorite salads, desserts, baked beans, and grilled masterpieces. Just recalling these old favorites is enough to take you back, enjoying the memory of every tasty morsel. Here are a few dishes that, I hope, will evoke memories for you, and maybe even some ideas for your next picnic:
Traditional Picnic Food
Ah, for the days when low fat and cholesterol were still a figment of someone’s imagination. Back in the day, every good picnic had piles of chicken with crispy skin, hamburgers, hotdogs, and bratwursts or sausages taking center stage. There was no such thing as boneless, skinless chicken breasts or turkey burgers. Back then, we cooked our chicken with the skin on, bones in, and everybody ate more than their fair share food. There was one brand of hotdogs, all bratwursts and sausages were pork, and hamburgers were made with ‘hamburger’ and not lean ground beef, or any variation.
Nowadays, you can grill some of the old time favorites, but if you our health conscious you will want to tweak them a little. You can get the same great taste with less fat and fewer calories with just some minor tweaks. You can still mix up a batch of traditional hamburgers, but instead use leaner beef or even substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef, even dare I say, Tofu! You can even add spices add toppings, like onion, garlic, herbs, and special sauce – you’ll never miss the fat.
As an alternative to the traditional fried chicken, try putting a whole chicken on the grill, either by removing the backbone and “butterflying” the chicken, flattening it out to cook evenly, or putting it on the rotisserie. Preparing your chicken this way will allow the fat to cook off better than if you deep fried it, and a whole chicken will stay more moist than individual cut-up chicken. If you are really health conscious or on a special diet, you can easily remove the skin and you will find the meat underneath is quite juicy, and tastes better than ever. An old-time trick to improve flavor is to place your seasoning underneath the skin before placing on the grill. This trick traps the seasoning on the meat and locks the flavor directly into the meat.
Today we have a seemingly endless amount of choices for hotdogs, sausages, and bratwursts to bring on your picnic. You will have no problem finding varieties using leaner choices like turkey, chicken, or even vegetarian, that have fabulous flavor. It’s amazing how many vegetarian hotdogs are available that taste identical to other hotdogs once they’ve been on the grill and garnished up to your individual taste.
Even the good old fashioned steaks have taken a turn for the healthier. Those thick steaks that are well marbled are still a favorite, but we often choose a smaller steak or a steak that has been trimmed to eliminate a lot of the fat. Dad’s big T-bone steak has become Mom’s Petite Filet. But, simple grilled beef maintains the legacy of times gone by. By including a traditional topping of mushrooms and onions nobody will notice the leaner and health cut of meat.
Egg salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, and other cold main dish salads and sandwiches are the mainstays of Mom’s picnic recipes from decades past. Ham, salami or bologna sandwiches are still seen, but have been updated for a more health conscience picnic goers. Processed meats are typically avoided when picnic meals are planned today, however, the flavors of these long-ago sandwiches are still a much desired picnic basket treat. Just select lean cuts of these meats and choose some pickle relish or sour kraut to top it all off! This makes for a nice old-fashioned sandwich that taste great and is healthier as well.
The days of piles of sandwiches on white bread in your picnic basket are long gone. Replacing white bread with multi-grain bread brings your sandwich into the 21st Century. For instance, the classic “picnic spread” of ground or chopped meats can be made even healthier by spreading it on a hearty whole grain bread.
Classic Picnic Side Dishes with a Modern Twist
Back in the day, salads had less greens and more potatoes, eggs, mayonnaise and the like. Pasta salads, potato salads, egg salad, deviled eggs, seven layer salads, and lots of other sides were often made with mayonnaise dressings. Today, many of these sides have embraced vinaigrette dressings, light herb dressings, and other low fat alternatives. You can still garner up some low fat mayonnaise at the local grocery store and bring back some of those classic picnic recipes true to their original versions!
Classics picnic food like three bean salads have changed from sugar and vinegar based dressing to light oils and dressing. Potato salads now include lighter varieties for the dressing, like olive oil, vinegar, and lots of herbs, while still including the egg yolk to maintain that classic taste. You’ll also find many dressings are now being made with low fat yogurt or low fat sour cream.
Deviled eggs are another traditional picnic side dish and no picnic was to be had without a tray or two. How can you improve or update deviled eggs? Try using mustard, Greek yogurt, or no fat sour cream. Add capers or paprika for more flavor and you have an updated version of this wonderful favorite. Want to add some kick, chop up cilantro, add a dash of hot sauce, and you’ve got deviled eggs with a south of the border flare.
Chocolate desserts were always a big hit at picnics. From chocolate puddings, cakes, cookies, and even cream pies, knowing then that everybody loves chocolate was a pretty safe bet, just as it is today. Some favorites old time picnic desserts were Black Forest Cake and German Chocolate Cake. As ingredients like coconut, baking chocolate and canned cherries became more available, these favorites became the norm instead of the exception at just about every picnic. Because both of these cakes freeze especially well, they are still the perfect choice for your picnic celebration.
Fruit cocktail was a quick and easy desert back in the day. You can serve this classic desert at your next picnic, or you can freeze a can of fruit cocktail, add some yogurt and blend into an icy cold picnic smoothie.
A classic picnic desert from the 1960s is whipped Jello. Adding Jello to a mixing bowl and whipping in fruit and ice cream made Jello an instant dessert classic. Jello desserts began to fill picnic baskets and potluck tables like nobody’s business. When hosting a picnic featuring your favorite dishes from long ago, try including a classic Jello recipe in your picnic basket.
Today’s Picnic Basket
Modern times have certainly changed, but every once in awhile, take a break you’re your busy life style and find the time to go on a picnic. Choose a great location, add some of your favorite foods to your picnic basket, and just have some old fashion fun with family or friends.
Here at Picnic-Basket.com love all picnics, but some picnics are just meant to be out of the ordinary, and a romantic picnic for two certainly fits that bill. With romantic picnics, planning is a key to creating a day you’ll both be talking about for years to come.
It all starts with location. Picking the right spot to create that special moment can set the tone for the whole event. Dennis & I had our first picnic on the grounds of Byron Vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley in the California Central Coast. I worked at the winery on weekends and I had plenty of time to plan the event. Dennis and I had just met a few weeks earlier at a friend’s wedding and he was traveling from Florida to get to know me a bit better. I had one of my coworkers and friends set the entire picnic spread out so upon our arrival we could enjoy lunch and amazing views of the hills and vineyard. We enjoyed a lovely meal, scenery, and conversation and we both knew this would be the first of many romantic picnics to come.
Regardless of the location you choose, what you bring along with you on your romantic picnic can make the event extra special and memorable.
How do you create a romantic picnic?
When planning a romantic picnic most folks immediately consider a lake, beach, garden, mountain vista or maybe even a flowery meadow. But you don’t have to create a road trip to enjoy a romantic picnic. Do you have a backyard, patio, or balcony? Did you meet somewhere where you could stage a picnic? Does someone you know have a private setting you could use? Use your imagination, to create something special. During our first wedding anniversary we had just purchased our first home and money was tight; so tight we had not furnished our dining yet. I took advantage of that empty room and turned into in to a Key West style picnic right there in our home. To this day, we still talk about how much fun we had on that budget picnic.
Since I was indoors, I used candles in glass jars to set the mood. I still use jars today while outdoors as this prevents the candles from blowing out or tipping over. My motto – You can never go overboard with candles! A lot of candles can make up for a less than idyllic setting. A great tip when using candles is cluster a group of candles at different heights to create shadows and soft lighting.
Use real plates and utensils, not plastic and paper. If you don’t have a nice picnic basket set and you don’t want to use your dishes from home, go to your local thrift shop and buy plates, bowls, and silverware, etc. Don’t forget to buy big bowls or baskets for fruit and bread. Purchasing a quality picnic basket set can provide you with years of enjoinment and make the whole event much simpler and easy and they look great when you take those picnic pictures and selfies!
The Picnic Menu
Choosing your picnic menu is the next key ingredient to creating a successful romantic picnic. Instead of big clumsy plastic coolers, try to use real picnic baskets if your budget permits. If a nice picnic basket set is not in the budget, get creative. Flimsy is out and sturdy is in! So try finding an old wooden crate or barrel, or even some old luggage you can decorate to add that romantic touch.
French bread just seems synonymous with romantic food gatherings; the bold imagery of crusty golden bread evokes feelings of friendship, good food, and romance.
Perhaps it’s because the French just seem to know a thing or two about outdoor eating, taking it slow, and romance in general. Perhaps it’s because breaking bread together is an almost universal symbol of unity. Whatever the reasons, a loaf of bread is essential staple for your romantic picnic outing.
Include a loaf or two of any bread, baguettes, or rolls in a basket on your picnic blanket or table. Then, simply tear pieces off and add butter or some jellies to enjoy together. If you are serving sandwiches, thick slices of sourdough or French bread work great.
Along with bread, cheese is probably the second most romantic food. There are many varieties of cheese that will tempt the taste buds. Herve is popular cheese that offers a wonderful taste palate. You can’t lose with a creamy Havarti or a Gouda cheese. Most delis and cheese shops will let you sample a variety so try a few cheeses you have never had before.
After each piece of cheese, have a piece of bread to cleanse your palate before you sample your next piece of cheese. This is not just practical, but can be very romantic as well.
Many people want to stick with the traditional cracker and you can serve crackers with the cheese, but be sure to use a hearty cracker without a lot of seasonings to avoid having the cracker competing with the cheese.
What is a romantic picnic without plenty of finger foods? Since the two of you will be sharing much of the picnic food, simple main dishes could include sliced meats, fruits, and vegetables. These foods will pack light and are easy to share.
Use platters to serve a variety of foods so both of you can take small bites and create a wide variety of scents and flavors. Avoid serving up food like a holiday feast, sampling a bite of fruit, then a bite of meat, in between conversation, dances, or even those romantic kisses.
Wine is the beverage of choice for most romantic picnic. A beautiful bottle of either red or white wine is a perfect compliment. You can choose very dark rich wines or fruity light wines, depending on what you like. Don’t get caught up with the right wine for all the varieties of food; just choose something that you both enjoy. Just remember; the best wines and beverages are the ones you enjoy. There are many inexpensive choices and many sparkling wines come without alcohol if you are not drinkers. Natural juices and lemonade make great beverage choices as well.
Romantic picnics and desserts go hand and hand, and what better desert than something chocolate. You might indulge your senses with chocolate-covered cherries, chocolate dipped strawberries, a light mousse, or a delicate éclair. The idea is that whatever you have, you want to be able to share bites.
Mini cupcakes also make the right size dessert for sharing and tasting together. These little intimate bites set the stage for even more romance. There is just something about picking up a chocolate treat and taking a bite, then sharing it with your sweetheart that is romantic. Think finger-food again for your dessert and you’ll be right on track for romance.
Music is just a personal juice and you may or may not want soft music playing in the background. Music can be very relaxing and may even spark a dance or two. If you play an Instrument like guitar, breaking out a personalized romantic song just for your partner can be the perfect addition to your romantic picnic.
Regardless of your choices, the most important ingredients for any romantic picnic are you and your partner. When you spend a memorable day together, sharing the moments, and creating memories, you can’t help but feel more connected. The rest of the ingredients just enhance the moments. Take the time to plan a romantic picnic for two, and let the rest take care of itself.
Picnics are a great way to spend time with family and friends and you usually will not have to worry about any kids sitting around at a picnic. Kids have a natural sense of adventure and they don’t typically have to be inspired to play games! Kids also like to include their parents in the fun, increasing the fun and teaming up against the grownups.
You don’t need special equipment to enjoy your picnic play. A simple game of catch, hide and seek, tag, or an outdoor scavenger hunt might be enough to get people engaged. We recently had a picnic at Brookgreen Gardens and along with enjoying the natural beauty and sculptures; we found time to just toss around a Frisbee. Something about a little play at a picnic just seems to bring back childlike feelings.
Other games that are fun for kids of all ages include: Badminton, Boccie, Croquet, and Horseshoes. Oftentimes, public parks already have one or more of these games set up for you.
Classic outdoor games are sure to bring loads of fun to your picnic! When choosing games for your next picnic, make sure they are lightweight and compact for easy travel.
If you are looking for some of the picnic classics visit Picnic-Basket.com for everything from Washer Toss, Corn-hole (Bag Toss), Ladder Toss, and even Glow-in-the-dark Ladder Toss and much more!
Cutting a watermelon can be a bit of the challenge, watch this video to make it easy!
Whats in Your Picnic Basket?
When spring is in the air, we all feel that wonderful sense of renewal. Those who live in four season climates appreciate seeing the buds on the trees and the daffodils poking their heads through the grass. Even people who live in warmer climates sense that something special is about to begin as schools wind down for the year and people begin to make plans for their summer vacations.
What is it you like about the spring? Is it the warm breezes? Is it the color of the flowers? Perhaps it’s the opportunity to spend more time outside after being cooped up in the house or busy at school. For many nature lovers, the best thing about spring is the onset of outdoor activities from walking and jogging to playing sports or simply the chance to head outside without being wrapped up in your parka and snow boots.
With that increased outdoor activity also comes the opportunity to pack up that picnic basket, spread out the blanket, and enjoy an al fresco meal. Nearly everyone – from little ones to senior citizens – enjoys a picnic, though everyone’s idea of the perfect picnic might be a little different.
But whether you prefer a quiet time in the park with one or two closest friends or a noisy picnic with all the kids in tow, you’ll need some great food to take along.
Spring brings a plentiful bounty of produce that you might not have in the wintertime, depending on your location. So use them in a salad! Salads are light and easy to prepare and you won’t feel overly stuffed by the time you’re finished. Furthermore, you’ll have room for a few cookies if you don’t eat a bunch of heavy food for the main course. Try one of these:
Tomato, Mozzarella, and Avocado Salad
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
2 avocados, cut into small chunks
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
Dress the 3 items above in:
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. vinegar (use your favorite!)
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with basil
Tortellini with Spring Vegetables
8 oz. tortellini, cheese or some other favorite
3 c. fresh spinach
1 c. shelled peas
1 lb. asparagus, cut in 2 in. spears
¼ c. pine nuts
6 ounce herbed feta cheese
¼ c. olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Cook the tortellini in boiling water for about 5 minutes then add the asparagus and cook for 3 more. Add the peas just before turning off. Strain then add spinach, pine nuts, and feta cheese. Toss with olive oil and vinegar and season to taste.
Layered Garden Salad
6 c. torn mixed salad greens (use your favorites!)
1 15 – ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. shredded carrots
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 9-oz. package frozen whole kernel corn
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup broccoli florets
1/4 c. green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 c. finely chopped cooked ham or Canadian bacon
1 10-oz. package frozen peas, thawed
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
Use a large glass bowl and layer the ingredients beginning with the greens and continuing in the order listed. Save half the cheese for top garnish. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving. Bring individual dressing packets with you in an insulated cooler so picnic guests can choose their favorite for this yummy salad.