Summer Picnic Essentials

Family of three enjoying a picnic outdoors

Working in the industry I do and being born in a generation compiled of digital natives (those born after the Internet), I spend a lot of time on social media watching and engaging to see what many of my new and old pals are up to. While I get to see everyone checked into their favorite places, happy birthdays, and milestones, it’s fun to see what everyone does to relax and enjoy their leisure time. Whether you are located in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, in the Arizona desert, or on the sunny beaches at the Jersey Shore (that’s me), a huge trend ongoing is creating the perfect summer picnic. Between the location and the scenery or nature, behind the aesthetic that comes along with the décor you bring, it is fun to see everyone enjoying their favorite bites in a new environment.

Throughout this past week, I was able to direct message and get in touch with some old friends across many different networks, as well as scroll across many social boards to put together these top picnic essentials that are perfect for your upcoming date night or family picnic. Have you incorporated any of these ideas into picnics in the past or plan to? Let us know by leaving a comment on social or snapping a pic using #SharpHome on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


Young friends setting up for a picnic.

Location Is Everything

Before looking to lay your blanket down and enjoy your fresh food and drinks during your picnic, you must think of three things: location, location, and location! If you are like me and have trouble making a decision or are in-between choices, put a note out to all of your friends and ask them what they think. There is nothing that a good poll won’t fix. The options are endless, no matter which geographical region of the country you are in. Are you a resident of the desert near Arizona? Go find that perfect cactus and plant yourselves right under it. Near the shoreline of a favorite beach? Take off your shoes and set up your hours of fun to come on the sands at sunset listening to nothing but good vibes and the waves crashing upon the sand.

Sounds fun right? Let’s think about what we will need!



Think of the Décor

After looking into this trend a bit more and doing my research, I have concluded that typical picnics with a checkered blanket and a wicker basket are a thing of the past. Picnic decorations and other accessories can consist of many different arrangements including tables, pillows, flowers, and anything you can think of to really tie in everything together.

Looking through many design boards for ideas and inspiration, I took comfort in one I found from Elana Loo showcasing the transformation of a typical holiday into a tropical Thanksgiving. While the picnic looked festive and creative, it also marked off an important pillar on the checklist which is comfortability. To achieve the look that Loo pulled off, you may want to run around the house or head online to grab the following:

  • A dining table- if you can find one with the legs that come down or if you are in an environment where you can bury the legs (like in the sand), that will work perfectly. You are going to want a flat surface to make it so eating and drinking stay comfortable, yet you get the full picnic experience. No table? Try getting laundry baskets and then placing a large piece of wood over them. Once you put a table cloth over it, you won’t even realize that you are eating where you fold your clothes. If none of those suit your needs, you may be able to use a pallet or another hard surface you have laying around your house.
  • Next, you are going to want to think about the tablecloth and the decorations you are going to bring. Whether it’s a picnic for 2 or a group of 8, some battery-operated candles, placemats, flowers, and festive table décor may do the trick. It may be a good idea to bring a tote bag with you to place all of the items. Just make sure that they aren’t fragile or if you plan on showcasing plants, artificial may be the way to go. Think about how you would decorate your sofa table or for a festive event!

Friends gathered outdoors having a picnic.

  • This one may be the most important of all, and that is comfortable seating. When planning on sitting and eating, you may want to think about bringing a cushion or a pillow to sit on to place on the blanket. This will resolve some discomfort you may have, and let you focus on the good eats and conversations.
  • Finally, think about a creative way to carry all of the food and ingredients. If you are meeting people at the picnic, it may be a good idea to have everyone bring something. This way you have less to transport, and you can divvy up responsibilities and expenses. In terms of getting it to your picnic location, a picnic basket may be the way to go, or if you don’t have one a medium-sized bin would work as well.


Food displays across the a board at a picnic.

What’s to Eat?

So now that we have designed the picnic and it’s going to look amazing, we actually have to talk about food. While there are many different recipes and options to choose from, you want to be careful that you pack the foods and treats that are perfect for the entire picnic. Now don’t get me wrong, a plate of baked ravioli is always a favorite of mine but it may be difficult to find a way to bring that on a picnic. After going back and forth thinking about the perfect go-to’s to include I decided to share with you some of my top picks.


Lemonade with lemons on a table.


  • Water- I mean who doesn’t love a nice glass of water, that says it all!
  • Lemonade/Juices- If you are like me and want something a bit sweet and different, consider finding a favorite and unique drink for this special occasion. Depending on the environment and time of day, a nice glass of lemonade may fit the vibe perfectly.
  • Sodas/Soft Drinks- Let’s face it, sometimes there is nothing more refreshing than a nice soft drink or a soda after a long day. Do you feel the same way? If so, bring one to the picnic!
  • Smoothies- If you really want to get creative, a smoothie may be the way to go (and we have the perfect choices for you). Check out these Top Summer Smoothie Recipes that are perfect for you.

If you plan on drinking adult beverages (Ages 21+), make sure to check with your picnic location site manager or organization to see if there are any restrictions or rules.

Autumn Chicken and Kale Salad on a plate


The options are endless when it comes to finding the perfect entrée/main course for your picnic. While you can simply find a recipe in one of many online roundups,  I decided to compile some of my top picks!


Gluten-Free S’mores Cupcakes cut in half on a plate. Mini Greek Yogurt Chocolate Cheesecakes on a serving dish.


  • Mini Greek Yogurt Chocolate Cheesecakes– These individualized rich chocolate cheesecakes have a light, but ultra-creamy texture, thanks to Greek yogurt. This also brightens up the typical sweetness of cheesecake, making it a great summery dessert option.
  • Gluten-Free S’mores Cupcakes– This fun S’ mores Stuffed Cupcake is an excellent option for your next picnic. This recipe features a vanilla coconut flour cupcake that is filled with chocolate and marshmallows, iced with white chocolate buttercream, and dusted with graham cracker crumbs.


Picnic essentials

Some Extra Things to Bring

To wrap this up, I decided to include a few more extra must-haves that you will want to bring on your picnic to make everything simpler, but most importantly memorable. Make sure to pack up a:

  • Camera- Capture every moment with your favorite people and take a shot of your table all prepped. You all worked hard on this one.
  • Bug Spray- If you are outside, especially in the wilderness, you may want to bring some bug spray or even some covers for the food to prevent them from getting all over the place. Unfortunately, the bugs are not invited to the picnic.
  • Trash bag/recyclable- Once you are done with everything, throw it away in a trash bag so that you don’t get all of your bags and bins dirty with used plates and such. If there is a dumpster near, feel free to throw everything out on-site.

Last but not least, remember to share your picnic creations with us using #SharpHome on social. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

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