What is it about packing up a family picnic and eating outdoors in the fresh air that makes everything taste better and lifts the spirit? Take the next chance you get on a warm spring day to spread out a blanket under a tree and have a fun family picnic. Here’s what you’ll need:
Some great family picnic gear
The first thing you’ll need for a fun family picnic is a good blanket. You can bring an old blanket from home or pick one up that has a waterproof backing (which can come in handy when the grass is slightly wet). I love the new picnic blankets that fold up compactly and come with their own tote handle.
You’ll also need a picnic basket to carry your picnic food and utensils. Be sure it's big enough and sturdy enough to hold everything you need for your family picnic. Consider getting at least a couple of picnic baskets or backpacks so that each adult can carry one or two bags.
Yummy picnic food
Picnic food should be all about ease. Some of the best times we’ve had involved food that we picked up at a local deli. Once we even got veggie sushi at a Japanese restaurant. You can make one dish -- say, your family’s favorite potato salad -- and then pick up some turkey sandwiches. Add some delicious fresh fruit and veggies with dip, cut up cheese and crackers and voila! You’ve got yourself a fabulous picnic. For more family picnic food ideas, check out these great picnic food recipes from About.com’s Guide to Cooking for Kids.
Toys and games
Bring a variety of toys and games. Ideally, you should have some action toys such as kites, softballs and bats or Frisbees if you’re headed to a picnic spot with room to run around. You may also want to take along a book or a travel-size version of your child’s favorite game such as chess or Scrabble for when everyone is tired and wants to do a quiet activity.
When considering what to take with you, keep in mind that you want to avoid overpacking. Your kids may want to bring every single toy they have, but remember that you’ll all have to carry back all that gear that you take to your picnic. Unless you’re having your family picnic in your own backyard (which can be fun, too!), limit what you pack to one or two quiet activities and one or two sports-related toys.
And be sure to apply the same principal to food. Bring an assortment of snacky foods and one sandwich or entree per person. While kids tend to get hungrier after they’ve been running around, it’s unlikely that they’ll eat that much more than usual, especially if they’re busy playing. Figure on packing a bit more than what each child usually eats and you should be fine.
The one thing you may want to pack more of is water, since kids are likely to get super thirsty after running around. Check ahead to see if the picnic area has working water fountains, and most importantly clean bathrooms. Not all picnic areas have them, so be sure you don’t set up all your gear only to find out that there are no family-friendly facilities.