How to Plan the Perfect Picnic

picnic in garden

Picnic season is here and, with any luck, it’s here to stay. Al fresco dining is one of the great joys of summer – food seems to taste better when eaten in the open air – and the quintessential picnic is no exception. Still, the key to a successful picnic is plenty of planning. We've collected a selection of top tips to help you with everything from choosing an ideal picnic location to packing your hamper like a pro. All that’s left is to sit back and look forward to your perfect picnic – and perhaps keep an eye on that weather!

Location, Location, Location

picnic in meadow
Rido /

Whether you’re headed for a secluded spot under the trees or basking in the sunshine on the beach, your choice of location can make or break your picnic. Make sure you consider the needs of everyone in your group and you won’t go far wrong.

beach picnic
Lumina Images/

Beach Picnic

Perfect for sport-lovers and sun-worshippers alike, a beach picnic is guaranteed to keep everyone happy. Keep the sand from your sandwiches with wicker place mats and plenty of tightly sealed containers! Remember to pack a Frisbee and beach ball for some post-picnic fun.

forest picnic
Mediteraneo /

Forest Picnic

Find a shady spot and settle in for an afternoon of food and fun in the forest. With rivers to paddle, rocks to climb and plenty of space to explore, kids especially will enjoy a forest-based picnic. Bring warm blankets for when the sun dips below the trees.

meadow picnic
milanmarkovic78 /

Meadow Picnic

The tried and tested picnic in a park never fails to disappoint. Settle down in your local park, meadow or even back garden for a traditional picnic. Easy to get to with guaranteed space for everyone, invite friends and family and bring plenty of games.

What to Pack

picnic set up

Without a doubt – the culinary delights you pull from your picnic hamper should steal the show. But when planning the perfect picnic, it can be difficult to know where to start! Here are our top tips for what to pack.

grapes and wine on picnic blanket

1. Nothing too messy

This is the big one. Whilst picnics are delightful, cleaning up afterwards and dealing with sticky fingers or stained clothes isn’t. So where you can stick to foods that can be easily split or cut up and shared. Or forgo any cutting altogether and opt for easy bite-size treats which works for both.

2. Don’t Stick to Formal Courses

Picnics are supposed to be casual and should be just as enjoyable for the host as everyone else, so instead of planning distinctive starters, mains and desserts, create a buffet spread you can lay out when you get there, then sit back and enjoy it with everyone else.

picnic blanket and basket
Les Jardins de la Comtesse

3. Remember the Classics are Classics for a Reason

Sandwiches, savoury treats like scotch eggs and sausage rolls and timeless desserts like brownies, cake slices and cookies are picnic favourites for a reason. They taste amazing and they’re easy to eat al fresco. So put your own spin on these classic picnic hits for your next outing.

picnic basket and plates

4. Keep Sauces Locked up Tight

Chances are, not matter what you serve, someone is going to want dipping sauces. Before including them in your picnic, make sure they’re in tightly sealed containers so you wont have any spillages on the move.

How to Pack

stripy picnicware

You’ve carefully prepped a selection of delicious snacks and treats – don’t let your hard work go to waste with poor packing. Invest in a good quality hamper and cool bag – and remember, you can never have too much Tupperware! Follow these top tips and make sure your picnic arrives looking its very best.

stripy cool bag

1. Factor in the Heat

Don’t forget to factor in the heat when packing your picnic. Oily foods cope well in warm temperatures so look to include sun-dried tomatoes or anchovies into your picnic if you’re heading somewhere warm.

couple at picnic

2. Stay Chilled!

It’s equally important to keep your cold foods cold. Move perishables straight from the fridge into cool bags and line the sides with plenty of ice packs.

picnic basket

3. Fill it Up

A full cool bag will stay colder for longer than one that is half empty. Try and pack as much as you can into your bag, with heavier, most perishable items on the bottom closest to the ice.

picnic blanket and basket

4. Carry cocktail Sticks

Pack some cocktail sticks for a space-efficient and incredibly useful addition to your picnic cutlery. Nibbling on olives and cheeses with cocktail sticks is more civilised and much less messy than muddy fingers.

picnic blanket

5. Bring Bin Bags

Plan ahead and pack a few bin liners to ensure a speedy clean-up. Empty sandwich bags are perfect for filling with any leftovers that can be taken home and eaten at a later date.

Finishing Touches

gingham picnic
Les Jardins de la Comtesse

Don’t forget about the all-important accessories to guarantee your picnic is a cut above the rest. Start collecting some stylish picnic additions that will see you through many a summer season or surprise guests with colourful cups and saucers on the day. Your picnic will be Pinterest-worthy in no time!

beach picnic
Royal Doulton

1. Comfort is Key

Make sure your picnic blanket is roomy enough for all your guests to stretch out and enjoy the sunshine.

Royal Doulton

2. Picnic Plastics

Put down the glass and china and invest in some stylish yet practical plastic cups and saucers. A plastic picnic set will be much easier to carry and is guaranteed to survive the journey in one piece.

Royal Doulton

3. Little Luxuries

Add a level of luxury to your picnic and treat your guests to linen napkins. Not only are these infinitely more stylish than their paper cousins, but they are also eco-friendly and can be enjoyed time and time again.

picnic blanket

4. Outdoor Furnishings

Scatter outdoor cushions across your picnic setting for added comfort and style. Experiment with different styles, shapes and colours – there are no rules when it comes to picnic styling!

picnic set up

5. Handy Trays

Try as we might to find a flat piece of grass to picnic on, drinks may spill and bowls may tip if you don’t bring a tray or platter for serving. These have the added bonus of looking effortlessly stylish while bringing order to the potential chaos!