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Spring has arrived, and summertime is right behind it. This means it’s time to start grilling out, swimming and having family picnics. The longer days, chirping birds and sunny weather will make you want to spend more time outdoors, especially if you have a family. Picnic season is the perfect time to get everyone together for quality family time, while also enjoying nature.
It’s easy to forget things or feel unprepared when it comes to planning a picnic outing. Not to worry. Check out the following tips, and set yourself up for a successful family picnic.
Timing Is Everything
A midweek picnic will undoubtedly be less crowded than a picnic on a Saturday afternoon. Depending on what day of the week you choose, your favorite location may work out perfectly or just become a pain to deal with.
If you want to take the family to the most popular park in the community, consider a weekday evening. This will break up the week and provide quality family time during otherwise busy work and school schedules. If you want to picnic during the weekend at a popular park, head over early to claim your spot, otherwise you may face an overcrowded park. This is also a good time to try out a lesser-known park, which could end up being the perfect fit for your family.
Choose the Right Location
There are likely many public parks available in your area. Some of them are larger and others are more popular. Some parks even have playgrounds, a wading pool and barbecue areas. Others have hiking trails, rock climbing and canoeing.
Carefully research your options, and select the best location for your family picnic. If you’re looking for more quality time, choose something a little less crowded. Knowing about a location beforehand can also save you the hassle of having to go back home for other things you need, like swim trunks, bug repellent or proper shoes for the playground.
If you live near the mountains or a body of water, find a location nearby to make your picnic even more memorable.
Don’t Forget Games and Toys
Picnics are all about fun, so plan a couple of games for the family to play. Cornhole is a great outdoor game, as well as badminton and giant Jenga. If your location has a pool to cool off, play water balloon dodgeball.
Your kids will likely want to keep playing even when you’re tired out, so bring other activities to keep them busy. Try packing a jump rope, sidewalk chalk, bubbles and a soccer ball.
Children spend more time with technology and less time outdoors these days, leading to a major lack of physical activity. In fact, children spend an estimated average of 7.5 hours in front of a screen daily. Keep your kids active and the outdoors a part of their lives to decrease any potential health risks they may face.
Get a Picnic Basket
You can’t have a picnic without a picnic basket — it’s essential. Find one almost anywhere, but make sure you purchase one with a lid to keep bugs out. Sturdy wicker baskets are trendy and last for a long time.
This basic storage device needs to be big enough to hold food, drinks, flatware, plates, condiments and your blanket, if possible. The bigger, the better — but just make sure it’s easily transportable. Having everything in one place will make a family picnic much easier because you won’t waste time looking for things.
Find the Perfect Blanket
Don’t count on available picnic benches, especially if you go to a park during its peak times. Be prepared and bring your own picnic blanket. The larger the blanket, the better. This way, everyone can have a comfortable spot to relax and eat.
Your blanket can also be versatile, as it can be a blanket for the ground or a tablecloth for a picnic table. If you want to be cautious about possible damp ground, get a waterproof picnic blanket. There are many different options to choose from.
Pack the Right Food and Drink
Make sure you pack plenty of water to keep everyone hydrated, since you’ll be in the sun all day. Your kids will also be running around and playing, so it’s especially important they get the hydration they need during this time.
For food, choose options that don’t spoil easily — like fresh fruits and veggies. For sandwiches, popsicles and other cold dishes, keep them stored in a cool area with lots of ice packs. Use frozen water bottles as ice packs to serve a dual purpose — the extra water will come in handy.
Try to stay away from any recipes that use eggs, fish or mayonnaise, and swap them out for oil-and-vinegar-based vinaigrettes. Other things to remember include a knife, cutting board and bottle opener.
Family picnics are a fun time for everyone and create everlasting memories for you and your kids to talk about for many years to come. Plus, getting out into nature is always good for the mind and soul. So plan a special day or evening at the park where you can spend quality time together playing games, eating and relaxing in the sunshine.