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In the summer, I love spending as much time as I can outside. Evening picnics are a great way to spend some relaxing time outside, and an easy way to get a group of friends together. Whether it’s for a movie in the park, a concert at the zoo, or holiday fireworks show, summertime offers no shortage of picnic friendly occasions.  Here are some tips and tricks to help you host your next picnic.

Tips, Tricks and Snacks:
• The most important thing to remember is to keep the menu casual. Imagine yourself in blue jeans and sneakers, and think about what would be easy to eat sitting on  your picnic blanket. Is it a fancy five course meal? Probably not. Think of your picnic menu like the school lunch you pack for your kids, only the deluxe version. ; )

• Bring a blanket for you and your guests to sit on. If there’s a chance the lawn could be damp, pack a tarp to layer between the grass and your blanket. Blankets with a nylon layer on one side and a soft cotton or fleece layer on the other are pretty easy to find, and perfect for a picnic. If you’ve got a large group, ask your friends to bring along a blanket as well. It’s better to have too many spots to sit than not enough.
Picnic Sandwiches
• Sandwiches. These handheld chameleons of the food world are the perfect picnic star. You can prep them ahead of time, so they’re ready to eat the moment you open your picnic basket. The possibilities are endless with sandwich toppings, but make sure to prep something special if you have a gluten-free or vegetarian eater in the group. If you’ve got a larger group, I recommend prepping three different sandwich options and allowing your guests to choose their sandwich. You can wrap them in parchment paper and label with a permanent marker.

• Fresh fruit and veggies. Before your picnic, head to your local Farmers’ Market and stock up on some colorful goodies for the group. Fresh produce is refreshing to nibble on throughout your picnic and will add a nice pop of color to your spread.
Picnic Food
• Crackers, chips, or pretzels. Chips and salsa are usually my go-to picnic food. Again, depending on the size of your group, it’s nice to pack a variety of snack options so there’s something for everyone.  You can throw in some cheese or dips too! I like to bring Tilla-Moos
 because they don’t require a knife.

• Don’t forget to pack a sweet treat! Cookies, brownies, lemon bars…the list goes on and on. Try to bake (or buy) treats that are small enough to eat in one bite to minimize crumbs (plus it means you can eat more of them)! Also keep in mind how you’re going to transport your dessert with ease to the picnic. Something delicate like a cupcake might not be the best option, but a bag of cookies is easy to throw in the picnic basket!

• Depending on where your picnic will take place, bringing along some wine or beer may be an option. If you’re thinking about bringing some festive drinks to your picnic, be sure to check with your park or venue’s rules first!

• Fill plastic zip-lock bags with ice to use to chill the food on the way, then use as ice for your drinks when you get there.

• Be sure to pack a few easy activities for the picnic too! I always throw in a deck of cards and a Frisbee or soccer ball to pass around. I always like to throw a few glow sticks in the basket too! They’re a fun surprise to share with the kids, and they’ll help you find them in the crowd once the sun begins to set.
Picnic Games
• Always pack a few wet wipes or paper towels and a trash bag to help with cleanup at the end of your picnic.

• If your evening is going to carry into the night past sunset, remember to bring a flashlight or headlamp to light your area as you pack up. The last thing you want to do is forget your wallet or keys on the lawn.

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