After another cold New England winter, the temperatures have finally warmed, encouraging people to emerge in larger numbers to enjoy longer, sun-filled days. As soon as I breathe in that fresh spring air, my thoughts beeline to outdoor picnics.
Whether enjoying a quiet one on my own, or larger get together on the beach with friends and family, picnics marry together the warmth and freshness of outdoor breezes with precious moments. For those with little time, a sandwich, water bottle and towel can turn your backyard into a peaceful respite from work from home drudgery. I've hopped on my bike and peddled to one of the local parks with lunch sack in hand to change up the scenery even more. But when it comes to friend and family-filled gatherings, a bit more planning is necessary.
Step one is to decide how many people to invite followed closely by step 2--where to host your picnic. Once that is decided, I let my creativity flow when considering specific themes, cuisine and design for a special get together. where you want to have it, and what type of food and drinks you want to serve. As I plan, I try to select a location that is scenic -- since location often drives my chosen menu and the decor. Do I need towels or blankets; should I pack beach chairs or pillows to provide added seating support? Do I plan out a color or theme to coincide with the location? Should I plan individually-wrapped items, or can I serve table-size trays of items from guests to pick from?
Picnics are no longer relegated to lunchtime sandwiches and chips. In fact, "brunch picnics" are oftentimes the most enjoyable as they are simple to plan. For my version, I either bake or pick up muffins and pastries, cut up a variety of fruit, a quiche and pair it all with fresh squeezed orange juice or lemonade amplified with a touch of champagne, for good measure. The variety ensures that everyone who attends can find something that suits their dietary needs. The final flourish is a lovely throw blanket and bouquet of flowers to enhance the overall experience.
As many are starting to again embrace the joy of the outdoors, some entrepreneurial individuals have started businesses dedicated to planning and coordinating outdoor picnics including @ackpicnics and Picnic Chicks/Boston.
Some of my favorite picnic setups include a beautifully presented arrays of food including colorful charcuterie boards. Instagram is overflowing with what was once a classic cheese tray and turned lighter fare into dynamic works of art comprised of meats, cheeses, nuts, jellies, crackers and fruit. Boards by Babe , The Charcuterie Mama and Charcuterie With Katie are just a few located here in Massachusetts!
Picnics are a perfect way to reconnect and enjoy the outdoors while embracing the simplicity of human connection---something many of us have sacrificed the last year. Attire for outdoor picnics too is generally "come as you are" and by design, encourages comfortable, loose garb and slip-on (and off) options. Depending on the weather, I typically pair Bermuda shorts (rather than a dress or skirt if I’ll be sitting down on the ground) with a flowy top and light jacket layer if needed. I also tend to wear slip-on sneakers, such as our Traveler or our Occasion as they elevate my outfit, but are also easily slipped on and off. This summer, I'm excited to wear our latest slip-on options (to show them off, of course), our rose gold Sophisticate which just arrived in our warehouse.
For picnic inspiration, Pinterest or Instagram are great places to start. Just search the hashtag #summerpicnic.
If you end up planning a picnic of your own, please share pictures with us! Show us how you fashion your event and share the type of food you serve. Most importantly, we await images filled with smiles--of people rebounding towards a sense of what was before the pandemic struck--a sense of normalcy we can all agree is much desired.