National Picnic Week takes place this week across the UK, so grab your blankets and baskets out of the cupboards and get out to the great outdoors for a good old-fashioned picnic.

Picnics are on the rise in the UK, with more people choosing to spend time away from phones and other devices and spending some quality time with friends or family instead.  It is no surprise: lockdown restrictions are lifting; outdoor socialising is back so you’re going to need to pack the perfect picnic for some al fresco fun.

Pick the right spot

Look for somewhere scenic, grassy with plenty of natural shade. Aim for plenty of surrounding space for children to run around. And if it’s raining on your intended picnic date? Set up indoors! Picnicking is a state of mind.

Some of our favourite spots for picnics include The National Trust properties. With beautiful scenery at the North Coast we love a picnic at The Giants Causeway. Closer to home we enjoy Gosford Park in Markethill as there is a lovely walk and a playpark for the kids or Tannaghmore Gardens in Craigavon. With animals to visit at their farm and a newly refurbished play park, it makes an excellent choice for a fun family day out.

2. Pack perfectly

Wicker baskets are charming, but not always the most practical option. Try using an insulated bag with compartments to secure your contents, plus padding to cushion soft food or glasses. Before you set off, check your Tupperware is shut tight, and wrap any particularly pungent items in a plastic bag.

3. Pick the right blanket

You heard it here first: a chic picnic blanket is going to be the must-have accessory of the summer. Get a rug that is big enough for everyone and if possible, make sure that it is waterproof (in case of spills!)

4. Jump on a Picnic trend

One of the biggest trends this summer is turning the perfect picnic into a luxurious picnic with the help of a Teepee tent. Set up your tent, add a fancy boho rug and some throw cushions and, Voila.

With lots of gorgeous photos to see head over to see a picnic set up by Zoe. Zen Dens Teepee Parties and events cover the north Coast and Glens on their Instagram. The teepees look so dreamy!

Closer to Belfast and the surrounding areas would be Little Dreams NI. Laura has teepees and picnic packages ready to go, in fact you can even purchase the Teepees from her, what more could you ask for – no hassle and all the fun!

5. Organise the perfect food

Nothing beats a family picnic and feeding a crowd of adults and kids is easy with a few family favourites up your sleeve. Think about recipes that are fun and colourful to keep kids interested and are big enough on flavour that the adults will love them, too.

Try homemade triangle sandwiches in a variety of flavours, handheld yet hearty enough to fill you up. It is a crisp sandwich that always proves popular in our house, but the crisps must be our local brand favourite Tayto and teamed with fresh Irwins Nutty Krust bread. It is like heaven in loaf, no exaggeration.

Finger foods are perfect for picnics – no mess, great for feeding the crowd and easy to transport. The kids just love freshly buttered Hovis pancakes topped with Jam. Why not use a muffin tin and bake up a batch of savory muffins or sweet treats to share around. A fresh Raspberry and White Chocolate scone from Alana Interiors is always in my picnic basket.

Fruit is a wonderful versatile idea for picnics, especially fruits that are in season from your local fruit and veg shop. Apples, pears, and grapes can be served with cheese or make a fresh fruit salad for a healthy pudding option. A pundit of strawberries is always a firm favourite.

Puddings can sometimes be an afterthought when planning a picnic, but it’s surprisingly easy to include a chocolate treat. We like to support our local Rosehip Cafe and Bakery as their traybakes are absolutely delicious along with the best Victoria Sponge cake I have tasted.

If you are really in a hurry to get going bring ingredients that can be assembled easily like cream, meringue, and fresh berries. Or better still just buy a dessert in advance from a local business. Advanced warning…the desserts over on Just Desserts Instagram page will make you drool, these are my favourite!

6. Bring some games along

Plan for potential boredom, especially with children, by planning activities:

  • board games,
  • sandcastle construction gear,
  • frisbee,
  • kite,
  • books,
  • colouring books, adult or otherwise.
  • A scavenger hunt
  • hide and seek

If you are planning your picnic in your garden or turning it into an event be sure to enlist the outdoor games from Kings and Queens Event Hire. I attended a garden party last year for Marie Curie Cancer Charity and the games at it were so much fun.

The list is endless in the great outdoors.

7. The Big Clean Up

Do not forget to bring along a few rubbish bags so that you can leave your picnic area as clean and litter-free as you found it. Eco-friendly picnic supplies, like cups, plates, and napkins, will make your picnicking an even greener affair.

What is your favourite tasty treat when having a picnic? Head over to my Instagram page for more picnic ideas!

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