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Having a picnic in the park, the lawn outside your dorm, or just in your backyard with friends or your significant other is a great way to unplug, enjoy some good food/drinks, and connect. They’re great for a light lunch or dinner and watching the sunset. It's also fun to stargaze, if you're somewhere where you can safely picnic at night! Me and my friends have upped our picnicking time significantly in the past six months – it’s an easy, fun, and socially-distanced activity. However, planning out the logistics of a truly cute/delicious picnic can be difficult. You want to achieve the perfect balance of easy, transportable, and tasty! I know it can seem like a lot of work, but the beauty of picnics is that there is no wrong way to do it. You can plan it to whatever degree works best for you – whether it’s eating takeout or packing an actual basket, the possibilities are truly endless. Luckily, I’ve done all the planning for you – here’s my guide to the ultimate picnic.

Choosing a Basket 

Contrary to the fact that I've been using the word “basket,” you can transport your food in whatever works best for you. Backpacks are great if you’re hiking to wherever you’re going and intend to pack more snack-like foods and drinks that are in bottles. I’d recommend using a large backpack that zips up, so nothing spills out. Then there’s the traditional picnic basket that always comes to mind. If you take this route, I’d recommend one that’s sturdy enough to hold all your food and drinks without breaking. A good wicker basket that doesn’t have holes/areas where leaks can occur works great! If you decide a backpack and basket are just too bulky for you, a good tote bag always works, too. I’m a big fan of large, canvas tote bags – I take mine shopping and to the library and find that it’s great for picnics if you’re not packing a ton of food. 

Packing the Food + Drinks 

This is the fun part! Depending on if you want a full-on meal or just some light snacking, the foods and drinks you bring can really vary. Some things that I find everyone usually loves snacking on and are easy to transport are a few cheeses (goat cheese and brie are my favorites) and fruits that are in season, such as melon, berries, or grapes. Another good item that you can do a ton of different ways is salad – I love a good pasta or quinoa salad. Some penne pasta and veggies tossed together can be stored in jars or plastic containers and easily transported, doesn’t need to be heated, and can be easily made vegan or vegetarian! A few other easy and tasty items include sandwiches, cookies, and veggies with hummus. As for drinks, it depends all on what you want and what time you’re going – if I go mid-day, I love to pick up iced coffee on my way. You can also never go wrong with sparkling water or lemonade. 

Picking Your Location 

I’ve done multiple picnics in my friends’ yards, and it’s honestly great for something low-key. However, if you want a change of scenery, I’d recommend going to a nearby park or one of the quads on campus. You can bring a blanket and speaker, play some music while you eat, and look at the sunset or people-watch with your friends. Especially now, it’s important to try and have a change of environment every now and then. You can also go to the beach/lake if you’re in the mood to be by the water or go to a nearby rooftop with a view of your city’s skyline! 

Now that we’re all social distancing, we have to think of more creative ways to safely spend time with each other, so what better way to do it than with food? Picnicking is a great way to enjoy your surroundings – whether it’s a city, nature, or your own backyard – and a good opportunity to make yourself unplug and focus on whoever you’re with. 

Ruthie is a junior at SMU studying Psychology, Spanish, and Neuroscience. Born and raised in Texas, she loves to travel and enjoys reading, watching Netflix, and spending time with friends.
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