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This past summer wasn’t the most eventful time with COVID responsible for business/restaurant closures and social distancing regulations (and the general fear of going anywhere in public for non-necessities). I spent most of my time at work and the majority of my free time alone at home or with family. When it was cool enough to venture outside and stay there, I did what many people started doing more of this summer: picnicking. I had picnicked many times before, but not so frequently as I did this summer. 

There’s something about putting a meal together to eat outside in the shade (or the sun, whichever you prefer) that feels so magical and makes time feel as if it’s stopped for the moment. This rings especially true after months of having nothing to do AND cold weather. Luckily, a picnic is super easy to throw together and, despite what you might have seen on instagram, does not have to be an elaborate affair (but if you want to make an occasion out of it then go right ahead). You really only need a few things, most of which you’ll probably already have at home! 

1. Blanket 

What’s a picnic without a blanket? Eating on the ground is what it is. With a blanket, you’ve got yourself a little sanctuary, whose bounds only you and anybody you’ve brought with you can cross. It also helps that a blanket can make the ground more comfortable and provide a barrier between you and the grass. And I use the term blanket loosely; you can use whatever you’ve got. An old comforter, sheet, tablecloth, towel—  you name it, it’ll work.  

2. Food 

Again, this is one of those things that you’ll probably need for any picnic. You can take an assortment of snacks, a prepared meal, food from a restaurant, a full on charcuterie board, anything! The world is your oyster. Just make sure that you have the proper amount of food for the group of people and the appropriate method of storage. If you’re setting up camp in your backyard, Tupperware might do just fine, but if you’re taking a drive up the canyon and plan on finding a spot spontaneously, you may want some heavy duty storage (ie something that will keep everything hot/cold and is easy to carry). 

3. Drinks 

Could I have grouped drinks with food? Yes. But would it still get lost in the motions and probably forgotten? Also yes. Drinks are super easy to forget. You may spend all of your planning process worrying about what foods to bring and whether or not you’ll actually have to do some cooking and then neglect the drink menu. Again, not something you have to plan meticulously; some water will suffice. 

4. Utensils 

This is another thing you may forget before embarking on your picnic. Always think about how you will eat the food you bring as you’re packing it and you’ll never forget the utensils. This includes plates, cups, and bowls, should you need them. 

5. Entertainment 

If you’re like me, your entertainment is likely the people with you, and the environment around you. But I will admit, it can be a good decision to bring other forms of entertainment like a deck of cards, music, books, drawing supplies, etc. Bring whatever sounds fun for your group (or yourself for solo picnics)! 

6. The Perfect Picnic Spot 

You can picnic pretty much anywhere (that is also legal and safe). If you have a nice yard that would be the easiest spot considering you wouldn’t have to store or carry anything further than your yard. That being said, it’s especially fun to drive around the hills and through canyons to look for the right spot. Chances are you’ll probably have to park and then walk a ways to find that spot but it’s definitely worth it. And once you eat all of the food you’ll have a lighter load to carry back. You can try your local parks to switch it up a bit as well. The good thing about picnics is that you can have as many as you want and they never get old or boring. For inspiration, you can always use Pinterest or Instagram tagged locations to find good spots. Wherever you go, just make sure to check the weather and other important factors to ensure that your experience is uninterrupted. 

Whether your goal is extravagance or simplicity, this list has you covered for your basic picnic essentials. Remember, you can always throw in a nice bouquet of flowers or have other props on hand for those picnic photos you’ll probably want to take, but this list is sacred and if you follow it you’ll never have an unsuccessful picnic! 

Junior studying Journalism and International Studies
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