Published on May 18, 2016

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Photography by SUSIE MONTAGNA VIA LONNY.COM

Sure, you could always stop by the grocery store and grab some finger foods—or make your own elaborate spread at home before transporting the mostly messy meal to your backyard or local park. But why do that when you could picnic smarter? We have 27 hacks (some DIY projects!) to help your summer picnics be more organized—and tasty—events. Keep reading for more tips, like bringing along a serving tray for drinks or to use as an even, stable surface.

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Photography by DOMINO

portable grill

Because not every space will have a conveniently placed and clean grill, bring your own! It’s big enough to get the job done, but small enough to fold up and carry easily. 

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Photography by DESIGNSPONGE.COM

DIY condiment caddy

Learn how to make your own condiment caddy out of a cardboard six-pack holder in just a few steps over on Design Sponge. Nobody will ever know it’s reused bottle packaging—they’ll simply think it’s a cute caddy! 

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Photography by HALFBAKEDHARVEST.COM

bring a board for your cheese

A picnic without cheese? Don’t you dare. Be the picnic hero and bring a wooden cheeseboard so everyone has a sturdy base to cut their slices (or large chunks, we know the drill) of cheese before transferring to their own plates.

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Photography by @PARCSHOP

easy drinking

Bringing drinks—but forgetting a wine screw or beer opener—is the absolute worst picnic scenario. Plan ahead and make sure to buy twist of wine and beer bottles, or take a walk on the wild side and try some canned wine. Union Wine Company, based in Oregon, has great bottles and cans and you can’t beat Lila Wine‘s cute cans.

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Photography by OHHAPPYDAY.COM

clothespin silverware DIY

Attach your silverware right to personalized bags with the help of a few clothespins. (Genius, right?) See the full tutorial on Oh Happy Day.

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Photography by FORKFUL.COM

DIY drink holder

Serving trays work wonders, but if you don’t have one on hand, a muffin tin works great, too! Bonus: It can also hold other stuff and be passed around no problem.

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Photography by NESTOFPOSIES-BLOG.COM

BBQ in a jar

Because you deserve to try eating all your favorite meals out of Mason jars. Jokes aside, canning your courses is an effortless way to make your meal less messy. See one example on Nest of Posies.

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Photography by HELLOGLOW.CO

watermelon drink dispenser

Drinking out of a watermelon is WAY more fun than drinking out of a regular drink dispenser. Plus, this means you get to eat the fruit, too!

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Photography by SASSYCHICAGOBRIDES.COM

frozen fruit ice cubes

Add flavor to your sips with fruit-filled ice cubes. Keep them in your cooler as a replacement for regular ice, just make sure to enjoy before they melt!

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Photography by JAWBONE.COM

pack a portable speaker

You can’t forget to pack the tunes. What’s a picnic party without a good soundtrack?

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Photography by NELSON BYRD WOLTZ LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS FOR MEDLOCK AMES VIA DWELL MAGAZINE

picnic table with a built-in cooler

While this is a slightly more advanced DIY that will take some prep beyond the day-of, imagine having this table in your backyard! Learn more at The Kitchn.

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Photography by DOMINO

picnic basket backpack

If the clunky, old school baskets aren’t for you, try a slightly more modern version that comes in the form of a backpack—blanket included.

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Photography by LEO PATRONE

tie your sandwiches

You can’t expect to throw sandwiches into a container and have them stay together perfectly. Tying your sandwiches (preferably baguettes, like you see here) is a chic alternative to tin foil or plastic wrap.

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Photography by LILYSHOP.COM

inside out chocolate covered strawberries

Avoid a melty mess by scraping out strawberries and adding chocolate to the inside instead of the outside. You’ll have a lot less sticky fingers to deal with and a lot of happy attendees.

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Photography by GOODHOUSEKEEPING.COM

roasted veggies on the grill (in tin foil!)

Tin foil is the key to grilling success—especially when using communal amenities. Did we mention the cleanup is non-existent? That’s cool, too.

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Photography by SMILEMONSTERS.BLOGSPOT.COM

cupcake tin hacks

Cupcake tins not only catch popsicle and ice cream drips, but they can also serve as make-do lids for your drinks so the bugs stay out.

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Photography by IKEA

DIY your own tent

Yep, IKEA even has you covered when it comes to DIY-ing your own tent, which we think would be perfect for any outdoor picnic fête. 

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Photography by VIA GOODHOUSEKEEPING.CO.UK

tic tac seasoning holders

Save your Tic Tac containers for a cute and easy seasoning holder hack! Look at those cute stickers—who could resist?

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Photography by SARAH RAE SMITH VIA THEKITCHN.COM

the frozen water bottle trick

Freeze a few water bottles to keep in the cooler. They’ll keep your food cold and eventually melt back into water, most likely just when you’ll need them.

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Photography by BETH KIRBY

get organized

Write a packing list to make sure you have everything and coordinate with other attendees if you’re going potluck! Real Simple has the perfect picnic packing list.

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Photography by IKEA.COM

snack jars

Eliminate the need for extra packaging and stuff your finger food snacks and their dips in the same jar. Looks great, tastes even better.

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Photography by MARTHASTEWART.COM

keep your blanket dry

Whether it’s recently rained or not, there are a few ways you can avoid soiling your favorite picnic blanket. Our two faves? This DIY tutorial from Martha Stewart and simply laying out a plastic shower curtain under your blanket before sitting.

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Photography by OHHAPPYDAY.COM

DIY picnic bags

Learn how to make your own paper picnic baskets on Oh Happy Day—free printable template and all.

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Photography by SIMPLYSATED.COM

how to cut a watermelon

Knowing how to cut a watermelon for maximum eatability and minimal mess is a must for frequent picnic throwers! Learn how at Simply Sated.

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Photography by TRUSPER

don’t bring containers

Leave your heavy plastic or glass containers at home and use this quick fix to turn topsy turvy chip bags into legitimate bowls. 

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Photography by @PHARMAPACKS

disinfecting wipes

Because nobody likes to end a party by pouring what little bottled water is left over their hands before wiping them on their clothes. (Bummer.) Bring disinfecting wipes along and you’ll instantly become the picnic’s favorite guest.