27 picnic hacks for an alfresco summer
tips to hosting your perfect picnic.
Published May 18, 2016 5:00 AM
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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
pack a portable speaker
You can’t forget to pack the tunes. What’s a picnic party without a good soundtrack?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Eliminate the need for extra packaging and stuff your finger food snacks and their dips in the same jar. Looks great, tastes even better.
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.
DIY picnic bags
Learn how to make your own paper picnic baskets on Oh Happy Day—free printable template and all.
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.
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.
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.