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Picnic-planning ideas for the spring season

With the weather warming up and days getting longer, spring is the ideal time for a picnic. As it's likely the first you've arranged this year, you might want to make it extra special and set the tone for a fun summer ahead. 

If you want to plan the perfect spring picnic, food and drinks are important, but they're certainly not the only factors to consider. A great location, attractive setup and some form of entertainment will raise it to the next level.  

Consider who you're inviting

Start by thinking about who you want to invite to this picnic. You might be planning an intimate picnic with just your partner or a couple of close friends, a huge picnic for all your friends and extended family or something in between the two. 

When you're inviting guests who don't all know each other, think about balance. It's fine to invite some family members and some friends who know one another or several people from different friend groups, but don't invite five people who are all friends and one person who knows nobody except you. 

Since a picnic is an informal affair, there's no need for a written invitation. A phone call, text message, email or WhatsApp thread will do nicely. 

Find a location

It's great to choose a scenic location, but it should be accessible for everyone you invite. So, if you're including senior relatives or people with mobility issues to your picnic, don't hold it at a 30-minute hike from the nearest road over rough terrain. Beaches and parks are great spots, but you can even throw a picnic in your own backyard. 

You'll also need to think about how you'll get your food to your picnic spot. If your chosen location is off the beaten track, consider packing a picnic backpack and a soft cooler with a shoulder strap rather than a picnic basket and bulky hard cooler. Don't be afraid to ask your guests to carry some supplies, especially when you're inviting close friends and family members. 

Plan your menu

It wouldn't be a picnic without food, so think carefully about what you want to serve. Your exact menu will depend on your preferences and who you're catering to. For some people, it isn't a picnic without a fancy cheese plate and luxurious canapes, while others are happy with chips and dip. 

You'll want a mixture of store-bought and homemade food so you're not cooking for days before the event. If you're hosting an extra-large picnic, you could consider making it a potluck.  

Choose food that travels well and will stay intact if it gets knocked around a bit. Don't forget to cater to dietary requirements, like allergies or gluten sensitivities, and check if you're not sure. 

Don't forget drinks

You and your guests need to stay hydrated, so don't forget to pack water and beverages, such as juice and soda. Whether you pack alcohol is up to you, but make sure it's legal to drink alcoholic beverages in your chosen picnic spot and consider how people will get home if they have one too many. 

Gather picnic essentials

Once you've thought about the who, where and what food you will serve, it's time to gather up those picnic essentials. Your guests will need something to eat from, so you might opt for paper plates, biodegradable bamboo or palm plates or reusable picnic plates. Also, consider utensils and cups or glasses. You'll need something to carry your food and tableware in, which could be a picnic basket, cooler or even just a backpack. 

It's also nice to have a picnic blanket large enough for all your guests to sit down on or multiple blankets for a large party. If you want to take your comfort level even further, you could bring a selection of floor cushions for guests to sit on. If you're hosting in your backyard or at a park with a picnic table, a tablecloth can add a touch of class and comfort to your picnic.

Decide on decorations

Of course, you don't have to decorate your picnic spot, but if you're planning something special, such as a birthday picnic, decorations won't go amiss. Consider hanging paper lanterns or pennant flags in the trees around your picnic spot, using an attractive picnic blanket or a nice tablecloth over your picnic blanket or decorating the picnic area with fresh flowers. 

Think about entertainment

If you want to take advantage of the longer days and make an afternoon of it, you'll want something to keep your guests entertained once the last sandwich has been eaten. 

When you're planning a family picnic involving kids, it's good to have a selection of games to keep them busy, but even adult-only picnics can be livened up with games. Consider bringing a football, flying disc, bocce ball set or a Wiffle ball and bat. 

A group of kids can also be persuaded to play games such as hide and seek or tag if you're in a safe and suitable environment for them to do so. 

A portable Bluetooth speaker is ideal if you want to listen to music at your picnic. Just don't turn it up so loud that it annoys others around you. 

What you need to buy for a spring picnic

RTIC 20-quart Hard Cooler

With a convenient handle, the 20-quart version of this cooler is ideal for carrying to your picnic spot. Its impressive insulation makes it a good choice if you're packing your picnic well ahead of time. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

HappyPicnic Wicker Picnic Basket Set

This classic picnic hamper comes with wine glasses, plates and utensils and comes in two-person and four-person versions. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Earth's Natural Alternative Eco-Friendly Tableware Set

If you're looking for single-use tableware, this set contains 16 compostable or biodegradable small plates, large three-compartment plates, knives, forks and cups, plus unbleached napkins and green biodegradable tablecloths.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Scuddles Extra Large Picnic and Outdoor Blanket

This durable, water-resistant picnic blanket comes in a range of designs and is a great choice for your next picnic. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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