Summer Picnic Ideas

 Picnic Ideas on this Page: 

Setting the Stage for a Memorable Picnic

Picnic Essentials

A Grown-up Menu

A Kid-Friendly Picnic

 Setting the Stage for a Memorable Picnic

Begin by selecting the perfect location for your picnic. A garden, a picturesque lakeside, the beach, a local park, or a serene meadow can serve as idyllic backdrops.  

Any space can be transformed by laying a blanket on the grass, adorned with cozy cushions, lightweight chairs, and an umbrella, or by arranging folding chairs and tables with tablecloths in your backyard or patio for a touch of fun. Evening lighting can include hurricane lamps, flameless candles, or outdoor paper lanterns

Location has a lot to do with what you will need to bring versus having a backyard picnic or party. We’ve used the beach as an example of what you might need if you are further from home.

If the sparkling waves and the gentle sea breeze beckon you to embark on a memorable seaside picnic with your loved ones, remember that in the scorching Texas summer, it's essential to plan a menu that not only travels well but also withstands the heat. Make sure you have enough large rolling coolers to hold your refrigerated food and beverages. Insulated bags can be used to keep hot food, such as barbecue, warm until mealtime.  To beat the summer heat, think of a cabana, pop-up sun protection tent, or umbrella to shelter your guests from the sun. Extra towels will always be needed!

No matter where you choose to go, your guests will appreciate a communal basket to share creature comforts. Fill it with old-fashioned hand-held fans or rechargeable  battery operated fans, kid-safe insect repellent spray (no DEET), SPF rated sun hats or visors, and sunscreen.  Throw in a few items like hand sanitizer,  waterproof bandages, Benadryl spray and capsules for bites and allergies, and a first aid kit kept in your car, just to be safe.

Picnic Essentials

Remember to pack essentials like a tablecloth,  stylish melamine plates, vibrant napkins, bamboo reusable flatware, and drinking glasses with lids. Don't forget to bring a sturdy picnic basket filled with essential tools, including a corkscrew, unbreakable wine glasses, straws,  cheese knife, Susan’s favorite bread knife, and serving utensils

We like using these glass containers that are made for serving and storage with lids.  They are great for salads made ahead of time, stored in the fridge overnight, loaded in the cooler, opened for serving,  kept covered while out on the buffet, and used again for taking leftovers home! Trash bags and paper towels will make cleanup a breeze.

With planning and a dash of creativity, you can elevate your picnic into an unforgettable affair. Pack your picnic basket, embrace the great outdoors, and savor the flavors of a thoughtfully created menu. Be open to specials you find at the store, like watermelon, grapes, or peaches on sale. Thanks to you, your friends and loved ones will make memories that will linger long after the sunsets on your extraordinary outing.

A Grown-Up Menu

A Kid-Friendly Menu

Summer Picnic Ideas

Adults will love this Tarragon Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans or Asian Chicken Salad at events such as bridal or baby showers, engagement parties, game night, or book clubs.   

For a truly indulgent large gathering such as a brunch picnic, curate a menu of delectable dishes: 

Four cheese tortellini salad with basil and asparagus aspargus

 Four Cheese Tortellini with Asparagus, Walnuts, Tomatoes  and Basil

This vegetarian salad is a show stopper, and very satisfying. For a vegan version, use vegan parmesan cheese and replace the tortellini with a vegan option like chickpea rigitoni or corkscrew pasta.

Summer Desserts 

End your Southern-style picnic on a sweet note with individual berry bowls or fruit cobbler jars. Layer fresh, juicy peaches and blueberries, either fresh or cooked, with a sprinkle of crumble topping in mason jars. Layer the jars with fruit topped with a layer of crumble or a butter cookie, and serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. These charming desserts capture the essence of a Southern summer with every spoonful. 

Individual Berry Cups make a nice, light dessert. Serve with a Romanoff sauce, sorbet, vanilla ice cream, or whipped cream if you must.

Beverage Bliss

For adults, consider a traditional red sangria or a lighter red, white, and blue sparkling sangria filled with seasonal fruits. For a sophisticated touch, offer a selection of fine wines and champagne in ice-filled buckets. For more casual events, especially those that include barbecue, a casual day at the beach or lake, or grilling in the backyard, opt for a rolling cooler full of assorted favorite beers, sodas, water bottles, and wine coolers. Mimosas served in a glass pitcher with these reusable flutes are perfect for brunch and can be made into mocktails for the kids. 

Lemonade, juice boxes, root beer, and water bottles are easily chilled on ice for quick-grab refreshment suitable for all ages.

Red Sangria - use a bottle of dry Spanish (like Marqués De Cáceres)

 or California Wine.  Cut up fresh fruit like berries, apples, citrus, plums, peaches, apples, and grapes. Mascerated in 1/4 sugar (light brown or white) in a large pitcher for at least 30 minutes. Add a cup of fresh squeezed OJ. Add the wine, and sparking water in equal proportion. For a kick, add brandy like Raynal (a favorite budget friendly French brandy we use for drinking and cooking) and/or orange liqueur like Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao or Grand Marnier. Or go all out and follow this chef created recipe for a showy drink. Our advice - go easy on the brandy and liqueurs in the heat.

beach chairs overlooking water with wine and glasses on a small serving table

Beach Chairs Overlooking Water and Table with Wine and Glasses 

These links are to similar but not replicas of the table and chairs above.

Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs, Chicken Tender Biscuit Sandwiches, Coleslaw, and Pickles

Kid-Friendly, Scrumptious Picnic or Casual Gathering

No Southern picnic is complete without the iconic combination of crispy fried chicken and buttery biscuits. Turn this classic duo into easy-to-eat bites by making them into sliders.  These bite-sized delights will have your guests coming back for seconds. Or, pick up some fried chicken and sides on the way to the beach.

Fry tender chicken cutlets sliced in half lengthwise and pounded thin, or use tenders, sandwich them between split homemade buttermilk biscuits, and serve with a side of tangy homemade slaw and dill pickle slices. Don’t forget the hot honey and honey mustard.  

Or use slider buns and oven-ready chicken tenders. Hot tenders can be wrapped in vented foil for short trips.

There are great vegan chick’n patties and tender options for your vegan or vegetarian guests.

Put a twist on a beloved picnic staple with pimento-cheese deviled eggs. Elevate the traditional deviled eggs by blending the yolks with a creamy pimento cheese mixture. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and finely chopped chives or green onions for a pop of color and extra flavor. These Southern-inspired deviled eggs are sure to steal the show. Keep cold.

Picnic Desserts

;No picnic is complete without a selection of treats. A classic fruit salad bursting with vibrant flavors or slices of watermelon provide a refreshing touch. 

Don't forget to pack a batch of homemade cookies for an irresistible finale or the ride home!  Our favorite is traditional oatmeal cookies using the recipe on the box. They travel well and can be loaded with unexpected goodies like pecans, chocolate chips, or M & M’s. Or try white chocolate chips, dried sweetened cranberries, and walnuts.  Let your imagination rule the recipe! 

Ripe watermelon slices are always welcome at a picnic!

Beverage Bliss for Kids

When out in the sun, encourage everyone, especially children, to drink water.  If they must have something else, consider fresh lemonade, sports drinks, or juice. 

Quench your guests' thirst with a medley of refreshing beverages. Prepare a vintage Tupperware pitcher of hand-squeezed lemonade, plain or infused with strawberries. 

Children enjoy getting in on making lemonade. Make simple syrup in advance. Have children help squeeze lemons and mix ingredients.

Root Beer brings out the kid in all of us. If you are entertaining at home, consider root beer floats as a dessert option. It was a favorite in our house as children. 

Some popular brands of root beer without caffeine include:

Laurie's teens enjoyed the root beer floats and chicken biscuit sandwiches after the photo shoot