Anatomy of a backyard picnic

29 June, 2015

There are two kinds of picnics: the-PB&Js-in-a-plastic-bag variety, and the goat-cheese-and-pesto-crostini kind. There's nothing wrong with either one, of course, but when it comes time to host a midday backyard bash, which sounds more appealing to you? A picnic might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of hosting a party outdoors, but it's a fun, quirky opportunity to take a time-old tradition and make it totally fabulous. Need a few pointers? 

Layer up 

With blankets, that is. Even if you have the softest grass in the world, you're probably not going to want to sit directly on it for an extended period of time, particularly if you're entertaining guests. Find a few blankets you don't mind getting dirty (bonus points if you have outdoor blankets on hand already), and layer them as your picnic base. The more varied your selection, the more beautiful and elegant your picnic party will appear. 

Or you can just comfortably sit at your patio dining table. Your call. 

Get your game on

What's a picnic without a few great games? Bust out the bocce ball, the badminton rackets or even just a deck of cards. It's a great way to keep the event going all afternoon long and can be awesome for breaking the ice if not all your guests know one another. 

Crank up the music

The best thing about having a picnic right in your own backyard? Setting the mood is as easy as turning on the surround sound. While you can certainly play anything that strikes your fancy, it's fun to match your music to your food. Delicate hors d'oeurves pair well with Edith Piaf, while brisket sandwiches are awesome with a little AC/DC. This is a crucial part of creating a fun atmosphere, so spend a little extra time putting together the perfect playlist. 

Make it a potluck

Hosting a picnic for an extra large group? Ask every attendee to bring a favorite dish, and you'll have way more food than you even know what to do with. And trust us – that is never a bad thing. If you're trying to stick to a theme and worry the smorgasbord will be a little too random for your taste, simply let your guests know ahead of time. 

Find a tree 

A little sun is a great thing, but it can get really hot really quickly, especially during the dog days of summer. Your best bet for long-term picnic survival? Setting up shop underneath a big tree – or a nearby umbrella. Don't forget the sunscreen! 

Think outside the box 

Picnics might traditionally be a lunchtime activity, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to midday meals. These events are just as fun during brunch, at dusk or even after the sun is long gone. To set the mood when it's darker outside, just put up a few strings of twinkle lights.