With all the sporting events our family takes part in, I have become a bit of an expert on packing food to go. Now that we have little ones in the house again, I’ve been putting that expertise once again toward packing a family picnic. Who knew we weren’t yet finished with days of heading to the park on warm days to enjoy friends, food, and sunshine!
Certainly, you can head to the park with nothing more than some sandwiches, a blanket, and a jug of water. But we decided it would be fun to brainstorm a huge variety of ideas to encourage many meaningful family outings!
With the help of my friend Kim, we’ve put together an enormous list of everything you could possibly need or want for a fantastic family picnic!
My favorite to-go treat? Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits!
What to Take on a Family Picnic
In this post, we’ll give you a great list of specifics to meet all your picnic needs. Here’s a basic checklist of items you’ll want to consider taking:
- Tablecloth or Blanket
- Bug Repellent
- First Aid Kit
It’s time to get ready for your family picnic!
Here’s a list of all the items we’ve found to recommend for optimum fun:
Baskets and Coolers
You’ll be filling these with food, and we’ve shared a long list of great food ideas below! But first, let’s talk about great options for containers to hold your food and drinks.
And good luck deciding which of these you like best for your family. I kind of want all of them. ;)
- Traditional Picnic Basket – We received one like this as a wedding gift and it has been so fun!
- Picnic “Bag” with Cooler – Oooh, now this is both fun and practical!
- Picnic “Bag” – the Backpack Version – Um. Yes.
- Soft Cooler on Wheels – You had me at “wheels.” Also, this one folds up.
- Hard-Sided Rolling Cooler – Also on wheels, but sturdy.
- Extra Large Rolling Cooler – I think your entire refrigerator will fit in this. I’m serious.
- Mesh Bag with Cooler Bottom – For the picnics in which you don’t need your entire refrigerator.
Water Bottles and Jugs
Taking drinks for a crowd? Or maybe just individual bottles. Here are some wonderful options!
- 5-Gallon Water Jug – So that everyone within several acres can stay hydrated.
- Metal Screw Lid Bottle – Good luck choosing your favorite!
- Wide Mouth Metal Bottles – Also lots of great color choices.
- Fun Metal Bottles with a Straw Lid – Ooh, I love these!
- Stainless Steel Water Bottles for Kids – They can pick their fav!
- Wide Mouth Glass Bottle – Water tastes better this way!
- Glass Bottle with Straw – I think this is pretty. :)
Picnic Table Covers
Not that we don’t love eating on a table that may or may not be covered with splotches of bird poop…
- A Cover for both Table and Benches – Ooh, I like!
- Table/Bench Covers, without elastic – Much cheaper than the one above, but not as easy to use.
- Clips to Hold the Table Cloth – If you take a regular cloth from home
And an easy/cheap/fun picnic table hack:
You can use a twin-sized fitted sheet as a picnic table cloth! It’s easy to fit onto the table then throw in the wash later!
Umbrellas and Canopies
Sitting on the ground instead of at a picnic table? Here are some great items you might need.
- Umbrella for Shade – This is fantastic!
- Tent/Canopy – Even better for a bigger group.
- Large Roll-Up Picnic Blanket – I have one of these and it is AWESOME!
- Heavy Duty Ground Tarp– Whoa, much more durable than a blanket.
Gotta keep the sun out of our eyes and off our faces!
- Hat for Ladies – Purty cute!
- Hat for Men – I think even my teens would want one of these!
- Hats for Kids – Lots of colors to choose from.
Fun Outdoor Games
Too old for slides and swings? Here are some great outdoor game ideas!
- Lawn Bowling
- Yard Dice
- Ladder Ball
- Washer Toss
- Ring Toss
- Frisbee Golf (Disc Golf) Set
- Floating Pong
Great Outdoor Toys
Skip the food. I’m going on a picnic just to play with this stuff! (Just kidding. I want food too.)
- Kites – I can’t believe how fun these look!
- Whistling Rockets – These go a LONG way, and they whistle too!
- Sandbox Toys – Look at this fantastic set!
- Kid-Sized Shovel – Because why not just dig holes? (But not at a public park.)
- Small Bend-Proof Trowell – My kids used to dig with these in sand volleyball pits!
- Fun Garden Tool Set – Truly, just take me to a sand pit to play.
Exploring and Learning
You’re sure to find many teachable moments!
- Walkie-Talkies – These actually come in fun colors!
- Batteries for Walkie-Talkies – Don’t forget. :)
- Weather Radio – It’s solar charged, plus it is a flashlight, AND will charge your phone!
- Binoculars – Ah, yes. Who knows what you might find?
- Durable Kid Binoculars – Not that they would drop/break the others…
Just in case…
- Non-Toxic Bug Block – our very favorite!
- Deet-Free Mosquito Bands – These are pretty cool!
- Soothing Rash Cream – Good for just about any owie.
- Organic Sunscreen – Yes, I actually make my teen and adult kids use this one too.
- First Aid Kit – It’s got a little bit of everything!
What food should you take on a picnic?
Well, the sky’s the limit on food ideas! But here are some of our top suggestions:
1. Sandwiches or Wraps. Some of our favorites:
2. Chips and Dips. Some of our favorites:
- Simple Bean and Cheese Salsa Dip
- Cream Cheese Salsa Dip
- Bacon Ranch Chip Dip
- French Onion Dip
- Bacon Tomato Dip
- Black Bean Salsa
- Healthier Cheese Dip
- Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip
- Easy Guacomole
- Easy Cheesy Bean Dip
- Hamburger Sauerkraut Dip
3. Fruit with Dips. Some of our favorites:
- Creamy Chocolate Fruit Dip
- Easy Cream Cheese Fruit Dip
- Strawberry Yogurt Fruit Dip
- Caramel Apple Dip
4. Veggies and Dips. Some of our favorites:
- Petite Baby Carrots (so much sweeter and easier to eat!)
- Sliced Cucumbers
- Sweet Peppers
5. Crackers with Cheese and Meat
6. Chips and Salsa
7. Hamburgers and Hotdogs
8. Salads. Some of our favorites:
- Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Salad
- Black Bean Taco Salad
- BLT Chopped Salad
- Easy Taco Salad
- Chicken Chef Salad
- Perfect Pasta Salad
Some of our favorite Salad Dressings:
- French Dressing
- Italian Salad Dressing
- Ranch Salad Dressing
- Spicy Ranch Dressing
- Thousand Island Salad Dressing
9. Fun Packable Side Dishes. Some of our favorites:
- Angeled Eggs
- Creamy Coleslaw
- Nectarine Cream Cups
- Pineapple Fluff Salad
- Strawberry Fluff Salad
- Raspberry Lemon Cream Cups
- Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait
- Baked Beans
- Cream Cheese Corn
- Pickles and Olives
10. Chicken Legs, hot or cold. Some of our favorites:
- Simple Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken Legs
- Simple Honey Mustard Chicken Legs
- Simple Garlic Parmesan Chicken Legs
- Simple Lemon Garlic Chicken Legs
- Simple Oven Fried Chicken
11. Fun Desserts. Some of our favorites:
- Butterscotch Bars
- Cheesecake Brownies
- Chocolate Cake
- Chocolate Chip Brownies
- Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
- Pudding Cups
- Peanut Butter Brownie Cups
- Rice Crispy Treats – the healthier way!
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
12. Fun Drinks. Some of our favorites:
- Creamy Orange Cooler
- Pineapple Mango Smoothies
- Strawberry Peach Slushy
- Chocolate Milkshakes
- Chocolate Frappe
- Homemade Gatorade
13. Pre-Packaged Food to Go
Sometimes you just need a little convenience, am I right? Here are some of our favorite grab and go packaged snacks:
- Stretch Island Fruit Leather
- Go Squeeze Applesauce Pouches
- Simply Brand Bagged Chip Variety
- Bagged Nuts
Need some handy food containers to hold your awesome food?
Here are some great ideas:
- BPA Free Plastic Containers with Lids
- Pyrex Bowls with Lids – You KNOW these are my favorite!! I have two complete sets that I use constantly!
- Don’t forget paper plates, napkins, utensils, serving spoons, and cups too!
What do you take on your family picnic?