Picnic week

Picnics are easy to organise and fun for all the family. You can have them almost anywhere; the beach, the forest, a National Trust site, a local park or even your own garden.

Food, glorious food

From scotch eggs to salads, crudités to quiches, the principle of picnic food is that it should be made ahead of time and eaten cold.

If you have a large group coming, encourage people to bring a variety of dishes with them and share! That’s one of the things that makes picnics so fun. 

Reusable cups, plates and cutlery will not only keep your rubbish to a minimum but you can use them again next time.

Use resealable containers wherever possible and keep bottles and packets sealed when not in use as picnic food is like a homing beacon for bugs!

Prepare for the weather

The great British summer can be unpredictable so be sure to check the weather forecast - there’s nothing worse than being rained out! Large umbrellas double as parasols, so are useful to have on hand for any kind of weather. Bring plenty of water so everyone can stay hydrated - including any dogs that might be joining you. And for those who suffer from hay fever, don’t forget to take your tablets!

Make plans for your pooch

If you’re planning on bringing your four-legged friends, check and make sure that dogs are permitted first (some parks might have restrictions). If they can come, double-check to see whether they need to be kept on a lead. Failing to restrain your dog in areas with livestock, for example, could result in fines, prosecution and worse - it’s not worth the risk.

If you check to make sure your dog is allowed to join you before heading out, there’s no reason to leave them alone in your vehicle; dogs die in hot cars

Remember a bowl for water, some dog-friendly treats so they don’t feel left out, a toy to keep them busy, pet-safe sun cream (dogs can get sunburn too!), and of course poo bags.

Picnic checklist

  • A cooler to keep your food and drink from spoiling
  • A bottle opener
  • Favourite condiments
  • Baby wipes, napkins and hand sanitiser to clean up messy faces and fingers
  • The all-important picnic blanket!
  • A simple first aid kit (plasters, antibacterial wipes, bite and sting relief)
  • Suncream
  • A bag for rubbish

Fun and games

If there are children in your group (or grown-ups with a fun streak) it’s nice to plan some activities beyond the picnic basket.

Frisbees, footballs, badminton, boules/pétanque, giant noughts and crosses, Twister, bubbles, card games, kites, croquet and water pistols are all great things to bring.

Avoid small toys and games with lots of parts that could get lost.  

You can also play games that don’t require any equipment like eye-spy, hide and seek, charades or tag.

Picking the perfect spot

It’s important to think about who is coming to your picnic when picking a spot. Being near to a toilet is critical for family gatherings, especially if little ones are coming. It’s worth checking this great resource (which shows where all the public toilets are in the UK) before deciding on your destination.

Parking up

It’s also useful to look into what car parking facilities are available and how far they are from where you want to go. Can everyone in your group manage that distance? Do you have buggies or wheelchairs to think about?

Some car parks will be free, while others may have a pay and display machine that requires change or an app to make a payment. You can make sure you don’t get caught out by searching online first.

Handy hints

Don’t just head for the first spot you see - there are things to consider, like whether there are animals grazing nearby (in which case you should head somewhere else)! Other useful things to consider for picking a good picnic spot include making sure you have shade from the sun and that you’re not blocking paths or thoroughfares. You should also choose a location with even ground for sitting on and laying out your blanket.

Last but not least

Always leave your picnic area clean and tidy when you go home. Litter can injure wildlife, so make sure you clean up all your rubbish, unused food and dog mess, and dispose of it responsibly by either putting it in the bins provided or taking it home with you.

Picnics are a wonderful way to spend a day outdoors with family and friends - we hope you stay safe, have fun and enjoy this National Picnic Week!

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