30 Ideas to Help You Plan the Perfect Family Picnic
With warmer temperatures and longer days on the horizon, many parents are excited to get out of the house and into the great outdoors with their little ones. A family picnic is a perfect activity to plan if you’re looking to get a little fresh air and enjoy some quality bonding time with your children. Here are a few fun ideas and easy tips and tricks to help you make the most of your day. Bon appetit!
Table of Contents
- Prepare for your family picnic
- Picnic food ideas for kids
- Picnic games to make the day memorable
- Picnic fun ideas
Prepare for your family picnic
- Get everyone involved. A great way to get your kids excited about the family picnic is to get them involved in the planning process. If your little ones are old enough, talk to them about the menu, the location, the games they would like to play, and the friends or cousins they want to invite. You can even bring them along to the grocery store to help you shop for the food. They’ll be excited about their grown-up responsibilities and eager for the day of the picnic to arrive.
- Pick your location. Don’t leave this piece to the last minute. Make sure you pick your picnic location ahead of time so you can find a spot that has everything you’re looking for whether that’s shade, lots of room to run, or a splash pad to cool off. It’s also a good idea to check out how busy it gets; you’ll want to arrive before the crowds so you can snag the best spot.
- Keep sun protection top of mind. Be sure to bring sun protection for your little ones. Pack a strong sunscreen and reapply throughout the day. Bring a hat to shade your child’s face as well. Some parents even bring a portable tent to get some relief from the direct sun throughout the day.
- Pack layers. The temperature is likely to fluctuate during your picnic and you don’t want to have to go home because someone is feeling too hot or too cold. So, bring clothing layers for both you and your little one.
- Think about seating. If you’ve chosen your location you’ll know whether or not picnic tables are available. If there are - great! If not, bring a light blanket, our On The Go Play Mat,or lawn chairs so that everyone has a comfortable spot to enjoy their meal.
- Bring diaper change essentials. Make sure you have everything that you need on hand to do a quick on-the-go diaper change. We recommend having a portable changing pad, fresh diapers, and wipes in your bag for your outing.
- Get excited. Sometimes parents get so caught up in the planning that they forget, it’s supposed to be fun! So, talk to your little ones about all of the exciting picnic activities you have planned and give them something to look forward to.
- Prepare for bad weather. One thing you’ll never be able to control is the weather. So, make a contingency plan in case of rain or an unexpected cold front. While we’re mostly sharing outdoor picnic ideas, if you come up against some bad weather, an indoor picnic is a fun and unexpected way to make the most of the day you had planned.
- Bring a first aid kit. Accidents happen. So, bring a travel pouch along for the day with some first aid essentials like bug spray, bandaids, sanitizing wipes, and allergy medication.
Picnic food ideas for kids
- Skip the utensils. The less you have to lug on your family picnic day the easier your preparation and cleanup will be. So if you want to keep things simple, plan for a meal that doesn’t require utensils. Think sandwiches, veggies and dips, and cookies for dessert.
- Have options on hand. If one of your little ones is feeling fussy about a particular food you won’t be able to head to the fridge to grab a different option, so bring some along with you.
- Be prepared. There may not be a garbage bin close by, so bring an extra plastic bag for any napkins or snack wrappers to throw away or recycle when you get home. Or better yet, pop on a reusable bib for your kiddos to skip the waste altogether.
- Stay hydrated. Bring lots of water so everyone stays hydrated. Carrying your water in an insulated traveler to keep it cold will be a welcome refreshment if you’re picnicking on a hot day.
- Don’t forget dessert. Family picnic day is a special day! Indulge in a little dessert. You can either bring something easy like a box of cookies or pick a park with a nearby ice cream shop or truck.
- Make it a potluck. It takes a village, even when it comes to picnic preparation. So, if you're inviting friends and family along for the day, have everyone contribute to the meal.
- Buy something ready-made. Grocery stores and food specialty shops have amazing ready-made options for picnics. From veggie trays to pre-made sandwiches, don’t be afraid to make life a little easier with some ready-made additions to your picnic meal.
- Bring a cooler or ice packs. Depending on what you’ve brought along for your picnic, keeping your food cool might be important from a food safety perspective. So, bring along a cooler or some ice packs to keep everything fresh.
Picnic games to make the day memorable
- Assemble your meals together. When you’re looking for picnic ideas for your kids, don’t forget to come up with some activities and games. We love doing a meal that your kids can assemble themselves during your outing. Tacos or sandwiches both work really well. This, in and of itself, is a great activity to keep your little ones entertained and engaged.
- Hide and seek. The best part about Hide and Seek? You don’t need to pack anything extra to play this game. Just be sure to set some ground rules about how far your little ones can go so that everyone stays safe.
- Three-legged race. This is another great game that won’t weigh down your picnic basket. All you need is something to tie two legs together and you’re (literally) off to the races.
- Red light green light. This classic game is another perfect picnic game for your kids that won’t require any preparation or supplies.
- Scavenger hunt. A scavenger hunt definitely requires a bit more planning and work than some of the other picnic games we suggested but it makes for an engaging activity that will keep your kids entertained for a decent amount of time.
- Cool off. If you’re planning a picnic on a hot day, it’s great if you can incorporate an activity to help your kids cool off. If you’re at home, hook up a sprinkler in your backyard or find a park with a splash pad. Don’t forget to bring along some swimwear and a hooded towel to dry off.
Picnic fun ideas
Looking for extra-special picnic ideas for your family? Here are a few ways to make the day that much more memorable.
- Picnic themes. Pick a theme! This can be absolutely anything that your family loves. Maybe it’s a particular type of cuisine or a favorite movie or book. Whatever it is, incorporate the theme into the food you serve and the activities you play. Your little ones will be sure to remember the day fondly.
- Have a backyard picnic. A backyard picnic can be a lot of fun and it can also make life a little easier from a planning perspective. If you’re picnicking at home, there are lots of additional activities you can do that you might not have been able to do at a public park. Fire up the BBQ, turn on the sprinkler, roast some marshmallows, and enjoy!
- Have a breakfast picnic. A breakfast picnic is an unexpected twist and the novelty is likely to be exciting for your little ones. Grill some pancakes and wrap them up to keep them warm before your head out, or pack some yogurt and berries in a cooler. Bring a thermos of coffee for yourself. The best part of a breakfast picnic? You’ll be sure to beat the crowds.
- Dress the part. It can be fun to get a little dressed up for a picnic and we happen to have the perfect family picnic outfits for both you and your little one. Our Checkmate Caftan pairs beautifully with our On The Go Canvas tote bag for Mom. Plus we have plenty of adorable matching options for your little one. With one-pieces, dresses, bloomers, hats, and shorts we’ve got you covered for the whole day. Or, match your theme with our Summer Bugs One-Pieces!
- Invite some friends. When it comes to a family picnic, we say the more the merrier! Inviting friends and family to join you is a great way to share the planning responsibilities, give your kids some playmates to enjoy the day with, and let you catch up with your loved ones.
- Document the day. A picnic is a special occasion, so don’t forget to document all of the precious moments so you can look back on them later. Snap some pictures on your phone and be sure to capture some videos as well. You can even bring a polaroid camera or film camera along for something a little different. Encourage your little ones to take some of their own pictures as well and then have them printed and displayed in their bedroom as a fun reminder of a great day.
- Write about the day. When you get home or at the end of the picnic, pull out some journals or a piece of paper and some crayons. Have your children draw or write about what they did at the family picnic. Ask them to share their favorite activity and favorite food. This is something that both you and your child can look back on for years to come anytime you want to remember your special day.
We hope these tips help you plan a memorable family picnic with your little ones. Happy picnicking!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re heading on a family picnic, you don’t need to purchase a basket for the occasion. There are plenty of other great options you can use to pack up everything you need to enjoy your day. A sturdy tote bag is one great option. A cooler is a second perfect alternative to a picnic basket and it has the added benefit of keeping your meal fresher for longer.
There are so many great ways to make your picnic extra special. Incorporating a theme, planning some engaging activities for your children, and creating a beautiful set-up with comfortable seating are all amazing ideas. But, remember the most special part of a picnic is the time you spend with your loved ones, so once you’re all set up be sure to sit back, relax, and soak in the day.
If you’re planning a picnic on a colder day here are a few things you can bring along with you to make the day enjoyable:
Warming foods and drinks like a thermos with hot chocolate, coffee, or soup
Supplies to build a bonfire if it’s safe to do so
Something waterproof to sit on
Warm clothing and footwear
Hats and mittens
Sunscreen because burns can happen even in the winter
Here’s what we recommend having on hand for your next picnic:
Clothing layers for changing temperatures
A play mat for baby or toddler
Food that’s easy to eat without utensils
A cooler and/or ice packs
Diaper changing essentials
A blanket or lawn chairs
Plenty of water
Sunscreen and hats
A camera or phone to document the day
A first aid kit
A tote bag or picnic basket to carry everything