No matter what age your kids, from baby to teens, time spent outdoors in the park is good family fun. You can make it a nice intimate family event or invite your friends and make it a party.
Here are some of the Picnic Essentials that you need for the whole family. Further down I’ve given you some suggestions for additional items for babies, toddlers, and older kids.
- Disposable dinnerware, cutlery and napkins (to make clean up easy) or eco-friendly lunch bags and water bottles to reuse again and again
- Trash bags
- Water, to drink it is obvious but we end up using it to clean kids clothes or faces while at the park
- Hand sanitizer or wipes
- Maybe toilet paper, depending on how long you are planning to picnic
- Sun protection: hats, sunscreen lotion, sun glasses
- Bug spray
- Plastic table cloths or a large picnic blanket to lay on the ground
- Ziploc bags to take home any leftover food
- A camera to capture the fun
Some of our favorite places to picnic are the local forest preserves (we usually ride our bikes and have a picnic), local outdoor concert venues, botanical gardens, or the beach. Don’t forget tourist attractions as a great place to picnic. This blog post by Travels with Baby reminds us that you don’t have to go inside a Museum to enjoy the visit. Or, picnic outside to save money on expensive meals and then hit the Museum.
Picnic with Baby
With a baby, it’s nice to just sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. Make sure you protect your little one with bug spray and suntan lotion if they will be laying out directly in the sun. If they are still too young to be mobile, protect your baby from bugs and the harsh sun with an airy, summer-weight car seat cover or a portable play tent. Feel free to go out and enjoy the sun and your baby will sleep like well, a baby.
We also suggest taking a play blanket so baby can roll around on the ground without the worry of bugs or grass stains. The blanket also serves as a great windbreaker if the weather changes while you are out.
If you are breast feeding, your food menu is pretty easy. Otherwise, bring baby food in an insulated lunch bag or try one of the Mrs. Smith’s Diaper/ Toddler Bags which has an insulated patented drawer on the bottom of the bag. Super easy and convenient. (These bags are perfect for picnics because they are so spacious you could put your food, blanket, extra clothes, and bottles in all of the convenient pouches and holders.) It’s the best day trip bag on the market, in my opinion, because it keeps Mom organized. That’s why I sell them at my online retail store, ChocolateCakeClub.com. These diaper/ day trip bags have won several PTPA awards. The Dad’s Classic Pack was a Summer 2011 winner and the Elite bag was a winner last December.
If you don’t want to worry about eating a full lunch or dinner in the park, definitely bring some non-perishable kid-friendly snacks like goldfish, cheerios, granola bars, and crackers. You know the drill. Something to snack on that doesn’t need to be kept cool. You might want to bring an extra blanket in case they get tired and want to nap or get cold.
Have the kids bring along their pretend picnic basket to host their own picnic, bug catchers to go on a nature scavenger hunt, or balls to catch or kick. My daughter likes to bring her favorite stuffed animal to enjoy the picnic with her.
Tweens and Teens
It’s all about the food and the games at this point. What kinds of fun foods do we get to eat at the park and what games can we play in the open area? Go ahead Mom, amaze them.
Some of our favorite games & activities at a picnic:
- Bocce Ball
- Baggo Set
- Washer Horseshoe Game
- Paddle Ball
- Kite, if windy enough
- Remote control airplane
- Pump rockets
- Football or glove and baseball
- Photo Hunt – give the kids a camera and see who can take the best nature photos
Are you bringing a grill or have access to a grill? Do you want to keep it simple with sandwiches and salads? There is so much you can cook or bring to make a picnic fun, just for the good eats. But hey, no pressure on the cooking. We’ve had some very fun family picnics where we just grabbed take-out sandwiches or grabbed prepared food from the grocery store, on our way to the picnic site.
One last reminder – remember to leave the park as you found it. Pick up your mess!
Where do you like to picnic with the family?
For more summer fun ideas, check out my post on 51 Ideas for Summer Family Activities.