Today is International Picnic Day, which means it’s time for summer celebration. Today is also national panic day, when we’re reminded to get away from all things stressful. Relaxing at a picnic is a great idea, but picnics can go wrong any number of ways. Here are 9 things that could cause a picnic panic, and creative ways to prevent them.
1. Problem: Bugs Solution: Herbs
Rosemary, Peppermint, and Sage all deter insects from flying near you. Create bundles of these herbs and leave them around an area you want to keep bug free, like the food table or the picnic blanket. For those who still get bit even with bug spray on, try carrying one of these bundles, or rubbing it on exposed skin. If your picnic has a fire pit, throw a few bundles on the fire. Their smoke will act as an alternative to citronella candles.
2. Problem: Fire Solution: Take it To-Go
If you have a lot of children running around or it is a windy day, a wide open fire pit may not be the best idea. Instead, opt for a portable, collapsible fire pit that runs on propane. You can even use these as an alternative to your grill if you want. Some of them like this use lava rocks so there is no smoke or embers.
3. Problem: Sunburn Solution: Healthy Eating
Applying sunscreen sometimes just isn’t enough, especially for those with fair skin or those who forget to reapply. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that omega-3 fats found in fish and olive oil can actually bolster the skin against solar radiation. UV Radiation has long term consequences like wrinkles and cancer. So, beyond just sunscreen, eating a healthy grilled fish meal at your picnic could help keep you from being grilled by the sun.
4. Problem: Lack of Seats Solution: Space in a Case
Many popular camping gear companies have been improving foldable picnic tables for the modern era. Those classic white folding tables now have benches attached to them; some even fold up to the size of a brief case.
5. Problem: Cleaning Your Grill Solution: Leftovers
The grill is a great place for dads to gather to make cheesy jokes and produce some of the best summer picnic foods. But nothing is worse than biting into a burger or hotdog and crunching on a splinter of steel from the grill brush or inhaling a plume of carcinogens stuck to the grate from last weekend’s cookout. Three common leftovers that can be used to clean the grill are vinegar, beer, and onions. Steam the grill by boiling water in a pot on the grill with the lid closed. Vinegar can break up grease, the alcohol in a leftover beer can sterilize the grill, and onion can be wiped across the grill to steam it, as well as provide an acidic element to break down hard-to-clean crust.
6. Problem: Too Much Stuff Solution: Work Smarter
If it takes your whole family to unload the car with all of your fancy picnic gear, then investing in a picnic cart might be your thing. Beach and camping wagons like this make unloading simple. When you arrive, just unfold it, load it up with your amenities and delicious meals and just wheel it to the canopy or picnic site.
7. Problem: Spoiled Food Solution: Smaller Portions
If you really think about it, most staple picnic foods are really gross at a picnic: potato salad, lunch meat, jello, cheese, fruit… leave them out in the heat for over an hour and they all go bad. Instead of letting your picnic-goers serve themselves, prep meals individually and leave them in the cooler until you are ready to eat it. Instead of putting out a family sized bowl of salad and leaving it out all day, create a family of smaller salads all packed in plastic containers or even sandwich bags, then pour onto your plate when each person is ready.
8. Problem: Your Dog Solution: The Dog Ring
Sometimes dogs just need some alone time. When you’re having fun with your friends and family at the summer picnic, be sure to set aside an area for your dog where they can avoid overstimulation. Place their own small picnic blanket in some shade with water and a few toys. You can secure them to a leash that is staked to the ground or invest in a pet playpen. Make sure everyone knows not to go bother your pet while they’re calming themselves. Keeping your dog cool, comfortable, and relaxed will make everyone happier.
9. Problem: The Weather Solution: Always Be Ready
You checked the weather and that weatherman lied to you. Your family picnic is ruined. That is, unless you came prepared. The traditional picnic blanket would get soaked on wet grass the moment people sit down. A blanket with a plastic or vinyl side like this will protect picnic goers from below while they eat, but what about from above? Picnic canopies are a crowd pleaser whether it’s raining or not. Equipping your picnic gear to be ready for rain means that any day can be a picnic day, without even checking the weather.
Featured image: J.C. Leyendecker (©SEPS)
Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now