The 6 Essentials For A Perfect Summer Picnic

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Summer weekends are all about taking it easy. Whether you're at the beach, on a rooftop, or splayed out in front of the air conditioner, it's a time of mandatory leisure. And, we can think of nothing more leisurely and fun than a classic afternoon picnic. Now, you may think you've got this down — blanket, crackers, a couple of magazines — but we're to help you picnic even better. With just a few key elements you can take your picnic to the next level. Check out our guide to picnicking essentials, then pick out a primo patch of grass, and make it an afternoon to remember.
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picnic-blanket
First thing's first — get yourself a good blanket. Otherwise it's not a picnic; it's just friends getting grass stains together. No need to hunt down a waterproof blanket, just make sure you find one that's large, washable, and thick enough that you'll be comfy lounging around for hours.
Osamu Mita Random Check Throw, $195, available at MoMA Store. Summer2013_tip3_v3 Advertisement
picnic-snacks
There's nothing wrong with a bag of .99 cent chips, but we say it's worth it to shell out for good quality snacks and condiments. High-end treats turn your Saturday afternoon picnic into a Saturday afternoon occasion. Plus, it's not like we're talking about a high-end bottle of wine (although, that never hurts). Just an extra couple bucks will take your spread to the next level. Encourage your friends to bring whatever they like, but get the party started with some of these goodies.
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McClures Garlic Dill Pickle Potato Chips, $1.75, available at Whole Foods and other retailers; Sir Kensington's Ketchup, $7, available at Sir Kensington's and other retailers; Brownie Brittle, $12.95, available at Brownie Brittle and other retailers; Dean & Deluca Bruschetta Toppings Set, $26, available at Dean & Deluca; Spindrift Sodas, $1.99, available at Whole Foods and other retailers.
basket
Pack it all up in a sturdy, compact basket. Better yet, pack the unbreakables in tote bags, and reserve the basket for glasses and bottles. We love this large-tote-sized basket with its comfortable shoulder strap. Odds are you're not picnicking every week, and this basket can easily double as a summer shoulder bag.
Kate Spade Pack A Picnic Wine Tote, $119, available at Kate Spade
servingware
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Paper products are cheap and disposable, but they're also prone to fly away in the wind. Not to mention, you'll likely end up with a heap of leftover supplies. Invest in some quality plasticware like these picnic-perfect gingham plates. Pair these with cotton gingham napkins on a convenient tear-off roll. Mix up a homemade lemonade or cocktail and bring it in a large swing-top bottle (or make individual servings in smaller ones). Finally, bring some sturdy acrylic tumblers and just toss 'em in a bag when you're done. Glass may be fancier, but broken glass is not.
Thomas Paul Portland Dishes, $36, available at Modern Tribe; MYdrap Gingham Cotton Cocktail Napkins, $21.75, available at Gracious Home; Swing Bottle, $3.95-5.95, available at Fishs Eddy; Target Thin Parallels Insulated Tumbler Set, $18.99, available at Target.
picnic-music
A little music sets the tone for a leisurely afternoon. Though your iPhone will always do in a pinch, we love this portable record player. Make it a BYO record party, and while away the day with some classic tunes.
Crosley Spinerette, $149.95, available at Crosley.
croquet-2
And classic games! If conversation hits a lull, break out a blanket-top game to engage the group. Avoid card games or boardgames with light pieces, lest the wind swoop in and ruin all the fun. Something like Scrabble, Bingo, or this sweet miniature croquet set will liven up the day.
Jaques London Indoor Croquet Set Chelsea Table Top, $39, available at Jaques London.
Want more summer style inspiration and genius party-planning tips? Head to our Summer Essentials guide, and get the scoop!