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Everything You Need For A Family Picnic

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Small child snacking on fruit at a picnic

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A family picnic is one of the simplest - and often cheapest - ways to spend a memorable afternoon with the kids.

Grab some food and drink, take some outside games and away you go. You can get by with very little planning, but if you think a little ahead about what you're going to put in your basket, then you can relieve a lot of the stress from a picnic day.

Below, we've set out some of the best picnic ideas for kids, including the perfect foods to take, things to bring on a picnic, and fun picnic activities. Have a great summer!

What Picnic Food To Pack

The simple, honest, yet unsatisfying answer is "anything you enjoy". But for family picnics, there are two golden rules that make everything run more smoothly.

First,  go for quick and easy wins. There's no point slaving away in the kitchen for hours on magnificent quiche recipes or an intricate salad that the kids won't touch. Often, the simple, easy-to-prepare ideas are the best.

Second, focus on foods that are easy to eat and won't create too much mess. Remember, we're talking about kids here. A luxuriant chocolate gateau might seem like fun, but it's going to get smeared everywhere.

Sandwiches are, of course, a sure-fire winner; quick to prepare, wholesome, universally liked and practically a meal in themselves. But you can get more creative by branching out into other types of finger food. Shop-bought pastries like pork pies, Cornish pasties, samosas and sausage rolls need no preparation, and make for mess-free finger food.

Salads can be a good, healthy option, so long as your family are likely to eat them. If we're being honest, it's the item most often wasted at barbecues and picnics. A grain-based salad, filled with delicious fillings such as halloumi, olives, avocado and nuts might prove more popular than some wilted lettuce and tomato.

Try these delicious salad recipes that are easy to prepare and a hit with kids.

Fruit is another good, healthy option for picnicking. Some fruits stand up to the rigours of packing better than others. Apples, blueberries and strawberries, for example, are less likely to get bashed up than raspberries and bananas. Or you could blend summer fruit into a smoothy as a healthy drink to wash down your lunch.

Many families enjoy a cheese board, just make sure you have an ice pack to keep it chilled. Younger children might prefer a snackier option, such as cheese triangles or straws.

Options for veggies in the party are now as numerous as those for meat-eaters. Traditional favorites such as hummus, falafel, samosas, vegetarian quiche, maize and potato snacks are all fair game, of course. But alternatives to cold meats for veggies are also now widespread.

Look out for cocktail sausages, miniature scotch eggs, sausage rolls and chicken nuggets, all made with plant-based alternatives to meat. Some are so good that a meat-eater doing a blind tasting would be hard-pushed to tell the difference.

You'll also need drinks, of course. It's easy to forget them when you're packing the food, but it's important to have plenty of water when spending the day outdoors. It pays to plan ahead and find out if drinks and snacks are readily available at your picnic point.

What Else Should You Bring To A Family Picnic?

Food and drink are the most important components, but you'll also need a few items of kit to make sure everyone is happy.

A picnic blanket is a very good idea. It provides some protection from ground-based insects such as ants and serves as a focus for the picnic.

Plastic plates, tumblers and cutlery always come in useful, even if you think you can get away with eating from packets and wrappings.

Sunblock is essential in summer, even if the skies are overcast. Don't forget shades, hats and possibly the sun umbrella, too.

Take insect spray if you're going to be in an environment with mosquitos.

Basking in the sunshine eating food might seem like an end in itself, but kids always need more entertainment. Pack a few books, toys or outdoor games for them to play with.

Why not take along a guide to insects? While you're so close to the ground, you could fit in a spot of entomology with the kids. This works particularly well if you're close to mature trees.

If you've got smaller children, consider bringing along a collapsable play tent. They fold down pretty small, provide plenty of fun, and offer protection from the sun.

Bring a change of clothes for younger children, and perhaps a towel if there's likely to be a lake or river to dip their toes into.

Of course, you could also invite friends with families along and share the burden of carrying all this stuff.

Family Picnic Games

Sitting around eating food will only keep the kids occupied for so long. It pays to have a few ideas for games up your sleeve. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Hunt the toy. Much like hide and seek, but it's a teddy bear or doll or action figure who does the hiding.

Boules. A game you can enjoy while still largely sat around the picnic blanket. Throw a jack ball out onto the grass, then see how close the kids can get to hitting it. This can be done with a proper boules set, or improvise with stones or other small objects.

Catch and throw toys. Supermarkets are full of outdoor toys ideal for a family picnic. Look out for velcro catch mitts, variations on the flying disc, discs that turn into balls and juggling toys (a picnic is a great place to learn).

A teddy bears' picnic is a classic part of the family picnic. Bring along some of their favourite soft toys and a small plate or two and watch the picnic play.

We've put together further ideas, including fun outdoor games for large groups. Get creative!

Picnic Spots Near Me

You can, of course, lay your picnic blanket down just about anywhere, from a friend's lawn to the middle of a national park. The ideal spot would have scenic views, plenty of shade and ready access to amenities, for when the inevitable happens.

If you happen to be in the London area, we've put together a guide to the perfect picnic spots. If the weather's grim, or you need to stay at home, you might even consider these indoor or backyard picnic ideas.

See also

28 Things That Happen Every Time You Have A Family Picnic

How To Glam Up Your Picnic

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Kidadl Team

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The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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