How to Level Up Your Picnic

sitting on a picnic blanket with a straw hat

Everyone is eagerly waiting for the warmer weather so that we can make the most of our new-found freedom post various degrees of lockdown and Covid-era restrictions. One of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors responsibly is to create a picnic. Picnics are easy to organise, people can keep their distance, and everyone can contribute to the spread.

See my tips on how you can up your picnic game this summer.

The right equipment

The list may be long, but if you really want to enjoy the picnic, you need to be organised. These are items you will need to stay comfortable and to keep everything in order. You should also consider how best to clear everything at the end and remove all rubbish. It’s all about logistics.

How you set up your picnic is as important as the food and drinks you are serving. Choose colourful quilts and beautiful glassware to elevate the atmosphere.

Comfy set-up:

Plaid or other rugs, Cushions, Blankets

For keeping things cool and in order:

Cool bag, Wine cooler sleeves, Ice, Picnic basket, Containers


Serving board/ Cutting boards*, Serving utensils, Thermos if serving hot drinks, Salt & pepper

Plates – Try to choose reusable dishes. There are many lightweight serving dishes available which are great environmentally friendly alternatives to paper plates and easier to carry due to their weight.

Cutlery – Avoid plastic.

Glassware – Avoid glasses that may break easily. As with plates and dishes, choose lightweight reusable options.

Napkins – Use cloths when possible.

Cocktail equipment if needed – muddler, spoon, mixing glass (use tin), strainer


Bags for rubbish, Bottle opener, Sunscreen, Windbreaker, Hats, Sunglasses, Hand sanitiser

What to drink?

When it comes to picnic drinks, your choices are endless. If you are serving drinks such as Pimm’s or G&Ts, make sure you chop all the citrus and other fruit in advance. You can also make any syrups or juices at home and store them in small bottles. The wrap-around wine cooler sleeves work well for other bottles as well.

If you are considering premixed spirit cans, see my review of 16 different Ready-to-Drink brands before you purchase any as they are very hit-and-miss. 16 Ready-to-Drink Premixed Spirits Tested

rose sangria in a jug

Cocktail ideas:

Mojito – Mint, Sugar, Lime wedges, Rum, Soda water (see how to make a Mojito here)

Pimm’s CupPimm’s, Fruit, Soda water, Lemonade

Sherry Cobbler – Sherry, Orange and lemon slices, Blueberries, Sugar, Soda water or Prosecco to top up (optional)

Spritz – Your chosen bitters, Orange slices, Prosecco, Soda water

Americano – Campari, Sweet vermouth, Soda Water

Rosé Sangria – Rosé wine, Lemon juice, Berries, Elderflower syrup, Mint, Soda water (you can find the recipe here)

For Spritz recipe inspiration, see Summer Spritz Recipes to Cheer You Up!

peach cocktail and fresh fruit


Dry rosé (try Whispering Angel or Woodchurch) and sparkling wines are always great choices in the summer. The only way these works though, is to try to keep them as chilled as possible. There are also some great canned wines available, which are easier to pack and keep cold. If you go for red wine, choose something a bit lighter such as Pinot Noir.

No/low-alcohol options:

Homemade Iced Tea

Mary Botanical Blend – Great mixed with tonic water, or see cocktail inspo here. Use code SAUCE20 on their website for a 20% discount.

Everleaf Drinks – Great non-alcoholic alternatives to Spritz.

Punchy – They offer both non-alcoholic and low-ABV pre-mixed drinks in a can.

Always make sure there is water available to avoid getting dehydrated!

Everleaf non alcoholic spritz cocktail and picnic set up

Picnic food

Food should include simple finger food such as fruit, olives, cheese and crackers and a few salads (pasta salad, quinoa, caprese, etc.). Avoid salads with lettuce as they don’t take the heat very well. Choose dishes that can be made in advance and which travel well. Ideally, take food that can be eaten by hand or with a fork. Normally, the food is served cold, but if the picnic area allows it, you could organise a small BBQ. Avoid using too many sauces as this will only get messy and result in stains on your picnic blanket.

Do all your prep at home and avoid doing any chopping at the picnic.

The best part of picnic meetups is that everyone will bring their own food or the dishes will be shared between everyone attending.

When you pack the food, you can use *cutting boards on top of each layer of food to keep everything steady. The cutting boards will also work as tables to keep drinks from tipping over if the ground is uneven.

wine and cheese picnic set up

Some snack ideas:

I’ve excluded dips such as hummus as it might not be a good idea during the pandemic to be sharing dips with everyone. Of course, everyone could bring their own dips.

  • Finger sandwiches/baguettes – use a variety of toppings and slice into bite-sized portions.
  • DIY roasted vegetable wraps – pack all ingredients into separate containers and let everyone assemble their own wraps.
  • Cold cuts – salami, prosciutto, mortadella…
  • Cheese – hard cheese is easier as softer tends to get all soggy if the weather is warm
  • Fried chicken
  • Boiled eggs
  • Mixed nuts
  • Olives
  • Pasta salad
  • Potato salad
  • Melon and feta salad
  • Spinach, strawberry, hazelnut and pecorino salad
  • Mini quiches
  • Mini muffins
  • Brownie bites
  • Fresh fruit (strawberries, grapes, ready sliced apple or melon…)

Final tips to keep you organised:

  • If possible, have a separate cool bag for food and drinks
  • Bring ice
  • Choose lightweight, reusable glassware and plates
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper
  • Do all your food prep and cutting at home (including fruit for drinks)
  • Pre-chill all your drinks and use wrap-around coolers
  • Bring sunscreen!
  • Don’t forget water
  • Pack bin bags

*Some of the links used are affiliate links. If you buy through the links, I may receive a commission for the sale. This has no effect on the price for you.

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