It's summertime and the great outdoors beckon. Starry skies, chirping crickets and balmy breezes can only be enjoyed for a fleeting few months unless you live in a year-round temperate climate. That's why it makes sense to take every opportunity you can to relax and entertain outside. After all, there's no rule that says you must host all of your dinner parties inside, or even at home. With all the fun activities available during the summer, it would be a shame not to bring your guests to the park one evening for a picnic dinner where you can enjoy Summer Stock theater or a free outdoor concert.
Unlike your regular dinner parties, all the food will need to be cooked in advance and brought to the park in appropriate warmers or coolers. Here are a few other items you will need to pack for this excursion:
- A large blanket or two on which to serve the food and possibly sit.
- Portable chairs if you're not comfortable sitting on the ground.
- Beverages including water, iced tea, soft drinks or juices. Check in advance with your local parks department if you'd like to bring wine, beer or cocktails.
- Plates, napkins, eating utensils and glasses.
- Serving utensils, corkscrew and bottle opener.
- Insect repellant or citronella candles (if permitted by the park.)
- Paper towels and or wet wipes for cleaning up.
- A bag or two to tidy up your trash and bring home your dirty dishes if not using disposables.
Finally, follow these tips to make sure your guests don't come down with a bad case of food poisoning.
Food Safety Tips
- Chill thoroughly food that is to be served cold before placing in a cooler. The cooler will not chill food that isn't already cold.
- Fill cooler completely with food or ice to prolong chilling. Temperature should be maintained at 40°F or below.
- Use a separate cooler for non-perishable items that will require frequent access such as beverages or fruit.
- Keep cooler in a shady location during daytime hours.
- Hot food should be prepared right before leaving for picnic and packed in a separate container. Hot food should be kept at 140°F or higher.