Hot Summer Picnic Tips

Real moms dish about how they make eating outside easier.

It’s like some kind of summertime magic: The simple act of eating outside turns an ordinary meal into a delicious memory-making adventure. We connected with a few moms who make it a point to regularly dine al fresco with the family. They shared their favorite picnic tips for making picnics happen, and having lots of laid-back fun in the process.

Carry out

“I've found that my daughter will eat loads more fruits and veggies if we're outside, so we eat at our backyard picnic table as much as possible. We carry everything for our meal out on a large cutting board. Little Miss Independence contributes by carrying the silverware and napkins.” —Amy Palanjian of yummytoddlerfood.com

Pack now

“I hang a bag stocked with picnic supplies, including wet wipes, a plastic bag for garbage, a big tablecloth/blanket and disposable plates, silverware and napkins, in the pantry, so we’re always picnic-ready.” —Becky Rapinchuk of Cleanmama.net

ID drinks

“I not only use Mason jars as glasses, I put a paper napkin and silverware in each one for an easy-to-transport dining set. Wrap the jars with ribbon and attach chalkboard tags for a pretty way to keep track of whose drink is whose.” —Mariah Leeson of gigglesgalore.net

Details, details

“Think beyond the food. I make a special picnic playlist and bring a bouquet of fresh flowers, for added ambiance. I like to pack books, games, bubbles or other outdoor toys for my boys to play with after dinner, too, so we can linger and enjoy ourselves.” —Maria Lichty of twopeasandtheirpod.com

Napkin roll-up

“I like to roll plasticware up into plain white paper napkins, then wrap with some washi tape to keep it in place (and to make it pretty). It’s so much simpler when each person’s setting is contained and ready.” —Rapinchuk (Bonus: Ready to pack the perfect picnic bag? See Becky’s how-to!)

Welcome interruptions

“Since there are many natural distractions outside, we’ve learned to embrace interruptions as an educational part of the experience. We’ve watched a mama bird fly back and forth across the garden to feed her babies and described the difference between airplane smoke stream and a falling star, all during dinner.” —Palanjian

Simple helpers

“My two main out-of-the-box helpers for outdoor eating: An old bath towel, and a couple large rocks. The towel comes in handy because there’s always something that needs to be wiped down, and the rocks keep blankets and tablecloths in place on windy days.” —Rapinchuk

Prep al fresco

“Prepping for the meal outside, too, is a sure way to get my daughter involved and productively enthusiastic. She loves to help me pick greens like kale from the garden and wash them outside in a big bucket, or to snap the ends off of green beans or shuck corn.” —Palanjian

Head outside to enjoy the summer sun and a great meal with the help of these picnic tips from, and stay tuned for more advice from Vanity Fair® on making the most of mealtime.