On April 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that individuals can safely gather outside with immediate family members — no mask necessary. Fully vaccinated individuals also now have the approval of the organization to gather maskless outdoors in small groups. Now that the CDC has given some people the go-ahead to hang out outside without a mask, many people are eager to enjoy the spring sunshine. One great way to enjoy the nice weather is with a picnic in the park, which requires minimal planning and preparation and is a relatively affordable meal option. Whether you cook up a full spread of sandwiches and side dishes or opt for a cheese board and some wine, a picnic can be a fun way to catch up with friends and soak up the sunshine.
Best picnic essentials
Before you can plan a picnic with friends or family members, you need to make sure you have everything you need to eat and serve your food and properly enjoy your time in the park. Below, we rounded up some essentials — picnic baskets, picnic blankets and other accessories — from Shopping reader favorite retailers like Amazon, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and more, plus a few from notable retailers like Serena & Lily and Sunnylife.
Picnic baskets and bags
This Over and Back basket puts a fashionable twist on the classic picnic basket with White wicker and a blue gingham lining. (It also comes in a Grey wicker with a matching grey gingham lining.) Designed for two people, this basket comes fully stocked with two plates, two 4-ounce wine glasses, a corkscrew and two sets of forks, knives and spoons. The basket itself is insulated to help keep food cold and fresh.
If you’re looking for something a little less traditional in which to lug your blanket and snacks, consider this striped backpack from Sunnylife designed specifically for picnics in the park. The cooler backpack comes with two cutlery sets, two plastic plates and two stemmed plastic glasses, plus a removable bottle cooler to keep your wine chilled.
Both cute and functional, this cooler bag can fit all of your lunch essentials or up to 12 drinks and comes in several colorways, including Navy Crew Stripe and Vintage Gold. It has both an adjustable shoulder strap and a short strap so you can either carry it over your shoulder or in your hands. If you want your picnic to be coordinated, Business & Pleasure also makes towels and blankets in the same colorways.
HappyPicnic’s Wicker Picnic Basket is a good option for anyone looking to channel that quintessential picnic vibe. The wicker basket comes with two wine glasses, two sets of cutlery, two ceramic plates, two cotton napkins, a bottle opener and a picnic blanket with a waterproof backing. It also has a removable bamboo wine table that you can use to keep your food away from bugs and a leather strap bottle holder that easily attaches to the outside of the basket.
Tote your picnic essentials in style with this gingham cooler bag from Serena & Lily. The inside of the bag is lined with recycled PVC to keep your food and drinks chilled, and the bag’s exterior is crafted from UV- and water-resistant canvas.
Boasting a 4.5-star rating from more than 40 Amazon reviewers, this highly rated, water-resistant picnic blanket from Picnic Time folds into a carry tote for easy travel. The machine washable blanket comes in several colorways, including Navy With Red Check, Black With Leopard Print and Aqua Blue/Fun Stripes.
This large picnic blanket from PortableAnd can comfortably fit up to four adults, according to the brand. Its three-layer design boasts a fleece fabric on top, a sponge padding in the middle and waterproof PEVA backing. When you’re traveling to and from your picnic, the blanket folds up and can conveniently be carried with the built-in leather handle. It boasts a 4.7-star average rating from nearly 2,000 Amazon shoppers.
A new and relatively affordable option from Target’s Sun Squad brand, this 30-square-foot picnic blanket is just $20 and comes in fun patterns like Fruit, Fireworks and Tie Dye. The machine washable blanket folds up into a small square that you can easily carry around with the built-in shoulder strap.
If you’re looking for a picnic blanket that’s as comfortable as it is convenient, you might want to consider the Quilted Outdoor Throw Blanket from UGG. The bottom of the blanket is water-resistant, as is the top, which is crafted with 100 percent polyester fabric. It comes in three colors: Quartz, Grey and Blue.
Looking for something a little bit more personalized? This picnic blanket from Etsy allows you to choose from five different patterns and customize your blanket with names, dates or any other details you can think of. The bottom of the blanket is made with water-resistant nylon and it has built-in handles so you can carry it around like a purse. It has a perfect 5-star average rating from more than 800 shoppers.
You don’t necessarily have to sit in the grass to enjoy a picnic in the park. This picnic table from West Elm is designed to be easily folded, unfolded and transported with a built-in handle, so you can have a table with you wherever you go. Each seat can hold up to 250 pounds and the table can hold up to 20 pounds.
If you’re of the belief that a picnic isn’t complete without a bottle of wine, consider adding this insulated tote bag to your collection of picnic accessories. In addition to safely storing a bottle of vino, this bag also includes two plastic wine glasses, two napkins, a corkscrew and a bottle stopper. The wine tote has a 4.8-star average rating from nearly 700 Amazon shoppers.
Arguably the most important part of a picnic is the food, and Hydro Flask’s Outdoor Kitchen collection can keep every course insulated and away from bugs. The Serving Bundle — which comes in Birch, Olive and Pineapple — includes a 3-quart serving bowl and a 5-quart serving bowl (both of which are made of stainless steel) and two serving spoons. Other picnic-ready items in the collection include a 10-inch plate and a 12-ounce tumbler.
With a carrying case that makes it easy to transport, this utensil set is a good option for people who love to picnic but don’t want to waste single-use plastic utensils every time they do. The set comes with forks, spoons, knives, napkins and dinner plates, plus a cheese knife, cutting board and bottle opener. You can get it either as a two-person set or a four-person set.
If your picnics typically include some sort of wine and cheese pairing, then this wine basket from Picnic Time could be a great investment. The wicker basket comes with a cutting board, a corkscrew and a cheese knife — in other words, pretty much everything you need for a Brie-tiful evening. The basket is separated into two pockets that are the perfect size for bottles of wine.
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