April 23rd is National Picnic Day!
It’s a day that is all about enjoying the great outdoors with friends and family. Picnics, a type of informal outdoor meal, I’ve been an important part of human existence for probably ever.
So let’s talk about picnics and some fun ways that we can celebrate this awesome day!
Origins of National Picnic Day
We really don’t know who founded this day, but we’re gonna go with it. Because picnics are super enjoyable and what better reason to have a picnic and to celebrate National Picnic Day?
Picnics have been around for for forever and were probably originally enjoyed by the wealthy as a way to dine outside in a more informal setting. But picnics have since become a fun and popular activity for people of any culture or socio-economic level. What’s more economical and fun than packing a lunch and finding a beautiful place to enjoy it outside?
Though picnics probably really started to gain momentum in the 1800’s, they grew in popularity in the early 1900s.
The popularity of picnics in Europe and North America was in part due to the Industrial Revolution, which allowed worker to have more and more leisure time and outdoor recreation. Mechanization made life easier and as a result, people found ways to fill that time with stuff like eating food outdoors and playing fun games!
One of the early proponents of picnics was the French writer and gastronome Brillat-Savarin, who wrote about the pleasures of outdoor dining in his book “The Physiology of Taste” in 1825. Queen Victoria of England was also a big fan of picnics, and her love helped to spread the practice among the middle class.
In the United States, picnics became popular during the mid-19th century as a way for families to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and hang out with their neighbors. When the railroad burst not the scene, it was so much easier for folks to travel to scenic destinations, and the popularity of picnics continued to grow!
Today, picnics are very much a beloved activity and a way to connect with family and friends in a meaningful way.
Celebrating National Picnic Day
There are so many cool ways to celebrate National Picnic Day. You might want to just have a traditional picnic with a blanket, basket, and food, or you might want to find a pavilion with a picnic table and chairs. Me, I definitely prefer the latter but these old bones aren’t as spry as they used to be!
A Traditional Picnic
One of the best ways to celebrate National Picnic Day is to have a traditional picnic. You can go to your favorite local park, beach, or even in your own backyard.
Pack a basket (or a trough) with your favorite foods, such as sandwiches, fruit, and cheese, or maybe just a loaf of bread and some soft herbed butter. And definitely don’t forget to bring some games, such as frisbee or a deck of cards, to keep everyone entertained. But we’ll talk more about some fun games down below!
What about a PotLuck Picnic?
Another fun way to celebrate National Picnic Day is to have a potluck picnic with your bffs! This way you can try new foods plus you get to spend time with the people you love. Just ask each person can bring a favorite dish to share!
If you don’t have room in your own backyard, you can check out the possibilities of renting a park pavilion or bringing your own chairs and tables. You can even set up a grill and have a barbecue. Yes, Please!
Maybe take your picnic on a hike!
This would be a great day for going on a hike or a bike ride with friends and family. Pack some snacks and water, and stop along the way to enjoy the scenery and have a snack break. What better way to get some exercise and enjoy nature at the same time?
What are the most popular days in the United States for a picnic?
Any day is a good day for a picnic, right? I mean, if the sun’s shining and the birds are sining, like they are right now outside my window?
But in the US, there are definitely days that we picnic like crazy people! Here are the most popular:
- Memorial Day: The last Monday in May is Memorial day. It’s a time to honor those who have paid the ultimate price while serving in the US armed forces. It is also the “unofficial” start of summer and a super popular day for picnics.
- Fourth of July: Independence Day, July 4th, is a MAJOR MAJOR holiday in the US and a time for some seriously patriotic parties, including picnics and barbecues. And fireworks…lots and lots of pretty fireworks!
- Labor Day: The first Monday in September, is Labor Day. It’s a celebration of the struggles and achievements of American workers. It’s also, sadly, the unofficial end of summer but, indeed, a very popular day for picnics! Lots’ of barbecuing going on on Memorial Day.
But again, any day that’s not throwing down buckets of rain is a good day for a picnic. Am I right?
The benefits of throwing a picnic Par-tay
Maybe you have an event coming up and need to figure out a fun way to organize it! You might want to ditch the formality and restrictions of etiquette and throw a righteous outdoor party for your favorite group of people. Maybe your family too. LOL
Besides, there are many great things to throwing a picnic party. Here are a few:
- Enjoying the outdoors: A picnic party allows you to enjoy the great outdoors, soak up the sunshine, and breathe in the fresh air. Spending time in nature has been shown to have so many great health benefits, including reducing stress and improving mood.
- Socializing with friends and family: A picnic party is a great way to bring people together and socialize with friends and family. Picnics are the epitome of \ a relaxed and informal atmosphere that encourages great conversation, loads of laughter, and some super-fun good times.
- Sharing food: Picnics are totally and 100% all about sharing food. What better way try new dishes and learn about different culinary traditions. Sharing food also breeds a sense of community and togetherness. Kum Ba Yah, my lord. Kum Ba yah.
- Saving money: Uh…yes, please. Picnics can be a much cheaper way to entertain, especially compared to sit down, formal like dinners or parties. You can save tons of money on venue rentals, decorations, and catering by just putting together a picnic party in a park or other public space. Save the money, enjoy the fresh air!
- Creating memories: A picnic party can be a fun, memorable experience that you and your guests will cherish for years to come. Creating new memories and traditions is what life is all about. Time spent together like this will be something that can be passed down through the generations of your family. Those memories are truly priceless!
Throwing a picnic party is really a great idea. It’s fun and a rewarding way to enjoy the outdoors, socialize with friends and family, and create those lasting memories that you will always cherish!
How to pack a picnic for National Picnic Day
Packing for a picnic can be stressful and intimidating, can’t it?
Here are some tips on how to pack for a successful picnic:
- Choose the right sized picnic basket or cooler: Depending on the size of your group and the amount of food you plan to bring, you may need either a picnic basket or a cooler. Choose a sturdy, insulated cooler or basket that can keep your food and drinks cold and protected during transport. My kids can eat a truckload, so the bigger the better!
- Bring a picnic blanket: Bring a large picnic blanket or tablecloth to spread out on the ground or picnic table. Make sure the blanket is large enough to accommodate your group and all your food and supplies. If it were me, I’d be finding some picnic tables, so bring table cloths for those if you don’t want to sit on the ground with the ants!
- Plan your menu and pack your food: Plan your menu in advance and pack your food in airtight containers or resealable bags to keep everything fresh. It will be so much less stressful if you plan ahead and can prep things a little bit before the actual day. If it’s a big group that is. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a few things for an impromptu picnic with your bff. Just bring a variety of foods, including sandwiches, salads, fruits, and snacks.
- Pack utensils and servingware: Lord, don’t forget these. Pack reusable plates, cups, utensils, and napkins. You may also want to bring a small cutting board, knife, and serving utensils for dishes that need to be sliced or served. If so, bring a band aid or two just in case. LOL
- Bring a trash bag: Bring a trash bag or two to pack out your trash and keep your picnic area clean. Lots of parks don’t have adequate trash bins, so be kind and be prepared to pick up after yourself!
- Don’t forget drinks: Bring plenty of water and other beverages for your group, including soda, juice, or wine if you like. Lots and lots of wine.
- Bring sunscreen and bug spray: You definitely don’t want to come home looking like a mosquito eaten lobster! Protect yourself and your group from the sun and insects by bringing sunscreen and bug spray.
- Bring entertainment: Kids get bored easily? or maybe you do? Not cool. Be sure to [ack games or activities to keep your group entertained during the picnic, such as frisbees, board games, or cards. More below in just a minute!
- Pack for the weather: Bring jackets or blankets if it’s a cooler day, or hats and sunglasses if it’s sunny. Ever been to an outdoor event underdressed? Now that’s the worst. Unless… the sun. That’s rough too. And the rain. Picnics in the rain are not ideal. haha!
- Double-check before you leave: Before you leave, double-check that you have everything you need, including food, utensils, blankets, and entertainment. If your smart, you’ll have a list. If listing is your thing. I’m trying to make it mine.
10 Great Meal Ideas for National Picnic Day
Do you struggle with what to put in your basket for your picnic? Now worries! Here are some great ideas for you to think about when planning your picnic for National Picnic Day!
- Sandwiches: Sandwiches are a classic picnic food, and there are endless options for fillings. You can make them ahead of time and store them in containers or baggies. That makes it super easy and convenient.
- Fried chicken: ooooo….. Fried chicken is a great picnic food because it’s easy to eat with your hands and doesn’t require utensils. You can make your own or pick up some from your favorite fried chicken restaurant. It might be a little bit on the greasy side, so be sure you packed those napkins that we talked about above!
- Fruit salad: Fruit salad, yummy yummy! Boy, this is a refreshing and healthy picnic food. You can mix up whatever fruits you like, and it’s easy to carry along with you in a plastic container.
- Pasta salad: Pasta salad is another easy-to-make picnic food with lots of different versions you can make depending on what you like! You can add vegetables, cheese, and dressing for extra flavor.
- Cheese and crackers: Cheese and crackers are a suuuuper simple but addictive picnic snack. You can choose your favorite types of cheese and crackers and arrange them on a platter. I can eat cheese and crackers all the day long.
- Grilled vegetables: Grilled vegetables are a delicious and healthy addition to any picnic. You can grill them ahead of time and pack them in a container to keep them warm. I have a great little insulated casserole dish that I use all the time and it is great!
- Deviled eggs: Deviled eggs are a classic picnic food that are easy to make and transport. You can add different seasonings to make them extra flavorful. Dill is my favorite! And Bacon. Oh boy.. my husband laughs because every time my family gets together, no matter the holiday or the season, SOME ONE BRINGS DEVILED EGGS. haha. We love them.
- Hummus and pita chips: Hummus and pita chips are a healthy and satisfying picnic snack. You can make your own hummus or buy it pre-made. Basil Pesto hummus is literally heaven on a plate. MMM..
- Watermelon: Watermelon is a sweetly refreshing and easy-to-eat picnic food. You can slice it up ahead of time and pack it in a container with a lid. Or cube it if you want. That’s my favorite way to serve it. But then you might need forks, so maybe not.
- Lemonade: Lemonade is a classic picnic drink that’s easy to make at home. You can make it in a large pitcher, maybe throw some strawberries or watermelon in it. So so good!
10 finger desserts for National Picnic Day
Packing dessert for a picnic can be challenging. And don’t forget dessert! It’s important to try and make eating just a little easier and make sure you can eat it with your hands. Plus, bring a lot of options because you can never have enough dessert, can you?
Here are 10 finger desserts that are perfect for a picnic:
- Chocolate-covered strawberries: This classic dessert is easy to make and easy to eat on-the-go. Simply dip fresh strawberries in melted chocolate and let them cool until the chocolate hardens. I use the Ghirardelli Melting Wafers. They are so much better than the almond bark I used to use. And everyone loves them. Even teenage boys love them. I can attest to that!
- Lemon bars: Tangy and sweet, lemon bars are a refreshing dessert for a warm day. Cut them into small squares or rectangles for easy serving. I’d say serve them with vanilla ice cream.. but only if your picnic is in your backyard! Otherwise, you’ll be just having milk.
- Fruit skewers: Cube some fruit and poke it onto skewers for a healthy and colorful dessert! You can also dip the fruit in yogurt or chocolate for some added umph.
- Brownie bites: Bite-sized brownies are def a crowd-pleasing treat that you can make ahead of time and easily bring along in a container.
- Mini cheesecakes: Need I say more?
- Rice krispie treats: These childhood favorites are easy to make and can be cut into small squares or shapes for easy serving. Or you can just buy a big box and bring them along. Easy peasy!
- Chocolate truffles: Homemade chocolate truffles are a luxurious dessert option that are easy to pack and share. And they are NOT as hard to make as you might think. They’re really easy actually.
- Peanut butter cups: Homemade peanut butter cups are a delicious and easy-to-make dessert that can be packed into a small container for the picnic. Or again, you can buy some Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and call it a day.
- Oatmeal raisin cookies: Chewy oatmeal raisin cookies are a classic dessert that can be made ahead of time and packed into a container for the picnic. If Oatmeal isn’t your jam, crank you some chocolate chip cookies instead. I Lurve Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, but I’m the only one in my house that will touch them. Their loss!
- Mini fruit tarts: Individual fruit tarts are a fancy and colorful dessert that are perfect for a picnic. You can use a variety of fruits for the filling. If you make them in muffin tins, just leave them in the tin and bring the whole thing along!
10 Fun Picnic Games for National Picnic Day
Having a picnic isn’t just about eating on the grass. There is so much fun to have hanging out and playing outdoor games. Especially if your park has a nice recreation area!
On National Picnic Day, here are some fun games you can play as you eat your hot dogs and burgers. See I kept telling you we’d talk about some fun games!
- Frisbee: Frisbee is a classic picnic game that’s easy to play and doesn’t require a lot of space. You can toss the frisbee back and forth or play a game of ultimate frisbee.
- Cornhole: Cornhole is a popular lawn game that’s perfect for picnics. All you need is a set of cornhole boards and some bean bags.
- Bocce ball: Bocce ball is a fun and easy-to-play game that can be enjoyed by all ages. You can set up a bocce court using cones or other markers.
- Giant Jenga: Giant Jenga is a fun twist on the classic game. You can buy a set of giant Jenga blocks or make your own using 2x4s.
- Horseshoes: Horseshoes is a classic picnic game that’s easy to set up and play. All you need is a set of horseshoes and some stakes.
- Soccer: Soccer is a fun and active game that’s perfect for large picnics with plenty of open space. You can set up goals using cones or other markers.
- Capture the flag: Capture the flag is a fun team game that’s perfect for picnics. You can divide players into two teams and set up two flags on opposite sides of the playing area.
- Badminton: Badminton is a fun and easy-to-play game that’s perfect for picnics. You can set up a net using poles and a net or buy a portable badminton set.
- Scavenger hunt: A scavenger hunt is a fun and interactive game that can be customized to the location of your picnic. You can create a list of items to find or hide items for players to discover.
- Charades: Charades is a fun and easy game that can be played with a large group. Players take turns acting out words or phrases without speaking, and the other players try to guess what they’re acting out.
10 Famous Picnics
Picnics have been in literature and movies and plays for a long time! Here are some great scenes that took place on a picnic!
- The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll: The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party is a famous picnic scene in literature, where Alice attends a tea party with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse.
- The picnic scene in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee: In this classic novel, Scout, Jem, and Dill go on a picnic and encounter Boo Radley for the first time.
- The picnic scene in “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Gatsby hosts a picnic for Daisy and Nick, complete with a lavish spread of food and drink.
- The picnic scene in “The Sound of Music” movie: Maria takes the Von Trapp children on a picnic in the hills of Austria and sings “Do-Re-Mi” with them.
- The picnic scene in “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas: The musketeers and their friends go on a picnic and encounter a group of Englishmen who challenge them to a duel.
- The picnic scene in “A Room with a View” by E.M. Forster: Lucy and George go on a picnic in the Italian countryside, where they share a kiss and realize their feelings for each other.
- The picnic scene in “Emma” by Jane Austen: Emma and her friends go on a picnic to Box Hill, where Emma makes a thoughtless remark that leads to an argument.
- The picnic scene in “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott: The March sisters go on a picnic with their friends and play games, including a game of “authors.”
- The picnic scene in “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde: Algernon and Jack go on a picnic and discuss their respective “bunburying” habits.
- The picnic scene in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis: The Pevensie siblings have a picnic with Mr. Tumnus in Narnia, where they learn about the White Witch’s curse.
The largest picnic in the world
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest picnic in the world was organized by Realizar Impact Marketing and Modelo (Portugal) and took place on June 20, 2009, at Parque da Bela Vista in Lisbon, Portugal. It was HUGE.
This picnic had 22,232 people, breaking the previous record set in 2000 by a picnic organized by the city of Yokohama, Japan.
The event featured a variety of activities and entertainment for participants, including food and drinks provided by sponsors such as Modelo beer and traditional Portuguese cuisine. The picnic was held in a large field where participants could enjoy the food, music, and games while sitting on blankets or folding chairs.
The Guinness World Records certified the event as the largest picnic ever held, based on strict guidelines and criteria. The record still stands as of 2023.
Man, people love picnics, don’t they?
Picnic for a Cause
Picnics have been used as a form of activism to raise awareness of social and political issues. If you want to hold a fundraiser for a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, consider having a picnic!
Here are some examples:
- Suffragette picnics: In the early 20th century, suffragettes in England organized picnics and outdoor rallies to promote their cause and advocate for women’s right to vote.
- Civil rights picnics: During the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, picnics were often used as a way for African Americans to gather and organize, as many public spaces were still segregated. For example, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference held a “Picnic for Freedom” in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.
- Anti-nuclear picnics: In the 1970s, anti-nuclear activists in Australia organized “picnic protests” to demonstrate against the government’s plans to build a nuclear reactor. The picnics were held at potential reactor sites and attracted large crowds.
- Environmental picnics: Environmental activists have used picnics to raise awareness of issues such as pollution, deforestation, and climate change. For example, in 2019, activists in Hong Kong organized a “Picnic Against Pollution” to draw attention to the city’s air quality.
- LGBTQ+ picnics: In some countries where LGBTQ+ rights are not fully recognized, picnics have been organized as a way for queer individuals to gather and express themselves in public. For example, in Russia, activists organized a “Queer Picnic” in St. Petersburg in 2019 to protest against anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
Picnics can be a creative and peaceful way to draw attention to important issues and bring people together in a shared cause. So invite some guests and get your Picnic for a Cause on the calendar!
National Picnic Day is a day to celebrate the great outdoors and to spend time with friends and family. Whether you choose to have a traditional picnic with a blanket and basket or a more modern picnic with chairs and tables, the most important thing is to get outside and enjoy nature.
So pack a basket, grab some friends, and head to your favorite park for your next picnic and celebrate National Picnic Day in style!