Our most treasured memories of childhood usually involve family get-togethers such as picnics where everyone can get out of the daily grind and relax, eat, and play. Whether it's an impromptu meal in the backyard for your immediate family or a large family reunion in a park, a picnic is the ideal way to reconnect, have some fun, and make new family memories.
There is simply no one right way to have a picnic. Depending on the number picnickers, as well as their food preferences, activity levels, and proximity to picnic venues, you can select what will work best for your family.
Naturally, we think of a city, county, or state park as the place to picnic. Commonly, they have picnic tables, grills, bathroom facilities, and plenty of room to throw a Frisbee or enjoy a game of volleyball. Parks often require picnickers to reserve space ahead of time, and thus, this type of setting works well with larger, planned in advance get-togethers like reunions.
By all means, a park isn't the only setting for a picnic. Almost any scenic location will work. Explore options such as:
And of course, your own backyard
Once you've decided on a location, you can concentrate on activities to enjoy during your picnic. Take advantage of being away from the TV and computer, and introduce the kids to some low-tech fun like board games, as well as traditional picnic games like tag, sack racing, and a water balloon toss. Here are a few other ideas for fun during your picnic:
Bird watching (bring binoculars and a local field guide)
No picnic would be complete without an inviting spread of fun and festive food. This is not the time for stodgy fare. Keep it easy with kid-friendly foods that can be eaten without utensils:
A tray of fresh vegetables with dip
Slices of watermelon
Corn on the cob
Grilled burger and hot dogs
Don't forget to bring plenty of napkins, paper or plastic plates and cups, bottles of water, and a selection of juices or sodas.
Keeping safe during a picnic is always important. With a little advanced planning, you can be prepared for common picnic safety issues. Most hazards are minor and come from improper storage of food and injuries such as insect stings, cuts, and sprains. Here are a few tips to ensure safety during your picnic:
Supervise children closely around potential hazards like pools, lakes, grills, and fire pits.
Keep perishable foods such as dairy items, meat, salads containing mayonnaise, and eggs in a cold container like an ice chest, away from direct sun. Do not let these foods sit uncovered for more than 30 minutes to avoid spoilage and potential food poisoning.
Pack a small first aid kit that includes bandages and antibacterial ointment.
Use sunscreen and bug spray and wear a hat.
Stay in a shaded area if temperatures are hot and have lots of cool drinking water on hand. Heat exhaustion is more common in the elderly and the young.
Make sure to properly put out any fire in a grill or fire pit before leaving picnic grounds.
Throw out any garbage either in available bins or in bags that you can take with you. Garbage at picnic grounds attracts pests such as rodents, insects, and in some cases bears!
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