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The Picnic Essentials Checklist: All You Need to Be Prepared

Photo by Ania Boniecka / Stocksy United / 55651
Photo by Ania Boniecka / Stocksy United

Eating outdoors during the summer months is not only a treat, but a fun adventure for little ones! Children of all ages love it: For infants, it’s a chance to watch the leaves blow in the breeze. For toddlers, it’s a chance to look around and explore. For older children, it’s a chance to bound after a ball between bites of something yummy. 

If you’re like us, though, every so often you might wind up at the park missing something crucial, be it spoons for fruit salad or napkins to help clean up after eating. That’s why we put together this list of 10 essential items for picnics—may you never forget something important again! 

  1. A dedicated picnic backpack. A wicker basket is picturesque, sure, but looping one arm through the handles while wrangling a toddler and a four-year-old will leave you frustrated before you even reach your destination. A backpack, on the other hand, is hands-free and features all sorts of nifty little pockets to store things in an organized way. 
  2. Forks, spoons, and knives. Plastic forks and spoons are ideal, but if you don’t have any available, grab flatware that you don’t mind getting grubby or possibly losing.  
  3. Plates, bowls, and cups. Pick stackable cups and bowls to save backpack space and avoid bringing anything breakable—durable plastic is easiest, but disposable options are good, too. 
  4. Cutting knife. Select a knife with a blade that folds into the handle (for safety reasons). It’s worth having this tool on hand to cut cheese, meats, fruit, cake, or whatever other bounty resides in your backpack. 
  5. Small cutting board. Lightweight plastic doesn’t add much weight to your load, and you’ll probably wind up grateful for a flat, clean work surface to cut off bread crusts or portion out apple slices. 
  6. A couple small trash bags. Why more than one? Use one for trash and the other for storing dirty dishes during the return trip. (And remember to put more in the backpack once you get home!) 
  7. Extra napkins. It’s just a fact of life: uneven ground invites spills. Be prepared by ensuring that there’s plenty of napkins or paper towels available! 
  8. A pack of wet wipes. Perfect for cleaning sticky hands, fingers, and faces, wet wipes are useful in almost every situation. 
  9. A blanket. It’s always much easier to have a picnic if you have a comfy surface to spread everything out on. Pack it last because it comes out first! 
  10. Children’s sunscreen. That sun is starting to get hotter and hotter as summer heats up—so make sure you’re protecting your little one’s sensitive skin!
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