When the sun is out and the kids are home, why sit inside eating lunch when you can enjoy a leisurely picnic in the great outdoors? In addition to sunscreen and a blanket, parents or nannies will want to make sure they’ve packed a few games and a delicious basket of your kids favorite foods. After all, what is a picnic but a few hours dedicated to good eats and fun in the sun?
Here are five tips to make a picnic fun for kids.
1) Pack Small Bites, Juices, and Healthy Sandwiches
There are a few things to consider when packing the perfect picnic lunch. Youll want to pack items that can last under the hot sun! According to the USDA, never leave food out of the fridge for more than two hours (one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees). Swap out mayonnaise spreads for a schmear of cream cheese or mustard — both hold up better in the heat. Make cold cut sandwiches in advance and wrap them up in waxed paper before storing them in a cooler (Think of it as a modern take on the straw basket)!
Pack small baggies of chopped vegetables — sliced red peppers are sweet and healthy, and baby carrots are always a crowd favorite. For dessert, why not fill a few air-tight containers with red and green grapes? If your child has a favorite fruit or vegetable, feel free to improvise — just make sure you wash and pat dry the veggies right before leaving — you dont want the produce to get soggy.
Try out some of these food and recipe ideas that are great for kids.
2) Make Time for Fun Games
Great picnics are about a lot more than just lounging on a blanket and eating snacks! With just a bit of planning, you can fill your afternoon with some fun (and maybe a little bit of learning…shhh).
I’m big on non-prop games,” shares Nancy Friedman, a mother and blogger at From Hip to Housewife. “Finding shapes in the clouds, I spy, 20 questions, etc. A picnic is a chance to really hang out and communicate with your family — with no outlets or electronics in sight. Find activities that encourage conversation.
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3) Choose an Unexpected Location
If you don’t live near a park, finding an ideal location for your picnic can be a challenge. Why not think out of the box? Renae C., a mother of three and blogger at Mostly Together Mommy, shares that, When we lived in Kentucky, we loved going up to the Mammoth Cave area and going for a hike/picnic. The woods there are beautiful and the cave system is the longest in the world! What kind of unique locations do you live near that might make for the perfect adventure spot?
4) Try out a Clever Theme, or Celebrate a Holiday
Use the day off to your advantage, and try centering your picnic around a holiday. Earth Day is an excellent time to get out and explore nature while on a picnic. Bring some seeds or plants with you to your favorite picnic spot and you can visit throughout the year(s) and see how ‘your’ plants are doing, suggests Renae.
If your children are big fans of make-believe, why not foster their imaginations by having a fancy tea party picnic? Dress up in your party dresses and pack teacups and small finger sandwiches — you can even let your little ones bring their stuffed animals along to join in the fun!
5) Keep Creepy Crawlers Away
Nothing puts a damper on a fun picnic like bees, ants and insects. Luckily, there are a few tricks to keeping those uninvited guests where they belong — far away from your kiddos. Put some water and sugar in a bowl and stir to dissolve; then put the sugar-water about 20 feet from your picnic blanket, shares Nancy. The bees will leave you alone and go right to the sugar water. Want to keep ants away? Spritz some Listerine on your picnic blanket before you leave the house.
The most important part of having an afternoon outdoors is having fun and staying safe while doing it. Try out some of these picnic tips and ideas the next time you hear the great outdoors calling!
Ilana Dadras is a writer and artist from New York City. She enjoys longboarding, going to concerts and spending time with her cat, Rabbit. And picnicking — yes, she enjoys picnicking.