What do you get when you blend baseball playoffs, Halloween and cooler temperatures? The best time of the year — fall.
Why not celebrate the season by dining alfresco? You’ll get to enjoy fresh outdoor air before Old Man Winter chases you into hibernation. Plus, you won’t have to deal with as many insects. Here are five basics for a fall picnic to create a memorable event for you and the family (or that special someone).
1. Blankets and Pillows
You know that you need the classic red-checked picnic blanket, but even lined and waterproof versions leave something lacking in the comfort department. You could break out the lawn chairs — or, better yet, take a tip from yogis.
Those who practice the ancient art know that cushions can help place your body in alignment and prevent pain. Plus, they’re squishy, soft and perfect for keeping the grass out of your hair.
If you don’t want your bedding to possibly capture an ant or two, use the ones from your outdoor patio furniture. Many have waterproofing to keep the dew from getting you wet.
2. A Temperature-Controlled Cooler
What’s a romantic picnic without a glass of wine or a few cold ones? You don’t want to ruin the moment with flat, warm beer. Keep it fresh by ensuring your cooler maintains a temperature of 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, unless you have an icy creek nearby to dunk your cans.
Even if you picnic riverside, you need to mind storage rules if you plan to barbecue raw meats on a portable hibachi. Food handling guidelines recommend keeping refrigerated items at 39 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to avoid contamination. Likewise, items containing mayonnaise or dairy require refrigeration.
3. Some Fall Comfort Classics
Now it’s time to do the tastiest part — selecting the food. Fortunately, fall follows a bountiful harvest season, and the possibilities stretch on nearly endlessly.
Did you get into the gardening craze during the spring and summer shutdowns? Delight your family, friends or beau by putting your produce to use in an imitation version of Wildflower Bread Company’s 12-vegetable soup. Eating it before the main dish can also help you consume fewer calories overall if you mind your waistline.
What else should you add to your basket? How about some Renaissance Faire-style turkey legs? You can enjoy them warm or cold, and they make your lunch feel festive.
4. You Gotta Have Pie
What fall picnic is complete without dessert? What if you’re doing paleo or another low-carb diet? You don’t have to skip the sweet stuff with these paleo pumpkin pie bars with an almond-flour, sugar-cookie crust. We won’t tell if you decide to cheat by pairing with an off-limits latte.
Few things say fall more than apples, and you might have a harvest if you have a tree. Toss your fruit in a sugar mixture to keep your crust crunchy and bake up a delicious Dutch apple pie. The cooler temps mean you won’t miss the ice cream melting on top, although you can always toss a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the cooler.
5. Footballs, Frisbees and Firestarters
There’s more to a fall picnic than food. Remember to bring the fun. Once you digest your feast by lying back on the blanket and seeing George Washington’s face in a cloud formation, it’s time to play. If you’re lucky enough to live near a disk golf course, why not bring your gear for a game after your meal? You don’t need professional baskets or acres of land — you can make do with any open space.
What do you do after Thanksgiving dinner? If you’re like many folks, you head out back and toss the football around with your kids. If you have a gang of littles, bring along some fabric for a flag version of the Sunday favorite where your team always wins.
Is it a date day? A few board games can help you avoid those uncomfortable conversation lulls. If you’re bold, you can always bring “Twister” along, although you’ll have to tackle the social distancing discussion. Safety first!
Master Your Fall Picnic With These 5 Basics
The five basics above will help you throw the ultimate fall picnic. Get out there and enjoy the spirit of the season.