Picnicking can be a fun way to spend time outdoors with the family. There is nothing like sitting outside in the fresh air and enjoying food with your loved ones. To truly enjoy a picnic, a little planning can help ensure everything works out as planned. A first picnic can be a success with some good food and friends and family. The key to making my first picnic a success was just relaxing and understanding that nothing ever goes perfectly, but that doesn’t have to mean everyone isn’t having fun.

My first picnic was fun because it was simple and didn’t require a ton of work to plan. One of the most important aspects is food safety. Our picnic was close to home so a cooler with ice was sufficient to keep the food safe for a short period of time. Those who are planning a longer trip or even perhaps picnicking while camping may need to change out their ice several times to ensure that it’s keeping the food at a safe temperature until it’s ready to eat.

Starting with simple can be best for those who aren’t used to having a picnic. Cold cut sandwiches are easy to make, take up minimal room in the cooler and, believe it or not, even taste better after chilling on ice for a few hours. I like to make the sandwiches with just meat and cheese, wrap tightly with quality food wrap to ensure freshness and pack on ice. I always take pickles, mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce and tomato to be put on once we’re ready to eat. Everyone can make the sandwich how they want and the bread doesn’t get soggy on the trip.

A fun picnic should always include outdoor activities. Depending on the location, you may be able to occupy the family for hours with the local attractions. Our best picnics are at the lake where we can eat by the water, feed the ducks and then walk around the lake or even take the boat out. Choose a location where there are things to do so you don’t need to pack much extra. For young kids, things like bubbles, sidewalk chalk and a ball are simple ways to occupy them for hours. Leave the screens at home and enjoy the outdoors. The best picnic is one where you can leave behind the technology and just enjoy what’s around you.

There are some essentials that I always have to make a picnic successful. First of all you’ll need plenty of cold drinks to keep everyone hydrated. Water is important but many people also like to take some juice for the kids and possibly sports drinks if it’s really hot. Sunscreen and bug spray are also very useful. Last, but not least, I always carry disinfecting wipes to clean hands before eating and to clean up sticky messes from things like watermelon and other messy desserts.