By Anna Ferraro
“It’s often claimed that life is no picnic – but [on June 18th], it is! International Picnic Day is a chance to eat out in the open air with friends or family” (www.daysoftheyear.com).
In the 19th century, picnics were well-planned social affairs with extraordinary spreads of food, furniture and recreation. Aristocracy would often travel to a scenic location to partake of their elaborate lunch, like in Jane Austen’s “Emma,” where Emma and her friends arrange an afternoon outing to Box Hill.
But in other centuries, and in other countries, picnics have a simpler meaning. One cooler. Easy lunch. A small group of friends or family. Taking it easy. Sunshine. And more. Whether you can plan an event with friends or just eat a quick lunch in the park away from the office, here are a few ideas to help make this holiday memorable and fun:
1) Bring a game or an activity:
A Frisbee, a soccer ball or beach volleyball to toss around is a fun way to build up a great appetite, de-stress a bit and get some good exercise to boot. After lunch, taking naps under a tree or playing a fun group game such as charades or CatchPhrase, any type of trivia game, or reading a book aloud would be enjoyable activities.
2) Create a unique and appealing picnic lunch:
Finger-Food Frenzy: Find half-a-dozen portable containers and fill them with a variety of finger foods. Pile them into your cooler, then use to build a fun lunch that everyone can eat with their hands. Kids especially will love this. Some ideas include: hardboiled eggs, cheese cubes, cold meat, veggie sticks (baby carrots, broccoli, etc.), baby pickles, fruit (strawberries, grapes, chunk pineapple, melon balls, etc.) and Oreos (or some other small cookie). Note: be sure to use some hand sanitizer before breaking out this meal.
Picnic Salad-in-a-Jar: Using pint-sized mason jars, layer up a tasty, colorful and healthy salad that’s still super-easy to serve. Layer veggies, pasta or grains with your choice of cheese, meats, fruit, nuts, seeds, spices and dressing. For recipes and ideas, Google “mason jar salads.”
Lunch-on-a-Stick: Using long wooden skewers, assemble your lunch and dessert on the sticks for a fun and portable meal option. For lunch, prepare sticks with cubed meats and cheeses mixed with large olives and veggies. For dessert, prepare skewers with fruit and marshmallows. For recipes and ideas, Google for “picnic salad skewers.”
3) Totally disconnect:
That’s right – turn off your iPhone or any other devices. Use this time as a chance to soak up sunshine, be close to the earth, breathe in fresh air and connect with your picnic partners. For the moment, forget about screens and social media. Sound difficult? Just try it. You’ll feel better for it, I promise.